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National Alliance Hosts Capitol Hill Briefing as Congress Shows Bipartisan Support for Charter Schools in FY2017 Spending Bill

The briefing brings together top education experts to explore how high-quality charter public schools can act as catalysts to spur urban development. Comes as Senate and White House issue proclamations declaring National Charter Schools Week, Congress increases funding for federal Charter Schools Program by $9 million.

On the second day of National Charter Schools Week (May 1-5), the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (National Alliance) is hosting a briefing on Capitol Hill to discuss the vital role charter public schools can play in transforming urban areas to support educational achievement and community centered development. 

Charter Public Schools: Providing Educational, Economic, and Community Development in Urban America” explores how urban areas can pursue community-centered growth by putting educational achievement and charter public schools front and center. Too often, charter public schools are examined as standalone entities rather than seen as a lever for revitalization within their broader community.  Panel participants all have first-hand experience working with charter public schools that have paved the way for successful and broad systemic change in their communities, and include:

  • Jonathan Harwitz, Moderator, Managing Director of Federal Policy and Government Affairs at the Low-Income Investment Fund, a community development financial institution that provides innovative capital solutions that support healthy families and communities.
  • Ron Beit, Founding Partner and CEO of RBH Group, LLC, and president of RBH Management, which created Teachers Village – a new mixed-use community in Newark, New Jersey that features three charter schools, a daycare facility, rental housing marketed to teachers, and high-quality retail with more than 20 different businesses.
  • Dianne Cleaver, Executive Director of the Urban Neighborhood Initiative, a nonprofit organization established to revitalize neighborhoods in Kansas City, focusing on health and safety, education, and prosperity through collaborative relationships with business, industry, government, and community organizations.
  • Daniel Shoy, Jr., President of the East Lake Foundation, an organization that  demonstrates that the right combination of mixed-income housing and infrastructure, educational opportunities from cradle to college, and community wellness activities could revitalize a suffering inner-city neighborhood into a safe and vibrant place to live.

The briefing will take place at today 3:30PM ET at 121 Cannon House Office Building. For those who can’t attend in person, the briefing will be live streamed at https://www.facebook.com/CharterSchools/.

“Contemporary policy reforms aimed at equalizing achievement among students from different social and racial and/or ethnic backgrounds may not accomplish their aims unless they extend to addressing the vastly different neighborhood conditions in which children are growing up and learning,” said panelist Dianne Cleaver, Executive Director of the Urban Neighborhood Initiative.

The briefing comes amidst a busy week in the capital for charter schools. The Senate issued the bipartisan resolution S.Res.148, “A resolution congratulating the students, parents, teachers, and leaders of charter schools across the United States for making ongoing contributions to education, and supporting the ideals and goals of the 18th annual National Charter Schools Week, to be held May 1 through May 5, 2017.”

The White House also issued a proclamation declaring National Charter Schools Week.

“As Americans, we have an abiding conviction that our next generation’s future should be even brighter than ours,” reads the White House proclamation. “Education provides the staircase out of poverty, toward a fulfilling life of work and service, and a true shot at the American Dream.  We want every student ‑‑ from New Orleans to Kansas City, from Houston to Detroit, and every city and town in between ‑‑ to rise to success.  Charter schools have tremendous potential to offer students around the country the priceless gift of possibility.  As a Nation, we should support the continued success of charter schools and hold our students up to the high standards they are all capable of achieving.”

Earlier this week, Congress approved a bipartisan spending bill which includes a $9 million increase for the federal Charter Schools Program.

“Congress demonstrated bipartisan support for charter public schools with its $9 million increase to the Charter Schools Program,” said Nina Rees, President and CEO of the National Alliance. “We are grateful for this crucial funding that will allow more high-quality charter public schools to open, expand, and replicate so that more students have access to the great public education options they deserve. We were also pleased to see that Title I and IDEA—programs vital to all public school students, including the more than three million students who attend charter public schools—saw small, but important increases as well.”

Continued Rees, “We are grateful to Congressional leadership, especially Senators Blunt and Murray, and Representatives Cole and DeLauro, who worked in a bipartisan way to support the CSP and increases to other critical programs that support public schools. It is encouraging to see bipartisan support continue for charter public schools given the politically divisive landscape in Washington.”

National Charter Schools Week is a week-long celebration of charter change makers: the educators, families, leaders, and community members who make charter schools possible – and in doing so, make so much more possible for students. National Charter Schools Week comes on the heels of the first charter school teacher named National Teacher of the Year and charter schools dominating  the Top Public High Schools in America list from U.S. News & World Report.

The National Alliance is hosting a series of events as part of National Charter Schools Week, including yesterday’s announcement of The Broad Prize Finalists and Wednesday’s Charter Champions event honoring federal, state, and local elected officials.

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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.