National Association of Charter School Authorizers

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The National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) is a "nonprofit membership association of educational agencies across the country that authorize and oversee charter public schools."[1]

Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council=

NACSA is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and was a member of the Education Task Force in 2009.[2]

About ALEC
ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's ALECexposed.org, and check out breaking news on our PRWatch.org site.


Funding and Allies

According to its website, NACSA receives funding from the Walton Family Foundation, the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Robertson Foundation.[3]

The Washington Post's Valerie Strauss reports that the Walton Family Foundation gave NACSA $1,874,274 in 2010, while also doling out money to those who, in turn, fund NACSA.[4]

Also according to its website, its partners include Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP), the Hoover Institute, New Schools Venture Fund, the Center on Reinventing Public Education, among others.[5]

NACSA's President and his ties to the Obama Administration's Arne Duncan

NACSA's President and CEO is Greg Richmond. According to his biographical entry, Richmond worked for Chicago Public Schools (CPS) from 1994 through 2005, where he created the district's Charter Schools Office. According to his bio, Richmond "established the nation's first district-funded capital loan fund for charter schools. . ." [6]

At the tail end of his stint at CPS, from 2003 through 2005, Richmond launched Chicago's "Renaissance 2010" initiative. During that time, Richmond was working directly under President Barack Obama's Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, who was then the head of the CPS. Says his biography, "In that capacity (under Duncan) he continued to work with the district's charter schools, as well as small schools, contract schools and new autonomous district-operated schools." [6]

During that 2003-2005 timeframe, both Duncan and Richmond spoke on panels at the April 2004 conference of the Philanthropy Roundtable, entitled "How Chicago Can Dramatically Improve K-12 Education," which was held in Chicago, IL.[7] Philanthropy Roundtable is funded by a variety of right-wing foundations, including the [[Charles G. Koch Foundation, the Bradley Foundation, Alleghany Foundation, and the Scaife Family Foundation. [8]

In April 2009, Richmond spoke on a panel at the right-wing American Enterprise Institute titled "Race to the Top? The Promise-- and Challenges-- of Expanding the Reach of Charter Schools," on which the panelists spoke favorably about the Duncan/Obama "Race to the Top" plan, which resembles parts of No Child Left Behind. Race to the Top included a $5 billion stipend to push for charter schools on a state-by-state basis.[9]

He currently serves on the Aspen Institute's Commission on No Child Left Behind.[10]

In May 2009, Democratic U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu passed a bill, Senate Resolution 134, in honor of charter schools. Earlier that year, she went on a tour in March with Duncan to show him New Orleans schools and discuss the possibility of proliferation of charter schools there. As penned in her press release, "They talked about how Louisiana is uniquely positioned to drive innovation in school reform nationwide."[11]

Then, in May, Landrieu, head of the "Senate Chater Schools Caucus," brought together a panel featuring numerous figures, among them Richmond and Duncan's Assistant Deputy Secretary, James Shelton.[12]

As described in Landrieu's press release, "The panelists expressed concern that public schools are falling short of providing the education that America's children need and deserve, in poor areas, urban areas, and even suburban areas. They emphasized the need for high-quality schools, whether they are traditional public schools or public charter schools. They also discussed the challenges associated with closing low-performing schools, and doing so in a way that has a minimal disruptive impact on students."[13]

Richmond also spoke favorably about Duncan's (and Obama's) support of charter schools in a Nov. 2009 article written in the Heartland Institute's "School Reform News," with reference to the push for charter schools in the state of Louisiana, stating, "Just as Sec. of Education Arne Duncan has suggested, Superintendent Pastorek is using a charter school strategy to turn around the lowest-performing schools in the state."[14]

Ties to "Democrats for Education Reform"

Tom Vander Ark, former head of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is on the Advisory Board of Democrats for Education Reform, which describes itself as "a political action committee supported largely by hedge fund managers favoring charter schools, merit-pay tied to test scores (anti-union), high-stakes testing, school choice (including vouchers and tuition tax credits in some cases), mayoral control, and alternative teacher preparation programs."[15] Tom Vander Ark also sits on the Board of Advisors of NACSA.[16] Robert Skeels refers to "Democrats for Education Reform" as "Democrats for Neoliberal Education Reform."[17]

Ties to the American Enterprise Institute

Frederick M. Hess is the resident scholar and director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). He is also on the Board of Directors of NACSA.[18]

Ties to Teach for America

NACSA has deep ties to Teach for American (TFA), as revealed by in a June 2011 article by the Washington Post.[19] TFA is listed as one of the headline participants in NACSA's 2011 "Leadership Conference," set to take place in Oct. 2011.[20]

