Jim Goenner is an excellent speaker, regardless of the topic he's presenting on. True to his nature, Jim Goenner presented an excellent workshop on Alpha Authorizing. Goenner started by talking about Ted Kolderie's July 1990 paper called "The States Will Have to Withdraw the Exclusive." Kolderie spoke about the system's need to change the incentives in public education. Kolderie's goal was to improve public education for ALL students. He proposed these goals be met through choice (empower families to choose their schools) and diversification (empower someone other than the district to create new public schools).
Goenner said that authorizers can either be change agents, market makers, forces for quality, and catalysts for excellence or they can be gatekeepers, monitors and evaluators. Goenner encouraged authorizers to think innovatively and challenge the "givens." Instead to foster an environment that attracts talent, capital and entrepreneurship. Authorizers should provide leadership and ideas for improving education, rather than being reactive to policies and practices that stimulate mediocrity.
Geonner stressed that public charter schools are "chartered" (a verb) and not "charter" (a noun). They are dynamic and evolving. Charter schools should foster an environment that attracts the can-do people who can strategize creative solutions.
By focusing on quality, charter school authorizers should:
*Thoroughly screen applicants and their applications.
* Measure and evaluate performance.
* Preserve discretionary judgement; in other words, be able to make wise decisions on a case-by-case basis rather than being locked in to policy restraints that aren't what's best for students.
* Protect school autonomy.
* Appropriately intervene when people fail. Don't be afraid to step in to close a charter school that doesn't perform well academically.
By being a catalyst for excellence, a charter school authorizer should
* Recognize and reward performance.
* Encourage the replication and expansion of successful charter schools.
* Create new performance-based paths for authorizing, overseeing and renewing charter contracts.
* Relentlessly pursue excellence (at all levels).
* Protect, preserve and advance the idea behind chartering. This is in regard to Kolderie's assertion that "someone other than" districts should be able to create new public schools.
Goenner also highlighted several statistics from the National Alliance for Public Charter School's website. He noted that every authorizer should have established key performance indicators for their schools collectively and individually. These indicators can fall into the broad categories of academic achievement/growth, fiscal performance and sustainability, organizational performance and student engagement.