The Charter Blog


Katherine Bathgate


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194 Children. 194 Dreams.

Far too many students don’t have the educational opportunities they deserve, but one school in Harlem, New York is changing that. Success Academy Harlem 4 is one of the top-performing schools in the entire state, but instead of supporting their remarkable success, Mayor Bill de Blasio has decided to shut down their school. Who will be hurt by his decision? These kids:

Harlem 4 Ad NYT

Add your voice to the thousands of parents and families trying to keep this NYC school open. Sign their petition here. Katherine Bathgate is the Senior Manager for Communications and Marketing at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. 
Nora Kern


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What is De Blasio thinking?

Last week, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told four charter schools they would lose their school buildings, leaving at least 700 children without a school this coming school year. One of the schools is already open and serving children—with achievement scores that make it one of the highest performers in the city and state. Three others were scheduled to open this fall, one of which may still be allowed to do so, but only with reduced enrollment. Mayor de Blasio’s decision has left many scratching their heads, especially when we look at how well public charter schools are serving the Big Apple’s students: This research confirms what many parents and students on the ground already know–that charter schools work. It’s time that Mayor de Blasio takes a look at the research himself, maybe then he would reconsider his approach to helping the city’s most vulnerable youth. Nora Kern is senior manager of research at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.
Lisa Grover


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Omaha community fights for public charter schools in Nebraska

Nebraska is one of only eight states that do not allow public charter schools, but that could soon change. Last week, the Nebraska Education Committee considered a bill, LB 972, to allow a pilot program of five public charter schools in Omaha. The public hearing on the bill attracted dozens of supporters, many of whom said that parents should have more public school options, especially parents of low-income children and those struggling in the current public school system.  The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools weighed in with a letter of support for the bill. Senator Scott Lautenbaugh (R-Omaha) introduced this year’s charter school bill after a different charter school bill was killed last year in the Education Committee. Senator Lautenbaugh proposed the five start-up public charter schools open in Omaha as a way to present an effective and proven way to educate students from the metro’s high poverty areas.  Speaking in support of this approach, Willie Hamilton, a member of Omaha Black Men United, stated: “If you’re rich, your kids are doing well in school. If you’re middle class, it’s a toss-up, but mostly poor kids, they are at a big risk for failure.” Hamilton was among several Omaha  community leaders that helped organize a busload of local supporters to take their concerns to the State Capitol for Tuesday’s standing room only hearing. Many more supporters waited for hours in line for the chance to speak in favor of the bill. Opponents of the bill stated that Omaha Public Schools needs more time to improve lagging test scores and graduation rates without the “distraction” of public charter schools. Teacher union representatives echoed this opposition, saying that Nebraska needs more time to hammer out charter school guidelines. “There’s always an excuse for not doing the next thing,” said Senator Lautenbaugh. “The opposition will never relent on this issue, but you have to give kids a chance.” We are hopeful that the legislature will pass this bill soon. Nebraska parents should not have to wait yet another year for high-quality public charter school options. Lisa Grover is senior director for state advocacy at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.


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Media Round-Up

NAPCS in the News “Uh oh: De Blasio’s war on charter schools begins,” Nina Rees (President & CEO) quoted, Daily Caller, Feb. 28 “Opinion: De Blasio Declares War On Charter Schools,” Starlee Rhoades (VP for communications) video interview, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 28 “New York’s de Blasio boots charter schools from city space,” Nina Rees quoted, Fox News, Feb. 27 “Major Charter School Chain To Lose Space Under New De Blasio Plan,” Nina Rees quoted, Huffington Post, Feb. 27 “New N.Y.C. Mayor Rescinds Co-Location Agreement With Some Charter Schools,” Nina Rees quoted, Education Week, Feb. 27 “The Good and the Bad in de Blasio’s Education Plan,” Nina Rees op-ed, U.S. News & World Report, Feb. 25 News to Know
  • “Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” Initiative to Put Minority Boys on Road to Success,” CBS News, Feb. 28
  • “Do Chicago Charters Expel Too Many Students?” Chicago Tribune, Feb. 27
  • “Omaha Community Pushes For Charter Schools at State Capital,” Omaha World-Herald, Feb. 26
  • “Alaska Should Build On Success of Public Charter Schools,” Anchorage Daily News, Feb. 25
  • “New York City Chancellor Meets with Public Charter School Leaders,” New York Times, Feb. 24
Audience Favorites Facebook— You know why YOU support charter schools. Take a look at a few of our top reasons why Congress should too: Twitter@ninacharters@billdeblasio is taking away the most valuable thing we can give to our kids – a quality education.” You can stay up to date on all the developments in the public charter school sector by subscribing to our regular news updates.
Kim Kober


