Language Education Policy Studies
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Charter Schools in the US Part 1: Current situations

Charter schools in the US are considered to play a central role in reform of public education. Starting in 1990s, they are intended to improve public education system by allowing the freedom to be innovative and adjust the curriculum to focus on meeting the needs of their students. They receive public funding, thus, they are open to all students that wish to enroll, and are responsible to meet federal and state requirements. Up to date, forty-two states and the District of Columbia have passed charter school laws. Charter schools currently serve more than four percent of the public school population with slightly higher proportion of minority students than traditional public schools.


Recent CREDO report comparing outcomes of charter schools with traditional public schools showed that in average, students performed slightly higher in reading and similar in math. However, when disaggregating data by groups, the study revealed that English language learners performed significantly better on charter schools. Data also showed that there is a negative impact on certain ethnic groups such as White and Asian students.


Some charters focus on dual language immersion, providing the option of additive language learning for minority children. This option has been reduced in traditional public schools as a consequence of some states’ prohibition of bilingual programs and increased emphasis on English-only education since the late 1990s. Furthermore, revitalization of languages through education has also found a niche in charter schools with the establishment of Ojibwe Immersion Charter School as an example.


A variety of culture-oriented or language focused charter schools are proliferating across the nation and families have shown great interest. Demand exceeds offer in some cases, and students are chosen by lottery and placed in waiting lists. However, there is a concern that expanding choice will expand more segregation in public schools. Several national studies have already pointed out that charter schools are slightly more segregated than traditional public schools. Fostering diversity in schools can become an asset in culture-oriented and language-focused programs.  Integration in schools guarantee quality and equity of opportunities for all students. This issue deserves further attention and investigation.


A Tool for Comparing State Charter School Laws

Choice without equity: Charter School Segregation and the Need for Civil Rights Standards (From the Civil Rights Project UCLA)

Waadookodaading. Ojibwe Language Immersion Charter School


What is a charter school?

The secret to comparing schools based on test scores

Study: Charter Schools Increasing Racial Segregation in Classrooms

Dual language immersion and bilingual education

HCCS Dual Language Immersion Program

Immersed in language: Students at Boston Renaissance Charter

Bilingual elementary education at Nuestro Mundo School in Madison, WI


National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. Retrieved the 12/1/2013 from:

Center for Research on Education Outcomes. (2013). National charter school study. Stanford, CA: Stanford University. Retrieved from

Eckes, S. E., Fox, R. A., & Buchanan, N. K. (2011). Legal and policy issues regarding niche charter schools: Race, religion, culture, and the law. Journal of School Choice: International Research and Reform, 5(1), 85-110.

Harper, S. M. (2011). Counting the Costs of a Global Anglophonic Hegemony: Examining the Impact of U.S. Language Education Policy on Linguistic Minorities Worldwide. Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies, Vol. 18, p.523.

Jackson, C. (Spring 2010). Immigrant charter schools: A better choice?. Retrieved from

Potter, H. (2013, June 10). Three reasons to support integrated charter schools. Retrieved from




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This information was originally published on the website of the International Network for Language Education Policy Studies ( as


Bonnelly, Blanca P., & Mun, Sue (2013). Charter Schools in the U.S.: Current Situations. In F. V. Tochon (Ed.), Language Education Policy Studies (online). Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin—Madison. Retrieved from: (access date). 

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