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From the Statehouse to the Schoolhouse: The Effect of State Legislative Institutions on Charter School Growth

  • Author(s): Vakilifathi, Mona
  • Advisor(s): Kousser, Thad B
  • et al.
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Abstract

What is the effect of state politics on the growth of a state’s charter schools? The academic and policy debate on charter schools largely focuses on the effect of a state’s charter school statutes, specifically the degree of statutory discretion for charter schools, on charter school growth and student achievement. However, we rarely consider the politics in the state capitals that account for the content of a state’s charter school statutes in the first place. I argue that a state’s legislative institutional capacity affects charter school growth by the degree of statutory and regulatory discretion that state lawmakers grant to local school boards of education. In order to verify this argument, I create new quantitative measures of statutory and regulatory discretion to compare the contents of charter school authorization, renewal, and revocation statutes and regulations within and across forty-one U.S. states with charter school laws from 1991 to 2013. The first chapter argues that legislative term limits has a negative effect on statutory discretion. The second chapter demonstrates the interaction of a state’s teacher union strength and the legislative regulatory veto has a positive effect on regulatory discretion. The third chapter argues that statutory discretion has a negative effect on the percent of operating charter schools. Overall, this dissertation demonstrates the effect of legislative institutions on the percent of operating charter schools, the percent of public school students enrolled in charter schools, and the percent of black and Hispanic public school students enrolled in charter schools in a given state.

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This item is under embargo until September 15, 2019.