Why 1/3 of America Thinks Charter Schools are Private Schools

Yesterday I wrote this note to a reporter for the Star Tribune in Minneapolis. I encourage every charter school leader to write a similar note whenever the same occurs in your community.

I read with interest your article about the Minneapolis school fair. I write with a language request for future articles regarding how charter schools are referenced. Charter schools are, of course, public schools. It is important that this language be clear for the future, as this year is the 25th anniversary of the signing of Minnesota’s first-in-nation charter school law (June 4, 1991), and I expect there will be more attention to chartering in coming months.

There has been much confusion about charter schools around the nation. In fact, polls show that 1/3 of America believes charter schools are private schools. I believe that comes from widespread use of language similar to what was reported in your article.

Note the following from your article:

“Event gives parents a chance to compare public, charter options in the Minneapolis district.” (Subhead)
“While the fair showcases public and charter schools . . .”

The implication from the above is that charter schools are something other than public. That is not true. To avoid this, the appropriate language is as follows:

“Event gives parents a chance to compare district, charter public school options in Minneapolis” or “Event gives parents a chance to compare district and charter public schools within boundaries of Minneapolis school district.

“While the fair showcases district and charter public schools,” or “While the fair showcases district and charter schools.”

These language distinctions are critical to dispelling the myths around chartering. About a year ago I sent a Letter to the Editor to the Star Tribune referencing another article with the same language. The letter was published. However, even my letter was edited, creating new inaccuracies in the language I was trying to distinguish. This is a hard habit to break!

Please join me in educating the general public and dispel the myths of chartering. Write your letters to distinguish this language whenever the issue arises!