NACSA recently released a set of materials to help policymakers and advocates working to improve their charter school laws. Believe it or not, we think this next session will be a productive one. Additional states will join the group that endorses professional standards for authorizers; or they will give authorizers the performance management tools they need to truly hold schools accountable for their results while protecting the crucial autonomy schools need to innovate. Hopefully, states will add new state-level authorizers.
Most of the national political news seems hopelessly focused on the horse race for control of the U.S. Senate. If domestic issues get any attention, journalists seem to think education reform and charter schools represent a proxy-fight between otherworldly forces of good and evil. (Perhaps those two things are linked.) Meanwhile, outside the beltway and between the add-buys, I remain convinced that most of the meaningful political action in education over the next two years will occur in state capitals. I will even go out on a limb and suggest that, despite grid-lock in Washington, the next legislative session will produce quite a bit of debate as well as meaningful changes to state laws that advance the charter school sector.
If you want to read the latest materials, you can review them on line. Our full set of policy materials, is available here. Several pieces discuss the different approaches pursued by states that add new authorizers. These include specific summaries describing independent charter boards (ICBs), SEA authorizers, and HEI authorizers. One brief describe how states have endorsed authorizer standards in state policy. We also worked with the team at Public Impact to address the issue of “authorizer hopping”. States are trying to figure out how to stop failing schools from switching to a new authorizer with low standards when their current authorizer tries to close them for legitimate reasons. We have also updated some briefs that cover important developments, like the effort in Ohio to pursue the closure of failing schools through a default closure law, or the effort to evaluate and potentially sanction authorizers in Minnesota.
Hopefully you’re joining us this week in Miami for our annual conference, and we hope you find these new policy documents helpful. We look forward to the work this session.