Charter Schools in Brief

Education, as a reflection of larger society, is characterized by change and innovation.  Charter schools grew out of desire for choice in public education, to encourage innovation through privatization and as a response to support for school vouchers.  The concept of charter schools originated in the 1970s and is generally credited to Massachusetts educator Ray Budde.  His suggestion that teachers be given contracts or “charters” by their local school boards to explore new ideas led to early experimentation.  In the late 1980s, Albert Shanker, then President of the American Federation for Teachers, is credited with giving the movement more energy.

When schools-within-schools in Philadelphia and Minnesota showed success, early adopting states,  Minnesota and California,  passed charter school laws in the early 1990’s.  Today there are approximately 5600 charter schools in 41 states, educating over 2 million students, with hundreds of thousands more on waiting lists.  Charter schools in every state, and even across districts, have many differences in how they are funded and evaluated, but in general, charter schools receive the same per-pupil funding as a public school and in exchange, are allowed greater autonomy, but still held to accountability standards.

For more information:

The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS)

The leading national nonprofit organization committed to advancing the charter school movement.  Their mission is to lead public education to unprecedented levels of academic achievement for all students by fostering a strong charter sector.

The National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA)

The mission of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers is to achieve the establishment and operation of quality charter schools through responsible oversight in the public interest.

History of Missouri Charter Schools

In 1998, Missouri became the 27th state to pass a charter school law.  Charters were one part of legislation designed to end three decades of court-ordered desegregation in Kansas City and St. Louis, and were limited to those two urban areas.  The legislation was also passed with hope that charter schools might provide options to boost the existing public school systems, viewed during that time as failing by almost every standard.

Missouri differs in who oversees charter schools.  Nationally, almost 90 percent of charter schools are authorized by a local school district, but in Missouri, most charter schools are “sponsored” by higher education institutions, like the University of Missouri.

The passage of new legislation in 2012 allows the development of charter schools throughout the entire state of Missouri.

For more information:

Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE)

For information about Missouri charter schools, including the application to become a charter school.

Missouri Charter Public School Association (MCPSA)

Dedicated to improving student achievement by increasing access to high quality charter public education options throughout Missouri.

MU Sponsor Program

In part, because of the geographic limitations of the original charter school legislation, MU did not engage in charter school sponsorship until the fall of 2007.  We are slowly building a portfolio of schools that we hope will become models for high-performing charter schools throughout the state of Missouri and across the nation.

Ewing Marion Kauffman School, in Kansas City opened in August 2011 with one hundred fifth graders.  A second cohort of 100 students started in August of 2012.  In each year since, EMKS has added another 200 fifth graders, and will graduate its first senior class in 2019.  EMKS has established itself as one of the highest performing high schools in the state and has won numerous awards and accolades, including Missouri Charter School of the Year and the prestigious Ryan Award for school leadership.

Carondelet Leadership Academy (CLA) in St. Louis, was transferred to MU by the Missouri State Board of Education in April 2012.  CLA is a K-8 neighborhood school in south St. Louis.  Their constructivist philosophy and belief in meeting all kids where they are make them an important part of their community.  In the past two years they have expanded to a full kindergarten center and added a beautiful theater in order to expand the creative learning opportunities for their students.

In 2013,  EAGLE College Preparatory School, opened their first school in the Tower Grove neighborhood of St. Louis. They have since added two more schools, serve students in PK-8, and plan to eventually serve students through high school.

And, most recently, we added Kansas City’s KIPP Endeavor Academy, which just last year expanded their traditional middle school to serve student in grades K-8, with the intention of expanding to high school in the near future, the oldest and largest charter school network in St. Louis, Confluence Academies, and converted the Ville’s La Salle Middle School from an independent Catholic school to a public charter.

We are excited about our role and involvement in charter school work both here in Missouri and nationally and welcome all stakeholders–students and parents, friends and neighbors, community organizations, and, of course, new schools to join us in challenging all learners to reach their full potential.