School Choice & Charters

Maryland’s Charter Plan Comes Up Short of Governor’s Aspirations

By Caroline Hendrie — April 16, 2003 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

After declaring charter schools one of his top legislative priorities this year, Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. received a bill on his desk last week that barely resembled his initial proposal for creating a state charter school program.

Still, observers say the measure stands a good chance of garnering the first- term Republican governor’s signature, despite his earlier threats to veto a bill that made too many concessions to charter opponents.

Approved on April 7 just before lawmakers wrapped up their 2003 session, the bill would add Maryland to the list of 39 states and the District of Columbia with laws allowing for charter schools.

“This is a monumental first step for Maryland,” said Sen. Roy P. Dyson, a Democrat who sponsored the measure. Saying his bill had to surmount “incredible obstacles” thrown up by powerful lobbying groups, including the state’s largest teachers’ union, he dismissed criticisms by some advocates that his legislation would enact a charter law in name only.

Maryland actually has one fledgling charter school. The site operates under an agreement with the school board in Frederick County, which is one of two districts in the state that allow the publicly financed but independently operated schools.

The bill sent to Gov. Ehrlich would require all districts to adopt policies allowing for the formation of charter schools. Parents, teachers, nonprofit groups, or higher education institutions could apply to their local school boards for charters, and could appeal to the state board of education if the applications were rejected.

If the state board were to overrule a local district, state officials would then “mediate” between the charter applicant and the district to reach agreement on a charter.

The measure also would set up an expedited process for applications from “restructured schools” to convert to charter status, a provision designed for regular public schools that fail to meet performance standards under the federal “No Child Left Behind” Act of 2001.

Regular Rules Apply

Mr. Ehrlich’s original proposal would have automatically exempted charter schools from most regulations governing district-run public schools. But the legislation passed would make charter schools subject to all state and local regulations, while allowing schools to apply for specific waivers of some of those rules.

Under the measure, staff members at charter schools would be considered district employees, and would remain part of districtwide collective bargaining units. Charter teachers would have to be state-certified. And charter schools would receive funding “commensurate” with that of district-run schools.

Anna Varghese, the director of external affairs for the pro-charter, Washington-based Center for Education Reform, said the bill that Gov. Ehrlich had originally proposed would have given Maryland one of the nation’s strongest charter laws. She said he should veto the one now before him because it is unlikely to yield schools that depart significantly from the state’s regular public schools.

But Marc Dean Millot, the president of the National Charter School Alliance, a group representing state-based charter school associations, said the bill was better than nothing. “You’ve got to be pragmatic about this,” he said. “Once you’ve got a law in place, you can try to improve the law.”

Related Tags:

Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School Choice & Charters Virtual Charters in Hot Water Again. Accusations of Fraud Prompt $150M Lawsuit
Indiana officials seek to recoup more than $150 million they say was either wrongly obtained or misspent by a consortium of virtual schools.
Arika Herron, The Indianapolis Star
2 min read
Indiana's attorney general Todd Rokita speaks at a news conference on Sept. 16, 2020, in Indianapolis. Rokita filed a lawsuit against a group of online charter schools accused of defrauding the state out of millions of dollars Thursday, July 8, 2021.
Indiana's attorney general Todd Rokita speaks at a news conference on Sept. 16, 2020, in Indianapolis.
Darron Cummings/AP
School Choice & Charters How the Pandemic Helped Fuel the Private School Choice Movement
State lawmakers got a new talking point as they pushed to create and expand programs to send students to private schools.
8 min read
Collage showing two boys in classroom during pandemic wearing masks with cropped photo of feet and arrows going in different directions.
Collage by Gina Tomko/EducationWeek (Images: Getty)
School Choice & Charters Opinion Taking Stock After 30 Years of Charter Schools
Rick Hess speaks with Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, on charter schools turning 30.
8 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
School Choice & Charters In Fight Over Millions of Dollars for Charter Schools, a Marijuana Tax May Bring Peace
The Oklahoma State Board of Education voted unanimously to rescind a polarizing lawsuit settlement, pending certain stipulations.
Nuria Martinez-Keel, The Oklahoman
3 min read
Money bills cash funds close up Getty
Getty