Center for Ed Reform Examines Charter School Laws Nationwide

The Center for Education Reform, a major advocate for structural change in the US education system, has released its thirteenth annual analysis of laws countrywide.

“Charter schools — public schools, open by choice, accountable for results and free from most rules and regulations that stifle progress in traditional schools — are permitted in 41 states and the District of Columbia, and yet the conditions for success in those states compromise the availability of great new public schools that parents and students most need and deserve,” said CER President Jeanne Allen

The 2012 report compares each law against national benchmarks to measure the impact of current charter school policies on the creation of long-term healthy charter schools. It identifies the components within the charter school system that are likely to lead to sustainable success and which states have them in place. For example, Washington, Minnesota and Indiana have created multiple independent authorizers and fiscal equity, whereas Virginia and Georgia have failed to ensure operational freedom, equity or alternate paths to authorization and these failures often lead to contentious battles over the creation of a new charter school.

The US GPA of 2.1 -a ‘C’ – on state charter school laws is a result of states having earned five A grades, nine Bs, seventeen Cs, seven Ds and four Fs. Categories ranked include: the existence of multiple independent authorizers, number of schools allowed, operational autonomy, and fiscal equity when compared to their conventional public school peers.

Allen called it a ‘wake up call’ to everyone involved on both sides, and reminded people that having the law in place wasn’t enough by itself, it needed proper support to ensure that it could be implemented successfully in real world conditions.

The legal problems associated with the California ‘trigger law’ are an excellent example of how a law alone is not enough without due consideration for the practical difficulties of implementing it when there is a pre-existing power base whose self-interest is served by delaying and blocking any such implementation.

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