National Alliance for Public Charter Schools – February 1, 2017 – Each year we look at the number of charter schools currently operating and estimate the number of students who attend them. Today the National Alliance released its “Estimated Enrollment” report and for the first time the number of students who attend charter public schools is estimated to have surpassed 3 million. This means that over 200,000 more children are attending charter schools this school year than attended last year and, given that the federal government estimates a total change in public school enrollment of just over 100,000 students, it also means that more families are choosing charter schools. In just the last decade, charter school enrollment has nearly tripled – from 1.2 million students in 2006-07 to 3.1 million this year. Also worth noting, 26 states plus the District of Columbia, are home to at least 50 charter schools.
The continued growth of the charter school movement is driven by an outsized parent demand for high-quality schools and more flexibility to select which one is best for their child. We know that the percentage of parents who would put their child in a charter school tomorrow, if they could, is probably about double the percentage of parents who currently do.
As the charter school movement grows, we expect demand will grow right beside it. We also know that there are state and federal policies that restrict the ability of the movement to grow to meet that demand. Hopefully, the growing numbers of charter school students and parents will encourage policies that allow more high-quality charter public schools to open.