Advocates: Charter schools still growing

Advocates of charter schools say increasing enrollment is one indication the charter movement is still growing.

Over the last decade, enrollment in Minnesota charter schools has nearly tripled. It's now just under 40,000 students, according to a new report from the St. Paul-based Center for School Change.

That's about 5 percent of the number of students who attend traditional district schools — about 785,000 students.

The center's director, Joe Nathan, said there's similar enrollment growth happening across the country.

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"We've seen the idea in this country grow from one school, to more than 2 million youngsters being served in 5,000 schools," he said. "So clearly there's interest in this."

Nathan sees three positive trends among charter schools — enrollment is growing, more charters are starting to replicate the programs offered by other successful charters, and more collaboration between school districts and charter schools.

"And we think that's going to spread," Nathan said.

Charter schools got their start in Minnesota 20 years ago with City Academy in St. Paul.