In the States

The National Alliance is working to pass charter school laws in states that do not have them and strengthen charter school laws in states that have weak ones. Each year, the National Alliance selects a small number of states in which to focus our efforts. The following states are priority states for the 2015 state legislative sessions.

Alabama

Until recently, Alabama was one of the small number of states without a law allowing public charter schools. Over a number of years, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools worked with a coalition of partners to get the state to enact a public charter school law. On March 27, 2015, Governor Robert Bentley signed SB 45, the Alabama School Choice and Student Opportunity Act, into law. This law will allow public charter schools in the state for the first time.

Indiana

Indiana has made several improvements to its charter school law since 2011. As a result, it has moved up in our annual rankings of state charter school laws from #29 in 2010 to #5 in 2015.
Notwithstanding such progress, there are still some provisions in Indiana’s law that need to be strengthened, particularly as it relates to funding.
  • The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools is supporting efforts in the state this year that would make a big dent in the funding gap between public charter school students and their counterparts in traditional public schools.
  • We are also supporting complementary efforts to enact legislation that would strengthen other aspects of the state’s law, especially those relating to accountability and autonomy.

North Carolina

When North Carolina enacted its public charter school law in 1996, the law capped the number of public charter schools allowed in the state at 100. After a number of years, the state hit the cap and the public charter school movement stagnated. In 2011, after much work by a coalition of organizations that included the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, the state finally lifted its cap on charters, opening the door for more high-quality charters to meet the pent-up demand for them.
While lifting the cap was a major step in the right direction, North Carolina’s law, which is currently ranked #16 in our annual state charter school law rankings, still needs to be strengthened in several areas, particularly as it relates to funding.
  • The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools is supporting efforts in the state this year that would make a big dent in the funding gap between public charter school students and their counterparts in traditional public schools.
  • We are also supporting complementary efforts via statutory and regulatory changes that would strengthen other aspects of the state’s policy environment, especially those relating to accountability and autonomy.

Oklahoma

Oklahoma has allowed public charter schools since 1999, but only 24 charters are open in the state. The main barrier is one of the weakest charter school laws in the country (currently ranked #34 out of 43 in our charter laws rankings report). The National Alliance is working with a growing group of lawmakers, educators, and advocates to improve the state’s charter school law so that more high-quality charter options are available for students. Top priorities for changes to the law include:

  • Allowing public charter schools to open in any district in the state (they are currently allowed in only approximately 20 of the state’s more than 500 districts);
  • Providing equitable access to capital funding and facilities; and
  • Creating a statewide authorizing entity.

West Virginia

West Virginia is one of seven states that does not have a law allowing public charter schools. The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools is building a coalition of local partners to get the state to enact a public charter school law.
  • In 2015, SB 14, the West Virginia Public Charter Schools Act of 2015, was passed by the Senate, passed by the House Education and Finance Committees, and made it to the House floor. However, the legislative session ended before SB 14 could be brought up for its third and final reading on the House floor.
  • While SB 14 was not enacted into law this year, much progress was made in the legislature this session, building positive momentum to get a public charter school law enacted there in 2016.

Wisconsin

Wisconsin has one of the weakest public charter school laws in the country (it is currently ranked #38 out of 43). It is one of a small number of states that has not made significant improvements to its law over the past five years. As a result, it remains one of the states that are least hospitable to the growth of high- quality public charter schools. The two biggest priorities for strengthening the state’s charter school law are:

  • To allow the expansion of independent charter schools statewide; and
  • To provide more equitable funding to independent charter school students.