NACSA responds to the Center for Media and Democracy’s Report “Charter School Black Hole”

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NACSA responds to the Center for Media and Democracy’s Report “Charter School Black Hole”

The National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) is a non-profit, professional organization that has worked with states, school districts and other authorizers to strengthen charter school oversight across the country for the past 15 years. We provide authorizers with tools and resources to make sure charters are transparent and accountable to our nation’s taxpayers.

The Center for Media and Democracy’s report legitimately highlights some troubling problems in Ohio. Most of the report’s criticisms are aimed at the U.S. Department of Education and its administration of the federal Charter School Program grant fund. We are disappointed the report purposely omits any reference to the significant improvements that have occurred in Ohio over the past years.

NACSA has pushed for accountability and transparency in Ohio for more than 10 years. In 2006, we issued a tough report on the state’s charter sector—together with the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools—calling for significant changes to state law. We advocated for a way to automatically close the worst performing schools and a process to evaluate authorizers based on school performance. With our support, these two measures became law in 2010. We supported the strong charter school reform bill passed this month, which creates additional charter school oversight and transparency provisions.

Because of this hard work, Ohio now has one of the strongest charter school accountability laws in the nation. NACSA readily endorsed Ohio’s application to the federal Charter School Program for additional funds based on this progress.

However, a law is only as good as its implementation, which the state saw this summer with the flawed administration of the new authorizer evaluation process. NACSA offered to work with the Ohio Department of Education to make sure the state’s charter reform laws are faithfully implemented at all levels.

At the end of the day, quality authorizing is the key to sustainable, high-performing charter sector.

We will continue to push Ohio’s authorizers to set and maintain high expectations for schools. This means taking action to close the charter schools that are failing children. It means adopting professional authorizing standards that create a strong review process that allows only the schools with the most likelihood of succeeding to open.

We will continue to push for Ohio’s authorizers to be held accountable for their own performance as well. There must be consequences for authorizers that continually approve schools that never open, schools that close within months of opening, and schools that drastically fail children year after year.

The work of NACSA and its partners will continue to create real and sustained progress to create schools that fit the needs for every Buckeye child.


The National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) is an independent voice for effective charter school policy and thoughtful charter authorizing practices that lead to more great public schools. Our research, policy, and consultation work advances excellence and accountability in the charter school sector. With authorizers and other partners, we have built the gold standard for charter school authorizing. Through smart charter school growth, these authorizers will give hundreds of thousands of children an opportunity for a better education each year. More at


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