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NACSA’s 2015 Leadership Conference is in the works!  We are developing the schedule now for the October 19-22 program in Denver, Colorado and we want your session ideas! Our priority is to develop a program that gives you the resources, networks and information you need to excel at your job and to advance the authorizing profession.

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Lenders&AuthorizersReport_cover

Sometimes a single factoid can just leap out at you.

That happened a couple of years ago when I read a report about charter facilities finance by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), a community improvement not-for-profit that is also a significant player in the charter lending markets. LISC found that lenders had consulted authorizer reports before approving charter loans in just six of the 393 charter bond offerings it studied. How come?

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Every child deserves a

 

My mother has always expressed to me that she only wants “what’s best” for me, and this is where my charter school story begins. At 14, I had been attending the same public school for eight years, yet I was unfamiliar with most teachers and students. I often felt invisible, especially during the times where I needed help, and I never knew who to talk to. I didn’t feel comfortable expressing my needs. My mother knew there were better choices for me, places where I could thrive academically and socially.

 

We found that choice in Perspectives Charter School.

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Thirteen Years Later

This is the story of my senior year of high school, when I was applying to colleges in the early aughts. I was like a lot of students from my California hometown, applying for some public UCs and a few private schools in-state and back east (also known as “where it snows,” which was generally regarded with skepticism).

But, unlike most of those aspiring freshmen, I was one of twenty kids graduating from my town’s first charter school.

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Great news from Oklahoma today: after two years of hard work on the ground attending coalition meetings, researching data to support various polices and scrutinizing language, Gov. Mary Fallon signed a comprehensive charter school bill that will expand charters throughout the state.

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Choosy:Picky - Requires Recognition
Earlier this month, the Pennsylvania Legislative Budget and Finance Committee (LBFC) released a report titled “The Feasibility of Alternative Methods for Authorizing Charter Schools in Pennsylvania.” The report itself is a rare attempt by a state to take a step back and ask itself “What type of authorizers would be a good fit for our state?” Pennsylvania leadership deserves kudos for taking that step. It pulls from an array of sources (including NACSA) to present a survey of authorizing structures and practices and addresses specific policies that the Legislature has been talking about for years.

 

One of the most striking sets of findings is about Higher Education Institution (HEI) authorizers. The Committee contacted colleges and universities in the state and asked them “If the law allowed you to, would you be interested in authorizing charter schools?”

The overwhelming answer was no.

“The Chancellor’s Office reported that ‘a small percentage’ of their universities indicated they would consider authorizing charter schools. The majority of the SSHE universities, however, indicated they would not take on the responsibilities of authorizing charter schools, citing concerns such as potential costs and the risk of jeopardizing relationships with nearby school districts.”

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Earlier this month, Colorado Governor Hickenlooper signed House Bill 1184 into law, which will help grow and expand Colorado’s networks of quality charter schools. Colorado has a mix of individual charter schools and those that operate within networks. As the number of charter schools within networks increases in the state, these schools have asked for tools to do their job well.

Identifying and replicating high-performing charter schools is a powerful way to provide a great education for more children. While operating more than one campus isn’t always what a charter school sets out to do, state policies should enable a smooth process if a school that is succeeding wishes to expand.

Colorado’s bill does just that and we voiced our support of HB 1184 throughout its journey in the Colorado legislature. The bill creates incentives for the best charter schools to replicate their success, allowing multiple schools to be operated under one tested and proven charter agreement. Allowing experienced, and high-functioning charter boards with a history of success to expand is good for future charter schools in Colorado.

Parents and community members concerned about unrestrained growth can also rest easy, as the bill ensures each school’s performance will still be assessed individually – a necessary check for responsible growth.

 

We applaud Gov. Hickenlooper and the Colorado legislature for helping facilitate the expansion of quality educational choices for parents and children throughout the state.

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