By Christine Cooke

1. Charter schools give parents and students academic options. As of 2014, roughly 7 million children nationwide were attending a school of their choice.

2. Charters give parents and students non-academic options. Many parents use education to improve their child’s peer environment or classroom behavior expectations.

3. Charter schools are meeting a growing demand for parents looking for something beyond the status quo. Between 2004 and 2014, student enrollment in charters increased 100 percent.

4. Charter schools are held to a higher standard of accountability – they can fail and be shut down. Unlike the traditional district schools, which can produce dismal results and continue to enroll students, when charter schools do not perform well, they can be closed.

5. Charter schools act as educational “laboratories of democracy.” Innovators can learn what actually works for the student.

6. Charter schools give educators professional options. Like students, not all teachers thrive in the same environment, and many teachers don’t like how prescriptive some classrooms can be.

7. Charter schools give students the opportunity to have mission-specific curriculum and opportunities without the private school price. If your student wants a STEM- or art-focused education, they can get it free.

8. Charter school attendance can improve college achievement. Research shows that attendance at charter schools correlates with higher college attendance, college persistence, and higher earnings.

9. Charter schools improve academic performance for students in urban areas. Research shows that students in urban areas perform significantly better in school if they attend a charter school than if they attend a traditional public school. Research also shows significantly higher gains in math and reading for students attending charter schools in urban areas.

10. Charter schools increase parental involvement in a child’s education. In research highlighted by the National Education Association, parental involvement improves student test scores, attendance, graduation rates and postsecondary achievement.

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Christine Cooke works as a policy analyst for Sutherland Institute’s Center for Educational Progress. Christine has a bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University in English Teaching and graduated from Arizona State University with a law degree. Prior to joining Sutherland Institute, Christine was an English teacher at a public junior high school and a residential treatment center. As a student attorney in the Arizona State University Juvenile Advocacy Clinic, Christine represented clients in juvenile law proceedings and taught community legal education to high school students. She worked in legal and policy research with the legal counsel for the Arizona Office of the Governor, legal counsel for Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, the Goldwater Institute, and The Heritage Foundation. Christine has made appearances on Fox-13 News and KSL’s Sunday Edition and is regularly featured in regional publications and radio shows. She currently sits on a state committee that advises the Utah State Board of Education on specific education issues. When in her home state of Arizona, she loves to spend time with her family. She also loves music, hiking, and making cookies.

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