Key Facts

California Charter Schools: 20 Years of Reinventing Public Education

Minnesota was the first state to pass a charter school law in 1991, followed by California, which enacted its Charter Schools Act in 1992. Gradually, the number of states passing the charter school law increased from only 19 in 1995 to 42 this year.

Currently, 41 states and the District of Columbia have passed charter school laws.

The states that have passed charter school laws are: Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

The following states have legislation that allows for charter schools but they don’t currently have any open: Iowa, Washington, and Maryland.

The following states do not have legislation in place that would allow charter schools to open: Alabama; Kentucky; Montana; Nebraska; North Dakota; South Dakota; Vermont; Washington; West Virginia.

The states with the most charter schools are California (982), Arizona (524), Florida (520), Ohio (360), Texas (280) and Michigan (259), Wisconsin (235), and New York (184).

20th Anniversary Q & A

Jed Wallace, CEO of California Charter Schools Association, answers questions about the past and future of the charter school movement. Read Q & A.

Charter Growth

Here’s a breakdown of the states with the most charter growth for the 2011-12 school year:

  • California: 100 new schools
  • Florida: 76 new schools
  • Wisconsin: 40 new schools
  • Arizona: 35 new schools
  • Ohio: 33 new schools
  • Texas: 14 new schools

This year, more than 5,600 charter schools operate in the United States, 1065 of those in California alone, registering a 41% growth from five years ago (2006-07).

Student enrollment also grew significantly during that same period of time, from 1.16 million in 2006-07 to over 2 million this year. California’s enrollment grew by over 13% from last year, and we currently serve over 484,000 students.


There are many myths out there about charter schools; for accurate information, read CCSA’s Myths Vs. Facts document in English and Spanish. Also check out the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools “Facing the Opposition: Speaking Up for Public Charter Schools.”

For more on what charter schools are, visit CCSA’s website,, where you can find:

You can also view CCSA’s award winning “Charters 101” video in English and Spanish, and more videos on CCSA’s YouTube channel.

Statistics from National Alliance for Public Charter Schools,