(January 16, 2013 – Washington, DC) Arkansas received a ‘D’ and is the eleventh weakest of the nation’s 43 charter school laws.
This is the conclusion of the 14th annual Charter School Laws Across the States Ranking and Scorecard produced by The Center for Education Reform. Among the nation’s 43 charter school laws, there are only four As, nine Bs, 19 Cs and the remaining 11 states earned Ds and Fs.
With fewer than half of the U.S.’s state charter school laws earning a satisfactory grade, policymakers this year are faced with enormous challenges. The success of these new public schools is unparalleled, with more than 2 million students today attending in excess of 6,000 public charter schools. Yet, with fewer than half of the states able to meet the demands of parents and educators who want the freedom to choose charter schools, state laws simply must improve to ensure growth and sustainability.
“At 21 years old, the national charter school movement is only making satisfactory progress,” said CER president Jeanne Allen. “Satisfactory progress is not good enough for our students’ report cards and it shouldn’t be good enough for our state report cards. In the past two years, we’ve seen two new charter laws but both are average in their construction, unlikely to yield large numbers of successful charter schools, and only minimal state improvements. Many states failed to advance substantive reform in 2012, a fact we hope to see change this year.”
Only four states improved their laws since the Center’s report card was issued last year, but nowhere near the trends of the late 1990s era when 17 states created or amended charter school laws.
Since 1996 the Center has studied and evaluated charter school laws based on their construction and implementation, and whether they yield the intended result of charter school policy, which is to ensure the creation of numerous quality learning opportunities for children.
The annual charter school rankings are a critical component of The Center for Education Reform’s Parent Power Index©, which together with the other key elements of reform make up the complete index. Many states will see changes in their scores on the Parent Power Index as a result of the Charter School Laws Across the States Ranking and Scorecard, which will be available to the public January 22.
“As policymakers consider changes to their charter school laws, they also need to be mindful of what it takes to have truly great education reform policies across all issues.” Allen said. “If a charter school law isn’t strong, school choice options minimal or non-existent, digital learning exists for the few over the many, and teacher quality measures are not assured, students will not have opportunities they need and deserve.”