Georgia Charter Schools Association

GCSA Comments on Georgia’s Drop to #14 in State Charter Law Rankings

Georgia Falls Seven Spots to #14 in 2012 State Charter Law Rankings:

GCSA’s Tony Roberts Comments on the Decline

Washington, DC – Georgia, which was once in the top ten states for strong charter school laws, has dropped significantly to number 14, according to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools’ (NAPCS) annual ranking of state charter school laws.  Maine’s charter law ranked first, and Mississippi’s school law remains last. 

In its third year, Measuring Up to the Model: A Ranking of State Public Charter School Laws analyzes the country’s 42 state charter school laws.  Each state is scored on how well it supports charter school quality and growth, based on the 20 essential components from the NAPCS’ model charter school law, which include comprehensive monitoring and data collection, equitable access to funding and facilities, and no caps.

“Georgia dropped from number seven to 14, primarily as a result of the Georgia Supreme Court ruling that the 2008 law creating a statewide charter school authorizer in Georgia was unconstitutional,” said Todd Ziebarth, vice president, state advocacy and support, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.  “As it looks ahead, Georgia’s biggest challenge is determining how to respond to this ruling. Without a bold response like a constitutional amendment, the future of the charter school movement in the state is uncertain.”  Ziebarth is the lead author of the report.

Tony Roberts, CEO of the Georgia Charter Schools Association had this to say about the decline: “Georgia’s charter school law was heavily damaged by the Georgia Supreme Court ruling on May 16, 2011, which struck down the state’s ability to authorize charter schools through an independent commission.  The effect of this ruling was felt immediately by the 15 commission-approved charter schools that faced closure and, almost as devastating, a severe reduction in funding.”  

“Without the prompt actions of Governor Nathan Deal and State Superintendent of Schools Dr. John Barge,” Roberts added, ” thousands of children would have been displaced from their school of choice.  The ruling continues to show its negative consequences with a much-lower rate of charter school petitions for new schools being submitted and virtually stagnant levels of start-up charter schools across the state.  I am surprised that our ranking by the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools did not fall even further.”

2011 was a significant year for positive charter school legislation across the country.  Maine enacted a charter school law, becoming the 42nd jurisdiction that allows for these innovative public school options.  As a result of progressive policy changes made over the past year, New Mexico also made a big jump, moving from 20th to fourth; Indiana went from 25th to sixth; and Rhode Island from 37th to 26th.  

Conversely, South Carolina fell six spots from 19th to 25th.  And four states dropped five places:  Missouri (13th to 18th), Oklahoma (22nd to 27th), Connecticut (24th to 29th), and New Jersey (26th to 31st).

“There were a lot of shake-ups on the list this year, most certainly when you look at the top ranking state of Maine, which enacted a charter school law closely aligned with NAPCS’ model law,” says Ursula Wright, interim president and CEO, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.  “While we see an increasing number of states creating favorable policy environments for high-quality charter schools, we acknowledge there is still a lot of work to be done.”

As lawmakers prepare for the upcoming legislative sessions, the rankings provide clear indications of where some states excel and others come up short in their charter school laws.  The report also offers a roadmap for how governors and legislators can take action to strengthen charter school laws.