Parent demand for NYC charter school seats intensified during COVID-19 pandemic

Parent demand for charter school seats has intensified during the COVID-19 pandemic, new data shows.

Sector enrollment increased by 10,000 students this year — compared to a 43,000 drop at traditional public schools, according to the New York City Charter School Center.

Overall, the number of charter kids went from 128,951 last year to 138,613 this year — a 7 percent hike, according to the numbers.

By contrast, Department of Education enrollment has dropped by 4 percent this year.

“These numbers reflect the extraordinary work the city’s public charter schools have done under extraordinary circumstances to educate students and support families,” said James Merriman, CEO of the New York City Charter School Center.

While the independent public schools remain overwhelmingly African American and Hispanic, the highest enrollment hikes this year came from white and Asian DOE refugees.

Asian charter enrollment soared by 16 percent while the white population hiked by 11 percent, according to the figures.

The number of Hispanic charter school students rose by 9 percent while black enrollment rose by 5 percent.

In a city school system where more than half of kids are not proficient in English or math, some parents view charter schools as academic oases — especially those with attractive performance metrics.

Charter boosters highlighted a 16 percent increase in the number of English language learners this year — a designation correlated to recent immigrants.

Sector backers also noted that white and Asian public school defectors are enrolling their kids in majority African American and Hispanic charter schools at an accelerating clip.

“Contrary to what the DOE and certain activists want people to believe, everyday white and Asian parents couldn’t care less who their kids are learning next to as long as the education is sound,” said one Queens Success Academy student.

Charter enrollment has increased each year since the 2015-2016 academic year when the sector counted 94,334 kids.

“More NYC families are able to choose the educational option that best fits their child, and now over 138,000 New York City students fill the halls and virtual classrooms of our rich and diverse public charter school community,” Merriman said.

While roiled by coronavirus upheaval, some of the city’s larger charter school networks have taken different tacks than the DOE amid the crisis.

Rather than repeatedly open and close schools based on coronavirus infections, Success Academy, the city’s largest charter operator, has stayed remote for the entire year.

The network also opted to adhere to its traditional grading system while the DOE changed its assessment practices to account for the impact of the coronavirus.

Most charter schools admit students based on a lottery system.

Credit: NYPOST

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