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The National Alliance Honors 10 Charter Public School Champions

Washington, D.C. – The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools will recognize 10 leaders as Champions for Charter Schools today, celebrating their efforts and deep-rooted commitment to advancing the growth and success of charter public schools.

Continuing a 10-year long tradition, the National Alliance honors individuals at the federal, state and local level who enrich the lives of students by leading the most impactful charter school initiatives and supporting charters as a high-quality public school option. Each year, these champions are announced during National Charter Schools Week.

“We celebrate the courage and persistence of lawmakers who make charter public schools a reality for parents and students in communities across the nation,” said Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. “The leadership and hard work of the 10 elected officials we honor today has made it possible for the continued growth of high-quality charter schools and increased the chance that many more families will be able to send their children to public schools best suited to their individual needs.”

This year’s Charter Champions are as follows:

U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.)
Sen. Roy Blunt played a significant role in the growth of the Charter Schools Program (CSP). As chairman of the Senate Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations subcommittee, Sen. Blunt was critical in providing for a 32 percent funding increase for the CSP in FY2016, the largest increase in the program’s history. This investment will increase the ability of states to open more high-quality charter schools, allow for the continued expansion of the highest performing charter schools, and provide critical financing support for charter school facilities. 

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)
Sen. Dianne Feinstein has been a long-time, steadfast advocate for the growth of high-quality charter schools. She is an active supporter of the federal Charter Schools Program, which has been instrumental in the growth of charter schools, especially those with a strong track record of success in serving educationally disadvantaged students.

Governor Charlie Baker (R-Mass.)
A little more than a year into his term in office, Gov. Baker has made advocacy on behalf of charter schools one of his top priorities. He is committed to expanding access to charter schools – which now have a waiting list of over 30,000 students statewide – to help reduce the Commonwealth’s chronic achievement gap. In October 2015, Gov. Baker proposed a bill to expand the number of charter schools in Massachusetts by up to a dozen schools a year in low-performing districts.

Michael Rawlings, Dallas, Texas
A consistent supporter of charter schools, Mayor Michael Rawlings has been helpful in aiding the growth of high-quality charter schools in Dallas. In particular, he has supported the expansion of Uplift Education, one of the state’s top-performing networks of charter public schools, in Dallas.

Indiana Senator Dennis Kruse (R-Auburn) and Representative Bob Behning (R-Indianapolis)
Sen. Dennis Kruse and Rep. Bob Behning are two of Indiana’s longtime charter public school champions. Due to their leadership, the legislature has passed several improvements to its charter school law, including establishing new authorizers, increasing authorizer accountability and equalizing funding for charter school students. Today, Indiana has the best charter school law in the nation, according to the National Alliance’s charter school law rankings report released earlier this year.

Senator Peggy Lehner, Ohio (R-Kettering)
Sen. Lehner played a leading role in guiding Ohio’s Charter School Reform Bill – HB 2 – through the Senate where it was approved unanimously. The bill provides landmark upgrades to the state’s charter school law. Sen. Lehner held months of meetings with an informal group of state education officials and top charter school advocates to craft a wide-ranging bill, which resulted in the most comprehensive changes to the law in 15 years. Passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, the bill will bring more accountability and transparency to Ohio’s charter system.

Ohio State Auditor Dave Yost
A strong supporter of school choice, Auditor Yost made several bold recommendations to improve Ohio’s accountability, transparency, governance and fair funding of charter schools during legislative committee hearings. Many of his recommendations were adopted as amendments into the bill, which were praised by both state and national charter school proponents.

Washington State Senator Steve Litzow (R-Mercer Island) and Representative Larry Springer (D-Kirkland)
These two Washington State lawmakers played a significant role in passing a charter school law this year in response to a Washington State Supreme Court ruling in 2015 that threw out a voter-approved initiative in 2012 that created charter schools. Sen. Litzow spearheaded the passage of SB 6194, the charter school bill that mirrored the voter-approved 2012 initiative, with a change in the way they are financed. Rep. Springer was one of just 10 Democrats (out of 49) in the House to support the measure to save charter schools, which had been in limbo since the ruling in 2015. Sen. Litzow and Rep. Springer listened to parent, student and educator voices and recognized the need to provide them with high-quality public education options.

About Charter Public Schools
Charter public schools are independent, public, and tuition-free schools that are given the freedom to be more innovative while being held accountable for advancing student achievement. Since 2010, many research studies have found that students in charter schools do better in school than their traditional school peers. For example, one study by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University found that charter schools do a better job teaching low income students, minority students, and students who are still learning English than traditional schools. Separate studies by the Center on Reinventing Public Education and Mathematica Policy Research have found that charter school students are more likely to graduate from high school, go on to college, stay in college and have higher earnings in early adulthood. 

About the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools is the leading national nonprofit organization committed to advancing the public 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 www.publiccharters.org