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School Choice

As Charter Schools Grow, Waitlists Grow Faster

Despite a growing body of research that shows high-quality charter schools help improve educational outcomes for urban students, and despite clear demand from students and families, there are still limits placed on the expansion of good charter schools. A recent report from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools takes a closer look at 10 urban districts across the country to see how many students are trying to find a school that is a better fit for them. Two major takeaways:
  1. In some cities, there are more student names on waitlists than there are students enrolled in charter schools.

    In Boston, for example, there are nearly three times more names on waitlists than there are public charter school students, and New York City has more than twice as many names on public charter school waitlists than there are enrolled students.
  2. Although the 10 districts examined in the report are from different regions with a variety of policy contexts, they still have something in common:

    However, what many of these school districts have in common is that their traditional public school systems perform well below their state’s average, and they have public charter schools that are achieving positive outcomes for their students.
It isn’t a surprise, then, that the waitlists are so long. The waitlists identified in the NAPCS report range from 1,300 students in Cleveland to 163,000 students in New York City. To continue making these students wait on lists when high-quality options could be available to them is simply not fair.
Valentina Korkes is the Deputy Director of Policy at Education Post.
Valentina Payne
Valentina Payne joined Bellwether Education Partners in 2021 as chief of staff to Andy Rotherham on the External Relations team. Prior to Bellwether, she spent seven years at brightbeam, where she most recently served as its chief growth officer, overseeing operations, finance, fundraising, and strategic growth of the organization.

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