Just over a year ago, NACSA announced an ambitious goal to provide better schools to one million children over five years. We called it our One Million Lives campaign because we knew that, if authorizers could approve 2000 new schools through quality processes and close 1000 persistently failing schools, we would help one million children get into a better school and have a better life.
This week, we announced the results from authorizers’ first year of work. Our analysis shows that authorizers approved 491 new schools through quality processes and closed 206 failing schools, affecting approximately 232,000 students. One year into our five-year goal, we are more than 1/5th of the way there in each category. This is a big accomplishment, touching the lives of more students in one year that all but the biggest school districts in the nation.
In the charter school sector, a lot of deserved attention is paid to impressive charter networks like KIPP, Noble, Aspire, Uncommon and others. Yet, the Year 1 OML results are larger than the enrollment of any of those networks. How is that possible? Simple: while an individual network may add five or ten schools a year, the nation’s authorizers touch every single one of the 6000+ charter schools in the country. The quality and scale of the nation’s charter schools is inescapably linked to the work of charter school authorizers. If authorizers do their job well, we will have a healthy charter school sector; if they don’t, we won’t.
These are strong results for the first year of One Million Lives, but the work is far from done. You may recall that, when we announced OML, we pointed out that more than a million children drop out of school in America each year. We have only begun to put a dent in that figure. At NACSA, we will continue to work hard every day to support authorizers, schools, lawmakers and other stakeholders who are working just as hard to provide a better school and create a better life for children across America.