Remove the Cap on Charter Schools

Charter schools are public schools free from some oversight and regulation. They are approved by the state Board of Education, and operated by teachers, parents or other qualified individuals.

The Policy Foundation, since its founding in 1995, has championed charter schools as an education reform. APF analysts Allyson Tucker and Donna Watson, in a 1996 study, noted Arkansas had a weak charter school law. "Charter schools," they wrote, "are increasingly championed on both sides of the political fence and few political leaders have been more vocal about their promise than President (Bill) Clinton."

A 2004 APF research memo noted, "Mr. Clinton championed charter schools during his two terms (1993-2001) in the White House. His presidential papers show he spoke in favor of charter schools on many occasions during his presidency." One example occurred on March 6, 1997 when Mr. Clinton told a joint session of the Michigan legislature, "We want high standards, schools that are open to all children regardless of their backgrounds. We want an example of accountability, which will then spread to all other public schools."

Charters have come a long way since 1995. A 1999 measure advanced the charter concept. A 2005 measure doubled the charter cap from 12 to 24 and provided for an unlimited number of Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) schools like the school in Helena. A 2007 measure also defended the charter concept.

There are several ways to further advance the charter concept.

Recommendations

         Remove the cap on charter schools; and

         Empower public universities to sponsor charters; and

         Recognize charters under Lake View in terms of equitable funding for facilities; and

 

         Provide greater autonomy to charters in granting waivers.