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Tennessee Seeks to Increase Charter Schools' Public Reporting

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A Tennessee proposal that would increase public reporting requirements for charter schools has been sent to Gov. Bill Haslam's desk, after clearing the legislature with overwhelming majorities behind it.

The legislation was sponsored by Sen. Mike Bell, a Republican. It would require charters to post online notices and agendas of meetings of their governing boards, policies adopted by those boards, names and contact information of board members, and information about curriculum, among other information.

"Public money is being used," Bell said in an e-mail, "and parents need all the information available to help them make informed choices on their children's education."

It's common for states to have some type of law or policy requiring charter schools—which, after all, are public schools—to be subject to same public reporting requirements as traditional publics, said Alex Medler, the vice president of policy at the National Association of Charter School Authorizers. Those policies, which NACSA supports, could be spelled out in either legislation or state board policy, he said.

"We welcome good governance and transparency in the charter sector, and this is the kind of thing everybody should do," Medler said.

Tennessee isn't the only state to take up the issue recently. Florida lawmakers considered a measure this year to increase public reporting for charters—which also drew criticism for giving charters leeway from reporting requirements in areas such as teacher evaluation and compensation. That legislation did not make it into law.

Haslam, a Republican, could sign or veto the legislation or allow it to become law if he doesn't sign it within 10 days, spokesman Dave Smith said. The spokesman declined to say whether the governor would sign the measure.

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