In the education policy community, many folks are following the charter school movement and wondering if state lawmakers are going to get rid of their caps on charter schools or allow the existence of charter schools in their state. Much of the momentum comes from the Obama Administration’s strong stance in favor of lifting caps on charter schools and their decision to reward states with strong charter laws with Race to the Top stimulus funds.
Last February, I researched state policies on charter schools and found that 25 states and the District of Columbia had some type of cap or limit on charter schools. Since then, Louisiana has removed its cap, Illinois and Tennessee have raised their caps, and Delaware has gotten rid of its moratorium on new charter schools. The demand for charter schools is strong. Nationwide, 365,000 students are on a waiting list to attend a charter school.
Texas has a cap on charter schools and has a charter school waiting list of nearly 17,000 students. Efforts to raise the cap died from a point of order on the House floor during the last hours of session. This is extremely unfortunate since Texas hit the 215 cap earlier this year and no new charters can open until the cap is raised or an existing school returns its charter.
What do students think about charter schools? The Illinois Policy Institute recently released an interesting documentary on charter schools in its state titled Charter Schools: Changing Lives. This is a must see for those that are on the fence or are trying to learn more about charters.
– Brooke Terry