Charter Schools: Facts & Issues
Published by the
LWVAL Education Fund
April 2011

IX.   Best practices for establishing charter schools

State laws and regulations governing charter schools vary widely, making it difficult to compare them and develop best practices recommendations. In an article written in conjunction with a consensus on education and currently posted on its web site, the League of Women Voters of Albany County (New York) observed that “…there is distressingly little research about what separates successful from unsuccessful charters. Without this type of research, one of the basic purposes of charters, allowing for educational experimentation into more effective ways to educate children traditionally left behind by public schools, will remain unfulfilled.”33 The Center for Public Education offered a similar observation, “Charter schools need more research, oversight, and true evaluation to fulfill their purpose of being laboratories that traditional public schools can learn from.”34

The National Education Association‘s policy statement offers broad parameters and minimum criteria by which to evaluate state charter laws. They include: 35

  • A charter should be granted only if the proposed school intends to offer an educational experience that is qualitatively different from what is available in traditional public schools.
  • Local school boards should have the authority to grant or deny charter applications; the process should be open to the public, and applicants should have the right to appeal to a state agency decisions to deny or revoke a charter.
  • Charter schools should be subject to the same public sector labor relations statutes as traditional public schools, and charter school employees should have the same collective bargaining rights as their counterparts in traditional public schools.

The American Association of University Women—which believes that charter schools and other nontraditional public school options could facilitate education reforms and develop beneficial new teaching methods—offered similar recommendations when reviewing and evaluating charter schools and the legislation governing them, in addition to a few different ones:36
  • Institute safeguards to ensure fiscal accountability to the public.
  • Establish detailed curricula and procedures for assessment and evaluation throughout the duration of the charter.
  • Ensure equal access and retention policies for all students.
  • Ensure the maximum possible teacher, parent, and student involvement in the development and implementation of school programs and policies.

The National Association of Charter School Authorizers, which seeks to improve public education by improving the policies and practices of the organizations responsible for authorizing charter schools makes these recommendations: authorizers should ensure quality oversight that maintains high educational and operational standards, preserves school-level autonomy, and safeguards student and public interests.37

© 2011 League of Women Voters of Alabama Education Fund. All rights reserved.