Chicago’s charter public schools enroll almost 54,000 students, or about 14% of the city’s public school students. Chicago’s charter public schools enroll students of color, low-income students, and students with disabilities at higher rates than other Chicago public schools. The reason why is clear: parents in Chicago’s historically underserved communities are demanding access to public charter schools, where their children will have access to the high-quality public education they deserve.
Black & Hispanic students make up 96.3% of enrollment in Chicago’s charter public schools, compared to 83.3% of students in Chicago’s district-run schools.
Students who qualify for free and reduced price lunches make up 87.1% of enrollment in Chicago’s charter public schools compared to 76.6% of enrollment in Chicago’s district-run schools.
Students with disabilities comprise 14.8% of enrollment in Chicago’s charter public schools compared to 14.1% of students in Chicago’s district run schools. The gap in SPED enrollment rates between charters and district-run schools has doubled from 0.3 percentage points in 2016 to 0.7 percentage points in 2019.
Although CPS enrollment has fallen precipitously in recent years, this decline is NOT due to more students attending charter schools: since 2014, CPS enrollment has declined by nearly 30,000 students, while Chicago’s charter sector enrollment has remained flat at about 54,000 students. CPS’s enrollment has declined because there are fewer school aged-children in Chicago, not because there are more children attending charter schools.