As we approach the 20th anniversary of the opening of our nation’s first charter school, these innovative schools are providing significant public educational options for parents and students in an increasing number of communities. The enclosed report, A Growing Movement: America’s Largest Charter School Communities demonstrates that in areas where families have a choice, a growing number of them are choosing public charter schools over the traditional public schools available to them. Consequently, the public education landscape is shifting in many major cities.
Today, a record number of school districts—six—have at least 30 percent of their public school students enrolled in public charter schools. Additionally, 18 school districts have 20 percent or more of their public school students enrolled in charter schools, eleven more than when we first printed this report six years ago. Nearly 100 districts now have at least 10 percent of public school students in charter schools.
These numbers illustrate that charter enrollment growth remains strong. We estimate that there are now more than 2 million students in public charter schools across the country. And with hundreds of thousands more students across the country hoping for an additional seat in a charter school, we expect our share of the public school landscape to continue to rise in the coming years.
As a result of recent policy changes in several states, public charter schools are poised to continue their robust growth. For example, in the last two years alone, 19 states partially or entirely lifted their arbitrary caps on the number of charter schools, and Maine enacted a law in 2011 to permit charter schools to operate for the first time in its history. The numbers you see in the enclosed report are predicted to grow in the years to come.