Working with communities is a paramount responsibility for authorizers. Some contexts, especially when existing authorizers are ineffective in fostering high-quality educational opportunities, can benefit from new and different high-quality authorizers with a demonstrated track record of connection and responsiveness to under-resourced communities. Our nation’s best Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU) and Hispanic serving institutions (HSI) are an untapped source of expertise, and could become some of the nation’s finest authorizing institutions. Their track record of success – producing a highly disproportionate number of our nation’s professionals, creating strong and diverse PK-12 teacher pipelines, and serving as community beacons and much more – makes them a critical partner in transforming K-12 for all students, including potentially in the governance and oversight role of charter school authorizing.
So who could take on these new authorizer roles?
We believe there is incredible opportunity with a new group of higher education institution (HEI) authorizers that predominantly serve historically marginalized communities–historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), as well as Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs).
Research shows that HBCUs consistently outperform their predominantly white institution counterparts when it comes to student experience and preparedness for Black students. With this context, HBCUs may be able to bring a level of expertise to authorizing K-12 charter schools to enhance the experience of all students, but especially that of Black children.
Authorizing and HBCUs and HSIs
- As of 2023, charter school laws in 15 states allow for higher education institutions to be authorizers, but most of those states provide additional constraints on which higher education institutions are currently eligible. For example, New York allows for only one higher education institution authorizer, and names that authorizer in statute (i.e., the State University of New York Trustees). Please see the Appendix of a recent NACSA resource on higher education institution authorizers, here.
- States with the most HBCUs – mostly southern states – do not currently allow for higher education institutions to be authorizers.
- There are currently no HSIs that authorize schools