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NAPCS Releases Annual Ranking of State Charter Laws; Race to the Top Helped Some States Improve

For Immediate Release: Contact: Sarah Johnson, (202) 521-2826 Deborah Veney Robinson, (202) 521-2828 pressroom@publiccharters.org Minnesota’s law is nation’s strongest; Mississippi is the weakest WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS) today released its second annual report which ranks the nation’s charter school laws from the strongest to the weakest. Measuring Up to the Model: A Ranking of State Public Charter School Laws analyzes the country’s 41 state charter laws and scores how well each supports charter school quality and growth based on the 20 essential components from the NAPCS’ model charter school law. The new report captures all the legislative moves states made to be more competitive under the U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top program. Overall, Minnesota’s charter school law ranked the highest and Mississippi’s new charter school law ranked the lowest. “There were a lot of shake-ups on the list this year,” commented Peter C. Groff, president and CEO, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. “Through the Race to the Top competition, states had a new incentive to take bold steps and make major improvements to their charter school laws. Some chose to do so and gained in our ranking. Those who made superficial or no changes, however, often lost ground.” “High-quality charter schools start with strong charter school laws. Our state charter law rankings describe how laws can ensure charter schools are able to innovate in ways that boost student achievement while being held to high standards of academic, fiscal, and operational performance,” explained Todd Ziebarth, vice president of state advocacy and support, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. “The rankings and the model law developed by the Alliance and other key stakeholders are moving lawmakers in key states to make positive policy changes.” Ziebarth is the author of the report. As a result of positive policy changes made over the past year, Florida made the biggest jump from 2010, moving from number 11 to second place. Because of charter schools legislation passed in 2010, Massachusetts also made a jump, from number six to third place. And, the charter school legislation New York enacted in 2010 moved it from number eight to number five. Conversely, the District of Columbia tumbled the furthest from 2010, dropping from the second to the eighth place. In addition, California fell from the third to the sixth position, Georgia fell from fourth to seventh, and Utah dipped from seventh to tenth. As a new crop of governors and legislators prepares for the upcoming legislative sessions, the rankings provide clear indications of where some states excel and others come up short in charter school laws. They also offer a positive roadmap for how governors and legislators can take action to strengthen their charter school laws. “While the legislative moves made in 2010 ranged from the positive to the meaningless to the hostile, the charter movement overall saw positive policy movement across the country,” said Ziebarth. “The road ahead remains long, though. Governors and legislators must do more to give parents access to high-quality public charter schools by providing funding equity, increasing facilities support, removing antiquated limits on growth and strengthening authorizer environments.” The 10 states with laws shown to best support the growth of high-quality charter schools are: Minnesota, Florida, Massachusetts, Colorado, New York, California, Georgia, District of Columbia, Louisiana and Utah. The report also found that 24 states and the District of Columbia still have caps that impede the growth of charter schools. In nine of these states, such caps are severely constraining growth: Arkansas, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Ohio. More than 420,000 students across the country are hoping for an additional seat at a charter school and there is no correlation between caps and school quality or student achievement. “These states should remove their arbitrary restrictions on charter growth,” added Ziebarth. There are 10 states that have still failed to enact a charter school law: Alabama, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia. The complete analysis can be downloaded at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools web site: www.publiccharters.org/charterlawrankings2011. See detailed state-by-state summaries and color-coded maps of how states measure against each component at http://charterlaws.publiccharters.org. The complete analysis can be downloaded at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools’ webpage: www.publiccharters.org/charterlawrankings2011. The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS) is the national nonprofit organization committed to increasing the number of high-performing charter schools available to all families, particularly low-income and minority families who currently don’t have access to quality public schools. Download a PDF version of this press release here. RSVP to attend the report’s official press briefing event scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 19, 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. EST, at the National Press Club’s Holeman Lounge in Washington. Admission is free. Read the NAPCS’ June 2009 release, A New Model Law for Supporting the Growth of High-Quality Public Charter Schools.