by David Safier
There's no question charter schools are growing in the U.S. The question is, how much, and where? According to the National Alliance of Charter Schools, charter school enrollment has increased 13% in the past year, and they're concentrated in big cities. According to the Arizona Charter Schools Association, this state has added 10,000 students to reach a 145,000 total.
The NAPCS report says 18% of Tucson students are attending charters. In Phoenix, it's 22%. In Arizona as a whole, the total is closer to 10-11%, which means charters have their greatest percentages in urban areas.
New Orleans tops the national list with 76% of its students in charters. For that, you can thank the Bush administration's maneuvering after Katrina that created an almost complete takeover of the New Orleans school system by charters.
These figures come from pro-charter sources so they may be inflated, but they're a reasonable depiction of charter school growth. The takeaway is that charter schools are here to stay and probably will continue to grow. Lots of conservative and "educational neo-liberal" money is flowing into the movement. People who are wary of charters can sit back and play "Ain't it awful," they can become part of the absolutist anti-charter movement, or they can work to make charters as good and as socioeconomically equitable as possible. I opt for the last choice.