Questions and Answers about Charter Schools and the
Proposed Constitutional Amendment
Does the proposed constitutional amendment conflict with the concept of local control?
Under the proposed constitutional amendment, the state simply authorizes a state charter school to exist. Not a single dime of ongoing public funding goes to a state charter school unless families choose to enroll their children. This puts parents in control, not the state. Parents are the ultimate form of local control.
The authorization process is similar to accreditation, which is required for all public schools. However, unlike accreditation, which is performed by unelected, unaccountable, private organizations, the State Charter Schools Commission will be a public board, appointed by and held accountable to elected officials. The authorization process will be open and transparent.
FACT: The State Charter Schools Commission, which will authorize state-chartered schools, will be appointed and held accountable by elected officials. Members of the Commission must first be nominated by either the Governor, Speaker of the House, or the president of the Senate.
FACT: Almost half (48%) of all the charter schools in the United States are authorized by entities other than local school systems. Thirty two states have alternative Charter School Authorizers (other than Local Education Agencies). These include Independent Chartering Boards, State Education Agencies, higher education institutions, municipalities and not-for-profits.
The proposed charter school amendment shifts power away from government and puts it in the hands of the people. Our nation’s founders were very worried about concentrated power. That’s why the Constitution institutes separation of powers, checks and balances and enumerated powers, distributing all non-enumerated powers to the states or the people through the 10th Amendment. The Founders were concerned about the “tyranny of the majority,” which can happen when a minority of parents seek options for their children but are denied by the majority. Giving parents educational options for their children is a form of distributed power. Judging by the waiting list of more than 5,000 last year, it’s an option parents want.
 National Association of Charter School Authorizers, Page 7, http://www.qualitycharters.org/images/stories/pdfs/publications/nacsa2011_state_of_charter_school_authorizing.pdf
 National Association of Charter School Authorizers, “State-by-State Overview,” http://www.qualitycharters.org/state-by-state-overviews-53
The Foundation’s Criminal Justice Initiative pushed the problems to the forefront, proposed practical solutions, brought in leaders from other states to share examples, and created this nonpartisan opportunity. (At the signing of the 2012 Criminal Justice Reform bill.)