As we celebrate National Charter Schools Week, it’s clear Alabamians are beginning to take advantage of the innovative possibilities of public charter schools to ensure all Alabama students are well served by public education.
Since Alabama passed its public charter school law in 2015, experts have ranked our state’s law among the top five in the nation for quality and accountability. Most recently, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools ranked Alabama’s law as fifth in the nation. Before that, the National Association of Charter School Authorizers ranked it as fourth in the nation soon after it passed.
The strength of a state’s charter law makes a difference, because without strong mechanisms to hold a charter school accountable to its contract to operate (or charter), there’s more likelihood a school won’t serve its students well.
The state’s first charter school, ACCELerate Day and Evening Academy, opened last fall in Mobile as a program of the Mobile Area Education Foundation. In the fall of 2018, University Charter School will open in Livingston on the campus of the University of West Alabama. A year later, Legacy Prep in Birmingham and Sports Leadership and Management Academy in Huntsville are expected to open. Montgomery will likely also see its first charter schools within the next two years. The Montgomery Education Foundation is working with community members and the State Department of Education to convert five schools into public charter schools over the next few years. And, LEAD Academy, a start-up public charter school, is pushing to open as well, even as it struggles with legal challenges.
A+ supports public charter schools for a variety of reasons, but the most significant is that it allows educators to innovate to better meet the needs of every Alabama student. Public charter schools can foster innovation that allows public education to improve.
Our world continually changes, and students require more skills and knowledge to be prepared for real life after graduation. Charter schools can serve as laboratories, sharing what works well with traditional public schools to help make sure students get what the need to succeed.
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