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Minnesota Public Charter School Pioneers Inducted into Charter Schools Hall of Fame

National Alliance for Public Charter Schools honors education innovators for their contributions in starting the charter school movement

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS) today announced that the nation’s first public charter school and two influential Minnesota education advocates will be inducted into the Charter Schools Hall of Fame for their efforts and contributions to the public charter school movement. City Academy High School first opened its doors in 1992, laying the foundation for the next 20 years of the charter school movement. Also honored will be Eric Mahmoud, founder and CEO of Seed Academy, Harvest Preparatory School, Best Academy and Sister Academy, and Jon Schroeder, Founding Director of the Charter Friends National Network.

“The Minnesota story is a shining example of how lasting, innovative change can be spawned by a small group of people who believe that there is a better way,” said Nina Rees, CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. “The 20th anniversary of the public charter school movement is a particularly appropriate time to honor the nation’s first public charter school as well as two Minnesota champions who share in our vision to improve public education and drive the charter movement forward.”

City Academy High School, founded in 1992 in St. Paul, MN, is the nation’s first charter school. Created by educators Milo Cutter, Barron Chapman and Terry Kraabel, the charter school was initially designed for students who have dropped out of school and whose homes were wracked by poverty or substance abuse. The charter school allows students to participate in activities such as building homes for Habitat for Humanity, studying biology at local nature centers and allows students to work toward their high school diploma or to get back into a more traditional high school. Since opening, the school has expanded, but is kept small to keep class sizes small.

Mahmoud has led Harvest Preparatory and Best Academy to become two of the top schools in Minnesota closing the academic achievement gap between white and black children. Mahmoud has also successfully implemented, coached and mentored programs and staff focused on African American children’s academic achievement and moral development. He has provided guidance for four new charter school initiatives in the past 10 years, and recently developed “The Five-Gap Analysis,” which parses the achievement gap into five specific areas that schools must address in order to close the education gap. He has also developed the “Gap-Closing Framework,” which provides a coherent and aligned educational model to accelerate student learning.

Schroeder played a major role in drafting and enacting legislation that eventually led to the creation of the federal Charter Schools Program while on the staff of former U.S. Senator Dave Durenberger (R-MN). Since its enactment in 1994, Congress has appropriated more than three billion dollars in startup and facilities funding for this crucial national program. Schroeder subsequently was the founding director of Charter Friends National Network (CFNN) from 1996-2004. Under his leadership, CFNN founded “National Charter Schools Week,” advised numerous state legislatures and fledgling state charter support organizations and convened working groups on accountability, facilities financing and special education. From 2001-2005 he helped lead CFNN’s transition into the NAPCS. From 2005 to 2008 he served as a founding member of the NAPCS’ board and executive committee and chaired its public policy committee.

This year’s inductees also include Jim Griffin, the President of the Colorado League of Charter Schools. The four 2012 inductees will join an exclusive club of 16 other members who have been honored over the last five years since the Charter Schools Hall of Fame was established. This honor recognizes individuals and organizations for their contributions in the following areas: pioneering efforts in the development and growth of charter schools; commitment and contributions to charter schools and education; innovative ideas and successful implementation of those ideas; and inspiration to others in the charter school movement.

WHAT:    12th annual National Charter Schools Conference, presented by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS).

WHO:    City Academy High School, Eric Mahmoud, and Jon Schroeder to be entered into the Charter Schools Hall of Fame. A complete overview of the entire week’s activities can be found at http://www.publiccharters.org/Conference.

WHEN:    Tuesday, June 19 – Friday, June 22, 2012
*Hall of Fame ceremony will be Wednesday, June 20

WHERE:   Minneapolis Convention Center
1301 2nd Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55403
Media can check in at registration desk to get credentials.

WHY:    The four new inductees will be honored on June 20 at the 2012 National Charter Schools Conference in Minneapolis, MN. The conference will bring together thousands of charter leaders, teachers, advocates, policy makers and education reformers to share innovative ideas and be inspired by some of the brightest minds in education, public policy, business and philanthropy.

The National Charter Schools Conference marks the 20th anniversary of the public charter school movement. This year’s conference returns to the Twin Cities where the public charter school movement began; City Academy, the nation’s first charter school, opened in Saint Paul, Minnesota in 1992. The largest gathering of charter school leaders in the nation, the conference will kick off a week-long celebration of the charter school movement.

About the National Alliance

The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools is the leading national nonprofit organization committed to advancing the charter school movement. Our mission is to lead public education to unprecedented levels of academic achievement by fostering a strong charter sector.  For more information, please visit our website at www.publiccharters.org.