Voting with Their Feet: A State-level Analysis of Public Charter School and District Public School Enrollment Trends shows hundreds of thousands of families switched to charter schools during the first full school year of the pandemic. During the 2020-21 school year, charter school enrollment grew 7%, the largest increase in half a decade.
Nearly 240,000 new students enrolled in these innovative, student-centered public schools, despite a sharp decrease in overall public school enrollment during the same period. Of the 42 states evaluated, 39 experienced charter school enrollment increases, while only three saw modest decreases. By comparison, district school enrollment dropped precipitously in every state.
During the 2020-21 school year, the pandemic forced schools of all types to close their doors and switch to remote learning. Many families were dissatisfied with the quality of what was available to their children. And that dissatisfaction led them to learn more about the other educational options available. For many families, charter schools’ nimbleness and flexibility made them the right public school choice.