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Leading In Chartering Schools

Leading In Chartering Schools

Central Michigan University's history in chartering public schools is filled with many "firsts." As the first public entity in Michigan and the first university in the nation to charter a public school, CMU led the way in developing the expertise and tools needed for charter school leaders to succeed in helping kids. This ranges from developing internal expertise on the state's charter school law to building systems that help school administrators cut through red tape to providing the training needed to ensure administrators and board members are equipped to lead. 

The Governor John Engler Center for Charter Schools has always moved forward with a focus on quality-because quality tools and training for school leaders fosters quality learning options for parents and families. This leadership has earned CMU state and national recognition, including being the first charter public school authorizer to receive a perfect score on the Michigan Department of Education's voluntary "assurances and verifications" audits, and recognition from the U.S. Department of Education for being one of the nation's outstanding authorizers.

Leading-edge initiatives that have earned the Center these distinctions include:

Building the infrastructure needed for charters to flourish. When CMU entered into the charter arena, there was a need to ensure that resources and support organizations existed to help charter school founders succeed. The Center and its staff was instrumental in building this essential infrastructure through:

Helping found the Michigan Association of Public School Academies: Michigan's first charter school network.

Bringing other authorizers together in Michigan by helping form the Michigan Council of Charter School Authorizers, and bringing other authorizers together nationally through helping form the National Association of Charter School Authorizers.

Establishing the Michigan Resource Center for Charter Schools, an organization that served as a resource for authorizing bodies, the Michigan Department of Education, and leaders interested in founding a charter public school.

Founding the National Charter Schools Institute, a national organization that provides resources to help strengthening charter school boards, administrators and management leaders.

Opening up capital markets necessary for charter school leaders to finance school buildings through building strong relationships in the financial market and by helping to form the Michigan Finance Authority to provide charter schools with access to the state's tax-exempt status and credit rating.

Cutting through the "red tape" to focus more resources in the classroom. Most of of the people starting charter schools are people who have a vision and a passion to serve children-but no experience working through the "red tape" that comes with running a school. Through the Center's Internet-based reporting system, AOIS, and helping school leaders navigate through complex regulatory processes like site and facilities review, the Center strives to cut through the red tape for school leaders so they can focus on improving student achievement.

Developing services to help local leaders improve schools. With diverse backgrounds, interests, and areas of expertise, charter public school leaders are individuals who are united behind a common purpose-advancing educational choice and opportunity for all. Because each has a different role in their school's operation, the Center has developed programs to meet their needs and ensure all have the tools needed to create successful students. These tools range from providing board members with training and development, to ensuring boards access to up-to-date model policies, to connecting struggling schools with the resources needed to improve, to providing analyses of student achievement that can help school leaders build stronger schools.

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