Evaluation of the Public Charter Schools Program: Year One Evaluation Report
Although local school entities and states play an important role in the charter school movement in each state, the specifics of charter granting vary greatly from state to state. For example, in California and Texas, two states in which local boards and the state board of education are assigned roles in chartering, the exact relationships between the state and locality are very different. In California, local boards charter and send on their charter for an official "number" from the state, which is essentially the state?s stamp of approval. The state takes on the role of chartering only in the case of an appeal and for the three charter districts in the state. Contrast this approach with Texas, where local boards can charter "campus" (or district conversion) charter schools independent of the state. However, the State Board of Education can also charter?and specifically charters open-enrollment or start-up?schools. The two entities operating independently can sometimes lead to confusion about relationships or overlapping interests, since the state board may charter a school within the boundaries of Houston Independent School District, for example, right alongside a charter that has been authorized by the district itself.
These examples illustrate the challenges in grouping state approaches to chartering into simple categories that do not reflect the true diversity and complexity inherent in the chartering infrastructure. Exhibit L-1 represents an effort to sort states according to relevant ways of viewing the state policy contexts and environments in which charter schools develop. In describing the various state approaches to structuring the authorizing system, there are several categories under which states can fall:
The second set of multiple-entity chartering states often have complex, interdependent relationships between the entities that charter. For example, in Minnesota, charter school authorizers include the State Board of Education (which became defunct around the time of the 1999 telephone survey), local boards, intermediate school districts, universities and community colleges, and the chief state school officer. However, in the past, all the Minnesota entities that were not the state board submitted their granted charters to the state for ratification. It is not clear who might play this ratification role now that the state board has been dismantled. In another example of this type, New York?s charter school authorizers include the state board of education (Board of Regents), the local boards, and the State University of New York?s (SUNY?s) Board of Trustees. In this state, public school conversions must go through their local boards; moreover, local boards must pass all approved charters on to the state board for final approval. Charter schools approved by SUNY, on the other hand, must submit their charter to the state board, but the comments of the state board are not legally binding, so in some ways SUNY has more authority over the chartering process.
1 Charter Schools Appeals Board