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Monthly Newsletter

Friends, A new year is always the time for setting goals and looking ahead. At the National Alliance, we know where we’re going. We will continue to advance the charter school community’s interests in Washington, D.C. We will also work to pass charter school laws in states that don’t have one and strengthen laws where they are weak. If you have questions about our priorities, or suggestions, please feel free to reach out any time. I look forward to keeping you posted on our progress this year. Best regards, Nina Rees President and CEO
2014 Federal Spending Details Released   Late Monday night, Congress finalized the spending details for fiscal year 2014. The Charter Schools Program (CSP) is set to receive $248.1 million, which restores $7 million of the $13 million cut from the program in the sequester. In addition, some of the cuts made to Title I and IDEA under sequestration were partially restored. Both chambers are expected to pass the bills by Saturday. While this legislation did not restore the full cut to the Charter Schools Program under the sequester, we are pleased with the increase in funding for charter schools, the investment in high-performing charter school networks and facilities, and the increases in Title I and IDEA. Charter schools that want to open but have lacked funding can now get out of a holding pattern and open their doors. We led a coalition of education reform groups and charter support organizations to ask President Obama to include $330 million for the Charter Schools Program in his 2015 budget. National School Choice Week January 26-February 1 marks the 4th annual National School Choice Week, when more than 5,500 events will be held throughout the country celebrating school choice. Charter schools are one of the most popular school choice options in the U.S. today and we are proud to be a partner in efforts to spotlight the importance of giving families more school options. On January 22, we are co-sponsoring the kick-off of the School Choice Week Whistle Stop Train Tour in D.C. On January 29, we are co-sponsoring the Put Kids First Rally in D.C. We are also co-sponsoring events in Columbia, SC; Birmingham, AL; and Jackson, MS. All of these events are free and open to the public. Click here to learn more about these events and RSVP to attend. I know many charter schools are hosting their own events and we’d be glad to help you promote what you are doing. Please share your plans with Katherine Bathgate so we can help spread the word. America’s Biggest Charter School Communities Just before the holidays, we released our annual report examining charter school growth. Today, one-in-20 American children attend a charter school. The top three communities for charter school student share are: New Orleans, where an astounding 79 percent of public school students attend charter schools; Detroit, where 51 percent attend charters; and Washington, D.C., where 43 percent of all public school students attend charters. In four additional school districts, at least 30 percent of public school students attend public charter schools: Flint, Mich.; Gary, Ind.; and Kansas City and St. Louis, Mo. In 135 American school districts, at least 10 percent of public school students attend charter schools. When given the option, parents coast-to-coast are increasingly choosing public charter schools; and this trend shows no sign of slowing. There are nearly one million student names on charter school waiting lists nationwide. Charter Schools Upheld in Washington State  Washington State became the 42nd state to allow charter schools when Initiative 1240 was passed by voters in 2012. Several special interest groups filed a lawsuit to overturn the voter initiative, but in December, a King County Superior Court judge upheld the charter school law. The charter school opponents are basing their lawsuit on legal claims that have been used in many lawsuits before, but have never been successful. In every state where charters have been challenged as unconstitutional, they have been upheld. The National Alliance is working with the Washington State Charter Schools Association and local attorneys to help defend the law. The decision has been appealed to the State Supreme Court, where we will file an amicus brief in support of the law. You can read more about this case and the arguments being made against charter schools here. Will Kentucky be 43?  Kentucky is one of only eight states without a charter school law, but we’re hoping that changes this legislative session. After years of laying the groundwork in the Bluegrass State, 2014 may be the year that lawmakers approve a bill that will allow 20 charter schools to open over the next five years. A recent poll found that nearly three-quarters of Kentucky voters favor creating public charter schools, with support crossing party lines and across all parts of the state. Eighty-two percent of voters support providing Kentucky parents with more public school choice options and, in the Louisville area, support for more choices rises to 89 percent. We will continue working with our partners in Kentucky, including the Black Alliance for Educational Options, Kentucky Youth Advocates, and the State Chamber of Commerce, to pass a strong law that will allow high-quality charter schools to serve the state’s children. Will Mayor de Blasio Keep His Promise?  During his campaign for Mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio pledged to put the brakes on the city’s growing charter school movement. But he also pledged to address inequality. With more data than ever showing that charter schools in New York are closing the achievement gap and addressing racial and income inequality in schools, which promise will the mayor keep? In a USA Today column that ran on January 1, the day he was sworn into office, I encouraged Mayor de Blasio to work with the charter school community to give more children a chance at a great education. Meet Sal Kahn! Sal Kahn, the dynamic founder and CEO of the sensational Kahn Academy, will be one of the keynote speakers at the National Charter Schools Conference this summer in Las Vegas. This year’s conference will be better than ever—with inspiring keynote speakers, relevant breakout sessions, and terrific opportunities to network with 4,000 of your peers. Registration rates will increase in mid-February, so I hope you will take a minute to register for the conference today. Thank You! 2013 was a banner year for the National Alliance and we know we can’t do our work without you. We also know that it is critical for the charter school community to have a strong voice in Washington and in states where we don’t yet have charter schools. Please help us continue to be your voice in Washington with a tax-deductible gift. Thank you.
 

