Education reform groups give Idaho charter laws middling grades

(UPDATED, 12:25 p.m., with details on National Alliance for Public Charter Schools report.)

In two separate report cards issued Wednesday, two school pro-education reform groups said pretty much the same thing about Idaho’s charter school laws.

The state’s charter school laws are mediocre — largely because of funding issues.

The raw rankings from the two Washington, D.C.-based groups are virtually identical. National Alliance for Public Charter Schools ranked Idaho’s laws No. 20 in the nation. The Center For Education Reform ranked Idaho No. 21.

However, the two reports take a starkly different tone.

From the charter school alliance report: “Idaho’s law is mostly cap-free, provides multiple authorizers, and provides a fair amount of autonomy and accountability. However, it still provides inequitable funding to charter public schools.”

Said Terry Ryan, CEO of the Idaho Charter School Network, in an alliance news release: “Idaho is making progress that I think the National Alliance, and all charter school supporters for that matter, can be proud of.”

Turn to pages 34 and 35 to read the charter school alliance’s Idaho findings.

From the Center for Education Reform report card: The CER called out 13 states Wednesday, including Idaho. Idaho received a “C” on Wednesday’s CER report card, down from a “B” in 2015.

Idaho received its lowest grades on funding and equity issues. CER gave Idaho five out of a possible 10 points for operating funding, and one out of five possible points for facilities funding. In 2015-16, Idaho’s 47 charter schools received $4.7 million for facilities, under a 2013 state law.

“It’s a troubling commentary,” center founder and CEO Jeanne Allen said of the declining national grades. “Too many laws are not being implemented as envisioned when they were adopted, and it is stifling the effectiveness and growth charter schools of across the country.”

As the 2017 Idaho legislative session winds down, lawmakers are considering a couple of bills affecting charter schools, including a proposal designed to streamline the charter school licensing process. House Bill 279, pushed by the Idaho Charter School Network, has passed the House and passed the Senate Education Committee Tuesday.

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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