PA Drops in State Charter Law Rankings
January 18, 2012
Pennsylvania’s charter school law fell four spots to number 16, according to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools’ (NAPCS) annual ranking of state charter school laws. Maine’s law ranked first, and Mississippi’s charter school law remains last.
In its third year, Measuring Up to the Model: A Ranking of State Public Charter School Laws analyzes the country’s 42 state charter school laws. Each state is scored on how well it supports charter school quality and growth, based on the 20 essential components from the NAPCS’ model charter school law, which include comprehensive monitoring and data collection, equitable access to funding and facilities, and no caps.
“In general, Pennsylvania law provides an environment that’s open to new start-ups, public school conversions, and virtual schools and supportive of autonomy,” said Todd Ziebarth, vice president, state advocacy and support, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. “However, Pennsylvania’s law needs improvement in several areas, including prohibiting district-mandated restrictions on growth, expanding authorizer options beyond local school boards, ensuring equitable operational and categorical funding, providing equitable access to capital funding and facilities, and allowing multi-school charter contracts or multi- contract governing boards.” Ziebarth is the lead author of the report.
2011 was a significant year for positive charter school legislation across the country. Maine enacted a charter school law, becoming the 42nd jurisdiction that allows for these innovative public school options. As a result of progressive policy changes made over the past year, New Mexico also made a big jump, moving from 20th to fourth; Indiana went from 25th to sixth; and Rhode Island from 37th to 26th.
Conversely, Georgia’s ranking dropped seven spots in 2011, slipping from seventh to 14th. In addition, South Carolina fell six spots from 19th to 25th. And four states dropped five places: Missouri (13th to 18th), Oklahoma (22nd to 27th), Connecticut (24th to 29th), and New Jersey (26th to 31st).
“There were a lot of shake-ups on the list this year, most certainly when you look at the top ranking state of Maine, which enacted a charter school law closely aligned with NAPCS’ model law,” says Ursula Wright, interim president and CEO, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. “While we see an increasing number of states creating favorable policy environments for high-quality charter schools, we acknowledge there is still a lot of work to be done.”
As lawmakers prepare for the upcoming legislative sessions, the rankings provide clear indications of where some states excel and others come up short in their charter school laws. The report also offers a roadmap for how governors and legislators can take action to strengthen charter school laws.
The 10 states with laws shown to best support the growth of high-quality charter schools are: Maine, Minnesota, Florida, New Mexico, Massachusetts, Indiana, Colorado, New York, California and Michigan.
The complete analysis can be downloaded at the National Alliance for Public Charter School’s website: www.publiccharters.org/charterlawrankings2012. See detailed state-by-state summaries and color-coded maps of how states measure against each component at the http://charterlaws.publiccharters.org.