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Education Commissioner Gist Named “Champion for Charters” by National Alliance for Public Charter Schools

For Immediate Release:
Contact: Sarah Johnson, (202) 521-2826
Diana Ozemebhoya , (202) 521-2838
pressroom@publiccharters.org

WASHINGTON, D.C. — This week the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS) recognizes Rhode Island Education Commissioner Deborah Gist for her commitment to promoting high-quality charter schools. Annually, the Champions for Charters awards recognize public officials for leading a major public charter issue or initiative, serving as a highly visible public charter school advocate, and consistently supporting charters as a high-quality public school choice option.  The honorees are announced during National Charter Schools Week, which runs May 1-7.

“Commissioner Gist has shown extraordinary commitment to children in Rhode Island by partially lifting the cap on charter schools and taking bold steps to ensure all students have a high-quality teacher in their classroom,” said Peter C. Groff, president and CEO, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. “The nation can look to Commissioner Gist as a leader in education reform. On behalf of the 1.6 million children enrolled in charter schools, we thank Commissioner Gist for her courage and commitment to high-quality public charter schools.”

“The expansion and creation of public charter schools is an important part of our plan for transforming education in Rhode Island. I strongly believe that our public charter schools must be models for excellence and not islands of excellence,” Deborah A. Gist, R.I. Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education. “We want all of our schools to learn from other successful public schools, including public charter schools. As Commissioner of Education in Rhode Island, I will continue to advocate for high-quality public charter schools, and we will be vigilant in ensuring that our public charter schools advance learning for all students and close achievement gaps.”

Gist has led Rhode Island policymakers to partially lift the state cap on charter schools, and strengthen charter school accountability. Gist also pushed legislators to approve a school financing formula, which improved funding equity for all public schools including charters.

Joining Gist in receiving this year’s recognition are U.S. Representative Howard “Buck” McKeon, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa of California and New Mexico State Senator Mark Boitano.

Today marks the beginning of the 12th annual National Charter Schools Week activities celebrating the ways in which charter schools are helping children and families. Charter schools are independent public schools that are free to be more innovative and are held accountable for improved student achievement. They foster a partnership between parents, teachers and students to create an environment in which parents can be more involved, teachers are given the freedom to innovate and students are provided the structure they need to learn.  This week, public charter school supporters around the nation are hosting and participating in numerous activities to mark the movement’s success and growth.

The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS) is the national nonprofit organization committed to advancing the charter school movement. The NAPCS works to increase the number of high-performing charter schools available to all families, particularly low-income and underserved families who currently do not have access to quality public schools. NAPCS provides assistance to state charter school associations and resource centers, develops and advocates for improved public policies, and serves as the united voice for this large and diverse movement. More than 1.6 million students attend nearly 5,000 charter schools in 40 states and the District of Columbia.