Prop Zero
The Starting Point for Commentary and Coverage of California Politics

We're No. 1 in Something: Charter Schools



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    LOS ANGELES - MAY 6: Los Angeles mayoral run-off candidate Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa visits the children's music workshop during his tour of New West Charter Middle School on May 6, 2005 in Los Angeles, California. Former LA Mayor Richard Riordan, reportedly, was scheduled to visit the high performing charter school with Villaraigosa but canceled to return to Sacramento where he recently resigned from his post as the state's education chief. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

    California is leading the country in two educational categories: the number of charter schools, and in the growth of the number of charter schools.

    Charter schools are public schools that are exempted from some rules and regulations in order to spur innovation. According to a report released today by the Center for Education Reform, there are now 941 charter schools in California, which is by far the most (Arizona is second with 581). The state also saw 114 charter schools open in 2009-2010, the fastest growth in the nation. (Florida was second, with 56 new schools).

    Is the state's leadership in charters a good thing? It depends whom you ask.

    Supporters across the political spectrum see charters as a way to create reform and choice within the existing public school system. But there is a robust debate about whether charter schools perform better than regular public schools.

    And charter schools remain only a fraction -- slightly less than 10 percent -- of a California public education system that has 9,900 schools educating more than 6 million children.