What Does a Charter School Desert Look Like?


Our report and interactive map highlight areas of the country with relatively high poverty but no charter schools, places we are calling "charter school deserts."

We highlight in yellow each census tract with 1) more than 20 percent of the population living in poverty, and 2) no charter schools. To give you an idea of what these deserts may look like, consider the following cities.

The Denver area has dozens of charter schools, but there are still three large charter school deserts: north of downtown, in the central western part of the city, and to the east of the city near Aurora. Each dot represents a charter school and the three large circles highlight the parts of the metropolitan area that are extended charter school deserts.

Charter school deserts in the Denver, Colorado, metro area

Although Washington D.C. is home to many charter schools, Prince George’s County in Maryland, outside of the D.C. suburbs, is an exception. A large cluster of higher poverty census tracts in the northwest region of the county is served by not a single charter school, and the few charter schools that are located in the county are in lower-need areas.

Charter school deserts in the Prince George’s County, Maryland, metro area

Now that you have the hang of what a charter school desert looks like, go to our interactive map and check out your city!