Giving Compass' Take:

• David Frank, the Executive Director of the New York State of Education Department Charter School Office in Albany, discusses how good school board governance will lead to healthier schools. 

• What are the key strategies to make school boards effective? How can donors support boards?

• Read about the future of school reform and governance. 

What’s the number one problem in the charter sector? David Frank thinks it’s the lack of board governance capacity. “Strong boards would ameliorate many of the problems of practice that charter schools have, from those that are struggling to our high performing charter schools,” said Frank.

As the Executive Director of the New York State Education Department (NYSED) Charter School Office in Albany, David Frank works with senior leadership to decide which charter schools get approval to open and which schools earn the right to stay open.

Compared to other intervention strategies, Frank sees governance as high leverage. And many boards “don’t do a good job of knowing the standards by which their authorizer is evaluating them or their schools, let alone using these transparent standards to evaluate the school leader they have chosen.”

“In the past, if the school leader was fantastic and the board less so, authorizers may have approved the application. But after 20 years of charter schools operating here in New York, the data shows that applicant groups without strong boards just don’t get results for children.

We know that this is a key piece of the puzzle and so if the board is not strong, doesn’t know about the underlying theory of action of the school, doesn’t have a concrete plan to evaluate the school leader, doesn’t understand the role of governance versus management, and doesn’t know the law, we reject the application,” said Frank. “We have been much more direct with boards up front,” he added.

Read the full article about good school governance by Tom Vander Ark at Getting Smart