NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Charter School States Setting Education Standard

June 24, 2015

Many states limit the number of charter schools allowed or authorized to open in a certain year. Such caps are unnecessary, as the number of charter schools should be permitted to increase and decrease with demand. Charter schools must set high standards in order to attract parents to enroll their children, and they will close if they fail to meet those expectations. Traditional public schools, by contrast, are largely able to stay open no matter how poor their students' academic achievements may be.

Regulations on the expansion of charter schools are preventing the supply from meeting demand, resulting in lotteries and long waiting lists. More than one million children are on waiting lists across the country in hopes of enrolling in a charter school. 

  • The states without charter schools are largely rural. Charter schools are often seen as being beneficial only to urban areas with low-income families and dense populations. But those states should reconsider, given that nearly all states without charter schools rank in the bottom half of the state education rankings prepared by the American Legislative Exchange Council.
  • School choice creates competition among schools, which drives academic success. In 2015, the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) conducted a study of urban charter schools and found students gained an additional 40 days of learning in math and 28 days in reading compared to their counterparts in traditional public schools. 

Laws hampering the innovation and expansion of charter schools restrict parents' ability to enroll their children in schools that best suit their educational needs. Legislators should strive to remove funding barriers for charter schools and other education alternatives, allow unlimited expansion of qualified charter schools with no cap and ensure a blanket waiver so schools have full control of their operations and remain independent of state school boards. 

Source: Kaytlyn Clancy, "Research & Commentary: States Without Charter Schools Are Falling Behind," Heartland, June 19, 2015. 


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