Education

Americans Are Gaga For Charter Schools

America’s enthusiasm for charter schools continues to grow, with nearly 3 million American schoolchildren attending one of 6,700 charters rather than traditional public schools.

That’s an increase of 348,000 over last year, a surge of a whopping 14 percent from the 2013-14 school year, when charter enrollment rose by 288,000.

With about 50 million children enrolled in public schools, that means nearly 6 percent of all public schoolchildren are in charters rather than traditional schools, and that proportion could reach 10 percent in just a few years. While reform advocates have continued to butt heads with teachers unions and other defenders of traditional education, parents, it seems, are voting with their feet for school choice.

Charter schools have emerged as one of the most popular aspects of the ongoing drive to reform American education. Such schools are publicly funded and free to attend, but they can be run by independent non-profits and are often exempted from the restrictions placed on ordinary public schools, such as requirements to hire unionized teachers

The numbers were compiled by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, which was quick to tout their implications.

“We are not surprised parents are choosing charter schools for their child’s education,” Nina Rees, president and CEO of NAPCS, said in a statement. “The growth in charter school enrollment shows parents’ demand for high-quality educational options. We are optimistic that the number of public charter schools will continue to grow to serve even more students and families.”

NAPCS’s numbers also show the “churn” among charter schools, as 500 new school openings were offset by over 200 closures. Charter supporters have pushed for such closures, arguing that the elimination of subpar charters is one way that charters can outperform ordinary public schools in the long term.

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