Charters still face Upward Climb

PPI_promoThe Center for Education Reform has just issued its annual Charter School Law Report Card, and most states do not make the grade. The majority of states, according to the report, are only making “satisfactory” progress, and only 13 states have “strong” charter school laws. Among the nation’s 43 states with charter school laws, only four received “A” scores, nine received “B” scores, 19 received “C” scores, and the remaining 11 states scored at “D” or “F”.

CER president Jeanne Allen warned against a lack of increased reforms: “At 21 years old, the national charter school movement is only making satisfactory progress. Satisfactory progress is not good enough for our students’ report cards and it shouldn’t be good enough for our state report cards. In the past two years, we’ve seen two new charter laws but both are average in their construction, unlikely to yield large numbers of successful charter schools, and only minimal state improvements. Many states failed to advance substantive reform in 2012, a fact we hope to see change this year.”

The Center for Education Reform argues that the charter school movement, which has only been active for 21 years, has shown “unparalleled” success, “with more than 2 million students today attending in excess of 6,000 public charter schools.” Whether or not the charter schools should be considered a success, the fact is that many states have simply not offered charter schools a real chance to get started. Not to mention the eight states that do not have public charter laws.

As an example, the state of Maryland exemplifies states that have done little to encourage charter schools. According to the state of Maryland education website, there are only a little over 50 public charter schools in Maryland, all contained within seven of its districts. The charter school law in Maryland was only passed in 2003.  Maryland scored a low “D” in the report by the Center for Education Reform, which cited strictures by local school boards as a major hindrance to parents looking for more school choice through public charters.

The Charter School Law Report Card is one of the key components used by the Center for Education Reform to create its Parent Power Index. The Parent Power Index is a broader index of how successful each state is at allowing access and agency for parents of students. Taking into account school choice, charter schools, online learning, teacher quality (including means of evaluation), and transparency, the Parent Power Index provides a ranking of states.

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