Over the past 15 years or so, a pretty big shift has taken hold in America’s largest school districts. A growing number of students who attend what are still called “traditional” or “neighborhood” public schools are doing so by choice.
The above graph comes from a pair of posts by Russ Whitehurst of the Brookings Institution, who notes the rapid rise of open-enrollment policies and other forms of public-school choice in the country’s largest districts.
[C]hanges over time in the availability of intra-district school choice have been dramatic.iv The graph is based on data my colleagues and I have compiled from a retrospective analysis of school choice in the 100+ largest U.S. school districts, which are the districts that are covered in our annual Education Choice and Competition Index.v Only 24 percent of districts in 2000-2001 afforded parents school choice (20 percent through easy transfers from default schools and four percent through a full-fledged open enrollment process). Today, that number has more than doubled to 55 percent of districts allowing choice. Put another way, in 2000-2001, 75 percent of the nation’s large school districts made it difficult or nearly impossible for a child to attend a public school other than the one assigned based on place of residence. Today that number has dropped to 45 percent.