Today the Center for Education Reform published a report labeling the move toward independent, statewide authorizing commissions as a “dangerous trend.” Our conclusion based on research and experience couldn’t be more different. NACSA supports the establishment of statewide charter school commissions because they offer the best opportunity to achieve not just more charter schools but more great charter schools.
We’re encouraged that lawmakers are agreeing, and creating chartering commissions in such relatively conservative states as Georgia and Mississippi and such relatively liberal states as Washington and Hawaii.
Despite years of evidence to the contrary, a small number of charter school advocates still support having dozens of different charter school authorizing organizations in a state. They argue for quantity in hopes that it will lead to quality.
But the evidence is exactly the opposite. In Ohio and Minnesota, we have seen that the existence of dozens of authorizers creates a race to the bottom. Weak charter school applicants shop around for the authorizer with the lowest standards and easiest review processes. Failing schools that are closed by an authorizer with high standards can simply go to another, less-discriminating authorizer that allows them to re-open.
After years of frustration with too many authorizers and too many failing charter schools, charter school advocates in both Minnesota and Ohio passed strong new laws to reduce the number of authorizers in each state.
NACSA supports the creation of statewide charter school commissions because they can develop expertise and capacity to establish appropriate standards for approval and renewal, while maintaining their independence from traditional school district and state education department politics and regulations.