The Center for Education Reform has put out its 2009 Ranking and Scorecard, which rates every state on how it funds, governs, and encourages the growth of charter schools. The maximum possible score is 55; you get 15 for “Multiple Chartering Authorizers,” 15 for “Equity,” 15 for “Operations,” and 10 for “Number of Schools Allowed. The total scores are then converted to letter grades: A, B, C, D, and F. The top three scorers in the country are D.C., Minnesota, and California. The bottom three are Virginia, Iowa, and Mississippi.
The C.E.R. explains that they have changed their scoring metric, mainly because of the recognition of the way politics inserts its way into public education. For example, they’ve substantially changed their “Equity” category:
What is fiscal equity? Equity is not just about dollars, it’s about equity in the way schools are funded. We have always taken the long view that while quick, short term fixes are helpful, they put charters in a position of having to forever fight for their fair share. The new scoring is the result of continuous review – we have learned the hard way that charters need to be inoculated by good laws from the whims of elected officials and special interests year to year. Additionally, our enormous data set on closed charters informs us of the reasons that most charters close, which have to do with factors in the law.
How’d we do in Jersey? Fair to middling. We score a C with a total of 27 out of 55 points, ranking us 17th out of 41 states that have charter schools. We smoked “Number of Schools Allowed” – 10 out of 10 – because we don’t have a cap on charter school growth, but we tanked on “Multiple Chartering Authorizers” – only 3 out of 15 points because we’re don’t allow independent authorizers. “Operations” was a mixed bag, mainly because of our onerous D.O.E. regulations (onerous for traditional schools as well as charters). The “Equity” category is interesting: there’s a total of 15 points available, divided into “100% Funding,” “Facilities Funds,” and “Implementation Points.” We actually got 6 points for the “100% Funding” (which will be news to some charter schools) and 0 points for the other two areas.
The Center promises extensive state-by-state analysis soon, and we’ll keep you posted. Certainly, their mission has some high-octane rocket fuel from Arne Duncan’s “Race to the Top” Fund, which promises extra stimulus money to states that ease the way for charter schools. We’ll give them additional relevance points for tie-ins to “the 36 Gubernational elections on the horizon,” in case federal cash infusion is not enough reason for people to pay attention.