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Study Calls for Better Charter School Laws

The Center for Education Reform (CER) is calling on states to enact more specific legislation with regard to charter schools.

charter schoolsCER’s annual Model Legislation for States report illustrates that a majority of states need to overhaul their laws—more than half of states received a grade of “C” or below, indicating a critical need for a clear and concise definition of what constitutes an effective charter school law.

The formal report, titled The Essential Guide to Charter School Lawmaking – Model Legislation for States, is based on 20 years of experience working with charter schools leaders, policymakers and legal experts. The report reflects what the group says actually works – and what doesn’t – when it comes to ensuring sound charter school policy. The report also focuses on what CER calls the four critical components of strong charter laws: Independent and Multiple Authorizers, Number of Schools Allowed, Operations and Equity.

“Charter schools—public schools, open by choice, accountable for results and free from most rules and regulations that stifle progress in traditional schools—are permitted in 41 states and the District [of Columbia],” said Alison Consoletti, CER’s vice president of research. “This model legislation is not just for the nine states that have yet to adopt a charter school law, but for all states to use to amend weaknesses in their laws that limit these important educational options for kids.”

In addition to language that states can adopt when strengthening their charter school law, the report also highlights the work of several “exemplary states” including Michigan, New York, Indiana, Minnesota, Arizona, Florida, Missouri and the District of Columbia. These states’ laws have created robust and highly accountable charter school options for parents and children.

“Having a law on the books just for the sake of saying ‘we have a charter law’ is no longer acceptable,” Consoletti added. “We know from decades of analysis that great charter schools come from strong laws. Demand is high. Lawmakers need to act to meet the needs of their students.”

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