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Charter School Laws Due for a Tune-Up, Report Says

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State charter school laws are overdue for tune-ups to address authorizer standards and transparency and access issues, says a new report from Brown University's Annenberg Institute for School Reform released Wednesday.

The report is the result of a two-year examination of the rapidly expanding charter sector and the unforseen challenges that growth has brought—nearly 2,000 new charter schools have opened in the last five years, according to the Annenberg Institute. 

"State charter laws, regulations and oversight have not stayed abreast with the rapid growth of the charter school sector," Richard Gray, Director of the Annenberg Institute's Community Organizing & Engagement practice said in a statement.

The report is directed at state legislators and authorizers, the entities that charter and oversee schools. Among the report's recommendations are:

  • All students should have "equitable and adequate school facilities," and "districts and charter schools should collaborate to ensure facility arrangements do not disadvantage students"
  • "Monitoring and oversight of charter schools are critical to protect the public interest," and authorizers "should be strong and fully state funded"
  • "Online charter schools should be better regulated for quality, transparency, and the protection of student data"
  • "Charter school discipline policy should be fair and transparent."

Meanwhile, the study has earned approval from both national teachers' unions: the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association each promoted the report in separate press releases.

"We urge policymakers, parents, educators in all sectors and communities to read it, discuss it and draw from it to develop measures that work for students," NEA President Lily Eskelsen García said in the statement. "Charter sector standards are key to making sure that more of our charter schools serve their students well and do not make the job of our traditional public education sector even more challenging."

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