Flint No. 2, Detroit No. 3 Nationally in Percentage of Students Who Attend Charter Schools

LANSING, Michigan – A new report out today from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools shows that charter schools continue to be extremely popular choices for parents across Michigan – particularly in the city’s urban areas.

A Growing Movement: America’s Largest Public Charter School Communities” is the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools’ 12th-annual report on charter school enrollment. Since the report’s first release in 2006, national charter school enrollment has tripled, growing from one million to more than three million students. 

The report shows that Flint ranks No. 2 nationally in the percentage of students who attend charter schools, at 55 percent (numbers are from the 2016-17 school year). That’s up from 53 percent in last year’s report. Of the 10,590 students who live in the Flint School District, 5,780 of them attend charter schools, compared to 4,810 students who attend the local district.

Detroit ranks No. 3 nationally at 53 percent (the same percentage as last year). Of the 95,350 students who live in the Detroit Public Schools Community District, 50,460 of them attend charter schools, compared to 44,890 students in the district schools.

Grand Rapids ranks No. 19 nationally, with 30 percent of students enrolled in charter schools. New Orleans, where virtually every school is a charter, is No. 1 nationally, at 93 percent.

Several other Michigan school districts also have charter enrollment that tops 10 percent, including Lansing (19%), Port Huron (16%), Wayne-Westland (15%), Kentwood (14%), Traverse City (12%) and Plymouth-Canton (11%).

The National Alliance report also provides a state-by-state breakdown of charter school enrollment. With 10 percent of its students enrolled in a charter school, Michigan is tied for No. 6 nationally, trailing Arizona (17%), Colorado (13%), Louisiana (11%), Delaware (11%) and Utah (11%). California and Florida are tied with Michigan at 10%.

Dan Quisenberry, President of the Michigan Association of Public School Academies (MAPSA), the state charter school association, said these numbers are no surprise.

“Parents continue to be in the best position to make the right educational choice for their children, and this report confirms that,” Quisenberry said. “As they say, parents are voting with their feet. We’re especially happy to see the trend that more and more parents are choosing to enroll their children in the highest-performing schools. We need to continue to work in that direction, because every child deserves a quality education in a quality school.”

Quisenberry also cited recent data, rankings and research that support the reasons parents are choosing charter schools. Among them:

  • This year’s M-STEP results revealed that in Detroit, charter schools were more than twice as proficient as traditional public schools in both English Language Arts and math.
  • The M-STEP results also revealed that the four highest-performing school districts in the state are all charter school districts.
  • In the spring, U.S. News and World Report released its highly respected rankings of the Best High Schools in America. The rankings showed that the top three high schools in Michigan were all charter schools, led by No. 1 Wellspring Preparatory High School in Grand Rapids. The top three high schools nationally were also all charter schools.