This court ruling from Florida knocking down the statewide charter school authorizing agency(pdf) there is bad news if you care about charter school quality. As the charter school experience evolves it’s becoming clear that professional authorizers bring some real advantages to the table (pdf) and that having lots of “one-auths” out there, school districts that just authorize one school, is not an efficient or high-quality strategy. Over half of charters today are still one-auths. That’s not to say districts shouldn’t authorize schools, they should if they want, only that the professional authorizers bring a lot to the table (pdf) on the quality and efficiency side.* What happened in Florida is of course politics as much as anything else — surprise, the school districts don’t like competition! — but it will have an impact on the availability and quality of charter schools if it stands and will whet appetites to go after authorizers elsewhere (that’s already happened in Colorado).
By the way, this is in part why Rick Hess and I wrote at the time that the decision striking down Florida’s voucher program was problematic even if, like me, you’re not a voucher supporter.
*And some districts get this, for instance a few years ago a school district in Indianapolis asked the mayor there to authorize a school rather than do it themselves because of the expertise his authorizing operation had.