Charter School Model Law Proposed
Special Report - September 4, 2009
A national education advocacy group is promoting a new model charter school law aimed at helping states create “more and better public charter schools based upon the lessons learned from experience, research and analysis.” The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools released its proposal at the annual National Charter Schools Conference, which was held in Washington, D.C. from June 21-24. According to the group, there are over 4,600 charter schools in the 40 states plus D.C. that have charter school laws in place. Charter schools are public schools governed by independent boards of directors that are free from many of the burdensome regulations placed on traditional public schools.
The proposal highlights five primary ingredients for a “successful charter school environment” in a state: 1) supportive laws and regulations; 2) quality authorizers (defined as: “an entity authorized…to review applications, decide whether to approve or reject applications, enter into charter contracts with applicants, oversee public charter schools, and decide whether to renew, not renew, or revoke charter contracts.”); 3) effective charter support organizations; 4) outstanding school leaders and teachers; and 5) engaged parents and communities. The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools also identifies 20 essential components to a successful charter school law, including the following:
- No caps on the number of charter schools allowed at one time.
- Availability of multiple authorizers, “including non-local school boards to which charter applicants can directly apply.”
- Automatic exemptions from many state laws.
- Performance-based charter school contracts.
- Fiscal and legal autonomy for charter schools with independent charter school boards.
Over 30,000 students attend charter schools in North Carolina. State law, which was enacted in 1996, requires that no more than 100 charter schools operate at one time. Because the cap was met several years ago, the only way charters become available is when the State Board of Education revokes or fails to renew a charter, or a school relinquishes its charter. Although bills to either raise or remove the cap have been introduced in the General Assembly for the past several years, including at least eight bills in the 2009 session, none have been allowed to move forward. Both President Barack Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan have encouraged states to raise or eliminate caps on charter schools.
“Education policy makerswith the Governor and General Assembly leadership at the toprefuse to consider removing the cap on charter schools in North Carolina,” said Bill Brooks, President of the North Carolina Family Policy Council. “Charters have demonstrated, beyond all reasonable doubt, that they are not only an important part of the academic community in North Carolina, but a bright and shining star in a new model for education reform. It is time to expand school choice in North Carolina, beginning with lifting the arbitrary cap on the number of charter schools.”
Copyright © 2009. North Carolina Family Policy Council. All rights reserved.