Charter School Enrollment Continues to Increase

The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools recently released its annual report—and to no surprise, charter school enrollment continues to grow—increasing 62% in the last five years. Chartering now educates about 6% of the nation’s public school students.

Let’s put this in another context. Ten years ago, only one community in the nation enrolled at least 30% of its public school students in charter public schools. Today, 14 communities meet that threshold.

Where are some of these communities?

Los Angeles enrolls more than 150,000 students in charter schools, highest for any school district in the country. Los Angeles charters also reported outstanding results in this year’s NAEP results. The number of students enrolled in public charter schools in LA alone would place Los Angeles charter schools in the top 15 of the 100 largest school districts in the U.S. 

Washington D.C. now has 44% charter school market share, an increase from 25% in 2005-06. This follows their demographic trends of more families moving back to the District.

Kansas City, Missouri and Gary, Indiana are two cities that might surprise for high charter school market share. Both cities enroll more than 40% of their public school students in charter schools.

Today, in more than 160 districts, at least 10% of students attend charter public schools. I appreciate this data for our urban centers, and the Alliance does a good job collecting it.

Perhaps more telling for the future of chartering is that the Alliance reports that parental demand for charter public schools is at an all-time high. I suspect parental demand is equally strong for public school choices in suburban and rural areas as in urban centers. I hope 2016 sees growth of quality charter schools throughout the sector, meeting needs of all families, regardless of their zip code.