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Charter School Odds and Ends

Nice piece on charter schools in the Charleston (WV) Gazette. West Virginia is one of 11 states nationally that do not allow charter schools; efforts are underway to enact a charter school law in the state. But NAPCS' Todd Zeibarth is skeptical of the proposed legislation, which would create a weak law granting charters only limited autonomy and restrict authorizing to local school boards and the state board of education. Reporter Davin White does a nice job summarizing the national research evidence on charter schools, as well as what's been learned about the state policy conditions that lead to higher or lower performing charter schools--too bad WV legislators don't seem to be heeding those lessons.

The Wall Street Journal reports that 6 new charter schools are opening in New Jersey this fall--although 3 others scheduled to open won't be, due to zoning, enrollment, and other issues. And 5 Democratic New Jersey legislators have introduced legislation to promote further charter school growth in New Jersey. Among other things, the legislation would allow Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, to authorize charter schools. Currently, only the NJ State Department of Education can authorize charters. Rutgers has previously been involved in supporting and incubating charter schools.

In a Washington Post op-ed, Jeanne Allen looks at Montgomery County, Maryland's decision to refuse a charter to Crossways Community, a long-standing community-based organization that sought a charter to expand its well-regarded Montessori program to serve students in grades K-6. I'm loathe to question another authorizer's decision not to issue a charter, and quality authorizers have learned that well-established community groups don't always have what it takes to operate a good school. The real issue isn't that Montgomery County seems totally unwilling to authorize charter schools; it's that Maryland law provides no alternative authorizer for schools seeking to operate in districts hostile to charters.

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