As New Jersey halts all charter school expansion in order to “study” our 23-year-old charter school law (call it a pause, call it a moratorium, call it a pander to NJEA/Save Our Schools-NJ/Education Law Center), the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) has just put out some information relevant to our…well, whatever you want to call it.
“For years, we’ve known that good authorizing leads to great charter schools, not just for a few children but for children in entire cities,” said Greg Richmond, NACSA president and CEO. “The problem is that many people with the power to influence authorizing know little about it.
Legislators in states with charter school laws (that’s 43, plus D.C.) decide who can “authorize,” i.e., approve, a new charter school or an expansion to an established charter school. One of the deficits to NJ’s law is that we have only one authorizer, the Commissioner of Education who is appointed by the Governor. This turns what should be a deliberative process that prioritizes the needs of children (especially low-income ones, disproportionately of color, who live in cities where NJ charters cluster) into a political decision subject to whims of special interests.
It is timely, then, that NACSA has just released two three-minute videos that delve into best practices for charter school laws and the importance of smart, proactive authorizing. Too many cooks spoil the broth but in NJ too few authorizers — a single one, in fact — subjugate students’ educational needs to political gamesmanship.
Enjoy the videos!