Charter school enrollment soared nationwide during pandemic as parents sought alternatives

New report finds 7% increase in charter enrollment, 3.5% drop in public schools.

Updated: November 26, 2022 - 11:09pm

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The pandemic prompted a seismic shift in education as parents moved their children to charter schools and kept them there even after public school reopened, a new report shows.

More than 240,000 students enrolled during the pandemic in charter schools, a 7% increase, while public schools lost approximately 1.5 million students, or nearly 3.5%, the report by the nonprofit National Alliance for Public Charter Schools said.

The gains held study even when public school reopened, the report noted.

"Our analysis clearly demonstrates that enrollment gains in charter schools have persisted while enrollment losses for district public schools have remained," NAPCS representatives Drew Jacobs and Debbie Veney wrote. "... Charter schools are the only types of public schools that increased enrollment during the pandemic."

You can read the full report here:

The report found charter school enrollments grew in 39 of the 41 states studied, with increases in white, black, and Hispanic enrollment.

"These data make one thing clear: the COVID-19 pandemic has opened the eyes of parents and families to other possible options for their children's education and with this new awareness they are making different choices," the report said. "In nearly every state, more families are choosing charter schools, homeschooling, and private school, while fewer are choosing district public schools."

Families that made a change reported significant satisfaction: 89% of parents whose children have switched school types report that they or their child experienced a positive change as a result of the switch. And 78% reported becoming more involved in their child's education because of what they saw during the pandemic.

"Even after schools reopened, in-person instruction resumed, and the nation settled into the reality that COVID is not something that will be going away quickly," the report observed.