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South Carolina sees charter school enrollment increase

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(The Center Square) — South Carolina saw its enrollment at charter schools increase by 25.5% over the past four years.

The numbers were included in a report from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, which analyzed state-level data for a new report, “Believing in Public Education: A Demographic and State-level Analysis of Public Charter School and District Public School Enrollment Trends.”

For the 2019-20 school year, South Carolina had a charter enrollment of 39,417, which increased to 49,486 for the 2022-23 school year. During that same period, non-charter public school enrollment decreased by more than 1% — from 747,652 to 739,745.

“Changing enrollment numbers in Georgia, South Carolina, and the rest of the country should be taken as a sign that the traditional public education system does not work for every student,” Nathan Cunneen, a communications strategist at the American Federation for Children, told The Center Square via email. “Some students thrive in traditional public schools, some in public charter schools, and others need the freedom to take their education dollars to the private school of their choice.

“South Carolina passed an education savings account program last year, and I expect enrollment counts to continue their shift as families use ESAs to access the education that’s right for their child,” Cunneen added. “In Georgia, the Legislature should focus on creating numerous options for students – these numbers are a sign families want them.”

Charter schools are public schools and must have open enrollment. They are required to serve all students living in the state.

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