Charter schools are becoming very popular in the United States. A charter school is a school that operates independently of the state/district school board. They generally are located in low-income communities and can be viewed as free private schools for poor students and families. They can be non-profit or for-profit, and are generally considered to have higher standards and better education opportunities than traditional schools. Charter schools generally don’t have selective admissions or any religious affiliations.
Charter school systems are a fairly new concept, having only been around for a few decades. The idea began with a University of Massachusetts professor by the name of Ray Budde in 1970. Philadelphia was the first state to open “schools within schools” and named them charter schools, but the first real charter school law was passed in 1991 by the state of Minnesota. California followed a year later. Now, about two and half decades later, there are almost 7,000 charter schools in the United States.
One of the most successful charter school networks is Rocketship Education. Rocketship education is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization with charter schools in California, Washington D.C., Tennessee, and Minnesota. The first Rocketship school was founded in 2006 by John Danner and Preston Smith. Their focus is to eliminate the achievement gap that low-income students face by providing them with a technologically advanced school, superior staff, and excellence in education. As a school system that is measured on results rather than adherence to a district policy, Rocketship Education has been exceeding desired results exponentially.
Rocketship Education is continuing to expand, opening more schools in low-income and at-risk neighborhoods each year. The latest school to gain approval is in Antioch, California. City council members voted to dedicate $14.4 million to the building and operating of the new Rocketship school, which is scheduled to open in August of 2018. The campus will be able to accommodate up to 600 students and is projected to improve the overall state of the neighborhood.