PARKERSBURG - West Virginia is one of only nine states without charter schools, according to a national survey on charter school laws.
A report released today by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, a charter schools advocacy group, ranks 42 states on the quality and accessibility of their charter school programs. West Virginia, Alabama, Kentucky, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont and Washington do not have laws allowing for charter schools and were left unranked in the report.
"After 20 years of lessons learned and positive results in the national charter school movement, it is time for West Virginia to enact a strong charter school law that provides more high-quality public school options to its students, particularly those who are struggling in their current school," Todd Ziebarth, lead author of the report and vice president for state advocacy and support for the NAPCS said in a release.
West Virginia has tried to move toward charter school legislation, but has consistently met with resistance from state teachers unions and legislators. Former Gov. Joe Manchin introduced charter schools legislation in 2009 and again in 2010, but both times saw bills die in committee or saw them voted down in the state Legislature.
In today's report, Ohio's charter school law fell from 27 to 28 out of 42 states. Maine's law ranked first and Mississippi's charter school law remains last.
Each state was scored on how well it supported charter school quality and growth based on the 20 components from the alliance's model charter school law, which included comprehensive monitoring and data collection, equitable access to funding and facilities and no caps.
"In 2011, Ohio enacted legislation that impacted charter schools in several ways, most notably by partially lifting the state's caps on charter school growth and providing charter schools better access to empty school district buildings. However, its ranking dropped from number 27 to number 28 because it was surpassed by states that made more substantial changes to their charter laws," Ziebarth said. "Potential areas of improvement include removing all caps on charter school growth, beefing up its requirements for charter application, review, and decision-making processes and performance-based contracting, and ensuring equitable operational funding and equitable access to capital funding and facilities."
The alliance is a national nonprofit organization committed to advancing the charter school movement. The alliance's complete report can be downloaded at www.publiccharters.org.