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Media Round Up

News to Know
  • “New Rules Open More Options for Charters in Nashville,” Nashville Ledger, Jan. 17
  • “Editorial: In New York City, Let Charters Bloom,” New York Daily News, Jan. 16
  • “Editorial: Charter Schools Are Public Schools,” Wisconsin State Journal , Jan. 15
  • “Minnesota to Step Up Oversight of Charter Schools,” Education Week, Jan. 14
  • “Thousands of Parents Attend D.C. Schools Festival to Shop for Educational Opportunities,” Washington Post, Jan. 13
Audience Favorites Facebook— In his guest blog entry, Wisconsin State Representative Dale Kooyenga discusses his bill to reform and strengthen state’s charter law. Read more here: http://bit.ly/1difPuH Twitter— Put #DCKidsFirst! Join the “Put Kids First” rally on Jan. 29 to celebrate @schoolchoicewk more info: bit.ly/1ayRrTp You can stay up to date on all the developments in the public charter school sector by subscribing to our regular news updates…Sign up here.

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Media Round Up

National Alliance in the News 
  • “5 Key Education Stories to Watch in 2014,” op-ed by Nina Rees (President & CEO), U.S. News & World Report, Jan. 9
  • “Independent charter school debate highlights ideological divide,” National Alliance Mentioned, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Jan. 9
  • “De Blasio should embrace charter schools: Column,” op-ed by Nina, USA Today, Jan. 1
  • “Nation’s educators watching new NYC mayor’s moves on charter schools,” National Alliance mentioned, Aljazeera America, Dec. 26
News to Know
  • “Study: Students More Likely to Stay at Charter Schools,” New York Times, Jan. 10
  • “Charters Add Competitive Twist to District Governance,” Education Week, Jan. 9
  • “Bill Before House Would Boost Funding for New Hampshire’s Charter Schools,” New Hampshire Public Radio, Jan. 8
  • “The Future: What 32 Ed Leaders Are Excited About,” Education Week, Jan. 7
  • “Houston’s Public Schools are Primed for Success,” Houston Chronicle, Jan. 6
Audience Favorites Facebook— Tomorrow, Senior VP of State Advocacy, Todd Ziebarth will be testifying before the Wisconsin assembly on a bill to strengthen the state’s charter school law. More: http://publiccharters.org/pressreleasepublic/default.aspx?id=1239 Twitter— #Charterschools bring competition and innovation to school operations, read @educationweek take bit.ly/1aceShC You can stay up to date on all the developments in the public charter school sector by subscribing to our regular news updates…Sign up here.

