One of my readers has been keeping me apprised of the progress of a bill in the Iowa legislature that would make it possible to create a Montessori-style charter school here in Iowa City. (Iowa’s current charter school laws are apparently very restrictive, with the result that there are only seven charter schools in the entire state.) I’m afraid I have failed this reader by not becoming more informed about the specifics of the bill. I blame that on my general lack of enthusiasm for the concept of charter schools, which, under the No Child Left Behind Act, rise and fall on their standardized test scores just as much as regular schools do. (On that topic, see this post.) Nonetheless, I thought I should at least post a link to other, more informative sources about this bill.
I agree that if the people of Iowa City would like to offer at least one elementary school that operates on the Montessori school model, there’s no justification for state and federal laws that would prevent that from happening. But the bill itself apparently contains some provisions -- for example, one that would exempt charter schools from the state’s collective bargaining laws, and one that would remove them from the jurisdiction of the local school board -- that would sure give me pause. With the right amendments, though, I could see how such a bill would give people at least a little more choice than they currently have.
More information appears here and here. Beyond that, I leave it to commenters who know more than I do.