National Center for Education Statistics, Institute for Education Sciences
This annual compendium of education statistics doesn't disappoint. Like a cluttered shop store strewn with little gems, there's a lot to find if you know where to look. Consider this one: the percentage of three- and four-year-olds enrolled in school increased from 20 percent in 1970 to 55 percent in 2007 -- probably the biggest change in American education since the rise of universal high-school education during the Great Depression. Homeschooling continues to grow; NCES now estimates that 1.5 million homeschoolers nationwide, i.e., about 3 percent of the school-age population, up from 1.7 percent a decade back. Then there are the interesting trends regarding public-school choice. Almost half of all parents report having some sort of "public-school choice" available to them. And more parents are taking advantage of these choices, opting for schools other than the one closest by. The percentage of children in a public school of choice rose from 11 percent in 1993 to 16 percent in 2007. But that grievously understates the amount of "choosing" that's going on, because 27 percent of parents also report moving to a particular neighborhood in order to buy-in to a certain public school. And the patterns break down by race and region in fascinating (if largely predictable) ways, too. Blacks are more apt to opt for public schools outside their neighborhoods -- 36 percent of those with choice opportunities do so, versus 20 percent of whites. But whites are likelier to choose by moving -- 29 percent report doing so, versus 18 percent of blacks. And there's a lot more public school choice in the West and Midwest (available to 55 percent) vs. the South (40 percent) and Northeast (33 percent). That's but an illustration of the goodies available in this value vault. Take a dive for yourself, here.