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Florida scores well in new ranking of state charter school laws

Florida continues to score highly in the annual ranking of charter school laws in states around the country.

The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools ranked Florida eighth in the nation in the latest analysis of state charter school laws.

“Florida continues to move forward with offering high-quality charter schools as an option for the families of the state, and with the Legislature’s continued support, we think we can move toward the number one spot,” said Robert Haag, president and CEO of the Florida Consortium of Public Charter to Schools, in a statement. “To show the current scope of the charter school movement in Florida, in 1996, our state had one charter school with a couple hundred students. Today, there are 654 operating charter schools in Florida with 282,924 students enrolled.”

The state of Florida, comparable to its ranking in 2015, received high marks for balancing autonomy and accountability and for not placing caps on the number of charter schools allowed. It also scores well for providing a robust appeal process for charter school applicants that get denied.

However, the report also notes the state still provides inequitable funding to charter schools.

It also lists several areas where Florida could improve its standing: “ensuring equitable funding and access to capital funding and facilities; creating authorizer accountability requirements; and providing accountability for full-time virtual charter schools.”

Some of the first states to pass charter school laws were ranked in the top 10: Indiana at No. 1, Minnesota at No. 3, Colorado at No. 5, New York at No. 6 and Louisiana at No. 9. In the same measure, some of the states to pass new charter school laws were also ranked near the top: Alabama, at No. 2, Washington at No. 4, Maine at No. 7 and Mississippi at No. 10.

This analysis is the first to evaluate each state’s charter public school law compared to the National Alliance’s updated model charter school law.

Most of the provisions in the first edition of the model law are also in the second edition.

Even so, there are several updates. According to the report, those updates include: “providing more equitable support to charter school students including requiring state departments of education to create an annual funding transparency report; increasing flexibility for charter schools; and strengthening accountability for charter schools by holding full-time virtual schools more accountable.”

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BY Livi Stanford

Livi Stanford is former associate editor of redefinED. She spent her earlier professional career working at newspapers in Kansas, Massachusetts and Florida. Prior to her work at Step Up For Students, she covered the Lake County School Board, County Commission and local legislative delegation for the Daily Commercial in Leesburg. She has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Kansas.