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Point of View: Report shows Oklahoma public charter school potential

Chris Brewster
Chris Brewster

No two children or families are exactly alike. That’s why, more and more, we’re seeing parents turn to public charter schools in search of the flexibility to meet students’ needs based on their different learning abilities, unique needs and individual life circumstances.

The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools recently published its annual assessment of state public school charter laws, ranking how well each state aligns its charter school laws to the organization’s model law. This thorough evaluation of each state’s laws has been the gold standard for nearly 10 years.

Oklahoma sits in the middle of the pack, ranking 22nd out of 45 states evaluated on what NAPCS considers essential components of strong public charter school law, from intrinsic state stipulations like adequate funding and review procedures to operational issues like clear enrollment procedures and access to extracurricular classes.

The report’s metrics take into account that Oklahoma’s public charter schools system has ample room to grow within the cap established by law and that it includes autonomy and accountability, along with an appeals process for applicants. Equitable funding is cited as the system’s main area for improvement, including access to capital funding and facilities.

As president of Oklahoma Public Charter School Association, I’ve seen first-hand the relief that parents feel when they find a quality educational solution that fits their child’s learning requirements. That choice can shape young minds for optimal outcomes, with the flexibility to meet children where they are. Looking beyond a one-size-fits-all approach to consider what public charter schools offer gives parents the ability to decide what best serves their household. This tailored approach, which is held accountable to both state and charter sponsor standards, underscores the positive results thousands of families experience in Oklahoma public charter schools.

The NAPCS report confirms what we’ve known for years — Oklahoma’s public charter school laws are appropriately established but additional funding and more support at the legislative level will bolster the positive impact for families seeking alternatives. As our Legislature considers educational funding issues in the 2020 session, public charter families and educators ask for their support and encouragement as we strive to offer only the best educational opportunities for our students. We look forward to ongoing support from our public and our elected officials.

Brewster is president of the Oklahoma Public Charter School Association and superintendent at Santa Fe South Public Schools.