About Charters

History of Charter Schools

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1970s
1970s: New England educator, Ray Budde, suggests that groups of teachers be given contracts or "charters" by their local school boards to explore new approaches.
1980s
1980s: Albert Shanker, former president of the American Federation for Teachers, begins talking about teacher-led laboratories of reform that experiment with new instructional practice, are subjected to rigorous evaluation and, if successful, serve as models for other public schools.
1991
1991: Minnesota passes the nation's first charter school law with slim margins.
1992
1992: California passes charter school legislation.
1992: The first charter school, City Academy Charter School, opens in St. Paul, MN.
1996
1996: The Illinois Charter School law passes the General Assembly and is signed by Governor Jim Edgar. The original charter law provides a total of 45 charters with 15 charters in Chicago, 15 charters in the suburbs of Chicago, and 15 charters in downstate Illinois.
1996: The Peoria Alternative Charter School is certified as the first charter school in Illinois and opens its doors. The school served its full three year charter and then converted to a Regional Safe School Program.
1996: The number of Illinois students in charter schools is 76.
1997
1997: The first charter schools, Academy of Communications and Technology, ACORN (then renamed Nuestra America), Chicago Preparatory, Perspectives Charter School, Chicago International Charter School, Triumphant Charter School, and Youth Connection Charter School, open in Chicago.
1997: Enrollment in Illinois charter schools grows to 3,191 in 22 school campuses.
1997-2005
1997-2005: Leadership for Quality Education (LQE) provides support to new charters through the Charter School Resource Center.
1998
1998: Transition Impact Aid passes the General Assembly to encourage suburban and downstate districts to join Chicago in authorizing charters.
1998: New York passes a charter school law.
1998: Betty Shabazz International Charter School, North Kenwood/ Oakland (the first campus of the University of Chicago Charter Schools), UNO Charter School and North Lawndale College Preparatory open in Chicago. The Springfield School Board approves and opens Springfield Ball Charter School.
1999
1999: Noble Street College Prep (the first campus in the Noble Network of Charter Schools) and Alain Locke Charter Academy open in Chicago.
1999: Thomas Jefferson and Prairie Crossing Charter School are the first suburban charters to open. They are approved on appeal to the Illinois State Board of Education after being denied by their local district.
1999: Southern Illinois University- Edwardsville opens a charter school in East St. Louis.
2000
2000: In Chicago, Passages Charter School, LEARN Charter School, and the Charter School of the Chicago Children's Choir are approved, bringing Chicago's charter school total to 16. However, the legislative charter cap at this time is 15, so Passages and the Choir Academy merge under one charter, Global Village Academy.
2000: The three campuses open in 2002. Robertson Charter School opens in Decatur, Illinois.
2000: LQE, the Civic Committee, Chicago Public Schools and the Illinois Business Education Coalition seek more charters in Chicago as Chicago hits the "cap."
2000: The Young Women's Leadership Charter School opens in Chicago.
2000: Governors State Charter School opens in University Park with the full support of the district.
2000: Enrollment in Illinois charter schools grows to 6,231 in 38 school campuses.
2002
2002: Tomorrow's Builders Charter School opens in East St. Louis, Illinois.
2003
2003: The Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS) opens its doors to serve as a statewide membership support and advocacy organization for all Illinois charter schools.
2003: In Springfield, the charter law is amended to increase the charter cap to 60. This adds 15 more charters for Chicago for a total of 30 charters. It removes geographic distinction between the suburbs and downstate.
2003: The ability to replicate is also legislatively limited to the first 15 charters awarded in Chicago. As a compromise, certification requirements for teachers are instituted: all Chicago charters established before April 16, 2003 must have at least 75% of their teachers certified; all subsequent charters must have 50% of teachers certified.
2003: KIPP Ascend opens in Chicago.
2003: ASPIRA of Illinois' first campus opens in Chicago.
2004
2004: Mayor Richard M. Daley and Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan launch Renaissance 2010, an effort to increase performance and parent options by opening 100 new schools of innovation.
2004: ACE Tech Charter High School, Namaste Charter School and Chicago Math & Science Academy open in Chicago.
2005
2005: Leadership for Quality Education (LQE) formally merges into INCS.
2005: Erie Elementary Charter School, Galapagos Charter School and Legacy Academy of Excellence opened in Chicago.
2005: Enrollment in Illinois charter schools grows to 16,642 in 68 school campuses.
2006
2006: Bronzeville Lighthouse Charter School, Catalyst Schools, Chicago Virtual Charter School, Urban Prep Academies, and Providence Englewood Charter School open in Chicago.
2007
2007: The third charter school opens in the Chicago suburbs, Cambridge Lakes Charter School.
2007: Polaris Charter Academy opens in Chicago.
2007: Chicago charter schools represent 4 of the top 10 highest performing open enrollment high schools in Chicago.
2008
2008: Beardstown Charter Learning Academy and YouthBuild McLean County Charter School open in central Illinois.
2008: Amandla Charter School, Academy for Global Citizenship and Henry Ford Power House High (which later joined the Noble Network of Charter Schools) open in Chicago.
2009
2009: In Springfield, the cap on charter schools is raised to 120: 70 for Chicago, 45 outside of Chicago and 5 replicating dropout recovery charters are instituted. There is a new phase in the certification requirement: at least 50% of teachers in a Chicago charter school have to be certified, and by year four of the school's existence 75% must be certified.
2009: EPIC Academy and Rowe Elementary open in Chicago.
2009: Legacy Academy of Excellence and Galapagos Charter School open in Rockford, Illinois.
2010
2010: Chicago Talent Development High School, Instituto Health Science Career Academy, and Prologue – Joshua Johnston School for Fine Art and Design open.
2010: Chicago International Charter School opens a campus in Rockford, Illinois.
2010: Southland College Prep Charter High School opens in Richton Park, Illinois.
2010: Quest Charter Academy opens in Peoria, Illinois.
2010: Enrollment in Illinois charter schools grows to 41,412 in 116 school campuses.
2011
2011: In Springfield, the Charter School Quality Act is passed, establishing the Illinois Charter School Commission, which provides an appeal route for charter school developers denied by their local school district. It also increased accountability for authorizers.
2011: 8 Points Charter School opens in Jacksonville, Illinois and Kwame Nkrumah Academy opens in Chicago.
2011: Chicago charter schools represent 9 of the top 10 highest performing open enrollment high schools in Chicago.
2012
2012: Legal Prep Charter Academies and The Montessori School of Englewood open in Chicago.
2013
2013: Chicago Collegiate, Christopher House, two Horizon Science Academies, and Intrinsic Schools open in Chicago.
2013: Chicago charter schools represent the top 11 highest performing open enrollment public high schools in the city.
2014
2014: Five charter schools open in 2014: Foundations College Prep, Great Lakes Academy Charter School, Horizon Science Academy – Southwest Charter School, Noble – ITW David Speer Campus, Noble – The Noble Academy Campus
2014: Five schools opened in 2014 serving 63,000 students of Charter Schools.