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Education Statistics: Facts About American Schools 

The following is a re-post of an article from dated January 4, 2019

By Maya Riser-Kositsky 

How many K-12 public schools, districts, and students are there? What does the American student population look like? And how much are we, as a nation, spending on the education of these youth? 

These data points can give perspective to the implications and potential impact of education policies. The Education Week library provides answers to these questions, and some other enlightening facts, below. 


How many schools are there in the U.S.? 

There are 132,853 K-12 schools in the U.S., according to 2015-16 data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Here's how they break down: 

All: 132,853

Elementary schools: 88,665

Secondary schools: 26,986

Combined schools: 16,511

Other*: 691

*Includes special education, alternative, and other schools not classified by grade span.

How many are traditional public schools, public charter schools, or private schools?

While charter schools are often the topic of debate, they make up only a small portion of all schools.

Traditional public schools: 91,422

Public charter schools: 6,855

Private schools: 34,576

What is the average public school size?

The average public school enrollment is 526 students, according to data from 2015. That's up 6 students from the average school size in 2011, according to NCES.

What is the average public school size by type of location?

City: 591 students

Suburban: 657 students

Town: 445 students

Rural: 354 students

How many school districts are there?

There are 13,584 regular school districts in the U.S.

Note: Regular districts exclude regional education service agencies and supervisory union administrative centers, state-operated agencies, federally operated agencies, and other types of local education agencies, such as independent charter schools.

Where are the largest school districts in the U.S.?

Big cities like New York and Los Angeles lead the list of the largest school districts, as identified by NCES in 2015. But the rest of the top 10 may surprise you:

Rank -- District name, State, Enrollment

1 -- New York City, NY, 981,667

2 -- Los Angeles Unified, CA, 639,337

3 -- Chicago, IL, 387,311

4 -- Miami-Dade County, FL, 357,579

5 -- Clark County, NV, 325,990

6 -- Broward County, FL, 269,098

7 -- Houston, TX, 215,627

8 -- Hillsborough County, FL, 211,923

9 -- Orange County, FL, 196,951

10 -- Palm Beach County, FL, 189,322

What's the average tenure of a big-city superintendent?

Superintendents in large cities stick around for an average of 6 years, according to a report by the Broad Center.


How many students attend public schools?

In America's public schools there are 50.7 million students, based on federal projections for the fall of 2018.

How many students attend charter schools?

According to data from three years earlier, 2.8 million public school students, or 5.7 percent, are in charter schools.

How many students attend private schools? What are the religious affiliations of those schools?

In total, 5,750,520 students attend private schools, according to NCES 2015-16 data.

36.2% of those in Catholic schools

24.3% in nonsectarian (non-religious) schools

16.0% in unaffiliated religious schools

13.2% in conservative Christian schools

10.2% in other religiously affiliated schools

How many students are homeschooled?

There are 1,689,726 homeschooled students. That's 3.3 percent of all students, according to NCES 2015-16 data. After doubling between 1999 and 2012, the number of homeschooled students in the United States appears to have leveled off. So who are the nation’s homeschoolers? This overview of homeschooling includes more information on the topic.

Where do most students attend school—the city, the suburbs or rural areas?

According to 2015-16 data, the majority of public school students attend suburban schools, but enrollment in urban schools is not far behind.

Suburban: 39.7% of public school students

City: 30.2% of public school students

Rural: 18.7% of public school students

Town: 11.3% of public school students

Meanwhile, most private school students attend schools in the city.

City: 43.0% of private school students

Suburban: 40.2% of private school students

Rural: 10.7% of private school students

Town: 6.2% of private school students

What are the demographics of public school students?

Here's a racial breakdown of the student population in American public schools, as of 2015:

White students: 48.9%

Hispanic students: 25.9%

Black students: 15.5%

Asian students: 5.0%

Two or more race students: 3.4%

American Indian/Alaska Native students: 1.0%

Pacific Islander students: 0.3%

The 2015-16 school year was the first in which the majority of public schoolchildren were minorities. For a look back at what that milestone meant for schools, revisit this story from 2014.

How many students graduate high school?

The national graduation rate is 84 percent, according to the latest data.

How has that changed over time?

The graduation rate has increased by 5 percentage points from 2010-2011 to 2015-2016. What's behind record rises in U.S. graduation rates? More on that here.


How many teachers are there in the U.S.?

In America's public schools there are 3.2 million full-time-equivalent teachers, according to federal projections for the fall of 2018.

How many principals are there?

There are 90,410 public school principals in the U.S., according to 2015-16 data from NCES.

What percent of teachers are women?

Teaching continues to be a profession dominated by women. According to 2018 projections from NCES 76.6 percent of teachers are female, while 23.4 percent are male.

What are the racial demographics of teachers?

When it comes to race, America’s teachers looks very different from its student population.

80.1% White

8.8% Hispanic

6.7% Black

2.3% Asian

1.4% Two or more races

0.4% American Indian/Alaska Native

0.2% Native Hawaiian/ Pacific Islander

Who are U.S. public school principals?

Like teachers, most American principals are white and female.

