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ERIC Number: EJ781371
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Dec
Pages: 6
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0031-7217
The Potential of "Alternative" Charter School Authorizers
Palmer, Bierlein
Phi Delta Kappan, v89 n4 p304-309 Dec 2007
In the early 1990s a handful of states created independent public charter schools, providing opportunities for teachers and others to develop innovative schooling options. Unlike private schools funded through vouchers or tuition tax credits, these new public schools practice open admissions, accepting all students as space permits. In exchange for freedom from many government rules, they have to deliver results. Those that do so are to remain open; those that do not are to be closed. Now well into their second decade, charter schools have carved out a niche for themselves across America, serving a growing percentage of students in many communities and states. Yet the public has little understanding of the states' systems for deciding who gets, keeps, and loses the right to run a charter school. The entities responsible for these decisions are referred to as charter school "authorizers" (or "sponsors" in some states). The United States has a deep tradition of local control of public schools. Accordingly, local school boards have been granted varying degrees of power to award, deny, renew, and revoke charters in the 41 states and territories that have adopted the reform. Some district authorizers have embraced charter schools as an integral component of their school improvement plans. Others have used them to handle "problem" students or to relieve overcrowding. Far too many others want little to do with charters. They resent the need to select, assist, and monitor these schools and see them as a drain on resources. To assuage those groups that were denied charters by local boards, state policy makers initially allowed them to appeal to state boards of education, which could then force the local boards to grant the charters. Some states empowered their state boards to grant charters directly. The first option did little to improve relations between charter schools and local authorities. As for the second, state boards may lack the will and the means to become strongcharter authorizers in their own right. As a result, states have begun turning to "alternative" charter authorizers outside the traditional structures of public school governance. These alternative authorizers include independent state-level charter boards, higher education institutions, city governments, and nonprofit groups. Initial observations suggest that these entities are rapidly becoming the preferred authorizers and are increasingly being asked to develop model authorizing practices. (Contains 1 table and 9 notes.)
Phi Delta Kappa International. 408 North Union Street, P.O. Box 789, Bloomington, IN 47402-1789. Tel: 800-766-1156; Fax: 812-339-0018; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A