The charter school movement is growing rapidly thanks to an increase in public and private funding. This despite a struggling economy that has left many states with significant budget shortfalls.
Research by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools counted 4,936 charter schools across the country. The number went up 6.7 last year and they expect a 7.5 percent increase for the current school year.
As inner-city public schools struggle for funds, public charter schools are receiving millions of dollars in grants from organizations like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Eli and Edyth Broad Foundation, according to Philanthropy News Foundation.
The jury is still out on charter school success. In Indianapolis, one of the lowest-performing school districts in the country, graduation rates were as low as 30 percent. A strong push for charter schools has increased that rate to around 50 percent.
Many educators hope charter schools will use their freedom to drive innovation that can then be used to improve public schools.