Pennsylvania falls in rankings of charter school friendliness

Posted by Ed Mahon on January 17, 2012 

Last year, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools ranked Pennsylvania 12th when it came to the friendliness of its charter school laws.

This year, Pennsylvania's ranked 16th.

What happened?

Not much -- at least in Pennsylvania.

Other states passed charter school legislation, making it easier to found and finance the publicly-funded and independently-run schools.

But Republican Gov. Tom Corbett's efforts to overhaul charter school legislation stalled in the legislature.

Here's what Corbett  proposed (and is still proposing): Would-be founders of charter schools could apply to an independent state commission or a university panel for permission to start their charter schools.

Currently, would-be founders of charter schools have to apply to school boards, whose members are often reluctant to approve charter schools because their districts lose money as a result.

In announcing the rankings, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools noted that several other states passed charter school reform in 2011..

Some highlights from the release:

u "At long last, Maine enacted a charter school law, becoming the 42nd jurisdiction that allows this innovative public school option."

u "Ten states lifted their caps on charter school growth (either partially or entirely). Most notably, North Carolina eliminated its cap of 100 charter schools, Michigan phased out its cap on the number of charter schools that can be approved by public universities, and Indiana and Wisconsin removed their limits on virtual charter school enrollment."

u "Seven states strengthened their authorizing environments. Most significantly, four states created new statewide charter boards (Illinois, Indiana, Maine, and Nevada), while New Mexico and Rhode Island passed major quality control measures setting the stage for the future growth of high-quality public charter schools in these states."

u "Ten states improved their support for charter funding and facilities. Of particular note, Indiana enacted legislation that creates a charter school funding and facilities. Of particular note, Indiana enacted legislation that creates a charter school facilities assistance program to make grants and loans to charter schools, appropriates $17 million to this program, and requires school districts to make vacant space available to public charter schools to lease for $1 a year or to buy for $1. Also, Texas enacted a law that allows state-authorized charter schools that have an investment grade rating and meet certain financial criteria to apply to have their bonds guaranteed by the Permanent School Fund."

Here's the full report.





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