In a report released today, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools finds at least 10 percent of students attend charter public schools in more than 160 school districts nationwide.
Key findings from “A Growing Movement: America’s Largest Charter School Communities” include:
Los Angeles enrolled more than 150,000 students in charter schools in 2014-15 compared to 139,200 in 2013-14 – the highest for any school district in the country.
For the first time, Kansas City, Mo., and Gary, Ind., enrolled more than 40 percent of their public school students in charter schools.
Given the success of charter schools in Washington, D.C., enrollment has increased from 25 percent in 2005-06 to 44 percent in 2014-15.
The number of charter school students in New York City has quadrupled since 2008 – from 20,000 to nearly 85,000.
Among the districts singled out in the report for high charter school enrollment is Hall County, where the district itself has converted schools to charter status. Hall ranks 8th in the country for the percentage of students attending a charter school. In noting the rise this week in the district’s graduation rate to 83.7 percent, Hall Superintendent Will Schofield cited the charter schools, saying, “As a comparison, in 2006 our district graduation rate was 67.5 percent. Through the creation of 25 charter schools and programs of choice, our teachers and leaders have worked tirelessly to support our students in finding their unique gifts and passions.”
Despite the growth of charter schools, reservations remain over whether the schools are on the same footing as the traditional public schools down the street. Among those voicing concern was Hillary Clinton at a South Carolina event over the weekend.
Clinton said, “Most charter schools — I don’t want to say every one — but most charter schools, they don’t take the hardest-to-teach kids, or, if they do, they don’t keep them. And so the public schools are often in a no-win situation, because they do, thankfully, take everybody, and then they don’t get the resources or the help and support that they need to be able to take care of every child’s education.”
In a statement, Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, said: “We appreciate Secretary Clinton’s decades-long support for charter public schools…That being said, we do take issue with Secretary Clinton’s overgeneralizing of charter schools not serving these so-called ‘hardest-to-teach’ students, particularly when the facts are so strong to the contrary. There is no difference in the percentage of English Language Learner students served between charter and non-charter public schools. Nationally, in the 2013-14 school year, charter schools served a higher-percentage of low-income students (57%) – than district-run schools (52%) – and have better outcomes.”