Charter School Legislation Expands Choice to More Kids

Representative Lynn Gattis, House District 9, has introduced HB 93 which will increase the types of authorizers of charter schools. Authorizers are those entities that can approve/disapprove/close charter schools. Currently, only public school districts in Alaska can be authorizers which tends to minimize the number of charter schools.

HB 93 would allow government agencies, universities and nonprofit organizations to act as authorizers of charter schools. For example, the University of Alaska could authorize charter schools and use its resources to improve K-12 education. In Michigan, any public university can authorize charter schools; ten universities have opened nearly 300 charter schools. Ball State University in Indiana has authorized about half of Indiana’s 63 charter schools.

Today, there are more than 5,700 charter schools; 511 new charter schools opened in 40 states and the District of Columbia for the 2011-12 school year. HB 93 will not change the accountability for student achievement and financial management from what it is today. If a charter school fails to perform, parents will remove their kids from the school and the school will be subsequently closed by the authorizer. This is not the case for our neighborhood public schools-when they fail, they remain open.

This legislation will allow charter schools to be opened outside the local public school district which should encourage the growth of charter schools. Some education officials see charter schools as competition to their one-size-fits-all neighborhood schools model. Some charter schools in the Anchorage School District are at the top of the list when it comes to student achievement. Some have hundreds of students on their waiting lists. The demand is there the supply is not. Hopefully, HB 93 will increase the supply so parents can find a better fit for their children. For more info, read the press release.