In their first 24 years, public charter schools have demonstrated that they can be a significant force for improvement in U.S. public education. Since the passage of the first charter school law in Minnesota in 1992, the sector has spawned more than 6,700 new public charter schools serving 2.9 million students in 43 states and Washington, D.C.
Despite successful growth in numbers and quality, the charter sector faces future challenges: further improving student achievement; serving more students with disabilities, English language learners (ELLs), and other underserved populations; and building the capacity to serve the 1 million-plus students already on waiting lists and the millions more who deserve higher-quality education. Public charter schools will not meet these challenges by doing more of the same. Instead, the sector needs a new wave of innovation to capitalize on the enormous potential that charter schools have to improve public education substantially for U.S. students. Simply put, the sector needs to be better, broader, and bigger.