National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Ranks State Laws, Finds `Significant Improvements’
The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, an advocacy organization, has released its new report “Measuring Up to the Model: A Ranking of State Charter School Laws.” States were ranked based on a variety of factors including how difficult it is for charters to get up and running, whether states allow multiple authorizers (which typically means organizers have more opportunities to win approval), and whether there is a cap on the total number of charter schools allowed to operate.
It’s worth noting that some researchers question the methodology and usefulness of ranking states based on the perceived strengths or weaknesses of charter school laws. (Click here for the National Education Policy Center’s 2008 report.) At the same time, many states are looking for new approaches to education reform, and charter schools remain an important element in that equation.
From the alliance’s report:
Ten states lifted their caps on charter school growth (either partially or entirely). Most notably, North Carolina eliminated its cap of 100 charter schools, Michigan phased out its cap on the number of charter schools that can be approved by public universities, and Indiana and Wisconsin removed their limits on virtual charter school enrollment.
Seven states strengthened their authorizing environments. Most significantly, four states created new statewide charter boards (Illinois, Indiana, Maine, and Nevada), while New Mexico and Rhode Island passed major quality control measures setting the stage for the future growth of high-quality public charter schools in these states.
Ten states improved their support for charter school funding and facilities. Of particular note, Indiana enacted legislation that creates a charter school facilities assistance program to make grants and loans to charter schools, appropriates $17 million to this program, and requires school districts to make vacant space available to public charter schools to lease for $1 a year or to buy for $1. Also, Texas enacted a law that allows state-authorized charter schools that have an investment grade rating and meet certain financial criteria to apply to have their bonds guaranteed by the Permanent School Fund.
What conversations are you hearing in your districts and states around charter schools? For more on this important issue, including the latest research and news coverage, visit EWA’s Story Starters page on Charters & Choice. Nina Rees, president and CEO of the alliance, was featured as part of EdMedia Commons’ “Five Questions For …” series, and you can read the full interview here.