The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools ranked California 7th for its charter school laws among the 42 states and the District of Columbia that have passed laws allowing charter schools. For the past four years, the alliance has compared the strength of each state’s charter laws with its own model law, which includes measurements of quality and accountability, equitable access to funding and facilities compared with traditional schools, and no caps on charter school growth.
California received high marks for its variety of charters (start-ups, conversions of existing schools, and virtual schools) and for its automatic exemption of charters from collective bargaining agreements with unions.
Minnesota, which has revamped its laws to match the alliance’s model, not surprisingly ended up first. In general, more states are enacting or strengthening their charter school laws, according to the report, Measuring Up to the Model: A Ranking of State Charter School Laws. The alliance is a national nonprofit “committed to advancing the charter school movement.”
To make it to the top, according to the report, California needs to, among other measures:
- Have an oversight body with the authority to sanction authorizers of charter schools, including the right to remove the authorizer’s ability to approve charter applications. In California, school districts, county offices of education, and the State Board of Education can authorize charter schools;
- Beef up performance requirements in charter contracts;
- Demand more oversight of charter management organizations, such as requiring that they include performance data for all charter schools they manage in charter applications.
“This year, we are heartened that the alliance recognized anew long-standing aspects of California’s charter law, which have proved vital to keeping California schools on a trajectory of unprecedented impact during a period of great budgetary challenge,” said Jed Wallace, president and CEO of the California Charter Schools Association, in a press release about the report.