School Choice

Are State Charter School Laws Living Up to the Promise of Quality Choice?

Groups, districts, states and even members of Congress are taking time this week to acknowledge National School Choice Week. While it's important to shine a spotlight on the need for effective educational options for all children, it’s vital that this be a year-round issue for students and families. Meaningful options are about more than just individual schools, they are also about rigorous laws that set high goals for all kids and ensure states and authorizers act quickly when children are not on track to college and career readiness. In this vein, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools released its sixth annual report, Measuring Up to the Model: A Ranking of State Public Charter School Laws, ranking each state’s charter school law. According to the findings this year, of the 43 states and the District of Columbia that have charter school laws to analyze, 14 states moved up in the rankings, while 17 states fell. Furthermore, the report highlights the need for additional policy improvements across the nation, especially in the area of funding equity for public charter school students. Below is a summary of four major takeaways from the report:
  • Minnesota remained first, while Maryland remained last „
  • South Carolina moved up six spots—from 16 to 10. Learn more about how the Palmetto State did it here.
  • Utah moved up seven spots from 25 to 18 because it took such steps as enacting legislation that strengthened its requirements for performance-based contracts and increasing funding equity. „ „
  • Massachusetts moved down six spots from 11 to 17 because of new data related to funding equity. „
This information is key and timely as we quickly move into state legislative sessions. State legislators and governors can and should use this report to lead and take meaningful action to improve their state policies and live up to the aim of National School Choice Week: to empower parents, regardless of their income or geography, to choose the best educational environments for their children.
Ann Whalen
Ann Whalen is senior advisor to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Prior to returning to the U.S. Department of Education, she served as the director of policy for Education Post. Whalen has served more than five years in the Obama Administration with the U.S. Department of Education. At the department, Ann was director of the Implementation and Support Unit, providing technical assistance to ...

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