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Reason Foundation

Universal Charter Schools in New Orleans

Lisa Snell
October 17, 2011, 12:46pm

My favorite report of the year is out. Instead of universal preschool, how about universal charter schools in New Orleans and many other cities with increasing market share. Charter schools can hardly be accused of creaming or discrimination when every student is enrolled in a charter school. 

A record number of school districts—six—have at least 30 percent of their public school students enrolled in public charter schools, according to an annual report released Monday by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS) entitled A Growing Movement: American’s Largest Charter School Communities – Sixth Annual Edition. In addition, an all-time high of 18 school districts have more than 20 percent of their public school students enrolled in charter schools.

“This report 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,” said Ursula Wright, interim president and CEO of the NAPCS. “Consequently, the public education landscape is shifting in many major cities.”

Exceptional findings from the report include:

"We estimate that there are now more than 2 million students in public charter schools across the country," said Wright. "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."

The "Top 10" highest percentages of public charter school students are in these 12 districts: New Orleans Public School System, La. (70 percent), District of Columbia Public Schools, (39 percent), Detroit Public Schools, Mich. (37 percent), Kansas City, Mo. (35 percent), Flint City School District, Mich. (32 percent), Gary Community School Corporation, Ind. (30 percent), St. Louis Public Schools, Mo. (29 percent), Dayton Public Schools, Ohio (27 percent), Youngstown City Schools, Ohio (24 percent), Albany City School District, NY (23 percent), Cleveland Municipal School District, Ohio (23 percent) and Toledo Public Schools, Ohio (23 percent).

The "Top 10" districts serving the highest number of public charter school students are: Los Angeles Unified School District, Calif. (79,385), Detroit Public Schools, Mich. (45,073), the School District of Philadelphia, Pa. (40,322), New York City Department of Education, N.Y. (38,743), Chicago Public Schools, Ill. (37,909), Houston Independent School District, Tex. (37,499), Miami-Dade County Public Schools. Fla. (35,380), District of Columbia Public Schools (29,366), New Orleans Public School System, La. (27,728) and Broward County Public Schools, Fla. (24,150).

The "Top 10" districts that experienced the highest annual growth in the percentage of public charter school students are: Orange County Public Schools, Fla. (42 percent), Memphis City Schools, Tenn. (41 percent), New York City Department of Education, N.Y. (29 percent), Mesa Public Schools, Ariz. (27 percent), Baltimore City Public Schools, Md. (26 percent), New Orleans Public Schools, La. (23 percent), Alpine School District, Utah (22 percent), San Antonio Independent School District, Tex, (21 percent), Indianapolis Public Schools, Ind. (20 percent), Los Angeles Unified School District, Calif. (19 percent) and the School District of Philadelphia, Pa. (19 percent).

Download a copy of the report A Growing Movement: America's Largest Charter School Communities - Sixth Annual Edition athttp://www.publiccharters.org/publication/?id=613. The report uses 2010-2011 school-year enrollment figures.




Lisa Snell is Director of Education


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