54.2% Female

45.8% Male

77.8% White

10.6% Black

8.2% Hispanic

1.4% Asian

1.1% Two or more races

0.7% American Indian/Alaska Native

0.2% Native Hawaiian/ Pacific Islander

Another finding from the latest federal data: Charter school principals are more diverse.

What's the average U.S. teacher salary?

The average base salary for teachers is $55,100, according to 2015-16 data from NCES. Of course, teacher salaries vary widely from state to state. Although its findings differ from the federal data, the National Education Association, the nation's largest teachers' union, releases an annual ranking of state salaries. Here are the latest numbers.

How does that compare with principals' salaries?

According to data from the same year, the average principal salary is $95,700.

How big are the teachers' unions?

According to NCES data from 2015-16, 69.9 percent of teachers are members of a union.

As of April 2018, the National Education Association has 3,018,492 members who are active educators or retirees.

As of October 2017, the American Federation of Teachers has 1,591,911 members.

What is the average student to teacher ratio in schools?

On average, there are 16 students assigned to a single teacher, NCES projections for fall of 2018 show.

The state with highest student to teacher ratio is, as of 2015, California, with 23.9 students for each teacher. The state with lowest student to teacher ratio? Vermont, with 10.5 students for each teacher.

Note: The pupil/teacher ratio includes teachers for students with disabilities and other special teachers, while these teachers are generally excluded from class size calculations.


How much does the U.S. spend on K-12 education?

In 2014-15, $625 billion was spent on public elementary and secondary education by local, state, and federal agencies.

How much is spent per pupil?

Education Week examines per-pupil spending as part of its annual Quality Counts report. On average, the nation spends $12,536 to educate each student. These expenditures vary state to state. Vermont has the highest per-pupil expenditures in the nation at $20,795, as adjusted for variations in regional costs. At the other end of the scale, Utah spends the least at $7,207 per student.


Registration is now open for the National Charter Schools Conference in Las Vegas on June 30-July 3, 2019 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center.


The Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools
Friday, December 7, 2018


Robert Haag, CEO & President, and Fernando Zulueta, Treasurer, of the Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools have been named by Governor-elect Ron DeSantis to his Education Transition Team. The team will be chaired by State Board of Education chair, Marva Johnson and University of Florida trustee Mori Hosseini.

The transition team will focus on DeSantis’ "vision of ensuring that every student in Florida has the chance to get a world-class education and develop the skills they need to get a great job and pursue their dream."

The group is very diverse with a broad array of educators from public charter schools, home schools, district public schools and higher education. We are very proud that FCPCS will be so well represented on the team.



No Matter What Anyone Says, the Money Ought to Follow the Kid Regardless of What Kind of Public School They Choose

The following is a re-post of an op ed column at

By Zachary Wright

I am punching above my weight.

I am no education policy wonk, nor am I a mover or shaker in America’s larger educational conversation. But a recent blog post by the well-known edu-legends Carol Burris and Diane Ravitch on The Washington Post’s website made me so confused, angry and frustrated that I had to respond.

I am a former high school English teacher who spent more than 10 years in Philadelphia’s schools, including private, traditional public and public charter. Now I have a job teaching future teachers.

I am also the father of two young boys, one of whom attends the traditional public school in our suburban neighborhood.

I presume Ravitch and Burris want what’s best for kids. But well-meaning as they may be, they are out of touch, biased and at times flat-out wrong in their vitriolic hatred of charter schools, which they argue are the ever-creeping cancerous cells seeking to privatize our nation’s education system.

Harping on a well-worn anti-charter trope, Ravitch and Burris argue that charter schools “drain finances” from the traditional public school system for which they were intended.

There’s a problem with this theory, however.

The money doesn’t belong to the school system. It belongs to the public. Those are not the same thing.

In fact, many states allocate funding the way we do here in Pennsylvania, based on per-pupil expenditures, not per-school expenditures. In other words, the money is meant to meet the needs of each child, not the needs of a system or institution.

This point was recently made by Professor James V. Shuls who put the scenario this way: How would you respond if you stumbled across a headline that asked, “How much do farmers markets cost Walmart?” It’s a ridiculous question. It presupposes that the customer belongs to Walmart; that any time the individual chooses to buy cucumbers from a local grower or salsa from an aspiring entrepreneur, he or she is “robbing” the dominant grocer. That’s just absurd. Yet this is the standard frame we use when talking about education.

Public charter schools do not rob traditional public schools of funding, because the money does not belong to the traditional public schools in the first place. It belongs to the public, and it is meant to educate each child in the environment where they can most thrive. That money ought to follow them regardless of whatever form of public education they choose. (For the record, this does not include vouchers, which are ineffectual at best).

Ravitch and Burris go further by maligning all the so-called sordid bad actors supporting charter schools. They strategically use the oft-demonized figures of the Walton family, Betsy DeVos and, somewhat oddly, Michael Bloomberg (I doubt they find him equally nefarious in his generous support of gun reform).

The assertion is that these mega-donors are on a “quest to elect school board members and policymakers who will undermine the public’s right to govern its schools.”