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5 reasons to support charters schools in 2014

Right now, members of Congress are deciding how to spend money for the upcoming fiscal year and we need to make sure they know that public charter schools are a priority. That’s why we’re asking you to contact your members of Congress, tell them that the federal Charter Schools program is important to you.  Need some motivation? Here are my top five reasons to support public charter schools in 2014:
  1. Growth. The federal Charter Schools Program (CSP) has helped open more than 90 percent of new charter schools in the past five years. There are now more than 2.5 million students attending nearly 6,500 schools.
  2.  Innovation. Public charter schools have the freedom to find new and creative solutions to meet the unique needs of the students in their communities. In Santa Ana, California that means students at El Sol Science and Arts Academy can learn easier through a dual language immersion curriculum. In Wichita, Kansas agriculture is incorporated into the curriculum at the Walton Rural Life Center.
  3.  Academic Performance. Fifteen out of 16 independent studies published since 2010, four national studies and 10 regional studies all found positive academic performance results for students in charter schools compared to their traditional school peers. Last year, CREDO released a study that found that a charter school education had a positive impact for many subgroups, including Black students, students in poverty, English Language Learners (ELL), and students in Special Education. For ELL Hispanic students, attending a charter school resulted in 50 additional days of learning in reading and 43 additional days of learning in math.
  4. Geographic Reach.The federal Charter Schools Program serves students in all educational settings–55 percent of the nation’s charters are in urban areas, 21 percent in suburban, and 16 percent in rural. Public charter schools serve a high percentage of students in a diverse array of cities including large cities such as New Orleans and Detroit as well as rural Hall County, Ga.
  5. Demand. Across the nation,public charter school waitlists approached one million names during the 2012-2013 school year. Families looking for options within the public school system are turning to public charter schools to find the best fit for their child’s education, but without additional funds charter schools are unable to meet parental demand.
Now it’s your turn–why do YOU support public charter schools?


Kim Kober is the coordinator for government relations and federal policy at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. 
Nora Kern


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Charter school growth continues, but it’s quality that matters most

Earlier this month, the National Alliance released our annual estimates on the number of new public charter schools and studentsfor the 2013-2014 school year. These numbers are always eagerly anticipated and this year was no exception. The report notes:
  • More than 600 new public charter schools opened their doors for the 2013-14 school year.
  • There are now approximately 6,400 public charter schools, a 7 percent growth from last year.
  • Roughly 2.5 million students are enrolled in public charter schools across the country (13 percent growth). In fact, we saw 288,000 additional students enroll in public charter this year.
The report includes tables that show which states saw the greatest increase in the number of new public charter schools and students served. Below are the states that saw more than 10,000 additional public charter school students enrolled from the previous school year.




Additional Students Served






















While growth is great, it’s only good for students and families if it is high-quality growth. From that perspective, this pattern is good news. All of these states are in the top half of our model charter law rankings, so they are in the best position to serve their students’ needs. Furthermore, Arizona, California, Florida, and Michigan are also among the states with the largest number of school closures—which occurred for a variety of reasons, including low enrollment, financial concerns, and low academic performance. The closures provide evidence that the charter school community is serious about quality, since schools that do not meet the needs of their students are being closed.
Nora Kern is senior manager of research at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.
Nick Fickler


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Media Round Up

NAPCS in the News
  • “Pitbull’s school: star promotes a radical idea for at-risk kids,” Nina quoted, Washington Post, Feb. 21
  • “Gloria Romero: Charter schools surging in US, California” National Alliance paper mentioned, OC Register, Feb. 19
News to Know
  • “Eva Moskowitz, New York City’s Educational Reform Champion,” Wall Street Journal, Feb. 18
  • “Lawmakers Need to Unburden Mississippi Charter Schools Board,” Clarion Ledger Editorial, Feb. 19
  • “States Struggle to Hash Out Funding Formulas for Virtual Charter Schools,” Education Week, Feb. 20
  • “Brooklyn Legislator Calls for State Help with Charter Facilities,” New York Post,Feb.21
Audience Favorites Facebook— Great new survey from The 50-State Campaign for Achievement Now. Read out take here: Twitter— Did you know charter schools added 288,000 new students this school year? 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.
Kim Kober


