Ch. 5 - Charter Authorizing: It's a Dirty Job, But Somebody's Got to Do It (HFR '06)

December 2006

This year's edition of Hopes, Fears, & Reality explores the broad realities of the present-day charter school movement. In this chapter, Kate Destler reports on the preliminary results from a study of the agencies that authorize new charter schools and assess their performance.

In most areas of the country, school boards and school districts serve as charter authorizers, yet authorizing and evaluating charter school performance is still an alien role for many districts. The Washington, D.C. school board's decision in 2006 to relinquish its chartering authority because it felt it lacked the wherewithal to judge charter school performance is just one recent illustration of the problem. Drawing from research on other government agencies and private businesses, the author suggests how charter authorizers can build the capacity to judge charter proposals, oversee performance, intervene on behalf of children in troubled schools, and encourage development of competent school providers.