Enrollments grow in charter, home, and private schools

By July 9, 2021 News

More and more parents are choosing non-traditional school options for their children. Data for 2020-21 show rising enrollments in N.C. charter, home, and private schools.

New statistics for 2020-21 reveal:

  • Home school enrollments grew by nearly 31,000 students. This marks a 20.6% increase over the year before. (Find a statistical overview here.)
  • Private school enrollments rose by almost 3,400 students. This marks a 3.3% uptick over the year before. (Find a statistical overview here.)

Meanwhile, public charter schools added 9,000 students in 2020-21. This represents a 7.7% increase, making public charter schools second only to home schools in enrollment growth.

Is the enrollment story being told clearly and fully? Coalition Executive Director Lindalyn Kakadelis shares some observations:

The recent News & Observer article, “Enrollment soars in N.C. home schools, private schools and charter schools amid pandemic,” tracks closely with enrollment trends in nonpublic education. However, the article doesn’t fully address enrollment shifts in public education, and in some cases, uses language that is needlessly confusing.

For example, the 9,000-student increase in N.C. public charter enrollment is positioned under a header with this wording: “Will students return to public schools?” Public charter schools are identified simply as “taxpayer funded schools.” This is unnecessarily confusing. Charter schools are public schools. They are funded by local, state, and federal taxpayer dollars, just like district public schools.

Here’s a more complete summary from the state’s latest annual charter report: During the 2020-21 school year, N.C. charter schools experienced growth at every grade level. Additionally, 78% of charter schools reported waitlists totaling nearly 76,000 students. This is markedly different from enrollment declines at district public schools.

The pandemic accelerated trends that were already underway. Families are flocking to nontraditional schooling options now in even greater numbers—in public and nonpublic sectors alike.