(The Center Square) — Since the pandemic began, Pennsylvania public charter school enrollments have increased nearly 12 percent as parents have opted to withdraw their children from traditional public schools.
according to a new report by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, the change isn’t just in Pennsylvania. Since the 2019-20 school year, the 41 states with charter systems surveyed in the report saw a 7 percent increase in charter school enrollments and a roughly 3.5 percent decrease in public school enrollments.
In Pennsylvania, the decline was slightly smaller at about 3.2 percent.
According to the report, the changes are not simply a result of population change.
“Growth in charter school enrollments, both overall and for white, black, and Hispanic students, outpaces school-age population growth (ages 5 to 17) in most states included in our analysis,” it said in the report.
While charter schools have benefited since the pandemic, they haven’t gotten the majority of students who have left public counties.
“In the 25 states we surveyed, we found that white student enrollment in charter schools increased by nearly 30,000 students, black student enrollment increased by nearly 35,000 students, and Hispanic student enrollment increased by just over 95,000 students.” , says the report. “At the same time, the district sector lost more than 920,000 white students, nearly 180,000 black students, and just over 140,000 Hispanic students.”
The majority of parents who have switched children say the change has been positive. The pandemic prompted her to pay more attention to her children’s education as well.
“Seventy-eight percent say they have become more involved in their children’s education because of what they have seen of their children’s education during the pandemic,” the report said.
Nationwide, about 240,000 students transferred to charter public schools since 2019-20, while other public schools lost nearly 1.5 million students.
This loss worried the Charter School Alliance.
“The figures in this report are more sobering than celebratory. Although the National Alliance supports charter schools, we too are part of the overall public school ecosystem. We do not rejoice in this mass exodus from the district schools,” the report said. “It’s not just about parents choosing one type of public school over another. The bigger takeaway is that we are witnessing a parenting revolution that is being spurred on by the pandemic and is likely to be here to stay.”
In Pennsylvania, Democrat Josh Shapiro – the governor-elect – has shown his support expanding school choice and have charter schools improved test results in the past few years. Democrats control the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and Republicans control the Senate.
Anthony Hennen is a reporter for The middle square. Previously he worked for Philly weekly and the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal. He is editor-in-chief of emigrants, a journalistic project focused on the Appalachia region.
This article was republished with permission from The middle square.