What is a Charter School?2023-09-25T15:14:33-04:00

What is a Charter School?

Charter schools are open to all students, tuition-free, publicly funded, staffed by certified teachers, and held accountable to state and national standards.


Brick & Mortar
Charter Schools


Charter Schools


Students Enrolled
Throughout Pennsylvania

Got Choice?

Choosing a school is really a life-altering decision for families. It’s an investment in time today and much more for the future. By having the charter school option, parents in our state have been empowered to select the environment that works best for each child—because no single school, no matter how good or convenient, can meet the distinct needs of each and every young student in Pennsylvania

A charter school is an independently operated public school that has the freedom to design classrooms that meet their students’ needs.  Charter schools are often designed to offer specialized programs, target specialized or underserved populations, or simply to offer a choice to communities. A charter school may offer a specialized curriculum, such as arts, science, or career education; focus on at-risk students, students with disabilities or drop-out prevention; or take an innovative approach to teaching or program design.

Does School Choice Matter?

Posted by PA School Choice Coalition on Thursday, January 17, 2019
Follow the Money

Are charter schools taking money from traditional schools? To get to the truth, you need to follow the money.

Posted by Choice Rocks on Thursday, January 10, 2019

Are charter schools taking money from traditional public schools?

No. Charter public schools are funded based on student enrollment, just like traditional public schools. If a student transfers from another public school to a charter public school, the costs and funding associated with educating that student follows that student to the charter school. Like any public school, charter public schools depend on a mix of federal and state funding to operate and survive.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why would a parent choose a charter school for a child?2023-09-19T17:26:39-04:00

There are four main reasons why parents are choosing charter schools for their children. These are:

  • Parents know the strengths and weaknesses of their children best and will act in their children’s best interest
  • Families are interested in reinforcing their values in their children, and will look for schools that accommodate the values they practice at home
  • Parents are proxy consumers for their children in school, and when parents make the decision, it only strengthens the institution of the family
  • Parents tend to place the best interests of their children at the forefront of their concerns

For more information on the overwhelming reasons parents are choosing charter schools, please click here.

Do charter schools just ‘cherry-pick’ the best students from traditional public schools?2023-09-19T17:26:35-04:00

No. Charter schools serve all students. In fact, charter schools have no selective enrollment requirements. They must accept all students, including English learners and students with special needs. Charter schools also hold lotteries to enroll students if there are not enough seats to meet demand.

Please click here for more information on common myths surrounding charter schools.

Isn’t it true that charter schools do not answer to the public since their boards are not elected?2023-09-19T17:27:57-04:00

No. Charter schools are directly accountable to the authorizing school board or the Pennsylvania Department of Education who have the authority to renew or not renew a school’s charter.

Once appointed, a charter school board member, just like a traditional school board member, is a public
official who must comply with the PA Ethics Act and file an annual statement of Financial Interest Form. Also, the board must comply with the PA Sunshine Law regarding open meetings.

Please click here for more information on common myths surrounding charter schools.

Are Pennsylvania’s Public Charter Schools held to a higher level of accountability than all other Public Schools?2023-09-19T17:32:57-04:00

Yes. As Local Education Agencies, they are held to the same state and federal mandates as all other public schools. In addition, Pennsylvania’s Public Charter Schools are accountable to:

  • The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) which authorizes Cyber Charter Schools
  • Their respective Charter Authorizer, either PDE or their local School District(s)
  • The individual parents and families who choose Public Charter Schools to help their children achieve their goals

For more information, please click here for Pennsylvania’s Public Charter Schools List of Annual Reports.

Does Pennsylvania have any Public Cyber Charter Schools?2023-09-19T17:36:13-04:00

Yes. Pennsylvania’s 15 Public Cyber Charter Schools provide a high quality, individualized education to over 34,000 students from 498 of Pennsylvania’s 500 School Districts.

Please click here for more information on Pennsylvania’s Public Cyber Charter Schools.

Do Public Charter Schools provide meals and transportation to students?2023-09-19T17:37:03-04:00

Yes, Public Charter Schools offer breakfast and lunch to students and provide free and reduced-price meals for families who qualify.

Bus transportation is provided in accordance with each school’s approved transportation plan.

What do the terms “Authorizer” and “Charter” mean?2023-09-19T17:37:39-04:00

Public Charter Schools are approved by and accountable to their “authorizers.” The term “authorizer” refers to the state entity or institution that has the legal right to issue charters to those who want to open Public Charter Schools. An authorizer is also responsible for oversight of these schools.

Join us in the fight to save public charter schools in Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools (PCPCS) has created 143K Rising for parents, faculty and charter supporters who are committed to saving public charter schools in Pennsylvania. Make your voice heard and join a movement that can’t be ignored!

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