With renewed public attention on education in 2021, and a dramatic shift in public school enrollment trends, state legislatures accomplished a lot for students over the past year.
Here are the top 10 wins we saw across the country:
A new $30 million transportation program in Arizona will make it easier for students to physically get to their schools. The program will provide funding to charter schools for transportation to their students and give parents funding to cover their school transportation costs.
Colorado provided a $250 million increase to the cap on its Moral Obligation Program, one of the nation’s most innovative charter school facility programs. Through the program, charter schools that meet certain ratings have their debt backed by the state—making them more attractive to lenders and allowing them to access lower interest rates. The state also increase funding for schools approved by the statewide authorizer by almost 30%, helping to equalize funding for charter school students.
Georgia increased state funding for district-authorized charter schools and ensured districts allocate a proportionate share of federal funding to district-authorized charter schools.
Passed in 2002, Iowa’s charter school had been long overdue for an update when Governor Kim Reynolds signed their new bill into law last May. The bill allows charter school founding groups to apply directly to the state, providing charter schools with opportunities for innovation while also setting a high bar for quality. These changes will attract more charter school providers to the state and support the creation of high-quality public charter schools for Iowa families for many years to come.
Nevada secured equitable funding for charter school students as the state re-wrote its public school funding system, and secured $15 million in COVID-19-relief funding for charter schools that serve Title I students.
For the first time, New Jersey state leaders secured substantial—$5 million—charter school facilities aid in the budget
Ohio built upon the positive legislative changes they’ve made over the past few years with a new change to eliminate geographic restrictions on startup charter schools which kept charter schools from opening in many parts of the state. Now schools can open in any community, paving the way for more options for families. In the meantime, increased funding for facilities and programming will help existing charter schools.
Oklahoma established a program to use funding from medical marijuana to level up charter schools and school districts that receive less than the state average in per pupil funding due to low property tax. This fund is projected to provide approximately $350 per student in facility funding for public schools.
West Virginia created a new statewide authorizer, which increases the likelihood high-quality charter schools will open in communities across the state. Before Governor Jim Justice signed the bill into law in March, only county boards of education could authorize charter schools—and to date, they’ve authorized exactly 0.
Wyoming overhauled their weak charter school law by adding a statewide authorizer to review public charter school applications, expanding operational autonomy for public charter schools, creating a transparent public charter school application process, and ensuring strong accountability for public charter school performance.
Bill Phillips is the vice president of state advocacy and support at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.
Read more from the National Alliance’s series of year-end blog posts for 2021: