New York City Charter School Center celebrates 25 years of charter schools

Group of diverse young students standing together in classroom
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Over 600 New York City families, elected officials, school leaders, and community advocates gathered at the New York State Capital to celebrate 25 years of charter schools in the city.

The event marked the positive impact of charter schools on a generation of NYC students, with the charter sector growing significantly since the passage of New York State’s Charter School Act in 1998.

“In 1998, no one could have foreseen that 25 years later, approximately nearly 150,000 students would have chosen a charter school as the public school that works best for them. Nor could they have imagined just how embedded into the fabric of their communities – and our system of public schools – charter schools have become, or even the academic success they have proven to be,” said James Merriman, CEO, New York City Charter School Center. “This milestone is only possible thanks to the hard work and dedication of school leaders, teachers, and education advocates who continue to go above and beyond for students and families. As we look ahead to the next 25 years, we will continue working to ensure that every student has equitable access to the high-quality public education that charter schools provide.”

“From closing the achievement gap for thousands of Black and Latino students to providing specialized education for students with IEPS or English Language Learners, charter schools have made a profound impact on the lives of New York City students and families,” said Jaime White, Chief Academic Officer, Merrick Academy. “Every child deserves access to a high-quality education that serves their individual needs and allows them to succeed inside and outside of the classroom, no matter where they live — and that’s exactly what charter schools have provided for thousands of students over the past 25 years.”

With 274 charter schools on approximately 420 campuses serving 142,500 students (15% of all public schools students in NYC), the New York City Charter School Center launched a comprehensive advocacy campaign highlighting the successes and voices within the charter school community. The year-long campaign, initiated in fall 2023, aims to showcase the innovative approaches of public charter schools and their contribution to improving the overall public education system.

The Charter Center, an independent nonprofit dedicated to ensuring all children in NYC have access to high-quality education, supports the opening and flourishing of public charters and engages the community on key educational issues. Find out more about the New York City Charter School Center at www.nyccharterschools.org.