This document was presented at the 2011 National Charter Schools Conference by Todd Ziebarth, vice president, state advocacy and support and Liza Grover, senior director, state advocacy and support.
In the past year, public charter schools have garnered intense national scrutiny. Working in our favor, we’ve had increased political support from the Obama Administration, new pro-public charter school majorities in state capitols, and several recently appointed state superintendents of education that back charters. We’ve also had increased media attention from the likes of The Oprah Winfrey Show and the release of the films Waiting for Superman and The Lottery.
Notwithstanding these positive factors, we’ve also faced significant challenges as we’ve navigated the turbulent waters of charter school advocacy at the state level. Most significantly, state budgets remain strained, leaving lawmakers little room to make big financial investments in charter schools (such as through new dollars for charter facilities costs). We also still face well-funded opposition that is looking to stymie charters by imposing caps and moratoria, cutting funding, and re-regulating the operation of charter schools.
Thus far, charter school advocates have been able to achieve many positive policy gains, with several more potentially on the way before the year is finished. We have also been able to play strong defense against efforts to roll back previously made gains.