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State charter school leaders visit Capitol Hill

Last week, more than 25 charter school leaders from across the country convened in Washington, D.C. for a day-long meeting to share best practices for growing sustainable charter support organizations, and to meet with their congressional delegations. The meetings, with more than 100 congressional offices, are a critical part of educating members of Congress and their staffs about the importance of the federal Charter Schools Program. Congress is starting the process of determining its spending priorities for Fiscal Year 2015, so it’s important that they hear from their constituents–charter school leaders, teachers, and parents–about the ways public charter schools provide great learning opportunities for children in their communities. Building these relationships will help ensure federal funding and policies that support charter schools.  It is important that our nation’s elected officials hear from more than just our state leaders. That’s why, this week we are calling on parents, teachers, school leaders, and charter school supporters from the across the country to reach out to their members of Congress. Here are two ways you can help:
  • Invite your members of Congress to visit your school. Our state leaders began the work of extending these offers last week, but members like to hear from many of their constituents. Consider inviting your members of Congress to an event at your school such as a school play, spelling bee, or science fair. For assistance scheduling a school visit with your member of Congress, contact Pam Davidson at
  • Send an email! Another way to stay in touch is through email. Right now, members of Congress are making decisions about what federal programs are important to them and their constituents. The state leaders paved the road during their in-person meetings last week, but this week we have a great chance to remind them that they have a charter school supporter back at home! Join our efforts by clicking here to send a letter to your members of Congress and ask them to support charter schools in the upcoming year.
Kim Kober is the federal policy and government relations coordinator for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. NLK_5572kk NLK_random   Left: State leaders convene at the Office of the Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) in the U.S. Capitol Right: Bill Phillips of the Northeast Charter School Network talks to Rep. Cantor as Jed Wallace, California Charter Schools Association, and Andrew Broy, Illinois Network of Charter Schools, look on. Photo credit: Nora Kern            

Nora Kern


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New survey from 50CAN says majority of Americans favor more charter schools

Today 50CAN released the results of a national poll that used a random sample of 6,400 registered voters to gauge Americans’ views on education. The heartening news? A strong majority of respondents felt that improving local schools would be “very helpful” in bettering the U.S. than any other strategy. For the survey’s findings related to public charter schools, more than half of the respondents favored allowing more charter schools to open. Nearly 75 percent of Americans favored two tenants of charter schooling: providing more school options and giving schools the ability to make changes with less red tape, although they were not stated as features of public charter schools. A staggering 79 percent of Americans favored using technology to individualize learning, something many charter schools are across the country are incorporating into their curriculum. If there was one disappointing finding in the poll, it’s that the results show that charter schools are still combatting the misconception that they aren’t public. Far too many Americans still operate under the false assumption that charter schools are not public schools. In addition to national findings, results were also broken out across eight regions. When respondents were asked to rank the states in their regions, seven of the eight the gold medal recipients (Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington) also ranked in the top 25 on our charter school model state law. To view the 50CAN survey results, click here. Nora Kern is senior manager of research at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.
Nina Rees


