Charter school proponents would do well to keep an eye on HB 856. While the bill, introduced by Rep. Marvin Lucas, does increase the cap on charter schools to 106, it also gives the State Board of Education (SBE) new powers to shut down schools who fail to meet student performance goals for two consecutive years. I’m all for accountability, but once again, the obvious question rears it’s head: Why doesn’t the SBE apply those same standards to all public schools? The double standard is too obvious to ignore.
HB 856 is a Trojan Horse. It allows lawmakers who opposed the cap to say they voted to lift the cap. At the same time, HB 856 gives the State Board of Education even greater control over charter schools and their number — something opponents of charter schools have wanted for a long time. HB 856 does one good thing, but too many bad things. It passed the House last year and can still be taken up by the Senate this year. It warrants a watchful eye.