About Charter Schools

Charter schools are independent public schools and like all other public schools, there is no cost to attend and they are open to all students. Charter schools are not private schools.  Charter schools are provided with operational freedom and flexibility and are held accountable by their authorizer.

All charter schools are authorized by a local school district, or a county office of education, or the State Board of Education.  The purpose of charter schools is to provide parents with choices in the public education system.

The "charter" establishing each such school is a contract detailing the school's mission, program, goals, students served, methods of assessment, and ways to measure success.  In California, charters are granted for five years.  At the end of the charter term, the entity granting the charter (the authorizer) may renew the school's contract.  Charter schools are accountable to their authorizer to produce positive academic results and adhere to the charter contract.

Like traditional public schools, charters receive state funding based on a formula for each child enrolled in the school.

When lawmakers passed the Charter Schools Act of 1992, California became the second state in the country (Minnesota was the first) to enact charter school legislation.  The intent was to allow groups or educators, community members, parents, or others to create an alternative type of public school.

Today, California is at the leading edge of the charter school movements with over 1,000 charter schools serving approximately 484,000 public school students.

Information on this page provided by the California Charter School Association