What Charter School Authorizers Can Do Right Now to Address COVID-19


What Charter School Authorizers Can Do Right Now to Address COVID-19

“Communicate, listen, and go slow.”  -Patrick Dobard

On Wednesday, NACSA hosted a community conversation with over 150 charter school authorizers and support organizations, the first in an ongoing series of conversations to connect authorizers with one another during this challenging time. As part of the conversation, multiple authorizer leaders were invited to talk about lessons learned and best practices so far.

One of the speakers, Patrick Dobard of New Schools for New Orleans, shared his experience of serving in government in the years after Hurricane Katrina.

Reflecting on that experience, Patrick shared three important lessons.

First, effective, efficient communication is crucial. Being a reliable communicator, as well as distilling and sharing what is most important, can be the most important thing in the short term. Authorizers are perfectly positioned to act as conduits of important information for their charter schools but must be cautious that they are not simply speaking to be heard. Communicate efficiently.

Second, authorizers must be good listeners. Every school is going to have different needs and different immediate priorities. Some might already be thinking about how the disruption to instruction will impact accountability decisions, while others have not been able to make that shift yet. Authorizers need to be listening and responding accordingly. Patrick also highly recommended actively recording one’s thoughts, interactions, and ideas: a clear log of communications will be a great asset in decision making down the road.

Finally, go slow. The worst thing an authorizer can do in the short term is make rash decisions that they will regret later. It might feel counterintuitive to take a step back when the instinct is to act quickly but being cautious now is vital. As Patrick put it, don’t let emotions get in the way of making good decisions.

NACSA is working to keep authorizers updated daily. Our COVID-19 landing page will be regularly updated with resources, policy updates, and best practices from other authorizers. Also, we will be holding more community conversations to give authorizers and support organizations the opportunity to share ideas and lessons learned with one another. To share resources, ask questions, or request updates, please reach out to our dedicated email address, covid19@qualitycharters.org, or to any NACSA staff.