CER: Many Charter School Laws Still Too Weak

 

This is the Choice Media Ed Reform Minute for: Friday, January 25th.

Less than half of the states in the U.S. are able to meet the demands of parents and educators who want the freedom to choose charter schools.

That’s the conclusion of the 14th annual Charter School Laws Across the States Ranking and Scorecard produced by The Center for Education Reform.

Among the nation’s 43 charter school laws, only four earned A’s. Nine earned B’s. 19 Cs and the remaining 11 states earned D’s and F’s.

The Center studies and evaluates charter school laws based on their construction and implementation, and whether they ensure the creation of numerous quality learning opportunities for children.

Only four states amended existing charter school laws last year to expand choice. Many states failed to advance substantive reform in 2012, according to Center for Education Reform President, Jeanne Allen:

Jeanne Allen

Jeanne Allen, Center for Education Reform

What we’re seeing across the country in terms of charter school laws is only satisfactory at best in the last year. There was a time when charter school laws were not only being enacted at a very fast clip but improved.

Allen notes that neighboring states often have very different attitudes about school choice, reflected in their laws, and their grade from CER:

Night and day between an Minnesota and Iowa, an “A” and an “F” state. Minnesota has a larger number of independent multiple authorizers you can go to to open up a school. These are groups outside the traditional school board or state education department. Those authorizers when they approve schools, have a higher degree of or more proportioned share of funding. They have no cap on the number of schools that can be opened.

That doesn’t mean you’re going to open up a thousand tomorrow–but it does mean you’re not pressing up against a cap. Whereas in Iowa, there is a cap, only two per year per schools district. In Iowa, school districts are the only providers or authorizers of charter schools. So in Minnesota you can go to a university; in Iowa you’ve gotta to go to the very people you’re trying to get away from, to be a little separate from. Iowa also does not give you any freedom or flexibility from union contracts or rules governing hiring and firing teachers and staff. And so autonomy for us means do you have the ability hire, fire  retain and reward people around you? Do you have any freedom and flexibility regarding curriculum? Iowa has next to zero, Minnesota has lots.

The annual charter school law rankings are a critical component of The Center for Education Reform’s Parent Power Index, which provides a complete evaluation of state performance when it comes to the issue of parental involvement in education. That index was released Tuesday, and is available at the CER website, edreform.org.

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