May 5, 2014

US Charter School Waiting Lists Top 1 Million for the First Time

The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools announces today in a press release (below) that charter school waiting lists tops 1 million students.  Click here to read the waiting list report.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools released new estimates that show the number of student names on public charter school waiting lists has reached 1,043,311, breaking one million student names for the first time.  

“Year after year, parent demand for charter schools continues to rise and this year is no exception,” said Nina Rees, National Alliance President and CEO. “As more families see the remarkable results charter schools are delivering, more are looking to enroll their children. Despite continued growth in the number of charter schools nationwide, we are failing to keep up with this high demand. If we want to meet the needs of students and families, policymakers, charter school leaders, and other stakeholders must come together and determine how we can help address this growing list of students waiting to attend a charter school.” 

This year’s estimate is 123,304 higher than last year’s estimate of 920,007 – a growth rate of 13 percent. Since the 2008-09 school year, the waiting list estimate has grown by 186 percent. State such as California and New York now have more than 150,000 student names on waiting lists.

This survey also includes an estimate of the number of individual students on waiting lists. The estimate shows that at a minimum, more than 580,000 total individual students – many of whom are on multiple charter school waitlists in the hopes of increasing the chance of getting into at least one – are on waiting lists across the country.

“It’s no surprise that parents are clamoring for the opportunity to send their children to a high-performing public charter school,” continued Rees. “Study and after study shows that public charter schools are beating the odds by helping our nation’s most disadvantaged students pursue their dreams. Because of charter schools, more students are graduating, attending college, and going on to earn higher incomes. We must end the waiting list so that every student who wants to has the opportunity to attend a high-quality charter school.”

To address the growing waiting list, the National Alliance supports increased funding for the Charter Schools Program, a federal program that provides start-up and expansion grants to charter schools. The federal Charter Schools Program is the only dedicated source of money devoted to funding the creation of new charter schools and to help proven charter schools expand or open new campuses. Right now, the Charter Schools Program is funded at $248 million—less than 1 percent of federal spending on k-12 education, even though 5 percent of all American children attend charter schools. The National Alliance has called for funding to be increased to $330 million.


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