Two national reports out this week give high praise to Indiana and Indianapolis for its policies governing charter schools.
Indiana ranks as one of the two best states out of 43 for policies on creating and policing charter schools by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, or NAC-SA.
The Chicago-based group promotes eight guidelines, including closing failing charters and public reporting.
Karega Rausch, the group’s vice president of research & development and a member of the Indiana charter school board, says the state General Assembly has tightened laws around charter schools during the past few years. A major change was to stop the ongoing practice known as “authorizer shopping.”
"Schools that have really poor performance records that one authorizer is seeking to close, they find authorizer that takes them on," Rausch explains. "The effect of that on failing schools are able to continue to ineffectively serve kids and families."
In another report, America’s Best (And Worst) Cities for School Choice, Indianapolis ranked fourth.
The report published by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute found approximately 30 percent of the city’s public school students attended one of Indy’s 46 charter schools.
Institute president Michael Petrilli says the city also has a relatively favorable policy and political climate.
“Certainly Indianapolis coming in at number 4 is now one of the school choice powerhouses in the country," he says. "You have a long time effort by several mayors, by groups like Mind Trust, and now a whole collection of high quality charter school operators in the city to try and build a real magnet for school choice there and it seems to be working.”
But the rankings don’t mean everyone agrees that charters are benefiting the state. Democratic State Rep. Ed DeLaney recently criticized charter schools by saying they divert money from traditional public schools and describing them as an “experiment.”