We know American parents want choices in their public schools. Support for public charter schools has grown steadily since 2000, when less than half of Americans favored the idea. Now more than two-thirds support charter schools and say they would want one in their neighborhood.
But despite this groundswell of support, the debate around public charter schools feels as polarized as ever. Opponents refuse to acknowledge that some charter schools are knocking it out of the park serving students in some of this nation’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods — not only on test scores, but also around graduation rates and college admissions. And supporters are often reluctant to acknowledge the bad actors in the sector — the charter operators who are not putting children first, who are not getting results for children, or worse yet, are behaving unscrupulously when it comes to hiring and financial mismanagement.
We need more reasoned voices who understand the public demand for high-quality choices — because parents have the right to choose a school that best meets the needs of their children — but also are willing to hold accountable the weakest charter operators.
That’s why I’m thrilled to welcome Greg Richmond to our Advisory Network. Greg is the founding President and CEO of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, a group that supports the responsible expansion of charter schools. Greg’s organization works to improve the policies and practices of authorizers — the organizations designated to approve, monitor, renew, and, if necessary, close charter schools. NACSA provides professional development and policy guidance to authorizers, but also advocates for laws and policies that raise the bar for excellence among authorizers and the schools they charter.
We expect Greg will act as an important voice for us as we all work to provide more options for our nation’s most vulnerable children while at the same time raising the bar for charters.
Read Greg’s introductory post to our blog, Collaborating, Not Competing: Charters as “Laboratories of Innovation.”