Charter schools have attracted growing number of Black, Hispanic students as parents seek better options

Reports finds charter schools gained more than 300,000 new students since 2019

Black and Hispanic families have been flocking to charter schools in recent years, the National Alliance For Public Charter Schools (NAPCS) said on Thursday.

Debbie Veney, who is the senior vice president of communications and marketing of NAPCS and the co-author of the report, said charter schools have made significant gains since 2019, in an interview with Fox News Digital.

“Particularly, Hispanic families and Black families are really big consumers of charter schools,” Veney said.

Veney’s comments came after the NAPCS revealed last month new data analysis showing charter school enrollment grew 2% while district enrollment plateaued. The report said charter schools enrolled nearly 10 times the number of new students compared to district schools in the previous school year.

school hallway

The report said charter schools enrolled nearly 10 times the number of new students compared to district schools in the previous school year.  (iStock)

Veney added that earlier research about parent satisfaction with school systems showed a tendency of “Black parents, low-income parents, and Hispanic parents” to report that their neighborhood schools “weren’t great.”

“But they just didn’t have choices,” Veney said.

“You see those polls where they’re asking, oh, what do you think? How would you grade public education? Most people say, oh, you know, I think my school around me is pretty good, but Blacks and Hispanics didn’t say that. They’re like, ‘I know my school around me isn’t very good.’ And we know that they’ve been looking for options that are better.”

Charter schools saw an increase in student enrollment between the 2019-20 and 2022-23 school years in nearly every state, particularly among Hispanic students, as they accounted for half of charter school enrollment growth. Charter school enrollment for Black students also increased since 2019.

The NAPCS report found that since 2019, charter schools gained more than 300,000 new students while district public schools lost around 1.5 million students at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Public schools haven’t rebounded in the past few years.

Debbie Veney

A new report shows that charter schools have made significant gains over the past four years. (Fox News Digital)

Veney pointed to how charter schools have more flexibility and control over what happens at the school compared to the public school that operates under a more centralized structure.

“Charter schools have the flexibility to control a lot of things at the site level that a district public school can control, like extra time on task. So, if you’ve got kids coming into the fifth grade, and they’re on a second-grade reading level, maybe 45 minutes of instructional time and reading isn’t going to be enough to get them caught up, and the charter school has the ability to be able to jigger with that and to say, well, I want to put more time on tasks–also to have a longer school day,” she said.

Veney added that a charter school is free to do “site-based hiring and firing.”

A recent Stanford study showed that charter school students outperformed public school peers in reading and math.

Most states restrict parents to schools within their zip code or the school district that presides over their residential area, yet, charter schools allow parents an option to send their kids to a different school. When charter schools are neighbors to public schools, they compete for per-pupil funding as parents are allowed to opt out of sending their child to the neighborhood public school.

Opponents of charter schools say they siphon off funding from traditional public schools, thus decreasing the resources available to increase teachers’ salaries, invest in facilities, and recruit more teachers.

Students and parents rally at the Ohio Statehouse

Students and parents rally at the Ohio Statehouse in support of possible changes that would increase eligibility for taxpayer-funded school vouchers to K-12 students statewide on Thursday, May 17, 2023, in Columbus, Ohio.  (AP Photo/Samantha Hendrickson)

Teacher unions often lobby against charter schools and sometimes make an effort to restrict their expansion. More recently, President Biden’s Department of Education released new regulations on how charter schools qualify for federal grants, which proponents of charter schools said would make it more difficult to obtain these federal grants.

In August, a coalition of charter schools filed a lawsuit against the Department of Education over the regulations.

“Why would people try to keep people who need access to get education from having it? I would say that it has to be something that is a separate set of interests that are not about kids and not about families,” Veney said. “A lot of times adults are more concerned with adult interests, like maintaining structures, like maintaining certain positions, like having budget control, rather than being able to focus in on what families really need.”