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Media Round Up

The National Alliance in the News
  • “CCSA Calls for the Closure of 6 Charter Schools as a Result of Academic Underperformance,” Nina quoted, Sacramento Bee, Dec. 19
  • “Charter Enrollment, Accountability Growing in Texas,” National Alliance study cited, KUHF, Dec. 19
  • “Report: Gary 5th in US for students in charters,” National Alliance study cited, SFGate, Dec. 16
  • “Education digest: D.C. charter schools have nation’s 3rd-highest market share,” National Alliance study cited, Washington Post, Dec. 16
News to Know
  • “New Orleans’ Recovery School District to be Country’s First All-Charter District,” Times-Picayune, Dec. 20
  • “Newark Plan Would Put Charters in District Buildings,” Star-Ledger, Dec. 19
  • “Nashville Mayor ‘Lays Down Gauntlet’ on Charters,” Tennessean, Dec. 18
  • “Wisconsin Bill Would Allow Public Charter Schools to Expand,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Dec. 17
  • “Philadelphia School District Threatens Charters,” Watchdog, Dec. 16
Audience Favorites Facebook— California Charter Schools Association‘s President and CEO Jed Wallace has a guest post on the charter blog today about their call for the nonrenewal of 6 California charter schools due to academic underperformance. Read his thoughts here:http://publiccharters.org/Blog/Default.aspx?id=583 Twitter— @Ninacharters Thrilled to announce new board members to the @charteralliancehttp://www.publiccharters.org/pressreleasepublic/default.aspx?id=1229 …! You can stay up to date on all the developments in the public charter school sector by subscribing to our regular news updates…Sign up here.

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National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Monthly Newsletter

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! Best regards, Nina Nina Rees President & CEO    
 
2013 Accomplishments
In Washington 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!

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Media Round Up

NAPCS in the News 
  • “Learning from the Test,” op-ed by Nina Rees (President & CEO), U.S. News & World Report, Dec. 9
  • “America’s Charter School Surge,” video featuring Nina, Wall Street Journal, Dec. 12
  • “Report: D.C. charter schools have third-highest market share in the nation,” National Alliance report cited, Washington Post, Dec. 10
  • “More Detroit students attend charter schools than traditional public schools,” National Alliance report cited, Detroit News, Dec. 10
  • “New Report: Majority of New Orleans, Detroit Students in Charters,” Nina quoted & National Alliance report cited,Education Week, Dec. 10
  • “Clark County’s charter schools continue to chart strong growth,” National Alliance report cited, Las Vegas Sun, Dec. 10
  • “Charter schools increase as more existing schools seek to ‘convert,” National Alliance report cited, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Dec. 10
  • “Palm Beach district tied for 10th largest growth in charter school enrollment nationwide,” National Alliance report cited,The Palm Beach Post, Dec. 10
  • “Charter schools surge in state, nation,” Nina quoted & National Alliance report cited, San Diego Union-Tribune, Dec. 10
  • “For 4th Straight Year, LA Unified Has the Most Charter Students,” National Alliance report cited, LA School Report, Dec. 10
  • “With charter enrollment surging, Miami-Dade public schools look to tighten the rules,” Nina quoted & National Alliance report cited, Miami Herald, Dec. 10
  • “Charter Schools Continue Dramatic Growth Despite Controversies,” Nina quoted & National Alliance report cited,Huffington Post, Dec. 10
News to Know
  • “Washington State Judge Rules Charter Schools Can Move Forward,” Seattle Times, Dec. 13
  • “North Carolina Sees New Flurry of Charter-School Applications,” News & Observer, Dec. 12
  • “Indiana Governor Pence Puts New Emphasis on Charter Schools in Education Agenda,” Courier-Journal, Dec. 11
  • “Eight North Carolina Charters Up for Renewal,” WUNC, Dec. 10
  • “Survey: Large Majority of Kentuckians Favors Public Charter Schools,” WFPL, Dec. 9
Audience Favorites Facebook— It’s here! The 8th annual market share report on charter school growth. More than 135 districts across the country have at least 10% of their students enrolled in charters. Did your district make the list? Find out here: http://bit.ly/1bAzFPl. Click LIKE if you’re excited that 2.3 million students go to charters and leave us a comment if your school district is in the report! Twitter— @charteralliance How much did charter schools grow last school year? bit.ly/1bAzFPl #chartergrowthpic.twitter.com/vjn6VytvzN You can stay up to date on all the developments in the public charter school sector by subscribing to our regular news updates…Sign up here.

