|WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools released its annual state-by-state ranking of charter public school laws, Measuring Up to the Model: A Ranking of State Charter Public School Laws, Eighth Edition. Pennsylvania ranked 31st in this year’s report. While Pennsylvania’s law does not contain a cap on charter public school growth and provides adequate autonomy to charters, it primarily allows local school district authorizers and provides insufficient accountability and inadequate funding to charters.
“This year marks the 20th anniversary of the enactment of Pennsylvania’s Charter School Law, and the Keystone Alliance is pleased to celebrate this important milestone. Although the number of brick-and-mortar charter schools has grown to more than 160 and enroll nearly 100,000 students, additional high-quality public charter schools are needed to meet the growing number of students who are on charter school waiting lists,” said Tim Eller, executive director at Keystone Alliance for Public Charter Schools. “Although the vast majority of brick-and-mortar charter schools are meeting the academic and educational needs of students and their families, Pennsylvania’s Charter School Law is in need of being updated to reflect public education in the 21st century. The Keystone Alliance continues to work with the Pennsylvania General Assembly to update the state’s Charter School Law to ensure that public charter school students are appropriately funded and are served by high-quality, accountable and transparent public charter schools.”
The 2017 rankings are the first that measure each state’s charter school law against the National Alliance’s updated model charter school law, New Model Law for Supporting the Growth of High-Quality Charter Public Schools: Second Edition, which was released in October 2016. These rankings reflect new provisions from the model charter school law regarding flexibility, accountability, and equity.
“The fact that Pennsylvania drops from 27th last year to 31st this year in this comparison comes as no surprise to the charter schools in Pennsylvania. There have been no significant changes to the original charter school law since 1999 and many states have either passed new laws or improved the ones they have. For years, PCPCS has been advocating for charter reform legislation which would bring Pennsylvania into the 21st century, but it has consistently failed to pass the legislature. PCPCS will continue to advocate to improve the law during the 2017-18 legislative session in order to strengthen the charter school movement and, in turn, improve choice for parents, high-quality options for children, and accountability for taxpayers,” said Ana Meyers, executive director at Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools.
Measuring Up to the Model: A Ranking of State Charter Public School Laws, Eighth Edition ranks the charter school laws in 43 states and the District of Columbia. Each law receives a score based on 21 essential metrics, which include flexibility, accountability, and equity. These 21 components are drawn from the National Alliance’s New Model Law for Supporting the Growth of High-Quality Charter Public Schools: Second Edition.
Key findings from the report include:
- Indiana has the nation’s strongest charter school law in the country for the second year in a row. Indiana’s law does not cap charter school growth, includes multiple authorizers, and provides a fair amount of autonomy and accountability.
- Washington became the newest addition to the rankings in 2017, having passed legislation that re-established its charter school law after the Washington Supreme Court declared its previous law invalid, becoming the 44th jurisdiction (43 states and D.C.) with a charter school law.
- Mississippi made major improvements to its law by now allowing students in school districts rated C, D, or F to cross district lines to attend a charter school and permitting charter school employees to participate in the state retirement system and other benefits programs.
- Maryland continues to hold the lowest spot, ranking 44th with the weakest charter school law in the country. While Maryland’s law does not cap charter school growth, it allows only local school district authorizers and provides little autonomy, insufficient accountability and inequitable funding to charter schools.
Click here to read the full report: Measuring Up to the Model: A Ranking of State Charter Public School Laws.