What Do 45 States Have That Montana Doesn’t?

What Do 45 States Have That Montana Doesn’t?

"Montanans have watched as states across the country increasingly give families greater education freedom – now it's our turn."

Did you know that students in 45 states are free to choose an innovative education option that is off-limits for kids in Montana? That’s right, Montana is one of the last remaining states without a law authorizing public charter schools.

For those of you who aren’t familiar, public charter schools are tuition-free, independently operated public schools intended to allow more flexibility to build a learning environment and curriculum that fits the unique needs of students in their community.

So why doesn’t Montana have charter schools? That’s the question Frontier President & CEO, Kendall Cotton sought out to answer in his latest op-ed:

Portions of Montana’s administrative rules already allow for charter schools, at least in theory. So why aren’t charter schools flourishing in Montana? 

Here’s three things charter school states get right, and Montana has gotten wrong: 

1. States with successful charter school legislation ensure that public school unions cannot veto the will of parents.

Montana forces charter school applicants to first apply to a review board made up of members jointly selected by prominent school unions, all with an incentive to oppose alternatives, maintain the status quo, and avoid facing accountability for their performance

2. Charter school states empower entrepreneurial educators, parents and community members with autonomy to establish a board to govern the charter school. 

In Montana, charter schools can only be created and governed by an existing school board. This effectively prevents charter schools because, compared to parents, existing school boards have little incentive to challenge the status quo with alternatives which might bring into question their own standards and practices.

3. Lastly, successful charter school states allow innovation by authorizing broad variances from traditional public school regulations to accommodate innovative curriculum designs, educator certification etc to better meet the specific needs of students in a community. 

Montana, however, imposes strict limits on variances.

As Montana lawmakers debate two proposals which would put charter school legislation into law, we should ensure that new legislation will address the issues laid out above.

Montanans have watched as states across the country increasingly give families greater education freedom – now it’s our turn.

For Liberty,
Tanner Avery

The Latest

Leading On Housing Reforms
This week Frontier President & CEO, Kendall Cotton joined Governor Gianforte and a group of bipartisan pro-housing advocates for a press conference highlighting the importance of reforms that will reduce the barriers to building the most affordable types of homes.

Photo Source: https://news.mt.gov/Governors-Office/Governor_Gianforte_Calls_for_Pro-Housing_Reform

“Thanks to the governor’s leadership, bringing together a bipartisan effort, we will tackle this issue and be a model for how a rural, purple state can take on the housing affordability crisis,” said Frontier Institute President & CEO, Kendall Cotton.

Welcoming Innovation to the Insurance Industry
Earlier this week, The House Business and Labor Committee had a hearing on HB 836, a bill that would create Montana’s first Regulatory Sandbox. This Regulatory Sandbox would be focused on one of the top ten industries in Montana most heavily targeted by red tape: insurance. Regulatory Sandboxes provide temporary waivers from burdensome and outdated regulations so businesses can test innovative products and services while ensuring oversight to protect consumer health and safety.

Our Take: HB 836 follows the Frontier Institute’s recommendations to utilize Regulatory Sandboxes for proactive red tape relief in Montana to fast track innovative products and services that can reduce costs for consumers. During the committee hearing, State Representative Katie Zolnikov explained how a regulatory sandbox could open Montana to test new innovative products and services like on-demand insurance. And the Montana State Fund testified that this sandbox could allow workers’ compensation insurers to test innovative incentive programs to promote safety and help employees return to work faster, which could lower workers’ compensation costs for thousands of Montana businesses. By passing this bill, Montana can become an innovation hub for the 21st-century insurance industry. 

Graphic Of The Week

Montana’s unemployment rate fell to 2.4 percent in February, the lowest rate since record keeping began in 1976. This is despite the unemployment rate rising to 3.6 percent nationally. Thanks to efforts like the Governor’s Red Tape Relief Initiative and the Conservative Montana Budget, Montana continues to make it easier for businesses to grow and hire new employees. 

Below is a chart detailing the change in the unemployment rate at a county level from January to February 2023. 

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