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New York City Charter School Center Launches Replication Program

For the past decade New York City has been home to some of the most successful charter schools in the country. This week the New York City Charter School Center unveiled a new program that will work with charter school supporters across the country to help create 25,000 new high-quality public charter school seats by the 2017-18 school year by replicating existing high-quality school models. The Replicating Quality Schools: Launching the Next Generation of High Quality Schools initiative will provide the skills, information, and resources needed to school leaders and emerging networks hoping to open new high-quality charter schools or expand their operations. The program is intended to be launched in four cities within the next three years. The first anticipated city is New Orleans, where the eight-week training program will kick off this October. With almost one million names on charter school waitlists nationwide, this initiative can’t come soon enough. Learn more at http://www.nyccharterschools.org/content/replicate

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Media Round Up

NAPCS in the News 
  • “3 Things Lawmakers Can Do to Help Teachers,” op-ed by Nina Rees (President & CEO), U.S. News & World Report, Dec.2
News to Know
  • “Texas Charter Schools Flexing Their Muscles,” Star-Telegram, Dec. 6
  • “Put School Money Where It Will Work,” Tennessean, Dec. 5
  • “Custom Software Helps Cities Manage School Choice,” Education Week, Dec. 4
  • “Coeur d’Alene Charter One of Idaho’s Top Schools,” Associated Press, Dec. 3
  • “Washington Charter Applications to Be Posted Monday,” Bellingham Herald, Dec. 2
Audience Favorites Facebook— One of the things we’re thankful for this year are the amazing teachers who give so much of themselves to their students. LIKE & SHARE and add thanks for your favorite teacher (See Picture Below) Twitter— @charteralliance Great video from @schoolchoicewk showing how having the choice of #charterschools revolutionizes education bit.ly/1cWY3Jc You can stay up to date on all the developments in the public charter school sector by subscribing to our regular news updates…Sign up here. ttt

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Thank a Teacher

CharterSchoolsFBGraphic_turkey_final2Dear Friends, All of us have had phenomenal teachers in our years of K-12 schooling and beyond; and we’ve all had some lousy ones. It’s the great teachers, though, that stick with us, and whose memories continue to fill us with joy. For me, thinking about my 3rd-grade teacher, Ms. Schweickert, always puts a smile on my face. I would go to school in Chicago trudging through blizzards to make it to class to have another amazing day of learning, camaraderie and joy with her and my classmates. I also remember seeing a long division problem for the first time in Ms. Schweickert’s room, and feeling a pit in my stomach, thinking there was no way I’d ever remember all of those steps to solve the problem. My teacher, though, broke it down into simple steps and made it easy and fun to do. My brief moments of hating and fearing math were replaced with confidence and hunger to learn more, thanks to Ms. Schweickert. And as an adult, learning never stops. In my first year as a 5th-grade bilingual teacher in 1992, I had that same pit in my stomach as I had no idea how to teach 32 5th graders. It was Ms. Harriett Ball, the “teacher of teachers,” who took me under her wing, along with Dave Levin, and taught us how to teach. Ironically, one of the first things she taught me was how to teach long division. Harriett broke the lesson cycle down into simple steps and made it fun to teach. Once again, my brief moments of fearing being a teacher were replaced with confidence and hunger to learn more, thanks to Ms. Ball. Whether it’s one of your preschool teachers, K-12 teachers, college professors or professional mentors, we all can remember and appreciate great teaching coming from great teachers. Here’s to the most noble and memorable profession in the world: teaching! To help celebrate Thanksgiving and our teachers, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools created a graphic you can share and thank the teachers who meant the most to you. Click here to share this graphic on Facebook to thank your favorite teacher! Happy Thanksgiving and Plow on, Mike:) Mike Feinberg Co-Founder KIPP

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Media Round Up

National Alliance in the News 
  • “School Improvement Grants to Take a Page from Charters,” op-ed by Nina Rees (President & CEO), U.S. News & World Report, Nov. 25
  • “Rural charter school lauded as a national model,” National Alliance mentioned, San Francisco Gate, Nov. 26
News to Know
  • “Indiana’s Rural Community Academy Lauded as National Example,” Tribune-Star, Nov. 27
  • “Judge to Decide Fate of Washington’s New Charter School Law,” Education Week, Nov. 26
  • “Proposed Washington Charter Schools Aim High,” Associated Press, Nov. 25
Audience Favorites Facebook— Want to learn how your charter high school students stack up in math, reading, and science against their international peers? Find out how you can here: http://bit.ly/18BNzjr Twitter— @charteralliance Excited to see 19 applications submitted to open charter schools in WA, the 42nd state to have #charterschools. You can stay up to date on all the developments in the public charter school sector by subscribing to our regular news updates…Sign up here.