#OpenTheDoors (or, How I Learned to Love the Federal Charter School Program)

This year NACSA is proud to help the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools spread its #OpenTheDoors campaign in support of high-quality charter schools. The campaign, launched earlier this month, draws attention to the more than 1 million student names on charter school waitlists across the country and asks Congress to continue making funding for charter schools a priority. This next fiscal year is special, as it marks the first year of the Charter School Program under the new Every Student Succeeds Act. NACSA worked for many years to bring important modernizations to this program, and for the first time ever the Charter School Program includes explicit support for quality charter school authorizing. With quality authorizing we can #openthedoors to quality charter schools.

I love the new ESSA Charter School Program for reasons professional and personal. I love that it supports quality authorizing. I love that it has annual grant competitions to ensure lots of states (and lots of schools) have a chance to grow. I love that it aims to foster greater transparency in the charter sector. I love that it tackles some of our thorniest issues by spreading best practices. I love that it demands accountability for our schools. Most of all, I love the memories it brings of my own high school.  It was so long ago I can’t even find the records for when Alameda Community Learning Center received its start-up grant in the mid-90s, bringing my brother into its first class of students. But I was there working with the school after college when it received a grant to grow a new school in the aughts. That grant helped keep the new school afloat during planning in the summer and until the first state dollars came trickling in that fall. Personally I want more great charter schools to have those resources. And professionally I want more authorizers to have the tools to do their jobs well. The federal Charter School Program does both—so lets #openthedoors together.

Do you have a story of a charter school you authorize doing great things with their federal charter school program grant? Share it with @QualityCharters using #OpenTheDoors.