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Monthly Update

President’s Day is just around the corner; so it’s a fitting time to reflect on how important presidents have been for charter schools. The federal Charter Schools Program was authorized as part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in 1994, with the support of President Clinton. It was expanded under President George W. Bush; and has grown even more under President Barack Obama. It’s a rare issue in these polarized political times that enjoys such bipartisan support. But it’s easy to see why-who can argue against the success charter schools are having in preparing some of our most disadvantaged children for college and the workforce. With charter schools getting increasingly better over time, here’s hoping they continue to be a priority to future presidents. Also, I wanted to let you know I will be on the Fox News show Fox & Friends tomorrow morning (2/14) at 7:20a.m. Eastern time. I hope you’ll tune in. Enjoy the long weekend! Best regards, Nina Rees Increasing Federal Support for Charter Schools Yesterday more than two-dozen leaders of state charter school organizations teamed up with the National Alliance’s federal affairs team to meet with more than 100 members of the U.S. House and Senate and their staffs. From Hawaii to Idaho to New York, these charter community leaders were all delivering the same message: federal support for charter schools is critical. The federal Charter Schools Program is the only federal money dedicated to supporting the creation of new charter schools and the expansion of proven, high-quality charters. We are asking Congress to increase the federal appropriation for the Charter Schools Program to $330 million in 2015. In the coming weeks, we will be reaching out to you to ask for your help in this effort. We will be rallying charter school advocates from across the country to contact their Representatives and Senators to ask for more support for charter schools. The Department of Education only spends $248 million on the Charter Schools Program, less than 1 percent of its budget. With nearly 1 million names on charter school waiting lists, we believe Congress can do better for our students. We will need your help to make a difference. Progress in the States The ranking showed that a dozen states made significantly positive changes to their laws in the last legislative session by making it easier for high-quality charter schools to open, closing the funding gap between charter students and their peers at district-run schools, and bringing more accountability and transparency into the charter approval and closure processes. Minnesota is hanging on to our top-ranked spot by a thread; and Maryland became the lowest-ranked state. You can see how your state ranked here. One reason we do this annual ranking is to identify states whose laws need to be improved. This year, our top priority state for improving its charter law is Oklahoma, ranked 36 out of 43. We are working with the Oklahoma Public School Resource Center, National Association of Charter School Authorizers, and others to eliminate the barriers to opening high-quality charter schools in the Sooner State. Oklahoma has had a charter school law on the books since 1999, but the law primarily limits charter schools to the two urban areas in the state-Oklahoma City and Tulsa. We believe children in other communities deserve high-quality school options too and are working to ease the restrictions in the law to allow charters to open in any community where there is a need. Charter School Impact on College Outcomes and Future Earnings A new study by Mathematica Policy Research shows that students who graduate from a charter school in Chicago or Florida have a better chance of entering and finishing at least two years of college. But the truly groundbreaking finding is that charter high school graduates in Florida actually go on to have higher earnings in early adulthood compared to their peers. While much more research into this question will be done over time, the initial results show that high-quality charter schools can have a positive impact on life outcomes beyond K-12 education. More Charter Schools and Students than Ever Sometimes we don’t need research to tell us charter schools are making a difference; sometimes we just need to look at what’s happening in communities from coast to coast. This school year, more charter schools opened their doors than ever before and a record number of students enrolled in them. Yesterday we released the state-by-state details on the number of charter schools open this school year and the number of charter school students. Nationwide, there are now more than 6,400 charter schools and more than 2.5 million charter students. That’s 100% growth in the number of charter school students since the 2008-09 school year. What’s more, 288,000 new students are enrolled in charters this year, the largest single-year enrollment jump we have seen since we started to collect these figures. See your state’s numbers here. There’s Always an Outlier… The 10 largest cities in America have many things in common, among them, they all have Democratic mayors. Nine out of ten have embraced charter schools as critical partners in meeting the educational needs of disadvantaged students. Who’s the outlier? New York City’s new mayor, Bill de Blasio. Mayor de Blasio is making aggressive moves to limit the number of charter schools in New York City and take away their funding. Mayor de Blasio recently announced he is redirecting school building funds dedicated for charter schools to fund pre-school programs; he is putting a hold on 33 new building-sharing agreements between charter and district schools that were slated to take effect this coming school year; and he has said he may start charging charter schools rent if they use a public school building, even though no other public schools in the city pay rent. What happens in New York City matters-it has one of the largest concentrations of charter school students and some of the very best charter schools in the country. We continue to work with our partners in New York to show Mayor de Blasio how important charter schools have been in creating opportunities for the very families he was elected to serve. Like ‘Breaking Bad’? Then Don’t Miss the National Charter Schools Conference. If you were a fan of the hit series Breaking Bad, you won’t want to miss the National Charter Schools Conference in Las Vegas June 30-July 2. Real-life charter school parent and Albuquerque school board member Steven Michael Quezada, who played DEA agent Steven Gomez in the show, will offer his insights on how charter schools have worked for his children and being a school reform activist. In addition to hearing from inspirational speakers like Steven Quezada and Sal Khan, the conference will feature more than 100 breakout sessions offering practical, actionable tools applicable to you, and plenty of time to network with your peers from charter schools around the country. Register here today. We Need You! The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools is the only national organization dedicated solely to advancing the charter school movement. By advocating on behalf of charter schools, their students, parents, and leaders at the federal level, serving as a clearinghouse of information, and working to pass charter school laws in states without them and strengthen laws in states with weak ones, we are helping to make more high-quality public schools available to all American children. But we can’t do it without you. Please join us by making a tax-deductible gift today. Thank you!