Administrator Professional Development | News

Charter School Leadership Training Offered Online

Starting in fall 2010 the University of Arizona is offering a new online program to train charter school administrators. The Tucson-based institution introduced the "Charter School Leadership Certificate" in its Educational Leadership Program, which is part of the College of Education. The goal is to educate administrators who are thinking of opening or joining a charter school. Topics in the three modules of the program will cover leadership, finance, educational law and policies, program review and evaluation, human resources, and supervision.

A charter school is a public school that operates under a performance contract with the district or state but without some of the regulations followed by traditional public schools. The National Center for Education Statistics reported that, as of 2008, charter schools had student enrollments of a million and that 3,560 charter schools were operational.

"There are few programs designed specifically for charter school leaders, and yet some of our basic research has found that the tasks can be very challenging and require special skills and knowledge," said Scott Mundell, a professor in the college. "A lot of charter school administrators are very much undertrained for the task. But we are trying to provide something that is relatively palatable that does not require a bachelor's in education or a master's."

Mundell previously oversaw the university's Wildcat School, a charter school that operates out of the College of Education.

Although Mundell said the program can be entirely online, it's formally described as "hybrid," since the instructors and students may decide to have face-to-face sessions as well. "For example, [a] hybrid finance course I am teaching now had the students vote for face to face only if needed. So far they haven't needed," Mundell said. "Last time I scheduled three 'voluntary' meetings and only one student attended. It varies with the instructor and the course."

The program uses Desire2Learn's learning management system for course delivery, which, explained Mundell, "includes a lot of options for discussion and feedback."

The cost of the program is $2,000 or $750 per module. Participants can take the program for credit; if they complete all three modules, they'll receive a university-endorsed certificate.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.