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Thirty-Five States Strengthen Charter School Laws

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Thirty-five states have made important improvements in their laws that govern public charter schools, says a new report issued by theNational Alliance for Public Charter Schools. “By strengthening public charter school laws, legislators across the country are taking action to better serve the growing number of American families who are enrolling their children in public charter schools,” said National Alliance president and CEO Nina Rees. The report found that seven states with charter schools – Hawaii, Rhode Island, New Mexico, Indiana, South Carolina, Louisiana and Colorado – made significant improvements to their laws, entirely overhauling them over the last four years. From increasing the transparency of the approval process for charter schools to ensuring the local body that makes charter approval decisions is adequately funded, these states made the most significant improvements to their laws. Sixteen states lifted caps on the number of charter schools allowed to operate in the state. Lifting caps on charter schools was a requirement for any state that wanted to compete for a federal “Race to the Top” grant. Six states – California, Kansas, Maryland, Mississippi, Wisconsin and Wyoming – made no improvements to their charter school laws over the last four years; and the quality of Pennsylvania’s law actually declined. The report also found that most states still lack policies to provide students in public charter schools with the same funding levels as their traditional public school peers. “There are one million names lingering on public charter school waitlists nationwide. Despite strong, bipartisan  progress by many visionary state legislators, most states still have yet to catch up to parental demand,” said Rees. “And, we have a long way to go to ensure that students in public charter schools receive the same funding as their peers in traditional public schools.” Authors of this report looked back at the annual state rankings of public charter school law quality produced by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools between January 2010 and January 2013, measuring change in the quality of each state’s laws over this time period. January 2010 marked the introduction of the NAPCS model law, which identifies 20 essential elements that create a high-quality charter school law. The complete report can be downloaded at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools website: http://publiccharters.org/Blog/Default.aspx?id=472. Forty-two states and the District of Columbia have charter schools, which are tuition-free independent public schools that are given the freedom to be more innovative while being held accountable for improved student achievement. About the National Alliance The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools is the leading national nonprofit organization committed to advancing the public charter school movement. Our mission is to lead public education to unprecedented levels of academic achievement by fostering a strong charter sector. For more information, please visit our website at www.publiccharters.org.