Effective Governance Is Critical to Charter School Quality

August 25, 2014

"If management is about running the business, governance is about seeing that it is run properly.”  Robert Tricker

Corporate boards of directors provide businesses with independent views, strategic direction, strong governance, and sound guidance—essential elements for success. In the education sector, public charter schools also have boards; every public charter school is a nonprofit organization governed by an independent board of directors. 

Strong governance is every bit as important to public schools as it is to companies, but unfortunately, most charter school boards are not providing strong leadership. Good governance is hard work. However, limited resources have prevented charter school boards from functioning at the level necessary to support schools’ critical work with some of our most underserved children. And all too often, weak governance lies at the root of underperforming schools, where children sadly are shortchanged.  

Carrie Irvin and Simmons Lettre, along with Cedric Bobo from The Carlyle Group, founded Charter Board Partners (CBP) in 2010 to promote and support strong charter school governance—because good charter schools need good boards. CBP has partnered with top-tier business organizations—including Latham & Watkins, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Edelman—to recruit and train talented individuals from these companies, as well as other community members, to serve on charter school boards. CBP also provides ongoing training, coaching, and tools to help boards govern effectively.

“We founded Charter Board Partners because we believe that every child deserves the opportunity to attend an excellent school,” says CBP President and Co-Founder Carrie Irvin. “The independent governance structure of public charter schools is what differentiates them most from traditional district schools. We are focused on strengthening public charter school boards because effective governance is a critical lever for charter school quality.”

Since 2010, CBP has successfully supported two dozen public charter school boards in Washington, D.C., and helped nearly 100 professionals join charter school boards. The nonprofit recently expanded and began serving charter schools in Washington state in spring 2014. In the coming months, CBP will select a second expansion site and will make its governance tools and resources available online through GreatBoards program to charter school board members across the country.

To learn more about Charter Board Partners or how to get involved in charter board service, visit www.charterboards.org or email learnmore@charterboards.org.