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CCSA: Waiting list for CA charter schools hits record high

Craig Clough | May 5, 2015



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California Charter Schools AssociationMore than 158,000 students are currently on waiting lists to get into charter schools in the state, according to an estimate released by the California Charter Schools Association.

The number is a record high.

“Evidence over the past five years argues that the public has never been more supportive of charter public schools than they are right now based on increasingly high parent demand, growth in charter school enrollment, and statewide polling data,” Jed Wallace, president and CEO of CCSA, said in a statement. “This growth in support has occurred during a period when charter public schools have strengthened their performance, especially with historically underserved students.”

Charter schools are public schools that are operated by private entities or non-profits. They have become a great cause of controversy in California as their critics view them as an attack on public education and teacher unions for siphoning dollars away from traditional public schools.

Alex Caputo-Pearl, president of the LA teachers union, UTLA, summed up the views of many charter critics when he told the Los Angeles Times, “The ascendant forces in California’s charter movement, I don’t see a lot of value in them.”

But despite the critics, parents and students are seeking out charters in greater numbers, according to the CCSA, as last year’s waiting list estimate was just over 91,000. And as the waiting list grows, so has actual enrollment. California has more charter schools than anywhere in the country, and LA Unified has more than any other district. In LA Unified, the number of students in charter schools grew to over 139,000 in the 2013-14 school year from 35,000 ten years ago .

“As independent public schools, charter schools have the ability to try innovative approaches to teaching and learning in the classroom,” Elizabeth Robitaille, a senior vice president with CCSA, said in a statement. “And as more families learn that charter public school students are gaining extra weeks and months of learning in math and reading compared to their peers who attend traditional district schools, more families are choosing the charter school option.”

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