Much of the focus related to charter school is on the schools. An equally important part of the relationship is the role of the authorizer. Successful charter schools typically have a good relationship with their authorizer.
The National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) has the four principles for good authorizing:
1. Provide charter schools with the autonomy necessary to excel. Meaningful autonomy should be granted by law and supported by authorizers’ practices.
2. Provide families with a range of quality school options. Caps, geographic restrictions, and a limited number of authorizers all constrain families’ choices.
3. Establish strong accountability criteria. Simply establishing more schools is not enough; authorizers must uphold high standards for student performance.
4. Ensure that authorizers have the means and desire to establish quality charter schools. Too many authorizers don’t have the institutional or legal support, financial means, or sometimes even the desire to perform their responsibilities professionally and adequately.
In addition, NACSA provides a variety of resources and assistance to members. Probably the most helpful is their resource library, which contains a variety of sample documents that are good resources for charter authorizers.
A commonly held belief is that charter schools can better serve their constituents when the authorizer is doing quality oversight and monitoring. A balance of autonomy and oversight provides both flexibility and accountability--a winning combination for successful charter schools.