California Now Has 1,000 Charter Schools Educating 484,000 Kids

Since becoming legal in California, more than 1,000 charter schools have opened their doors and now educate almost half a milion of the state's students. The California Charter Schools Association is reporting that a further 109 charters have opened during the 2012-2013 school year to bring the total number of charters operating in California to 1,065.

Enrollment numbers show that more than 484,000 of California's students now attend a charter school, making California the state with both the largest number of charters and the highest percentage of charter-educated students in the country.

This year marks a 20-year-anniversary of the beginning of the charter school movement in California, and advocates of school choice are celebrating the fact that more parents than ever are gaining awareness of charters and support their mission to improve the quality of education in California.

While it is plainly evident that charter schools face a host of unfair challenges in California, it is inspiring to see the resourcefulness and partnership that parents, community leaders and charter school operators are showing to expand quality charter school options in spite of all the obstacles," said Jed Wallace, President and CEO of CCSA. "As this broader embrace of charter schools is occurring in communities across our state, we see that California voters have increasingly high levels of awareness and support for charter schools and consider charter schools a bright spot in public education."

The Los Angeles Unified School District saw the biggest growth in charters this year as 40 new schools opened their doors to students this fall. The second biggest growth was in Sonoma County, where 12 new charters began operating this academic year. There were 10 newly opened charters accepting students in San Diego County and 6 in Alameda County.

Despite the record growth, CCSA estimates that there were as many students remaining on charter school waiting lists as there were already enrolled in charters in California. This is yet another year that demand for charter spaces is continuing to well outstrip the supply, indicating that parent demand for school choice options continues to grow.

While parents are demanding public school choice, California voters indicated record levels of awareness and support in CCSA's statewide poll* this summer. Key takeaways from the poll included:

The overall perception of charter schools is unquestionably positive. In 2012, 49.3% of respondents strongly or somewhat favor charter schools, up from 47.2% the year before, 42% two years ago and 35.9% three years ago.

Awareness of charters is growing slowly but persistently from year to year. In 2012, 67.6% of respondents know quite a bit or some about charter schools, up from 67.3% last year, 50.8% two years ago and 48% three years ago.

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