Charter, private schools see growth during pandemic as 1.4 million kids taken out of public schools: study           

A worker is seen in a classroom inside Golden Rule Charter School, April 29, 2009.
A worker is seen in a classroom inside Golden Rule Charter School, April 29, 2009. | Reuters/Jessica Rinaldi

Approximately 1.4 million students were taken out of public schools during the COVID-19 pandemic and transferred to alternative educational systems such as charter and private schools, according to a recent report.

The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools released a report Wednesday analyzing student enrollment trends in 41 states and the District of Columbia during the 2020-2021 school year.

The report noted that approximately 240,000 students were newly enrolled in public charter schools, representing a 7% increase, while 1.4 million students were taken out of traditional public schools.

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Regarding charter schools, the report found that 39 of the 41 states plus Washington, D.C., saw increases in charter school enrollment. Only Illinois, Iowa and Wyoming saw declines in charter enrollment.

For their data, the National Alliance report used state educational agency websites to accrue enrollment statistics for the states analyzed, as well as interviews with parents, students and school staff.  

“It is premature to draw any conclusions about why charter school enrollment grew while enrollment in district public schools declined. And yet the pattern among states in this report is undeniable,” stated the report, noting that the trend of decline in public school enrollment began before the pandemic.

“There is much to learn from families who made the switch, and perhaps the biggest lesson for everyone is how critically important charter schools are to public education.”

In response to the coronavirus pandemic last year, public schools across the country halted in-person classes, switching to virtual learning at all levels to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Based in Washington, D.C., The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools is a nonprofit that advocates on behalf of public charter schools, especially at the federal level. 

The lockdowns on public education prompted many parents to consider alternatives, as many states exempted private schools and other venues from government lockdown mandates.

In March, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that the percentage of households that were homeschooling had increased from 5.4% in the 2019-2020 school year to 11.1% for the 2020-2021 school year.

“A clarification was added to the school enrollment question to make sure households were reporting true homeschooling rather than virtual learning through a public or private school,” explained the Census Bureau.

“It’s clear that in an unprecedented environment, families are seeking solutions that will reliably meet their health and safety needs, their childcare needs and the learning and socio-emotional needs of their children.” 

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