Chartering in Minnesota: Growing Again

This month ten new charter public schools opened in Minnesota for the 2015-16 school year, all in the Twin Cities area or Rochester, MN. That brings the total number of charter public schools in Minnesota to 165 as of September 2015.

Another 15 schools have received a charter to open in 2016 or 2017. At last after several years of minimal growth, new charter schools are opening in Minnesota again; the birthplace of charter schools.

The Minnesota Association of Charter Schools (MACS) is already looking ahead to the approaching 25th anniversary of the passage of Minnesota’s charter school law in June 2016. As MACS noted in its September 15 The Charter Current post, the 25th anniversary “is a time for rediscovering all of the six purposes of chartered public schools and focusing our energy on the promise those purposes still hold for public education.”  Amen.

In 2015-16, according to the MACS publication, “A Primer on Minnesota Charter Schools”:

  • 24 schools have Preschool Programs
  • 35 schools are in Minneapolis and 35 schools are in St. Paul
  • 44 schools are in the 7-county metro area, excluding St. Paul and Minneapolis
  • 51 schools are in Greater Minnesota, excluding the Twin Cities metro area

In 2014-15, the latest student enrollment data available, MACS showed 47,400+ students enrolled in charter public schools in Minnesota (about 5% of statewide total). Perhaps most interesting is that compared to state averages, charter schools enrolled:

  • A larger percentage of students receiving Free and Reduced Lunch (55% v. state average of 38%)
  • A larger percentage of Limited English Proficiency students (20% v. state average of 8%)
  • A larger percentage of students of color (53% v. state average of 29%)
  • About the same percentage of special education students (13%)

While 5% of public school students in Minnesota choose to attend public charter schools, it is important that 100% of students have that choice. We must continue to insure that quality choices are available throughout our state so that every child receives an effective education. We should expect no less!