Charters continue a steady march across the public schooling landscape, with new numbers out last week that show that enrollment growth at the taxpayer-funded, autonomous schools is robust, especially in cities like Detroit, the District of Columbia, and New Orleans. Still, the schools serve only about 1.5 million students across the country, a tiny segment of the nation’s 56 million children enrolled in K-12 public schools.
In California, 88 new charters opened this fall, raising that state’s total number to 809 schools, serving roughly 341,000 students. The California Charter Schools Association said new and existing charters added 56,000 new students this year, making 2009-10 the largest single-year enrollment increase since the schools first began opening 17 years ago. More than half of the new schools to open this year are replications of already existing schools, perhaps signaling that the strongest future growth in charters will come from already-tested organizations, rather than start-ups.
Like the nation, charters in California remain a small sliver of the state’s overall enrollment of 6 million public school students. But charters are gaining ground, especially in the Los Angeles Unified School District, where 19 new charter schools opened this fall, bringing the total number of schools in that district to 163.
And those numbers could keep rising in Los Angeles as the district’s new school choice policy starts to kick in, though there are ongoing disagreements between district officials and charter operators that will have to be worked out first.
A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.