Research

Report: State Policies Create Barriers to Early Childhood Charter Schools

Thirty-five states and the District of Columbia have legislation that allows charter schools as well as state-funded preschool programs, and 32 of those jurisdictions have at least one charter school serving preschoolers, but state policies present a barrier to charter preschools in many jurisdictions, according to a new report from The Thomas B. Fordham Institute and the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

The report, "Charter Schools and Pre-K: Where State Policies Create Barriers to Collaboration," argues that charter preschools have the potential to improve educational outcomes for low-income students and identifies which states allow charter elementary schools to offer state-funded pre-kindergarten programs, how many charter schools serve preschoolers, and what barriers exist to prevent charter schools from offering pre-kindergarten programs.

Key findings from the report:

  • 13 states lack either charter school laws or state-funded pre-kindergarten programs;
  • 9 states have laws prohibiting charter schools from offering pre-kindergarten programs;
  • 35 states and the District of Columbia have both state-funded pre-kindergarten and charter school laws; and
  • 32 of those jurisdictions have at least one charter school serving preschool students, although some of those charter preschools do not receive state funding.

According to the report, the seven jurisdictions that are most hospitable to charter preschool programs are Washington, D.C., Oklahoma, Texas, Iowa, Maine, Wisconsin and Connecticut. The most common barriers to creating charter preschools cited in the report were low funding levels, small pre-kindergarten programs and barriers to automatically enrolling preschool students in charter kindergarten programs.

Based on its findings, the report provides numerous recommendations to expand access to state-funded preschool programs by establishing policies that allow charter schools to offer these programs.

The full report is available as a free, downloadable PDF from The Thomas B. Fordham Institute's site.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at leilameyer@gmail.com.

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