Charter schools are the darling of the education reform movement —Governor Mitch Daniels and many state lawmakers champion charters as one solution to increase “educational opportunities.” But for families in rural areas, charter schools aren’t really an option.
As you’ll see in our map, only 19 of Indiana’s 92 counties contain at least one charter school. Those living in rural areas would have to travel more than 40 miles, in many cases, to get to the nearest charter schools. Those 19 counties have a little more than half the state’s residents.
Charter schools have traditionally taken hold in large urban communities, and Indiana is no exception. Indianapolis is the only city in Indiana where the mayor can issue charters without approval from the state and neither Republican Greg Ballard nor his predecessor, Democrat Bart Peterson, have been shy with that authority. The city contains 28 of Indiana’s charter schools. Add to that the 10 in the Gary/East Chicago area and 38 of 47 charter schools are located in two cities.
By comparison, the tiny southern Indiana town of Paoli is 47-miles or an hour of winding county road from the nearest charter school in Bloomington. Jasper is nearly 70-miles from the nearest charter school.
Are you in the gray area? Do you want to send your child to a charter school, but feel the drive’s too long? Tell us all about it at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With StateImpact Reporter Kyle Stokes and NPR Data Analyst Matt Stiles