Minnesota was the first state in the country to establish a charter-school law, and the state continues to be a leader in developing this supplemental approach to education.
Recently, Minnesota redid the way it regulates authorizers / sponsors, which are the organizations that are, in addition to the parents, responsible for ensuring the proper functioning of charter schools.
The tighter rules for authorizers mean that many organizations have dropped out of the authorization business. According to the Saint Paul Pioneer Press, “Only 13 organizations have applied to be authorizers under the new rules, down from 47 that currently oversee Minnesota’s 152 charter schools. Of those 13, the state has approved six. There are expected to be additional application rounds, but as it stands now, 118 charter schools need to find new authorizers by June 30, 2011.”
The first organization to charter a school is the Saint Paul Public Schools, which is now thinking of no longer being an authorizer. At least five other districts are thinking of doing the same. Right now, 18 districts also serve as authorizers, as do 14 colleges or universities, and various foundations.
The Saint Paul schools may invite its sponsored schools to become “self-governed schools,” a new designation under state law that gives schools more autonomy than a district school but less than a charter school.