The National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) recently released a report, Quality, Diversity and Choice: the Value of Multiple Charter Authorizing Options (see here), which outlines various types of charter school authorizers and weighs the advantages and disadvantages associated with each. We're pleased that our sister organization, the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, is listed in the nonprofit category as an example of a "strong authorizer," alongside organizations (in other categories) that we greatly respect, such as the Massachusetts Board of Education, Central Michigan University and the Mayor's Office in Indianapolis. (Fordham serves as an authorizer of six schools in the Buckeye State).
NACSA says that "good authorizing is about function more than form; there is no one particular authorizing option that works best in all circumstances... Good authorizing requires a relentless focus on quality." We wholeheartedly agree. Fordham has learned much in the last five years as a charter school authorizer (or sponsor, as it is called in Ohio). We've come to appreciate the many challenges facing schools serving the state's neediest children in an often hostile political environment. We believe sponsors must have an unwavering emphasis on school quality-academically, financially, and operationally. For more on Fordham's role as a charter school sponsor, see our annual Fordham Sponsorship Accountability Report here, which outlines in detail the status of our sponsorship duties and the profiles of each of our schools.