Rhode Island 2016 State Policy Detail
CHARTER RESTRICTIONS HAMPER PROGRESS
Rhode Island charter schools are generally high quality, but the state’s laws are missing key accountability elements for schools and authorizers. Instead of fixing the law in 2016, the Legislature enacted worrisome restrictions on the opening and expansion of charter schools, which may deny more children the opportunity to choose a quality school.
- Repeal unwarranted limits on multi-campus approvals. New legislation this year requires new networks seeking to open multiple campuses to gain approval from every city or town council the charter school will serve before it can be authorized. This policy is unnecessary, duplicative, and burdensome and, in practice, will likely prevent the opening of any new networked schools.
- Carefully implement new community impact policies. New legislation passed this year requires the authorizer to place substantial weight on the fiscal, programmatic, and student impact on the sending cities and school districts when reviewing proposals to expand existing charter schools or open new schools. Such a policy must be carefully implemented to ensure it is free from political bias and does not result in a de facto charter moratorium.
- Codify the expectation that the authorizer follows professional standards for charter school authorizing. In practice, the Rhode Island Department of Education, which staffs the State Board of Education, uses practices consistent with much of NACSA’s Principles & Standards for Quality Charter School Authorizing. However, nothing in state policy ensures the authorizer will continue to do so in perpetuity. Codifying this will help protect quality authorizing should the political environment change.
- Codify the expectation that authorizers use performance frameworks.