Minnesota ranks first in 2011 charter school law rankingsMinnesota has the nation’s strongest charter school law for the second year in a row, according to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools’ second annual ranking of state charter school laws.
By: Staff Report, Alexandria Echo Press
Minnesota has the nation’s strongest charter school law for the second year in a row, according to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools’ second annual ranking of state charter school laws.
Mississippi’s new charter school law ranked last.
Measuring Up to the Model: A Ranking of State Public Charter School Laws analyzes the country’s 41 state charter laws and scores how well each supports charter school quality and growth based on the 20 essential components from the Alliance’s model charter school law.
“Minnesota tops the chart most notably because of its laws promoting quality and funding equity for charter schools,” said report author Todd Ziebarth, vice president of state advocacy and support, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. “However, legislators could do more to ensure equitable access to capital funding and facilities for charter schools.”
Minnesota enacted the nation’s first charter school law in 1991. In 2009, Minnesota enacted a “second generation” charter school law that addressed a comprehensive series of measures to strengthen the accountability of authorizers, schools, and boards of directors as well as to enhance the innovation within charter schools.
“Our ongoing effort has been to enhance accountability, quality and innovation in Minnesota’s charter schools and authorizers – so we are extremely pleased to see that, for a second year in a row, Minnesota’s charter school law is ranked first in the nation, especially as we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the enactment of Minnesota’s first in the nation charter school law. The first in the nation ranking, however, does not mean that we cannot continue to improve our law. In fact, we will be introducing a number of proposals during this legislative session to continue to promote quality and accountability,” said Eugene Piccolo, Executive Director of the Minnesota Association of Charter Schools.
The new report captures all the legislative moves states made to be more competitive under the U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top program. As a result of positive policy changes made over the past year, Florida made the biggest jump from 2010, moving from number 11 to second place. Because of charter schools legislation passed in 2010, Massachusetts also made a jump, from number six to third place. And, the charter school legislation New York enacted in 2010 moved it from number eight to number five.
Conversely, the District of Columbia tumbled the furthest from 2010, dropping from the second to the eighth place. In addition, California fell from the third to the sixth position, Georgia fell from fourth to seventh, and Utah dipped from seventh to tenth.
As a new crop of governors and legislators prepare for the upcoming legislative sessions, the rankings provide clear indications of where some states excel and others come up short in charter school laws and offer a positive roadmap for how governors and legislators can take action to strengthen their charter school laws.
“High-quality charter schools start with strong charter school laws. Our state charter law rankings describe how laws can ensure charter schools are able to innovate in ways that boost student achievement while being held to high standards of academic, fiscal, and operational performance,” explained Peter C. Groff, president and CEO, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. “The rankings and the model law developed by the Alliance and other key stakeholders are moving lawmakers in key states to make positive policy changes.”
The 10 states with laws shown to best support the growth of high-quality charter schools are: Minnesota, Florida, Massachusetts, Colorado, New York, California, Georgia, District of Columbia, Louisiana and Utah.
The report also found that 24 states and the District of Columbia still have caps that impede the growth of charter schools. In nine of these states, such caps are severely constraining growth: Arkansas, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Ohio. More than 420,000 students across the country are hoping for an additional seat at a charter school and there is no correlation between caps and school quality or student achievement. “These states should remove their arbitrary restrictions on charter growth,” added Ziebarth.
In addition, 10 states have still failed to enact a charter school law: Alabama, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia.
The complete analysis can be downloaded at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools web site: www.publiccharters.org/charterlawrankings2011
For more information on Minnesota’s charter schools, visit the MN Association of Charter Schools website: www.mncharterschools.org