With education slipping in Alabama, charter schools are popping up to offer solutions for students, especially in predominantly black communities in the Deep South.
According to an analysis from the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools (NAPCS), Since the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a steady increase in charter school enrollments. In contrast, public schools have seen a decline in students.
Alabama, which has only had functioning charter schools since 2017, followed the national trend of seeing an increase in enrollees.
Eight of the state's 13 charter schools opened in 2021 and 2022. Together, these schools can educate 4,100 students when fully enrolled.
Because of the embryonic nature of Alabama's charter school landscape, there is little data available on the effect these charter schools have on education or what specific enrollment numbers look like statewide.
Alabama had the second-highest charter school enrollment growth during the 2020-2021 school year, showing a 65% increase in enrollment, according to a 2021 study by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.
The Alliance boasts Alabama as one of the fastest-growing charter sectors in the nation.
"For such a relatively small charter sector, Alabama has an unusually high number of truly innovative school models, including one that is focused on aviation and aerospace and another that emphasizes service-oriented and project-based learning," the release read.
Nationally, from 2020 through 2022, charter schools gained nearly 240,000 students, and public district schools lost almost 1.5 million students.
During the second year of the pandemic, 26 of 41 eligible states saw an increase in charter school enrollment.
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