How Long Can Colorado Stay in Top 10 for Strong Charter School Laws?

In the education reform world, you’ve got to be comfortable with the idea of assigning states grades and putting them on a scorecard. Why, it was just last week I highlighted Colorado’s top 10 finish — aided by the curve — on Student First’s inaugural State Policy Report Cards.

Well, once again Colorado has landed in the top 10 (just barely), though this time it’s a B we earned rather than a C. And it’s a familiar place to be. What am I talking about? The Center for Education Reform’s 2013 Charter Law Ranking Chart. As I noted last year when dissecting the rankings:

CER’s gold standard measure looks at the practical effects of statutes and policies that govern the creation of high-quality, autonomous and accountable public charter schools to meet the demands of students and parents.

The best news looks like the fact that Colorado didn’t lose any points. We still have no cap on the number of charter schools, a fair amount of “state autonomy” and “teacher freedom,” and just the one alternative authorizer. There’s still room to grow in financial equity — especially when it comes to facilities funding — and freedom from school district “operational rules and procedures.”

While Colorado’s charter school law stood still from 2012, there was one state that leapfrogged us in the rankings. You don’t have to “show me” why: all Missouri did was soften its cap to allow some more charters to be created.

I don’t want to push the alarm bell or anything, but our privileged place in the top 10 states for charter school laws is in jeopardy. There’s little margin for error next year. If it were just a blip on a scorecard, that would be no big deal. But we’re talking about real learning options and real kids with real dreams and real potential to be met. So let’s not sit still in 2013; let’s move onward and upward!