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ARKANSAS House advances charter school law changes

arkansas-charter-school-rally-jeb-bushLITTLE ROCK (AP) — Arkansas House lawmakers on Thursday approved a scaled-back proposal to change how the state authorizes charter schools.

The House voted 87-0 to pass a bill by Rep. Mark Biviano, R-Searcy, that would designate the state Education Department and not the Board of Education as the primary authorizer of charter schools.

The Board of Education would still have the power to review those decisions, but the primary responsibility would fall to the Education Department. The measure would require the state education commissioner to appoint a panel of his staff to review and approve charter school applications.

Some education advocates had been pushing to strip the Board of Education of its current power to authorize new charter school and give that responsibility to an independent commission. They said that an independent body would be more likely to expand access charter schools in the state — a goal that was highlighted at a January rally at the Capitol with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

Under Biviano’s original proposal, the commission would have been composed of five members — one appointed by the governor and other four appointed by legislative leaders.

Although the bill that passed Thursday keeps charter school authorization under the state’s direct control, Biviano told lawmakers that the changes would still bring greater attention to charter school issues generally.

“The idea was to raise the awareness about charters schools and their contribution as a tool in our educational system,” he said.

Source: The Courier – Associated Press

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This entry was posted on March 15, 2013 by in Arkansas, Charter Schools, Reform and tagged , .


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