Annual Report 2024

Director's letter

Cover of the PEPG 2024 Annual Report

A Time of Cautious Optimism

Again, the school choice movement breaks new ground. Seemingly stalled when the Trump Administration imploded, choice gathers steam during Covid when parents become alarmed at their children’s social isolation, emotional distress, and deteriorating academics.

State legislatures drive much of the action. Arkansas jumps into charters with a vigor not seen since the Clinton Administration. New Jersey, Connecticut, and New Mexico relax restrictions, while Montana and West Virginia finally say “yes” to charters. Longstanding funding gaps between charters and district schools narrow. Nationwide, charter enrollments climb by 370,000 students between 2019 and 2021.

Meanwhile, tax-credit scholarships and Education Savings Accounts are opening access to the private sector. Illinois terminates its short-lived trial exploration, but, elsewhere, new laws are passed and old programs enlarge. When combined with vouchers, the number of participants in private-school choice nearly doubles between 2019 and 2023. In addition, homeschooling expands and evolves into new forms, including microschools, hybrid homeschooling, and various types of online learning. Our best estimate is that two million children have shifted from district schools to something else since 2019.

PEPG at Harvard contributes training, research, and advice. Our Dalzell and Koch fellowship programs bring brilliant new minds to the conversation (p. 3). Education Next editor Marty West ensures that the National Assessment of Educational Progress authoritatively documents nationwide drops in academic performance (p. 5). Dany Shakeel and I release the first-ever ranking of states by charter school performance that measures student performance on a common scale (pp. 12-13). Together with Angela Dills, we also show the critical importance of two-parent families for intergenerational mobility (pp. 10-11). PEPG’s second conference on educational alternatives shows that interest in the topic has more than doubled (by registration) in 2023 from just one year ago (pp. 8-9). Our Education Next footprint continues to expand (pp. 6-7).

Not all is well. We lament the partisan divide over policies that hold so much promise for disadvantaged students. But for now, we celebrate upbeat developments occurring as we speak.

—Paul E. Peterson

Annual Report 2024
Download the 2024 Annual Report