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National Alliance Testifies Before Congress on Growth, Success of Charter Schools

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Board Chair Deborah McGriff testified before the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce. The hearing, “Raising the Bar: The Role of Charter Schools in K-12 Education,” explored the growth of charter schools and their ability to offer students across the country a high-quality education.

“We are thankful to the committee for making time to discuss the work of charter schools today,” said President and CEO Nina Rees. “With nearly 1 million student names on charter school waiting lists, there is huge parental demand for the opportunities charter schools offer and Congress has a key role to play in helping meet that demand. The federal Charter Schools Program (CSP) is a critical resource that provides charter schools with much-needed start-up funds to help them open their doors and start serving students. It is our hope that members of Congress use the feedback they received today to strengthen the federal investment in charter schools to the benefit of millions of families across the country.”

In her opening remarks before the committee, Board Chair McGriff said, “The number one message that I bring you today is that the CSP is working and that both the Congress and the administration should prioritize funding for the program to help us meet the demands of parents and ensure funding equity for students who attend public charter schools.”

Joining Board Chair McGriff on the panel was National Association of Charter School Authorizers Chair Lisa Graham Keegan. Keegan discussed lessons learned from the more than two decades that public charters schools have been serving students: “While every public school is charged with excellence for their students, the specific obligation of public charter schools to contribute only those schools that could increase learning gains has forced an acute focus on what a quality school looks like.”

CEO Alan Rosskamm of Breakthrough Schools, a nonprofit charter school network that serves more than 2,500 students, 96 percent of whom are minority, also testified. Rosskamm highlighted Breakthrough’s collaboration with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, noting their joint efforts to improve professional development for teachers, secure access to facilities, and involve members of the community to increase quality options for all students in the area.

The committee also heard from Denver Public School Chief of Innovation and Reform Alyssa Whitehead-Bust who talked about the ways Denver Public Schools are collaborating with charter schools in their district: “We know that by collaborating across school types and thinking of our charter schools in part as the R & D labs that their original federal mandate suggests, we can more quickly fulfill our fundamental promise to graduate 100% of our students prepared for college and the workforce.”

Clayton Valley Charter High School Executive Director David Linzey discussed his experience in converting a poorly performing district school into a charter school that is now thriving: “After years of frustration and neglect by the local school district, the teachers’ turmoil reached a boiling point. This led to a vote, by the teachers, to convert the school from traditional to charter school, utilizing the state’s charter conversion law… CVCHS now has a waiting list of nearly 400 students for the fall of 2014.”

To view an archived webcast and all witness testimony, click here.

Since 2010, 15 of 16 independent research studies have found that students in charter schools do better in school than their traditional school peers. The most recent of those studies, by the Center for Research on Educational 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. Furthermore, a study by the Center for Reinventing Public Education and Mathematica Policy Research also found that charter school students are more likely to graduate from high school and go on to college. 

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 our website at www.publiccharters.org.

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