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Part II: Policy Considerations
The first part of this guide focused on the design elements that support high-quality authorizing— elements over which authorizers themselves have some control. But quality authorizing is not just a function of what the authorizers do—the set of practices that authorizers must undertake well in order to be successful—but also is dependent on the policies, laws, and regulations that shape the context in which authorizers operate. Accordingly, this section of this guide describes the kinds of policy factors that either can support or can hinder quality charter authorizing practices. The checklist at the end of this section gives concrete steps that policymakers can take to improve the policy environment for charter school authorizing.
From the point of view of the authorizers profiled in this guide, the answer to whether the policy context affects their ability to operate successfully is a resounding yes. (See fig. 15.) Each authorizer has its own challenges in this regard, but none of them is insulated from the wider policy arena. How they are held accountable, their ability to operate with autonomy, their vulnerability to political change, whether there are caps imposed on charter school growth, and the funding each authorizer receives can seriously impact their ability to do their jobs effectively.