What began in Minnesota in 1991 with two charter schools has since expanded to reach 1.5 million kids in 5,000 charter schools across 39 states. And while California boasted more than 820 charter schools during the 2009-2010 school year, states like Washington, Maine, and Kentucky have not a one. (Currently, 11 states don't have a charter school law on the books.) Recently, the federal government created Race to the Top, a $4.35 billion competition, which encourages states to become more innovative and reform-friendly. One way that states can play along is by either raising or eliminating the cap on its allotment of high-quality charter schools. It should be noted that while charter schools receive taxpayer money, they have more autonomy than a traditional public school. And while they've captured the public's imagination, charter schools are hardly a silver bullet. By and large, much like their public school counterparts, some work exceptionally well, while others do not. As the uptick continues, the focus will be on expanding the models that show consistent results—and shuttering the ones that lack sufficient progress.
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