The success of the public charter school movement is rooted in the energetic work of talented educators, the courageous choices of parents, the unique talents of our students, and the generous giving of Americans who believe that every child should have access to a first-rate education. Over the past month, several of the movement’s leading financial supporters have made news.
Bill and Melinda Gates have pushed all of us to think creatively about how to deliver the education students need and deserve. True to their background as innovators, they haven’t been afraid to try new approaches, to test them, to learn from experience, and to adapt. Earlier this month, Bill Gates announced that the Gates Foundation would be shifting its educational focus to emphasize scalable innovation, collaboration, and charter schools, particularly special education in charter schools. These are critical needs and people throughout our movement look forward to partnering with the foundation.
As students in Newark, New Jersey, continue to benefit from the $100 million investment Mark Zuckerberg made in their schools, another Facebook leader, Sheryl Sandberg, announced a partnership with KIPP that will improve graduates’ access to career mentoring and networking opportunities. Meanwhile, donors in El Paso, Texas, led by the Hunt family, are raising $20 million to improve educational outcomes, with about half that amount supporting the growth of IDEA Public Schools, which won the 2016 Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools.
The benefactor of that prize, Eli Broad, announced this month that he will be stepping back from his work at The Broad Foundation. As the National Alliance noted in our statement, Mr. Broad has worked tirelessly to support high-quality public schools and has been a constant friend to the charter school movement. Countless children are living better lives because of his commitment to educational opportunity and justice.
These philanthropic leaders have been vital to charter schools. As you’ll see below, the National Alliance’s 2017 Enrollment Share Report finds that charter school enrollment has tripled in the past 12 years, and much of that growth was made possible by the generous financial support of people who refuse to accept the status quo for kids. We simply can’t do this work without them, and we are grateful.
First Things First
The Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) has announced that it will cease operations at the end of 2017. BAEO has been at the forefront of empowering families to choose high-quality educational options for nearly two decades, helping to ensure that the perspectives of Black students, families, and educators do not go overlooked. The National Alliance has been honored to partner with BAEO through the years. BAEO’s legacy will live on in the work – and the people – it’s inspired in our organization and so many others. Read the National Alliance’s statement here.
Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month
Hispanic Heritage Month came to a close in October, but we will continue to recognize the contributions of Hispanic educators and the success of Hispanic students throughout the year. Check out our blog for some of the inspirational stories that emerged during Hispanic Heritage Month. And keep sending us stories for the blog and for social media!
New Awards for the Charter Schools Program
The U.S. Department of Education (ED) has announced $253 million in annual Charter Schools Program (CSP) awards. These are the first set of grants made under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and reflect the improvements advocated by the National Alliance during the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The National Alliance's press release has all the details. In the release, Nina Rees notes, “While these grants are critical, they fall far short of the need. We urge the administration and Congress to work together to boost the amount of CSP funding available to meet the demand for more and better public school options.”
New Online Resource Provides Interactive Information on Charter School Facilities Financing
This week, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) launched a new online portal, SchoolBuild, the first research portal of its kind to provide guidance about the facilities process from start to finish. Meanwhile, the National Alliance released a new study on facilities challenges in Albuquerque, New Mexico, part of our work with the Charter School Facilities Initiative to explore how public policy and private sector changes could help support a public school facilities system that fully supports the needs of all public school students – both district and charter.
News from the States
It’s been a historic year for public charter school policy across the country. Kentucky became the 44th state to enact a charter school law and a number of other state legislatures passed significant changes to ensure more equal access to funding and resources for public school students who attend charter schools. Read our 2017 State Legislative Highlights for a full summary.
New York’s main charter authorizer, the State University of New York, approved new regulations that will allow high-performing charter schools to train and certify their own teachers. The certification programs will help meet a critical need for students by focusing teacher training on the unique needs of their students and attracting candidates from more diverse backgrounds.
Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin held a ceremonial signing of the charter school bill that was passed back in March. The effort to bring charter schools to Kentucky recently earned the National Alliance and our partners the 2017 Eddie Award for Best Ensemble Cast from the PIE Network. Now, as the state turns to implementation, the National Alliance and the Kentucky Public Charter Schools Association have called on the state’s charter schools advisory council to significantly revise proposed regulations that would limit the growth of high-quality charter schools in the state.
Tennessee’s education commissioner has filed suit against school district officials in Nashville who are refusing to comply with a state law requiring them to provide parental contact information to charter schools in the state’s Achievement School District (ASD).
The National Alliance’s Senior Director of State Advocacy Lisa Grover and our partners at Kentucky Pastors in Action Coalition celebrate the signing of Kentucky’s charter school law with Governor Matt Bevin.
The top concern of many parents as they make decisions about their child’s education is school safety. The latest research out of the Manhattan Institute suggests that a charter school is regularly the safest option in New York City’s neighborhoods.
In Case You Missed It
- Charter schools have always enjoyed support across the political spectrum. In polarizing times, it’s helpful to remember why. A new paper from the Center for American Progress makes the progressive case for charter schools, describing how “the highest-quality charters exemplify progressive values and practices.” And the Fordham Institute’s Mike Petrilli reminds us that there are “’conservative’ aspects of charter schools worth crowing about” too.
- Each year the U.S. Department of Education selects National Blue Ribbon Schools “based on their overall academic excellence or their progress in closing achievement gaps.” This year, 23 charter schools across America were recognized for this prestigious honor. Congratulations to these outstanding schools!
- The Choices in Education video contest is offering up to $15,000 in prize money for the most compelling videos about what educational choice has meant to families. You can find the details here. Be sure to share them with your charter school communities!
Welcome to the National Alliance!
We are thrilled to welcome Peri Lynn Turnbull to the National Alliance as our new chief of external relations and strategy. Prior to joining us, Peri Lynn was the senior vice president of communications and knowledge management at the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA), leading the communications and technical assistance effort for California’s charter community. Her commitment to public education and community building in California began with executive level positions at both the Fresno Unified School District and the San Diego Unified School District, as well as at the American Red Cross, San Diego/Imperial Counties Chapter. Before moving to the United States in 1999, Peri Lynn held positions at The Conference Board of Canada, led a non-profit arts organization, and held a variety of positions with federal cabinet ministers within the Canadian government. She holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Honors) degree from Carleton University (Canada) and a Master of Science in Executive Leadership (MSEL) from University of San Diego. She has also received her Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) from the Universal Accreditation Board.
Save the Date
The 2018 National Charter Schools Conference will be June 17-20 in Austin, Texas. Early bird registration begins November 8, 2017. We’re also on the hunt for great presentations. Click here to learn more!
Support the National Alliance!
The National Alliance is a non-profit organization that relies on generous partners like you. Please consider supporting the growth and sustainability of charter schools by making a tax-deductible gift or adding your name to our advocacy list. Thank you!