States Change Charter School Laws in Anticipation of Race to the Top Grants

As reported in the November 2009 issue of the School Transportation News, states were expected to change laws or put new policies in place to better align with the federal Race to the Top competitive grant program selection criteria. The article anticipated that states would change laws that limit the number of charter schools in order to increase their chances of winning a share of the funds.

According to a recent report from the National Conference of State Legislatures a few states have done just that—they have modified charter school caps as well as make other changes that could have a direct or indirect impact on school transportation.

From the NCSL report, here is a sampling of policy changes state legislatures enacted to better align with the Race to the Top selection criteria:

  • California Senate Bill X5, 4: Establishes an Open Enrollment Program, which allows a pupil enrolled in a low-achieving school to attend any higher achieving school in the state.
  • Illinois SB 616: Amendment 1 raises the cap on charter schools, among other provisions.
  • Iowa Senate File 2033: Relates to the approval and revocation of charter schools, among other provisions.
  • Louisiana House Bill 519: Removes the limit on the number of charter schools and addresses the fee that a chartering authority may charge a school for certain administrative overhead costs incurred by the authority.
  • Massachusetts Senate Bill 2247: Makes a number of changes to the state education system to address under-performing schools. Among them: it raises the state’s spending cap for charter schools from nine percent to 18 percent of new school spending in the lowest ten percent of performing districts and eliminates the cap that limits the state’s total charter school population to four percent.
  • Michigan Senate Bill 926: Creates new charter schools referred to as schools of excellence and cyber schools aimed at serving at-risk students online, among other provisions.
  • Tennessee Senate Bill 7005: Provides for the establishment of an achievement school district and revises present law regarding restructuring schools, among other provisions.
  • Wisconsin Senate Bill 373: Requires school boards to consider standards established by the National Association of Charter Schools when creating a charter school, in order to ensure that all Wisconsin charter schools provide high-quality education.