Well over two million students across 43 states and the District of Columbia returned to charter schools for back-to-school this fall. Charter schools are public schools that have more flexibility to operate in innovative ways that better serve students and families. The millions of students attending charters make them the most-accessed form of school choice. For many families, charter schools have been a godsend, providing an alternative option where public schools are failing, dangerous, or just not the best possible t for a child’s individual needs.

Charter schools have success because they are operated differently from public schools; the whole point of chartering is to provide families with different choices from their assigned traditional school. Protecting that flexibility from rigid regulatory systems is critical to maintaining the advantages that charter schools have over traditional public schools, and to their continued growth.

Strong charter laws are the key to charter growth and differentiate states like Arizona, which has an academically-successful and rapidly-growing charter sector, from states like Virginia, which has just a handful of charter schools. Strong charter laws prevent bottlenecking by giving charters multiple routes to authorization rather than concentrating power in the hands of those with a stake in propping up the traditional system. They will also ensure funding parity with traditional public schools, and protect charters’ all-important flexibility by granting broad operational freedom.

Charter schools provide a much-needed option for families all across the United States. All states can bene t from providing parents with the choice to send their children to thriving charter schools.