Charter Enrollment Doubles in Minnesota, First Charter School State

Published August 3, 2012

Charter school K-12 enrollment has nearly doubled over the last decade in Minnesota, the first state to allow charter schools, according to a new analysis of state Education Department data by the Center for School Change.

The report shows nearly 19,000 more students enrolled in charter K-12 schools in 2011-2012 compared with a decade before, while district enrollment declined by more than 45,000 students over the same period.

Most Minnesota K-12 students still attend district schools—there were 785,729 district students and 39,129 charter students in 2011—but the rising charter enrollment indicates a growing trend of parents choosing more flexible, responsive charter schools over traditional schools, said Stephanie Grisham, a National Alliance for Public Charter Schools spokesman.

Charters’ growing popularity in Minnesota mirrors progress in the rest of the nation, said Joe Nathan, CSC’s director, who helped compose the study.

“A growing number of families are looking at new kinds of options,” Nathan said. “This is true in urban, suburban, and rural Minnesota, while in many states this is mainly an urban phenomenon. In Minnesota there are more youngsters going to suburban charters than urban charters.”

Image by Henry de Saussure Copeland.