Charter school enrollment grows nationwide and in Colorado, which now has 82,200 students

Enrollment in charter schools is growing nationwide, as well as here in Colorado. More than two million students now attend charter schools in the U.S., a 13 percent increase from last year, according to numbers released today by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. Colorado contributed to that growth by adding thirteen new schools and more than 8,000 new students over the past year.

Some of the estimated 82,200 charter school students in Colorado attend the Ricardo Flores Magon Academy, a school in Westminster with high test scores. Recently released scores for 2011, however, show a slight dip in reading and math from 2010. This year, 83 percent of students scored proficient or above in reading, as opposed to 91 percent the year before, while 96 percent of students scored that way in math, as opposed to 98 percent. Still, the scores are impressive.

However, as explained in our cover story, "A Hard Line," the school also has more than its fair share of former teachers, one of whom recently filed a discrimination lawsuit against the school and its founder and principal, Marcos Martinez. She and others say Martinez rules the school with an iron fist and treats female teachers poorly.

Will the school's track record of lawsuits and complaints matter when its charter comes up for renewal next year? Colorado charter school-authorizers, including Denver Public Schools, haven't been shy about closing schools in the past -- which some say is a sign of a good authorizer. Nationwide, 152 schools did not re-open their doors this fall, according to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

Next year, will RFMA be among them? Stay tuned.

More from our Education archives: "Ricardo Flores Magon Academy: Why was embattled school named for anarchist writer?"

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