Limits on Charter Schools an Obstacle to Race to the Top Funds

Article excerpt

"STATES THAT DO NOT HAVE PUBLIC CHARTER laws or put artificial caps on the growth of charter schools will jeopardize their applications under the Race to the Top fund." With these words from a conference call to reporters in June, Education Secretary Arne Duncan made explicit just how central charter schools are to the Obama administration's commitment to educational innovation.

The administration's position was supported by a recent study from Stanford University's Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO), which found that states with caps on charter schools "reported significantly lower academic results than states without caps." (The report also found that charter school performance varies widely.)

States have recently engaged in a flurry of legislation regarding charter schools, and some have voted to lift their caps. Here's a list, valid as of press time:

Illinois. The state legislature was the first to act in response to Obama's call for states to lift caps. If signed, the bill will increase from 60 to 120 the number of charters allowed in the state.

Indiana. The legislature passed a two-year budget that includes no caps on charter schools.

Louisiana. The governor signed a bill to remove completely the state's cap on charters, which had been set at 70. …