Florida charter schools see enrollment growth
Earlier this month, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools issued a report excitedly noting that, for the first time, the nation had more than 100 school districts where at least 10 percent of students attend charter schools.
With Florida's large county school districts, you might think that the Sunshine State would dominate the charts. It's not the case, though.
According to the report, only Lee, Lake, Miami-Dade, Polk, Sarasota, Indian River, Osceola and Broward surpass the 10 percent enrollment mark — and just barely at that. Lee led the way with a 14 percent share, with the others at 12 percent or less.
Florida also had several of its large districts appear on the chart showing largest enrollment by number, rather than percent. Notably, though, districts like Hillsborough (the nation's eighth largest) and Orange had fewer than 10,000 children in charter schools. In Hillsborough, which also offers vibrant magnet and open enrollment programs, that translates into just about 5 percent of the total.
Meanwhile, much smaller districts such as those in D.C. and Milwaukee exceeded those numbers by thousands. What's the message in there? Perhaps that districts that don't offer their own choices will lose students to the charter alternatives. We can only wonder what Florida lawmakers, who are talking about expanding charter schools but also allowing districts to start their own, will take away from this report. Stay tuned.