There are currently 87 charter schools serving 57,200 students in 40 cities and 18 counties throughout New Jersey.

Charter schools are tuition-free public schools run by non-profit organizations open to all students regardless of zip code, race/ethnicity or ability level. Charter schools operate with more flexibility than traditional public schools in exchange for increased accountability and high financial, academic and managerial standards by an authorizer. A “charter” is a contract with an authorizer detailing the school’s mission, program, performance goals and methods of assessments. In New Jersey, the New Jersey Department of Education serves as the sole authorizer and oversees all public charter schools in the state. Check out our fact sheets.

Public charter schools are:

Publicly-funded, tuition-free and open to all students
Authorized by the Commissioner of Education (NJDOE)
Run on four to five-year performance contracts
Governed by an independent non-profit board of trustees
Subject to state laws related to health, safety, civil rights, certification, academic standards, and student assessment
Able to use increased autonomy and innovative teaching methods to meet the needs of all students

Myths/Facts About Charter Schools

Myth 1

Charter schools take money from traditional district schools

In NJ, public school funding follows the student, thus funding goes to the public school that families choose for their child, including traditional public schools, magnet schools, charter public schools, or renaissance schools. Charter schools, on average, receive less funding per student than traditional public schools and are responsible for their paying for and maintaining their own facilities.

Myth 2

Charter schools do not educate all children and select students based on ability

Charter schools are free public schools open to all students regardless of zip code, income, race/ethnicity or ability level. There are no admission tests or special entrance requirements. In NJ, charter schools educate a nearly twice the rate of economically disadvantaged students and a comparable rate of students with disabilities as traditional district schools. In Newark and Camden, many charter schools participate in Common Enrollment systems used by the school district.

Myth 3

Charter schools lack accountability

Charter schools run on performance contracts that focus on student outcomes. If charter schools fail to provide a quality education to students, they are forced to close. Charter schools receive annual audits conducted by NJDOE and an independent fiscal auditor based on the Performance Framework. If held to the standards in the Performance Framework, dozens of struggling districts would be forced to close.

Myth 4

Charter schools are privatizing public education (and fulfilling billionaire agendas)

All charter schools in NJ are public schools open to any child, and free of charge. Charter schools in NJ are all non-profit organizations. The vast majority of funding for charter schools comes from federal, state and local tax dollars. As with all public schools, charter schools fundraise from a variety of sources such as families at the school, local businesses and foundations.


New Jersey’s public charter schools are providing high-quality educational options to parents and students all over the state. With a variety of different focus areas — including STEM/STEAM, performing arts, environmental stewardship, leadership, community service, and more — there are plenty of innovative schools to choose from.