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Effort to Tighten Charter School Regulation Gets Foundation Support

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A new campaign to make oversight of charters schools more stringent and ensure that bad ones get shut down has won a $5.2 million grant from a major philanthropy on education issues, the Walton Family Foundation.

The National Association of Charter School Authorizers recently announced that it would launch a "One Million Lives" program to set tougher standards for charter schools, close consistent underperformers, and raise standards for authorizers, who approve and oversee charters.

"Public charter school authorizers are responsible for opening high-performing schools, and they also bear responsibility for shutting down low-performers," Ed Kirby, senior program officer at the foundation, said in a statement. "Too many authorizers are falling short on both parts of their jobs, and NACSA is well positioned to guide authorizers toward the creation of a bigger and higher quality charter school market across the country."

Walton has a broad reach in the K-12 world. The philanthropy estimates that it has poured $1 billion into education efforts, including promoting school choice. (It is one of several Education Week grant funders, supporting the newspaper coverage of parent-empowerment issues.) Over the past eight years, the foundation says it has given more than $8 million to the charter authorizers' association, a Chicago-based organization that attempts to improve the quality of those independent schools.

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