As Georgia has shown, there is a great deal of parental interest in charter schools. The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools announced today enrollment in charter schools, which are public schools that operate with autonomy in exchange for contractual performance goals, has surpassed two million. (There are 46 million students in the public k-12 system.)
Here is the release from the alliance:
Over 500 new public charter schools opened their doors in the 2011-12 school year, an estimated increase of 200,000 students. This year marks the largest single–year increase ever recorded in terms of the number of additional students attending charters.
There are now approximately 5,600 public charter schools enrolling what is estimated to be more than two million students nationwide. The numbers equate to a 13 percent growth in students in just one year, while more than 400,000 students remain on wait lists to attend the public school of their choice. This significant milestone demonstrates increased demand from families who want more high-quality educational options for their children.
“We are very encouraged to see the active role parents are playing to ensure their children receive a high-quality education,” said Ursula Wright, interim CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. “The results that charter schools are demonstrating are not only a testament to the hard work of thousands of teachers and charter leaders, but to families demanding more in terms of what a high-quality education means for their individual children.”
The top states that added the greatest number of students over the past year include: California with 47,000 new students; Florida with 23,500 additional students; Texas with 22,000 additional students; and Ohio with more than 12,000 additional students.
California leads the nation in total number of charter schools with 983 schools in operation, followed by Arizona with 524, Florida with 520, Ohio with 360, and Texas with 284.
In addition to the more than 500 new schools nationwide, roughly 150 public charter schools did not re-open their doors this fall. These schools closed for a variety of reasons, including low enrollment, financial challenges and low academic performance.
The closures provide further evidence that the charter school intent works—schools that do not meet the needs of their students should close.
The states with the largest number of school closures include: California (34), Arizona (22), Florida (18), Ohio (14), and Wisconsin (11).
Charter schools are tuition-free public schools that are allowed to be more innovative while being held for accountable for improved student achievement. These figures were compiled based on data from state departments of education and state charter school support organizations and resource centers.
National and statewide public charter school data can be found on the Public Charter School Dashboard.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog