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Pandemic Enrollment Gains During COVID

Vote with their feet

There is a saying that parents “vote with their feet” through where they choose to enroll their students in school. During the 2020-2021 COVID 19 pandemic school year, parents made significant shifts away from district schools to charter schools as documented in this study by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. Across California, district enrollment was down 4.46% and charter school enrollment was up 2.26% as documented in this study, Voting with Their Feet: A State-level Analysis of Public Charter School and District Public School Enrollment Trends.

Nationally, the shifts in enrollment were even more significant with nearly 240,000 new students enrolled in charter schools during that period, a 7% year-over-year increase. This likely represents more than double the rate of growth from the prior year.

In California, students of color left districts at higher rates than White students. Nearly 5.36% of African American students left district schools in and 2.67% of Hispanic/Latino student left. 1.19% of White students left district schools. Overall, while California district schools lost 175,761 students, charter school enrollment grew with 15,283 more students enrolled.

students enrolled

As families make the best choice for their children, are federal, state, and local policymakers listening?

Michelle Thompson, an Oakland mom at Aspire Berkley Maynard K-8, reflected on her experience during the pandemic, “Spending the time with our own children at home we were able to see where our students were and where the struggles were. The charters prepared more quickly and brought the resources for what our students needed… Families moved and made different choices with the power that they had.”

To learn more about the findings in the report, please visit the NAPCS website where you can download the full report and watch a recorded webinar on, Voting with Their Feet: A State-level Analysis of Public Charter School and District Public School Enrollment Trends.
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