- Applications for new charter schools in Chicago dropped by 50% over the last three years, and no new charter school applications were filed this year, suggesting the growth of the independently-run and publicly-funded schools has reached its peak, Chalkbeat reports.
- This is a significant drop from 2014-15, when 16 schools applied for a new charter. Last year, the district rejected three new charter proposals. In 2017, only one was approved out of an original pool of nine proposals.
- The district is also set to decide whether two existing Chicago charter schools should be closed.
Charter schools, once heralded as an education reform solution, could be falling out of favor, with Democrats in particular now more prone to support funding for higher teacher pay and federal money for local school systems.
Critics of charter schools say they hurt their public counterparts by siphoning off their funds as a result of traditional public school enrollment declines, given that per student funds follow students to their school of choice. According to a Chalkbeat report, charter expansion has been one of the main reasons public school enrollment dropped.
An analysis of Los Angeles and San Diego schools shows half the enrollment losses in these two cities were caused by charter schools. In Oakland, the effect of charters was even more profound, as 75% of students who left public schools went to a charter.
Though charters were once embraced by the left in California, which is home to 1,306 charters, the United Teachers of Los Angeles last year marched for smaller class sizes and to limit charter growth. According to a report by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, the number of new charters nationally has been steadily dropping since 2013.
However, Republican support for charter growth remains steady and strong. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' recent initiatives have supported charter growth specifically, and school choice more broadly, through funding new tax incentives.