Key Staff

  • Greg Richmond, President and CEO
  • Courtney Leigh Beisel, Communications Manager
  • Michael R. Cernauskas, Chief Financial Officer
  • Cathy Cohen, Member Services Manager
  • Sean Conlan, Director of Research and Evaluation
  • Lorelei Crabb, Administrative Assistant
  • William Haft, Vice President of Authorizer Development
  • David Hansen, Vice President of Policy and Advocacy
  • Phoebe Harlan Program Officer, The Fund for Authorizing Excellence
  • Katie Kelly, Chief of Staff
  • Rachel Ksenyak, Director of Authorizer Development
  • Alex Medler, Vice President of Research
  • Rebeca Nieves Huffman, Vice President, Communications and Outreach
  • Courtney Smith, Policy and Research Analyst
  • Whitney Spalding, Senior Project Manager
  • Kristen Vandawalker, Program Manager
  • Mary Zawaski, Finance and Administration Manager

Board of Directors

  • Greg Richmond, President and CEO
  • James Peyser, Chair
  • Hosanna Mahaley, Vice Chair
  • Karega Rausch, Secretary
  • Josephine Baker, Treasurer
  • Garth Harries, Assistant Superintendent for Portfolio and Performance Management, New Haven Public Schools
  • Frederick M. Hess, Resident Scholar and Director of Education Policy Studies, American Enterprise Institute

Contact Information

National Association of Charter School Authorizers 105 W. Adams Street, Suite 3500 Chicago, IL 60603-6253 Phone: 312.376.2300 Fax: 312.376.2400 E-mail: loreleic@qualitycharters.org Web: www.qualitycharters.org

Related SourceWatch articles

References

  1. US Charter Schools National Association of Charter School Authorizers, online profile, accessed June 15, 2011
  2. American Legislative Exchange Council Inside ALEC Nov./Dec. 2009, organization newsletter, November/December 2009, p. 24
  3. [1], "Sponsors." National Association of Charter School Authorizers. QualityCharters.org. Accessed July 6, 2011.
  4. [2], Strauss, Valerie. "How Walton Foundation spent $157 million on ed reform (in D.C. and other places)." Washington Post. WashingtonPost.com. June 29, 2011. Accessed July 6, 2011.
  5. [3], "Partners." National Association of Charter School Authorizers. QualityCharters.org. Accessed July 6, 2011.
  6. 6.0 6.1 10th Annual Wisconsin Charter Schools Conference to take place March 22-23rd, 2010 in Madison, Wisconsin Charter Schools Association, Mar 12, 2010, accessed July 7, 2011.
  7. [4], "How Chicago Can Dramatically Improve K-12 Education." Philanthropy Roundtable. PhilanthropyRoundtable.org. April 22, 2004. Accessed July 1, 2011.
  8. Philantrophy Roundtable Funders, Media Matters Action Network, accessed July 7, 2011.
  9. [5], "Race to the Top? The Promise-- and Challenges-- of Expanding the Reach of Charter Schools." American Enterprise Institute. AEI.org. April 6, 2009.
  10. [6], "Mr. Greg Richmond." The Aspen Institute. AspenInstitute.org. Accessed July 1, 2011.
  11. [7], "Senate Passes Landrieu Resolution Congratulating Public Charter Schools on Contributions to Education." Landrieu.Senate.Gov. May 8, 2011.
  12. [8], "Senate Passes Landrieu Resolution Congratulating Public Charter Schools on Contributions to Education." Landrieu.Senate.Gov. May 8, 2011.
  13. [9], "Senate Passes Landrieu Resolution Congratulating Public Charter Schools on Contributions to Education." Landrieu.Senate.Gov. May 8, 2011.
  14. [10], McIntosh, Sarah. "New Charter School Applications Multiplying in Louisiana." The Heartland Institute. Heartland.Org. Nov. 2009.
  15. About, "About." Democrats for Education Reform, accessed March 31, 2011.
  16. [11], "National Advisory Board." National Association of Charter School Authorizers. QualityCharters.org. Accessed July 6, 2011.
  17. [12], Skeels, Robert. "Democrats for So-Called Education Reform." Dissident Voice. DissidentVoice.org. Mar. 31, 2011.
  18. [13], "Board of Directors." National Association of Charter School Authorizers. QualityCharters.org. Accessed July 6, 2011.
  19. [14], Strauss, Valerie. "How Walton Foundation spent $157 million on ed reform (in D.C. and other places)." Washington Post. WashingtonPost.com. June 29, 2011. Accessed July 6, 2011.
  20. [15], "2011 Conference Participants." National Association of Charter School Authorizers. QualityCharters.org. Accessed July 6, 2011.