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Home » CER in the News » Another state joins the charter school movement

Another state joins the charter school movement

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By Jason Russell
Washington Examiner
March 20, 2015

Alabama became the 43rd state to allow charter schools when Republican Gov. Bentley signed legislation on Thursday.

Unfortunately, the law only allows 10 charter schools to operate. The Center for Education Reform, which grades charter laws in every state, says Alabama’s charter law would earn a “mediocre grade.” Maine has a similarly severe cap on the number of charter schools and its charter laws received a “C” grade from the organization, although other factors affect grading, such as school autonomy.

Furthermore, only charters authorized by a local school board or a new state commission will be allowed to operate. Ideally, charter schools should be able to gain authorization from a number of sources. For example, in Michigan, charter schools can be authorized by school boards, intermediate school boards, community colleges and state public universities.

But despite the shortcomings of this legislation, some charter schools are better than none. Most importantly, the students who attend the charter schools will receive a better education. Their success will show the rest of the state why more charter schools are needed.

A new study released Wednesday showed that “urban charter schools on average achieve significantly greater student success in both math and reading.” It would take traditional public schools 40 additional days of math instruction and 28 additional days of reading instruction to achieve the same success. That study was released by Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes.

The last state to become a charter school state was Washington, which passed its law in 2012. The District of Columbia also allows charter schools. Now only seven states lack charter school laws: Kentucky, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia. Those states are surprisingly bipartisan: Four of the seven have Democratic governors, while three have Republican governors.

Charter schools are technically public schools because they are funded by the government, but they are exempt from many of the educational regulations that traditional public schools have.