How Healthy Is Missouri’s Charter School Movement?
The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools just released “Health of the Public Charter School Movement,” it’s annual state-by-state analysis of several charter school markets around the country. Missouri’s rank? 10th out of the 18 states reviewed.
Tenth out of 18 doesn’t seem like much to brag about, but if we look at the criteria used for the ranking, we see that Missouri’s charters are doing some impressive work to rank as highly as they do.
What are we doing well?
- We don’t cap the number of charter schools in the state
- Our charter schools enjoy a high degree of autonomy
- We’ve seen strong growth in our charter sector from 2010 to 2015; 25 new charter schools were opened during that period.
- Missouri charter schools offer diverse programs, with 36% of the state’s charters having a special focus like international/foreign language or Montessori.
- Best of all, students in Missouri’s charter schools achieved higher academic results in math and reading than their traditional school counterparts.
What’s holding us back?
- Missouri doesn’t fund charters as well as it does traditional schools.
- Missouri unique laws have limited charter schools to only operating within the Kansas City and Saint Louis school districts. As a result, 98% of charter schools are located in non-suburban areas and only 2% of students are enrolled in charters. Saint Louis and Kansas City are the only 2 communities in Missouri that had more than 10% of their students enrolled in charters.
It’s awfully hard to blame our charter schools for the factors pushing our rank down. A close look at the report shows that charter schools are simply doing more with a lot less. So why aren’t we giving them equal funding, and why are we keeping them from operating outside of Kansas City and St. Louis?