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National Conference Celebrates 20th Anniversary of the Public Charter School Movement

Educators and Advocates Convene in Minnesota with National Alliance to Commemorate 20 Years of Public Charter Schools WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS) announced that today, June 19th as the beginning of a week-long celebration of the 20th anniversary of the public charter school movement. Thousands of teachers, school leaders, district officials and advocates are set to gather at the 12th annual National Charter Schools Conference to be held June 19-22 in Minneapolis, MN. This represents the largest gathering of charter school leaders in the nation and will feature Dr. Bill Cosby and Dr. Deborah Kenny, founder and CEO of Harlem Village Academies, as the keynote speakers. The 2012 National Charter Schools Conference will bring thousands of education reformers together to share innovative ideas and be inspired by some of the brightest minds in education, public policy, business and philanthropy. Twenty years after the first charter school was founded in St. Paul, MN, the charter school movement has grown to serve over two million students in 5,600 charter schools across 41 states and the District of Columbia.  Despite this growth, over 600,000 students remain on waiting lists to attend the high-quality public charter school of their choice. “We are excited to have this chance to reflect on the rapid growth and major success of the public charter school movement two decades after the first public charter opened its doors,” said Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. “Public charter schools are now entrusted with providing the education for over two million students, and we are looking to a future in which every family has access to quality public school options for their children.” The nation’s first public charter school, City Academy High School, opened in Saint Paul, Minnesota in 1992. Its creation ushered in a new movement, allowing communities to create independent public schools that provide parents with more public school options and teachers greater flexibility in order to better serve the diverse needs of students. The movement grew in its first 15 years to reach one million students by 2006, taking only five more years to surpass two million. Support for charter schools is at an all-time high. According to figures released by NAPCS, nearly half of all states strengthened their existing charter school laws and one state enacted a new charter school law since January 2011. These state legislatures improved their charter school laws – oftentimes through bipartisan support – by lifting caps restricting charter growth, providing more equitable funding and facilities support, and enacting new authorizing and accountability measures.  These legislative enactments have allowed more than 5,600 charter schools to open, seeing strong growth more recently with 400 to 500 new charters opening each year and 180,000 to 200,000 new students enrolling. The conference will include sessions on how charter schools can continue to transform education, address state and policy issues affecting the sector and celebrate the innovative milestones in the charter movement. Additional presenters and participants include: Tony Miller (Deputy Secretary COO, U.S. Department of Education), Howard Fuller (Institute for the Transformation of Learning, Marquette University), Ember Reichgott Junge (former State Senator, Minnesota), Don Shalvey (Deputy Director of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), John Merrow (Learning Matters, Inc.), and John Danner (CEO of Rocketship Education). A complete overview of the entire week’s activities can be found at http://www.publiccharters.org/Conference. 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.