NACSA Hails Congressional Action to Strengthen Charter School Authorizing

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NACSA Hails Congressional Action to Strengthen Charter School Authorizing

In adopting the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2010, Congress recognizes for the first time the important role charter school authorizers play in determining charter school quality, winning it praise from the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA).

“This is a very important step toward giving more children the opportunity to attend high-quality charter schools,” said Greg Richmond, President and CEO of NACSA.

“Congress has shown welcomed leadership in improving accountability of charter schools through better authorizing, while preserving the flexibility and autonomy needed for charter schools to succeed,” said Richmond.

NACSA led the way in advocating for strengthening charter school authorizing as the Obama Administration proposed increases in federal support of charter schools. (Related Testimony)

As urged by NACSA, Congress has tied receipt of federal charter school spending to three key quality controls: 1) Charter schools receiving Charter School Program (CSP) funds must now operate under an explicit contract with their authorizers; 2) schools must be subject to annual financial audits filed with their authorizing agency; 3) authorizer approval of a school’s charter must be connected to improvements in academic achievement for all student groups.

The bill requires the U.S. Department of Education to provide funding for programs strengthening charter school authorizing, another provision championed by NACSA.

Congress is appropriating in the measure a total of $256 million for all charter school programs. This is a 19% increase over last year, and includes support for replicating successful charter systems and for badly-needed charter school facilities.

“I applaud the legislation’s managers – Chairman Obey, Chairman Miller, Ranking Member Tiahrt; Chairman Inouye and Chairman Harkin – and Secretary Duncan for recognizing that quality authorizing is a linchpin for quality charter schools,” said Richmond. “When authorizing is done well, everyone benefits from quality charter schools providing a high-quality education for students.”

“As Congress and the Administration increase the role of charter schools in educating our children, NACSA will continue to help authorizers set high standards, preserve charter school autonomy and protect the interests of students and the public – all of which will mean more high-quality charter schools.”

The measure now heads to President Obama’s desk for his signature into law.

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