March 19, 2015
Tallahassee, Fla. – Last night, the Alabama Legislature took a step toward greater educational opportunities for students, advancing legislation to enact the state’s first charter school law. Excellence in Education National Executive Director, Patricia Levesque, issued the following statement on the passage of the School Choice and Student Opportunity Act (SB 45).
“Thanks to the leadership of Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh and House Education Chair Representative Terri Collins, the Alabama Legislature made expanding school choice one of their first acts this session. Alabama joins the vast majority of states in enacting a charter school law, and is doing so with student outcomes and significant accountability measures as the top priorities of this important legislation.
“SB 45 will empower parents to take ownership of their child’s education, while also enabling teachers to innovate in ways that best meet the needs of students. The bill will also expand education options and provide diverse educational approaches for students to enjoy greater flexibility in the learning process. We look forward to Governor Bentley signing this legislation into law.”
The School Choice and Student Opportunity Act (SB 45)
- Allows public charter schools to be established in Alabama.
- Requires that charters schools be run by non-profit 501(c)(3) organizations.
- Allows charter schools to adopt specific academic themes, including but not limited to vocational and technical training; visual and performing arts; and STEM.
- Allows a maximum of up to ten new start-up charter schools to be authorized per year.
- Creates the Alabama Public Charter School Commission.
- Requires charter schools to meet several accountability measures, including performance goals that are tied directly to students’ academic results.
- Alabama becomes the 43rd state in the nation to pass charter school legislation.
Charter School Research
- A 2013 Stanford University research study compared minority students in public charter schools and traditional public schools. The study found that minority students are learning more in public charter schools as measured by additional weeks of learning.
- Other studies on charter schools’ outcomes have found positive effects on graduation rates, college persistence and completion, and higher earnings in the workforce, along with much lower rates of teen pregnancy and male incarceration.