It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
That’s right! It’s the release of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools’ annual “Market Share” report, which shows the percentage of students in major cities that are educated by charters.
I love this thing. It is chronicling a renaissance in urban public education.
The report is a yearly reminder of the amazing growth of charter schools and, more importantly, the expendability of the urban district.
Anyone who doubts the premise of my new book The Urban School System of the Future (reviewed here by Checker, here by Education Next, here by Sarah Tantillo)—that we can move beyond the failed district structure and create a system of schools based on the principles of chartering—need only spend a couple moments with this document.
In 15 cities, a quarter of public-school-attending students or more are now enrolled in charter schools. See the following examples:
- Indianapolis: 25%.
- Cleveland: 28%
- St. Louis: 31%
- Kansas City: 37%
- Washington, D.C.: 41%
- Detroit: 41%
- New Orleans: 76%
When charters began 20 years ago, no one imagined that this was possible—that this new way of delivering public education would provide the desperately needed alternative to the dreadful district system.
But before our eyes, chartering is replacing the district in America’s cities, showing that new schools can be started, failing schools can be closed, great schools can be expanded, and parents can exercise choice within public education.
You’ll find lots of other interesting tidbits in the report, including the areas where charters are growing the fastest (Clark County, Nevada is number one with 64 percent growth in the last year) and the cities with the most students in charters (Los Angeles is number one with 98,576 students).
As fascinating as these data points are, please remember the most important finding: We’re seeing in real life—not hoping, not hypothesizing, but witnessing—that the century-old district structure, that behemoth we once thought of as immortal and irreplaceable, is being eclipsed.
In America’s cities, the district is yesterday’s news.