We’ve nearly reached the end of 2016! At times, it’s felt like an endurance race – bearing the loss of treasured icons, or slogging through a presidential election that tried everyone’s patience. But there have been lots of reasons to celebrate, too. I’ve pulled together a few of this year’s highlights below.
Whatever your opinion of 2016, a new year is right around the corner, and it will bring new opportunities to grow the charter public school movement. More funding, higher quality, and protections for charter school autonomy – these priorities will be at the top of our agenda in 2017. We’ll keep working hard to give more students access to an education that opens up a life of unlimited potential.
Our work depends on your support, and we appreciate everything you’ve given to us: your time, your voice, your passion, and, yes, your financial contributions. We’re proud to call you a friend of charter schools and of the students we serve. May the new year hold great things for you, and for the charter school movement!
2016 Year in Review
Movement Celebrates 25th Anniversary at National Charter Schools Conference
In June, we gathered in Nashville for the National Charter Schools Conference and to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the charter school movement. We welcomed inspiring speakers, including Dr. Howard Fuller, Andre Agassi, and Secretary of Education John King, who gave voice to how far we’ve come and how important it is to keep fighting for every student. You can watch conference highlights here. We also unveiled a special 25th anniversary video, which you can view here. We’re already looking forward to the 2017 National Charter Schools Conference in Washington, DC, from June 11-14. Click here to join us!
Parents Stand Up to Oppose the NAACP’s Anti-Charter Proposal
When the NAACP announced its intention to call for a nationwide moratorium on new charter schools, we knew the action couldn’t go unanswered. We put out the call for parents to let the NAACP know how important charter schools are to their children, and they responded! More than 3,000 parents signed a petition to the NAACP. We also released a letter to the NAACP’s board from 166 prominent African-American leaders. The #ChartersWork campaign generated more than 95 million impressions on social media. And we received support from allies like John Legend, who penned a powerful piece on Essence.com re-affirming his support for charter schools. Even though the NAACP resolution passed, we succeeded in making sure the voices of parents in communities of color were heard loud and clear. Our movement won’t be stopped or silenced.
National Alliance Releases Parent Poll, Updates Model Law, Focuses on School Quality
In April, the National Alliance released our first parent poll, which found that nearly 80 percent of parents support a charter school opening in their neighborhood and an equal number of parents favor more public school choices, regardless of where they live. Now more than ever, parents across the nation want to be able to choose the best public school for their child, and the results from this survey reinforce the demand for more high-quality charter schools. Elsewhere on the research front, we updated our model charter school law to account for lessons learned and best practices observed in recent years; we added a quality measure to our annual report on charter school enrollment; and (in partnership with 50CAN and NACSA) we came out with strong recommendations for state policymakers to improve the outcomes of full-time virtual charter schools.
States Improve Their Policy Environments
This year brought important improvements to the policy environment in several of our focus states. Colorado raised facilities funding and added provisions in the law to make it easier for charter schools to acquire buildings. Idaho passed legislation to provide more flexibility to charter schools regarding teacher contracts and to encourage the replication and expansion of high-performing charters. Michigan enacted legislation that created an A-F accountability system for all public schools in Detroit, enacted automatic closure requirements for chronically low-performing charter schools across the state, and prohibited authorizer hopping. For a full recap of all the state policy changes in 2016, read our briefing on state legislative activity.
Charter School Supporters Win Elections Across the Country
In November, we saw the re-election of charter champions on both sides of the aisle, including Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO). Several charter school supporters were also elected to both the House and Senate for the first time, including Senator-elect Kamala Harris (D-CA), Senator-elect Todd Young (R-IN), and Representatives-elect Dwight Evans (D-PA) and Darren Soto (D-FL). We look forward to working with them in Washington! We were also excited to see solid supporters of charter schools win gubernatorial races in Indiana, Missouri, and New Hampshire. And Kentucky now has a pro-charter majority in its statehouse and a pro-charter governor. We’ll be working hard in 2017 to help Kentucky become the 44th state to pass a charter school law!
Support the National Alliance
Please consider giving a year end gift before December 31 in support of our work in 2017 that will fight to give students on wait lists a seat at a high-preforming charter school. By donating now, you can triple your impact thanks to a generous $2-for-$1 matching gift from the Katzman Ernst Family Foundation.