When I wrote to you this time last year, I was just a few months into my tenure at the National Alliance. My end-of-year message was mainly about my excitement for the future of the National Alliance and the opportunity I was given to be such a meaningful part of the charter schools movement. A year later, after travelling the country, meeting with hundreds of charter school and sector leaders, and walking the halls of so many high-performing charter schools, my excitement has only increased. It’s clearer than ever that our best charter schools are changing lives. I am continually energized by the promise of these amazing schools, and proud to work alongside the team at the National Alliance to advocate for growth of high quality public charter schools.
As 2013 comes to a close, I also wanted to take a minute to say thank you for all you’ve done to help make this a successful year for the National Alliance. I have shared a few of our accomplishments, but we don’t do any of this work alone. We rely on our partner organizations and countless charter school leaders, teachers, and parents to help deliver on the dream that every child in America will have access to a high-quality public school. So, thank you. Thank you for your vision, inspiration, and remarkably hard work to make this a banner year for charter school growth and achievement. I can’t wait for next year.
Happy holidays to you and your family from all of us!
President & CEO
With more than 500,000 children on waitlists for high-quality charter schools, the National Alliance has prioritized boosting federal support for charter schools. Although the year has been marked by little progress in Washington, D.C. on most issues, we’ve been incredibly busy growing support for charter schools.
We worked closely with key members of the House of Representatives to ensure its reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act put charter schools on a level playing field with traditional public schools. Additionally, we led the sector in advocating for increased funding for charter school start-up, replication, and expansion in the federal Charter Schools Program during the 2014 budget process. More than 60 organizations joined our request to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. And, to make sure that an increasing number of our policymakers understand the great work going on in charter schools, we arranged several visits and events for member of Congress and staff at high-performing charter schools.
Across the Nation
It’s increasingly clear that if we want to create and scale high-quality charter schools, we need strong state laws. Consequently, we’ve focused our state policy work on enacting charter school laws in the remaining eight states that do not permit charter schools, and improving the quality of the laws in the states with extremely weak laws.
In partnership with a broad local coalition, we successfully improved the Mississippi charter school law in 2013. Thanks to these improvements, 15 new stand-alone charter schools will be allowed to open each year in the state, compared to zero in the recent past. Our collaborative work in Mississippi got us a nomination for an Eddies! award for “Best Ensemble Cast” from the PIE Network. Additionally, after years of working closely with local charter support organizations, the laws in both Idaho and New Hampshire dramatically improved this year.
To gear up for 2014, we ramped up our efforts to pass a charter school law in Kentucky with an August event to launch the new Kentucky Charter Schools Association. U.S. Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul were on hand to lend their voices to the efforts to pass a charter law in the Bluegrass State. We also helped found the new Alabama Coalition for Public Charter Schools in an effort to enact a charter school law in that state.
As Your Voice
We know that when people know more about charter schools, they want more of them. So, to ensure that policymakers and the public better understand the benefits of public charter schools, we spent a great deal of effort increasing the positive coverage of charter schools in the media.
We have been successful in placing and contributing to articles in major national news outlets ranging from the Atlantic, The New York Times, Newsweek and The Wall Street Journal to NPR, Politico and Education Week. On average, the National Alliance is quoted in the media eight times each week. We also ensured charter schools remain part of the larger education debate by participating in panels hosted by the American Enterprise Institute, National Journal, Politico, and U.S. News and World Report.
We have published a variety of reports on topics of critical importance to the sector, including: a summary of the continually improving body of charter school research, a white paper detailing the requirements for effective support for students with special needs, a toolkit for improved charter school access for English Learners, and a report detailing the growth of charter schools in communities across the nation.
We are currently putting the final finishing touches on a new website, where we will feature stories of the real-life impact charter schools have on children, families, and their communities.
It’s been an exciting year. Thank you again for your continued support of our mission to ensure every child has the opportunity to attend a high-quality public school. I am energized by the growing number of charter schools serving an ever-expanding number of students across the country, and honored to have such devoted partners in this work.
I hope that you will take a moment to support our efforts with a year-end, tax-deductible gift. Thank you!