Albert Shanker, president of the American Federation for Teachers, envisions a new type of school in an influential speech at the National Press Club and expands that vision in a New York Times column titled "A Charter for Change." Also that year, Ray Budde publishes Education by Charter: Restructuring School Districts, which outlines how charters could be governed.


Charter schools gain attention at the federal level when President Bill Clinton includes a program to encourage them in the Improving America's Schools Act, a reauthorization of ESEA. This idea wins bipartisan support. During Clinton's presidency the number of charter schools grows from less than 100 to nearly 2,000.

Eight years later, the No Child Left Behind Act reauthorizes the federal charter assistance programs and requires charter schools to meet the same accountability standards as other public schools. The number of charter schools doubles to 4600 during President Bush's presidency.


The D.C. School Reform Act passes and the first charter school in the nation's capital opens.


The Thomas B. Fordham Foundation becomes a charter authorizer in its home state of Ohio. Today, Fordham authorizes eleven Buckeye charters.


Louisiana overhauls New Orleans schools in the wake of Hurricane Katrina's destruction, reconstituting them as nearly all-charter via the statewide Recovery School District. The Big Easy now demonstrates chartering's power as a governance reform and school-improvement tool.


In one of the first major looks at charter quality, the Stanford-based Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) finds wide variance in charter-quality. While 17 percent of charters show achievement gains greater than comparable district schools, 37 percent perform worse.

In Ohio, where lax charter laws encourage school proliferation, charters have no discernible impact on achievement. Fordham takes a deep dive into the 2009 CREDO study.


With a quarter century on the statute books and more than three million children in its schools, the charter movement celebrates its 25th anniversary.


Minnesota passes the country's first charter school law and a year later opens the first such school in St. Paul. 1992 also brings the country's second charter law, this time in California.


Two young Teach For America-trained teachers start the Knowledge Is Power Program, known as KIPP, in Houston and then in New York. Twenty-two years later, the KIPP network, now 200 schools, serves nearly 80,000 students.

The program, however, doesn't get off the ground without support from Houston Independent School District superintendent, Rod Paige. Years later, he speaks about lessons learned from KIPP and other early charters.


On the tenth anniversary of charter schools, Bruno Manno and Checker Finn, along with Gregg Vanourek, publish Charter Schools in Action: Renewing Public Education, analyzing the first decade and forecasting a bright future.


The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools is founded. It is the flagship of the charter school movement today, advocating for pro-choice policy reforms and educating the public on the benefits and opportunities that charters provide.

At the Alliance's annual national conference, they honor influential figures in charter history; in 2014, that includes Checker.


Eva Moskowitz, former chair of the New York City Council, opens the first Success Academy School in that city. Now a network of 41 schools serving 14,000 students, it's known--sometimes controversially--for its rigorous instruction and stellar test results.


Fordham commissions a second look at charter performance in the Buckeye State: CREDO's "Charter School Performance in Ohio" (December 2014). Bellwether Education Partner also analyzes the state charter law: "The Road to Redemption: Ten Policy Recommendations for Ohio’s Charter Schools Sector."

The analyses spur legislative action; HB2 mandates stronger accountability provisions for charter authorizers. Governor Kasich signs it on November 1, 2015.

Click here for our reports created in conjunction with CREDO and Bellwether Education Partners.