Citing an article in Education Week, The National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education at Teachers College notes that charter school growth is slowing.

“Charter school growth is slowing down, reported Education Week. The decline since 2012, when 640 new charters opened, has been steady. In 2013, 501 new charters were launched; in 2014, 404; and in 2015, 329. Citing a study by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, the newspaper noted that large charter authorizers have seen a marked drop in charter applications, from an average of 18 in the 2011-12 school year to 7 in the 2015-16 school year.

“One explanation offered by Education Week for the slowdown is that national charter management organizations (CMOs) “may have reached capacity.” In addition, it should be pointed out that charter schools have run into mounting resistance, as illustrated by the NAACP’s call for a moratorium on charter school growth in October 2016 and by the decisive rejection a month later of a referendum in Massachusetts to lift the cap on charter schools, with 62 percent of voters opposing the measure and 38 percent supporting it.

“Yet while the number of new charter schools has ebbed, total enrollment in charter schools continues to climb, especially in such states as Minnesota, reported The Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Although enrollment in traditional district schools grew by 2 percent over the past five years, stated the newspaper, enrollment in charter schools ballooned. More specifically, there were 41,604 students in Minnesota charter schools in 2012-13 and 53,960 in 2016-17. Grade additions in existing charter schools may explain much of this growth. New charter schools would explain the remainder.”

Another possibility is that parents are wishing up and realizing that the charters have no secret sauce, perform no miracles, and lack many of the programs in the public schools. They may have also experienced high teacher turnover in charters or seen the instability of charters, which open and close at will.