A new report ranks North Carolina fifth in the nation for number of new charter school enrollments during the pandemic. The ranking is another feather in the cap for the Tar Heel State when it comes to the growth of school choice in recent years.

The report, produced by the National Alliance for Charter Schools, found that charter school enrollments jumped by 14,312 new students from the 2019-2020 school year to the 2021-2022 school year. That brought total enrollments from 118,597 students to 132,909 students, a 12% gain.

During that same period of time, enrollments in traditional public schools dipped by 48,283 students, a decrease the report deemed was ninth largest in the nation.

Contrary to arguments that charter schools are not diverse or even that they promote racial segregation in schools, the report noted that student enrollments for black students in North Carolina grew at the same pace as for white students. Enrollments for black students jumped by 14% during the pandemic, while enrollments for Hispanic students increased by 23%.

For the nation as a whole, charter enrollments grew by nearly 240,000 students during the pandemic, while traditional public school enrollments dipped by nearly 1.5 million students.

“These data make one thing clear: the COVID-19 pandemic has opened the eyes of parents and families to other possible options for their children’s education and with this new awareness they are making different choices,” wrote report authors Drew Jacobs and Debbie Veney. “In nearly every state, more families are choosing charter schools, homeschooling, and private school, while fewer are choosing district public schools.”