Charter Schools In Perspective

In 2015, we launched a set of resources to enlighten and improve the conversation about charter schools in the United States. Today, the conversation continues, most recently as a key point of debate in teacher strikes across the country.

With support from the Spencer Foundation, we updated our research from 2015 to include the latest data on charter school finances, student achievement, and public opinion, among other topics. Though neither Public Agenda nor the Spencer Foundation takes positions on charter schools, we believe there's a need for more informed, thoughtful conversation on the topic.

Because the policy landscape of charter schools varies so much from state to state and city to city, and because information about charter schools is so often confusing and contradictory, we hope that this update, along with our existing resources, will contribute to this conversation nationally and in communities.

Find out more at

ENGAGING IDEAS – 02/22/2019


These Are the Americans Who Live in a Bubble (The Atlantic)
One of the many questions the Trump era has raised is whether Americans actually want a pluralistic society, where people are free to be themselves and still live side by side with others who aren't like them. Continue reading

The New Democratic Primary Calendar Emphasizes Nonwhite Voting Power (New York Magazine)
This decisive turn toward diversity, reinforced by California's decision to move up its primary to Super Tuesday, represents a potentially critical new wrinkle in the nomination process. Continue reading

OPINION - If news is dying, who will safeguard democracy? (The Guardian)
When the news industry began 200 years ago, it grounded the world in fact. Now faith, localism and entertainment rule
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Why No One Talks About The High Unemployment Rate Among Women With Disabilities (Forbes)
It's not news that there is gender inequality when it comes to employment. Ever since the mid-1900s, if not earlier, women across the U.S. have been fighting for equal wages and equal treatment in the workforce. However, women with disabilities are too often left out of discussions about feminism and equal wage.
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LA homeless advocates have a new tech tool for affordable housing (Marketplace)
LeaseUp is a website that makes it easier for landlords to list affordable housing units and for nonprofits to find those homes. Continue reading

Even at Top Colleges, Graduation Gaps Persist for Poor Students (Wall Street Journal)
As elite schools expand access for low-income students, graduation rates lag. Continue reading


What's New in Civic Tech: What Is Digital Distress? (Government Tech)
Honolulu launches a new performance dashboard; NYC city planning creates a digital platform for a lengthy zoning resolution; major jurisdictions prep for Open Data Day; a host of gov tech jobs are available; and more. Continue reading

How grassroots efforts are trying to solve the teacher shortage crisis (Hechinger Report)
One teacher at a time, nonprofit groups try to address the lack of teachers in the Mississippi Delta. After years of inaction, the state finally steps in to help them.
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OPINION - A Nation of Weavers (New York Times)
We're living with the excesses of 60 years of hyperindividualism. There's a lot of emphasis in our culture on personal freedom, self-interest, self-expression, the idea that life is an individual journey toward personal fulfillment. You do you. But Weavers share an ethos that puts relationship over self. We are born into relationships, and the measure of our life is in the quality of our relationships. We precedes me. Continue reading


This personalized learning program was supposed to boost math scores. It didn't, new study finds (Chalkbeat)
A program that Bill Gates once called "the future of math" didn't improve state test scores at schools that adopted it, according to a new study.
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The U.S. Teaching Population Is Getting Bigger, and More Female (The Atlantic)
Women now make up a larger share of educators than they have in decades. Continue reading

District eliminates extended school year, invests more in classroom technology (Washington Post)
Three years after launching an expensive education experiment, the District is eliminating extended school years at 13 campuses after city leaders said there was scant evidence of improved academic achievement, Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) announced Thursday.
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Higher Ed/Workforce

As Students Struggle With Stress and Depression, Colleges Act as Counselors (New York Times)
Students and institutions are grappling with issues like the surge in school shootings and trauma from suicides and sexual assault. But it's not just the crises that have shaken this generation - it's the grinding, everyday stresses, from social media pressures to relationship problems to increased academic expectations.
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New Florida Study Shows Students Using State's Tax Credit Scholarship Program More Likely to Attend and Graduate College (The 74)
To the research on private school choice, add one more layer: The Urban Institute has released the results of a study that shows that students participating in Florida's tax credit scholarship program are more likely to enroll in college than their traditional-school peers, and somewhat more likely to earn a bachelor's degree.
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Why are tribal college students slow to ask for financial aid? (Hechinger Report)
A report about student experiences at tribal colleges and universities finds a lag in seeking aid, along with reluctance to take out loans. Continue reading

Health Care

From Common Frustrations, Some Common Ground on Health Care (
With many of us paying a larger share of our health care bills out of pocket, it's increasingly important to have clear and accurate information about health care prices. Continue reading

Hospitals now employ more than 40% of physicians, analysis finds
(Healthcare Dive)

Hospitals acquired 8,000 medical practices and 14,000 physicians left private practice and entered into employment arrangements with hospitals between July 2016 and January 2018, according to a new report by Avalere Health and the Physicians Advisory Institute (PAI). Continue reading

Hospital groups push for seat at table as lawmakers address 'surprise billing'
(Fierce Healthcare)

In a letter sent to Congressional leaders on Tuesday, the groups-which include the American Hospital Association and Federation of American Hospitals-laid out principles they want lawmakers to consider as they seek to address the problem over the next few months. Continue reading