December 7, 2011

Number of charter school students soars to 2 million as states pass laws encouraging expansion

By Associated Press
MIAMI — The number of students attending charter schools has soared to more than 2 million as states pass laws lifting caps and encouraging their expansion, according to figures released Wednesday.

The growth represents the largest increase in enrollment over a single year since charter schools were founded nearly two decades ago. In all, more than 500 new charter schools were opened in the 2011-12 school year. And about 200,000 more students are enrolled now than a year before, an increase of 13 percent nationwide.

“This 2 million student mark is quite significant,” said Ursula Wright, interim CEO of the nonprofit National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, which released the study. “It demonstrates increased demand by families who want to see more high quality education options for their children.”

Wright and others attribute the boom in large part to the Obama administration’s $4.35 billion Race to the Top competition, which rewarded states for taking on ambitious education changes that included expanding charter schools. In order to qualify, many states changed laws to encourage the growth. Sixteen states have lifted caps on the number of them and student enrollment over the last three years, according to the National Council of State Legislatures.  Read the complete article in the Washington Post.


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