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Public charter school legislation, School choice, School voucher programs


Education Law


This study leverages event history analysis to help explain the expansion of public charter school legislation between 1991–2006. This study expands previous work in two important ways. First, while critical distinctions separate public charter school and school voucher programs, both fall comfortably within the broader rubric of “school choice.” As such, it is difficult to understand the development of state legislation for one school choice variant independent of the other. Thus, this analysis includes the presence of publicly- or privately-funded voucher programs in a state as a possible factor influencing the adoption of charter school legislation in a state. Second, a methodological contribution emerges by comparing results generated by a complementary log-log model with results generated by a rare event logistic regression model. That school voucher programs’ influence on the emergence of state charter schools laws is robust across both models underscores school voucher programs’ salience to the emergence of charter school legislation. Understanding the emergence of charter school legislation as a defensive political move to deflect school voucher progress or a political compromise finds support in these results. Either interpretation of the emergence of charter schools’ ascendance, however, needs to account for the school voucher programs’ influence as well as important suburban political and economic interests.

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