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Walton Family Foundation Invests $5 Million to Promote Quality Authorizing of Public Charter Schools

December 6, 2012
Investment to support the creation of more than 2,000 new, high-performing schools and closure of at least 900 low-performing public charter schools

BENTONVILLE, ARK., Dec. 6, 2012 – A $5.2 million investment in the National Association of Charter School Authorizers aims to make charter school authorizing practices more rigorous, support the creation of more than 2,000 new, high-performing public charter schools, and encourage the closure of at least 900 low-performing schools. The investment by the Walton Family Foundation, the largest private investor in programs and organizations that promote parental choice and equal opportunity in education, will support NACSA’s “One Million Lives” initiative, whose mission is to make better schools available to one million additional children.

“Public charter school authorizers are responsible for opening high–performing schools, and they also bear responsibility for shutting down low-performers,” said Ed Kirby senior program officer at the Walton Family Foundation. “Too many authorizers are falling short on both parts of their jobs, and NACSA is well positioned to guide authorizers toward the creation of a bigger and higher quality charter school market across the country.”

The investment will enable NACSA to partner with several of the largest authorizers in the country to improve authorizing practices, which will lead to the opening of stronger schools, quicker replicating of successful charter schools, and closing of low-performers. NACSA will work with these authorizing bodies to design oversight practices in alignment with NACSA’s Principles & Standards for Quality Charter School Authorizing, the recognized source for comprehensive guidance on implementation of high standards in charter school authorizing. These principles also encourage a transparent authorizing process so that school administrators and parents are informed about overall school performance.

“This investment from the Walton Family Foundation will allow NACSA to assist authorizers as they support good schools that want to grow, protect the autonomy of charter schools, and close failing schools,” said Greg Richmond, CEO of NACSA. “As community demand for public charter schools grows, so does the need for strong authorizers that hold schools accountable for student achievement. With the support of partners like the Walton Family Foundation, NACSA will continue to equip authorizers with the tools they need to ensure that every charter school is meeting its promise to serve students with a high-quality public school education.”

NACSA will also expand its advocacy efforts to work with policymakers to facilitate quality authorizing practices. This includes advocating for the creation of more independent statewide authorizing bodies and stronger charter approval processes and closure standards, which help ensure that authorizers are only approving quality schools and successfully closing low-performing schools.

Over the past eight years, the Walton Family Foundation has invested more than $8 million in NACSA to support the widespread adoption of quality charter school authorizing practices.