Since the beginning of last year, 23 states have approved new laws aimed at strengthening charter schools, through measures aimed at either promoting their growth or tightening regulation of them, by one advocacy group's recent count.
The new laws include measures to ease or eliminate state caps on charter schools, create new, independent entities to authorize them, and help charters secure more funding or better facilities, says the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.
In addition, another state, Maine, approved a law last year to allow for the creation of charters, making it the 41st state that allows them to operate, according to the alliance.
The organization released the legislative numbers to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the opening of the nation's first charter school, in Minnesota. Today, the charter sector serves an estimated 2 million students, in 5,600 schools.
States are taking steps that will "significantly move the ball on charters," said Todd Ziebarth, the alliance's vice president for state advoacy and support. The laws are "marrying changes that allow more charters to changes that strengthen accountability."
Over the past year, we've covered the evolution of the sector number of angles, looking at the research on charter school performance, the growth of nonprofit and for-profit managers of the schools, and tensions between states and local districts about who has the final say on approving charters in local communities. There's much more from us to come.
Here's the alliance's summary of recent charter laws enacted in the states, broken down by category: