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How Charter Schools Undermine Sound Education Policymaking

BOULDER, CO (November 10, 2022)—Charter schools, publicly funded schools of choice operated by private entities, have expanded rapidly since their early beginnings in Minnesota in the 1990s and are now enabled by state legislation in 45 states. Despite skepticism about their effectiveness, charter school enrollment has been increasing, including during the pandemic, and appears likely to continue doing so.

The National Education Policy Center today released How Charter Schools Undermine Good Education Policymaking, authored by Helen F. Ladd, the Susan B. King Professor Emerita of Public Policy and Economics at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy. The policy memo analyzes key policy issues raised by charter schools, with suggestions about how to address the challenges that arise.

Ladd argues that charter schools disrupt four core goals of education policy in the United States, namely: 1) establishing coherent systems of schools, 2) attending to child poverty and disadvantage, 3) limiting racial segregation and isolation, and 4) ensuring that public funds are spent wisely. She recommends that policies be designed both to limit the expansion of charter schools and to reduce the extent to which they disrupt good education policymaking.

Professor Ladd points out that although some charters produce positive outcomes for many of their students, typically they do far more to interfere with, rather than to promote, the making of good education policy. She offers policy recommendations to offset the challenges of developing coherent education systems, adequately attending to the educational challenges of child poverty, promoting the racial integration of students, and ensuring strong public accountability and oversight for the use of public funds.

Find How Charter Schools Undermine Good Education Policymaking, by Helen F. Ladd, at:

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), a university research center housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education, produces high-quality information in support of democratic deliberation about education policy. We publish original research, policy briefs, and expert third-party reviews of think tank reports. NEPC publications are written in accessible language and are intended for a broad audience that includes academic experts, policymakers, the media, and the general public. Visit us at: