Magazine article District Administration

New Laws Press for Charter School Accountability

Magazine article District Administration

New Laws Press for Charter School Accountability

Article excerpt

Recent surges in charter enrollment--and reported scandals--have led some states to pass new laws that seek more accountability from the schools, their administrators and their sponsors.

Forty-three states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws permitting charter schools to operate. In 2013-14, 2.57 million students enrolled in charters nationwide--up from 1.29 million in 2007-08, according to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

Legislative action around charter schools in each of the 43 states continues, with many creating new provisions for funding and facilities as enrollment grows, says Todd Zeibarth, senior vice president for state advocacy at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. Research on charter performance is mixed, however.

"Each year we've seen state environments become more favorable to the growth of high-quality schools," Zeibarth says. "It's important the laws are not just allowing as many charters as possible--we're seeing both expansion and accountability strengthen."

An 'unconstitutional' law

In September, Washington's Supreme Court declared unconstitutional the 2012 law allowing charter schools in the state. The court found that charters do not qualify as public schools under the Washington Constitution, as they are not governed by public officials, and therefore cannot receive public funding. The law affects nine schools.

"At this stage, there's not a big impact," says Bill Keim, executive director of the Washington Association of School Administrators. "Only about 1,200 students out of 1 million in the state have left local school districts to go into a charter. …

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