As several state legislative sessions come to a close, we continue to see solid progress in enacting positive charter school legislation across the country. However, a few troublesome bills remain alive as well.
A few of our biggest highlights:
- Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed into law a game-changing bill that sets a high bar for opening charter schools to ensure quality, holds schools accountable, and allows applicants to apply directly to the state board of education
- Wyoming strengthened its charter school law by creating a statewide authorizer to ensure accountability and establishing a transparent application process
- Maine defeated an anti-charter school bill that would have gutted authorizing and funding in the state
We also supported our local partners in New Mexico as they successfully prevented any anti-charter school policies from becoming law. For the first time in several years, they were also able to get a stand-alone charter school bill enacted into law. The bill requires each charter school to provide an enrollment preference to children of that school’s employees.
Beyond the states where the National Alliance has directly engaged, we are seeing promising progress, including in the following states:
- Colorado increased the cap on moral obligation bonds for charter schools from $500 million to $750 million
- Georgia increased state funding for district-authorized charter schools and ensured districts allocate a proportionate share of federal funding to district-authorized charter schools
- Indiana increased its per-pupil charter school facilities allotment to $1,000 per-pupil in the first year of the budget and $1,250 per-pupil in the second year.
- Florida and Oklahoma have positive bills continuing to move forward in state houses.
On the negative side, states that are fighting major anti-charter school bills include:
- California, where we’ve seen the most damaging anti-charter school bill in the country this session. Among many harmful aspects, the bill would cut funding for non-classroom-based schools by 30%, increase the cap on authorizer oversight fees, and require a minimum number of daily instructional minutes
- Colorado, where charter school supporters are fighting a bill that would gut the state’s highly effective appellate process
- Illinois, where supporters have their hands full with fighting multiple anti-charter school bills, including one that would prohibit charter school leaders from talking about the pros and cons of unionization with their staff members
- Rhode Island, where a moratorium bill has passed the Senate and is now in the House
While the momentum behind charter schools is stronger than some expected in statehouses this year, the efforts in these four states are a reminder that we always need to stay on guard for the relentless anti-charter school efforts of our opponents. They could be a harbinger for what lies ahead in the 2022 sessions.
Todd Ziebarth is the senior vice president of state support and advocacy at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.