Throughout the past several weeks, Connecticut’s public charter schools have been the focus of widespread media coverage in light of ongoing state budget negotiations. While many of these articles presented a balanced view of the issues facing our charter community, others were fraught with inaccuracies and misinformation about our schools, our students and our funding.
As the unified voice of the state’s 21 public charter schools, the Connecticut Charter Schools Association would like to take this opportunity to clarify some key facts about our charter sector and the 11,000+ students we serve.
About our students:
- Charter schools are public schools. They are tuition free and open to all, regardless of ability or circumstance.
- Public charter schools provide families with the opportunity to make the best educational choice for their children’s unique needs in communities where access to great schools is limited.
- More than 50% of all school districts are represented by CT’s public charter schools.
- Ninety-four percent (94%) of students attending charter schools are students of color and 62% of charter school students come from low-income households.
- Public charter schools allow Black and brown children to walk into school every single day and see teachers and school leaders who look just like them.
- More than 5,000 CT students are waiting to enroll in a public charter school.
About our academics:
- According to 2021-2022 SBAC findings, 95% of all charter schools statewide out-performed schools that serve the same student population in ELA. And 90% of charter schools out-performed schools that serve the same student population in Math. (SBAC assessments only evaluate students in grades 3-8. Nineteen (19) charter schools received SY2021-22 SBAC data.)
- Despite routinely receiving less funding per pupil than their district counterparts, charter schools set students up for success by giving them the tools they need to excel both in the classroom and beyond.
About our accountability:
- Public charter schools do not “make their own rules,” as is sometimes portrayed. Charters do have the flexibility to be creative in the classroom in order to best meet student needs. However, this comes in exchange for being held to higher financial, operational and student academic achievement standards than traditional district schools.
- All staff serving in Connecticut’s public charter schools must be authorized by the state to serve in those schools, and the state regularly reviews schools for compliance.
- Charter schools face a rigorous 2-step certification for all new schools. In addition, schools must apply for renewal every five years.
- Unlike district schools, public charter schools face closure if not delivering results for students.
About our funding:
- Charter school students are deeply underfunded. Despite being one of the wealthiest states in the country, there is a $696.5 million statewide funding gap in Connecticut that disproportionately impacts our most vulnerable students and perpetuates an inequitable public education system. (Source: 2020 CT School and State Finance Project)
- Public charter schools do not take money away from district students. Instead, it is much more accurate to say that the money follows the student–in the same way it would if a student moved from one school district to another.
- The reasons for public charter schools extend far beyond a funding discussion. Just adding more money to traditional district schools does not solve the issue that a one-size fits all approach to public education will not meet the needs of all students in CT. Charter schools exist because families have determined that a charter school will best meet their child’s individual needs. Charter schools provide needed opportunities for families.
- Charter schools are the only public schools in CT to not receive facilities funding.
To learn more about all of the topics discussed above, please visit the CTCSA LinkTree.