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National Alliance Monthly Newsletter

Dear Friends,

I just returned from the KIPP School Summit in Las Vegas and a charter school conference sponsored by Cargill, CliftonLarsonAllen, and the Center for School Change in Minneapolis. Being with visionary leaders in the public charter school sector, meeting teachers, students and parents, and seeing the impact of charter schools on children’s lives always recharges my batteries. I encourage you to take a few minutes towatch some of the powerful videos from the KIPP Summit.

Thanks for your continued support.

Best regards,

State Charter School Laws Improving Nationwide

We recently published an analysis of how many states have strengthened their charter school laws over the past four legislative sessions. We found that 35 states have brought their laws into closer alignment with our model charter law. Sixteen states alone have lifted caps on charter school growth and another 19 states have strengthened the quality of their laws. You can read more about the state changes that have been made in Assessing the Increasing Strength of Charter Laws Between 2010 and 2013.

Round two in Kentucky

On August 22, we will be in Kentucky to kick off our effort to pass a public charter school law in the Bluegrass State. A bill was introduced and passed the state Senate last session, but it died in the House. Republican Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul will join the National Alliance, Democrats for Education Reform, and the Black Alliance for Educational Options, for the kick-off event, which will feature a roundtable discussion with education, business, and faith community leaders in Louisville. Kentucky is one of only eight remaining states without a charter school law and is our top priority state for 2014. You can read more about what’s going on in Kentucky from Lisa Grover, our senior director of state advocacy.

Federal Update

As noted in our last Washington Update, the US House of Representatives passed its reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) last month, and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee has passed its version. The full Senate still needs to take up the bill. We are working closely with Senate HELP Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) to make sure the Senate bill reflects the priorities of the public charter school community. Earlier this year, we published a list of guiding principles for ESEA reauthorization that we are encouraging Congress to follow.

The congressional appropriations process has once again come to a halt as the end of the fiscal year approaches on September 30 and none of the funding bills are ready to be signed into law. As a result, most observers expect Congress to approve some form of a short term continuing resolution to keep the federal government funded at current levels while the Congressional leadership and the President negotiate the terms of a year-long spending level. The outlook for additional funding for education programs, including for charter schools, is likely to be another year of level or slightly decreased funding.

National Charter School Conference Videos on YouTube

Videos of the keynote speakers and main-stage panels at this year’s conference have been posted to YouTube. From Joel Klein, the former chancellor of New York City’s schools, to the expert panel on educating tomorrow’s leaders facilitated by Jane Pauley—and who could forgetPitbull—each video is there for your viewing pleasure. Planning for next year’s conference in Las Vegas is already underway, and if you haven’t shared your feedback with us yet about this year, we would like to hear from you. Please email Angela Christophe, our director of programs, with your thoughts about what worked well and what we could improve for next year.

New Board Members and Staff Join the National Alliance 

I am pleased to announce four new members of the National Alliance board of directors: Tim Hutchinson, former Senator from Arkansas and senior advisor for Dickstein Shapiro LLP; Brian Jones, Senior Vice President and General Counsel of Strayer University and former Chair of the D.C. Public Charter School Board; Dan Quisenberry, President of the Michigan Association of Public School Academies; and Jane Swift, former governor of Massachusetts and current CEO of Middlebury Interactive Languages. We are grateful that this distinguished group of individuals has chosen to join us. You can read more about members of our board here.

We have also hired a new Vice President for Communications and Marketing, Starlee Rhoades. Before joining us in July, Starlee was the executive vice president of the Phoenix-based Goldwater Institute. She has also worked on a number of political campaigns and in corporate government affairs. Starlee will be working to increase our media presence and help charter support organizations prepare for and respond to media stories about the charter sector.

Need More to Read?

U.S. News and World Report has given me the opportunity to contribute to their policy and politics blog each week. I’ve had three posts published so far, the first explaining why I think the education community should embrace the Common Core. The second offered my take on the A-F school grading policies throughout the country in the wake of the unfortunate grade-changing scandal in Indiana. And my latest blog is on Amanda Ripley’s new book, The Smartest Kids in the World. If you have ideas for future posts, I’d be glad to have them. Please email them to me, or send them to me via Twitter at @ninacharters.

Speaking of more to read, did you know the National Alliance has a blog, The Charter Blog, that offers fresh policy news and insights daily? I encourage you to bookmark and visit it often.

Help Support the National Alliance

Please consider making a tax-deductible gift to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. Your support will help us remain an active voice for the public charter school community in Washington and state capitols across the country.