As a tribute to National School Choice Week, one of the most empowering weeks of the year for parents, today, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools released its 11th annual ranking of state charter school laws, “Measuring Up to the Model: A Ranking of State Public Charter School Laws, Eleventh Edition.” This year’s report is released at a time when we are seeing unprecedented pushback against charter schools in statehouses and on the campaign trail across the country.
Some key takeaways from this year’s rankings include:
- For the fifth year in a row, Indiana has the nation’s strongest charter school law in the country, ranking No. 1 (out of 45). Indiana’s law does not cap charter school growth, includes multiple authorizers and provides a fair amount of autonomy and accountability. Indiana has also made notable strides in recent years to provide more equitable funding to charter schools, although some work remains to be done.
- Idaho and Tennessee made the biggest jump in this year’s rankings, both moving up four spots. Idaho went from No. 21 to No. 17 because of policy changes to better support charter school facilities needs. Tennessee moved from No. 28 to No. 24 because it created a new statewide appellate body and strengthened authorizer accountability.
- California and Illinois experienced notable drops in this year’s rankings. California fell from No. 18 to No. 20 because it weakened the state’s appellate process and eliminated teacher certification flexibility for charter schools. Illinois dropped from No. 35 to No. 37 because it also weakened the state’s appellate process for charter schools.
- West Virginia became the 45th state to enact a charter school law and received an inaugural ranking of No. 34. While West Virginia’s law provides sufficient autonomy and accountability, it also includes a cap that allows for limited charter school growth, only allows districts to authorize new charter schools and does not provide any facilities support for these public schools.
- Maryland has the nation’s weakest charter school law, ranking No. 45 (out of 45). While Maryland’s law does not cap public charter school growth, it allows only district authorizers and provides little autonomy, insufficient accountability and inequitable funding to charter schools. Rounding out the bottom five states are Iowa (No. 41), Wyoming (No. 42), Alaska (No. 43), and Kansas (No. 44).
From our perspective, the point of our annual state charter school laws rankings report is to figure out which states are creating the conditions for high-quality charter schools by providing, among other things, flexibility, funding equity, non-district authorizers, facilities support and accountability.
Similar legislation plays out differently from state to state because of a whole host of local political and policy factors. Every child deserves access to a great public school, regardless of their socio-economic status. Advocating for policies and laws that allow for the creation and support of excellent charter schools allows us to give more families access to a public school option that might just be their ticket out of the poverty cycle.