ONE-THIRD OF STATE'S AUTHORIZERS ARE GETTING OUT OF CHARTER SCHOOL BUSINESS; December 1, 2010; Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Dozens of charter schools in Minnesota are looking for new homes. Not physical homes, but homes with an 'authorizer.'
Having an authorizer, or sponsor, had been an almost mundane requirement for charter schools -- until this year, when the state started implementing a new law designed to make authorizers more accountable.
Since the law took effect, several authorizers have decided to get out of the charter business.
Authorizers don't run charter schools, but by law, charter schools have always needed an authorizer to open. Prompted in part by reports of fiscal mismanagement by some charter school administrators, the new law makes authorizers more accountable for the financial and academic performance of their schools.
Advocates widely praised the changes when passed, but many say they've since been surprised that the law has led many authorizers to end their relationships with charter schools…
The larger surprise for some advocates has been how many authorizers aren't even applying. More than a third of the state's 45 current authorizers say they're getting out.
Those departing authorizers include colleges and traditional public school districts that have been sponsors for years, including Hamline University, Century College and the Stillwater, Hopkins, Brooklyn Center, and Le Sueur-Henderson school districts. That has some advocates wondering what Minnesota's charter school system will look like after those organizations - some who have been involved with charter schools since the early days - are gone…
At this point, 35 charter schools (out of 147 statewide) must find new authorizers for next year, a number that could increase depending on who does or doesn't get the new state approval…
Also see: Minnesota charter schools (use of junk bonds)