What Is a Charter School?

A Charter School:

  • is a public school funded with public money;
  • is a public school where there is no tuition;
  • is non-sectarian, non-religious, and may not discriminate in student admissions;
  • is operated by parents, educators, and/or community leaders;
  • is free to be a unique school designed to meet the needs of the students it intends to serve;
  • is a public school that operates under a contract with the local school board, state board, or a university;
  • is a public school whose curriculum is determined by the charter school board of directors;
  • may have the same transportation as that provided by the local school district;
  • is required to meet the same graduation standards as other schools; and
  • is responsible for improving achievement or it will be closed.


Yes! According to a recent report by the Center for School Change at the Humphrey Institute:

  • 21 out of 31 charter schools studied have reported gains after administering the same test twice.
  • Seven charters in this group have had their contracts renewed because they showed improved achievement.
  • Most of the charter schools studied are serving urban students of color and low income students.


Charter schools offer parents, teachers, community organizations, and individuals the opportunity to design, develop, and implement new, innovative, and creative ways to educate children. Charter schools provide the opportunity for new ideas and visions in education to take shape. They are an opportunity to involve stakeholders (students, parents, community) in the education process in new and meaningful ways.

Charter schools can address specific problems of high-risk students, students of color, and low income students. Charter schools may focus on different approaches to increasing student achievement:

  • building basic skills,
  • building community through service learning and internships,
  • integrating the arts,
  • building partnerships between schools and families,
  • using culturally specific approaches,
  • including school to work, and
  • emphasizing college preparatory coursework.


In past Minnesota state legislative sessions, several important changes were made in charter school legislation which made it easier to start charter schools. Those changes included:

  • state funding for charter start-up and lease aid,
  • federal funds now available for start up,
  • no limits on the number of charter schools, and
  • new sponsoring entities including education districts, intermediate school districts and nonprofit organizations.


MCSRC has access to:

  • consultants and resources in areas of charter school finances, governance, curriculum development, assessment, evaluation, legal issues, and accountability;
  • research in areas identified by constituents;
  • a charter proposal review committee; and
  • limited planning grants.

MCSRC provides:

  • school planning workshops for interested parents, educators, and community members in the above areas;
  • monthly charter developers’ meetings;