Let’s be honest, though. Burris and Ravitch play readers dumb by selectively pointing out the financial backing of their adversaries while remaining quiet about the treasure chests wielded by those more closely aligned to their own interests.

In the 2018 midterms alone, the nation's two largest teachers unions are on track to invest nearly $27 million  in campaign activity. But that’s hardly surprising—here in Philadelphia, the local teachers union has long been known to use its significant power to support city council members.

But apart from being perhaps a bit disingenuous, Burris and Ravitch also seem blind to their own privileged isolation when they decry the out-of-touch elites whose philanthropies support school reform.

Not only is this somewhat amusing given what these so-called advocates of public education earn themselves (leader of the American Federation of Teachers Randi Weingarten earns just under $558,000 a year, more than 10 times what the average teacher in America makes), but Burris and Ravitch demonstrate their own ignorance when they assert that it is only those who support charter schools who “believe that the role of the average woman or man is to be a consumer, not a decider.”

First of all, this is a false dichotomy between “consumers” and “deciders.”

Charter schools do have public oversight (although some states could do better at it) and are judged by the same test scores and criteria as traditional public schools. They are all free schools open to all children, and we are all still “deciders” in that we can use our vote to elect officials who will support educational equity and access for all public schools, including charters.

And furthermore, families are deciders precisely because they are consumers. Like it or not, education in America is a commodity and we the people are the “consumers.” Anyone who disagrees with this need only go to and peruse the real estate listings. Right there, alongside the square footage, is the school to which that property is zoned.

When we purchase our homes, families all across this country include the neighborhood schooling option as a key factor in where we spend our money. This is obviously not lost on realtors and sellers who attach higher costs to schools in “good” school districts.

I, personally, have made this choice for my family. We bought a home in a middle- to upper- middle-class suburb because of its school system. We were consumers and bought access to a high-quality school system.

Families of privilege use their wealth to access high-quality education while those without are stuck. The sooner we admit that, the sooner we can work to make such access equitable regardless of socio-economic standing.

I have great respect for what Ravitch and Burris have contributed to the education conversation in their (very) long careers. As I said in the beginning, I am punching far above my weight here.

But, I think they’re willfully burying their heads in the sand. They deride charter schools—they even go out of their way to condemn the ones I work in here in Philadelphia.

I go into these schools every day. You know what I see?

I see access.

I see access for families who have been forgotten and told to wait, yet again, for another generation or two. Oftentimes by the very people who claim to be their advocates.

Zachary Wright, a national finalist for the United States Department of Education’s School Ambassador Fellowship is an assistant professor of practice at Relay Graduate School of Education serving Philadelphia and Camden. 


FCPCS Honors Champions at State Conference

The Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools (FCPCS) has honored winners of its 2018 Florida Charter School Champions Awards, which were presented at the at the recent Florida Charter School Conference in Orlando on October 17, 2018.

For the seventh consecutive year, FCPCS received nominations in several categories, including charter school board members, charter school leaders, charter school teachers, charter school pioneers and charter school preferred partners. Winners received their awards at an evening awards reception and presentation.

Champions Awards for charter school board members were presented to Jim Notter of South Tech Schools in Boynton Beach, Any Banov of Sebastian Charter Junior High School in Sebastian, John D'Amico of St. Cloud Preparatory School in St. Cloud and Ana Diaz of Somerset Academy, with various South Florida locations.

Champions Award winners in the category of charter school leaders were Carlos Alvarez of the City of Hialeah Educational Academy in Hialeah, Tammy Lara of SunEd High School in Margate, Kelly Mangel of Treasure Village Montessori in Islamorada, Tracy Nessl of Charter Schools of Excellence in Davie and Pamela Dwyer of Oakland Avenue Charter School in Orlando.

Winners of Champions Awards for charter school teachers were Arlene Gebber of Somerset Academy Boca in Boca Raton, Denise James of Hope Charter School in Ocoee, Cynthia Pierre of Charter Schools of Excellence in Davie, Tiffany Hunt of Burns Science and Technology Charter School in Oak Hill and Kristi Engels of Pinellas Preparatory Academy in Largo.

Winning Champions Awards as charter school pioneers were Erika Donalds of Treasure Coast Classical Academy in Stuart, Jeffrey S. Wood, Attorney-at-Law at Tripp Scott in Fort Lauderdale, Cynthia Aversa of Indian River Charter High School in Vero Beach, Devarn Flowers, retired and living in Pembroke Pines, and Amy McClellan of the Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools.

Finally, awards were given to two preferred vendor partners of Florida charter schools. The two Preferred Partner Award winners were Charter School Capital and Building Hope.

About the Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools

The Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools (FCPCS) is the leading charter school membership association in the state, with a membership of nearly 75 percent of all operating charter schools. Since its inception in 1999, FCPCS has been dedicated to creating a national model of high quality, accredited public charter schools that are student-centered and performance-driven. FCPCS provides a wide array of technical support, mentoring, training, networking, and purchasing services to its membership, as well as serving as an advocate for all Florida public charter schools.

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