Excellence in Authorizing: Key to Excellence in Chartering!

I’ll admit it—when my legislative colleagues and I wrote the original charter school law in Minnesota back in 1991, we didn’t think much about the role of “sponsors,” now called authorizers. Authorizers are the legislatively-endorsed entities that oversee individual charter schools and hold them accountable.

Over 20 years later, having worked with or observed a wide variety of authorizers in Minnesota and other states, I say without hesitation that well-trained authorizers are key to excellence in chartering. I also say with experience that poorly-trained authorizers, or authorizers who do not understand their role, can be a major impediment to successful chartering.

Unfortunately, too many authorizers see their role in just three ways:

  • Gatekeeper
  • Monitor
  • Evaluator


Authorizers can be so much more!

That’s why I was delighted to attend a presentation by Dr. Jim Goenner of the National Charter Schools Institute at the recent National Charter Schools Conference in New Orleans. Dr. Goenner is an authorizer pioneer in Michigan, whose expertise is recognized around the country.

Dr. Goenner sees authorizers this way:

  • Change Agents:  Courageous Visionaries
  • Market Makers:  Creative Entrepreneurs
  • Forces for Quality:  Responsible Leaders
  • Catalysts for Excellence:  Influential Stewards


“Authorizers need to be creative visionaries, not timid souls,” said Goenner. “We need to challenge the givens, be fearless and relentless, influence policy and practice, and provide leadership and ideas for improving education.”

Amen! Learn more about Dr. Goenner’s vision for Excellence in Authorizing in Thursday’s blogpost.