In Oklahoma, the political fault line is not drawn between Democrats and Republicans—It resides between urban and rural legislators.
Russ Simnick is senior director of state advocacy and services for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. He joined the National Alliance after serving for nearly five years as president of the Indiana Public Charter Schools Association (IPCSA). As lead executive, he was responsible for overall organization, achievement of goals in the areas of advocacy, public awareness and support, governance, and organizational sustainability on behalf of the state charter movement, which grew from 11,900 students in 53 schools to more than 33,000 students in 75 schools during his tenure. Russ’s key accomplishments at the IPCSA were building the organization from the ground floor to the leading voice in the state charter sector; securing a $91 million state budget line item to pay off all charter school start-up and growth loans; blocking a strong push to impose a moratorium on new charter schools; and leading two major charter school reform bills through the legislature, which saw Indiana go from one of the weakest state laws (#29 out of 40) to a projected top state ranking.
He has served as a founding charter school leader and teacher; was executive vice president of one of Indiana’s largest public relations firms; and has several years of legislative experience as an Indiana Senate staffer and campaign experience on a variety of campaigns at the state legislative, congressional, and gubernatorial levels.
He serves on the board of School Choice Indiana and the Policy Committee for Hoosiers for Economic Growth. He is a past board member of the National Alliance and serves as chair and vice chair of the National Alliance’s State Leaders Council. Russ served on the Indianapolis Neighborhoods for Educational Opportunity steering committee and the Rose-Hulman University, Indianapolis Board of Associates. He is still involved as a founder and director of the Youth Enhancement Training Initiative, a Nepalese orphanage that is consistently ranked as one of the best in the country by the government of Nepal.
Russ is a Ph.D. candidate at Indiana State University and a graduate of the Academy of Teaching and Learning, Marian University. He holds his Master of Education degree from Indiana Wesleyan University and a Bachelor of Science degree from Ball State University. He was recognized by the Indianapolis Business Journal as one of the city’s “40 under 40” and by Junior Achievement as “Best and Brightest.” He also received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Triton Central High School.
In his personal life, Russ is father of two daughters, Clare and Chloe. His interests include boating, outdoor activities, quantum physics, and travel. His travels have taken him to countries such as Nepal, India, the Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, Russia, The Netherlands, and the Ukraine. He is author of Irvington Haunts and More Irvington Haunts — two books of ghost stories from the eponymous historic Indianapolis neighborhood and basis of the annual Irvington Ghost Tours — which have raised several thousand dollars for community and children’s charities.
Blog posts by Russ Simnick
There is a real link between good education policy and improved outcomes.
National Report Shows Need for Education Reform in Oklahoma: Charter Schools in Capital City Provide Model for Rest of State
As the Oklahoma General Assembly convenes this week, it will have a lot of issues on its plate. Always important is the issue of education. Though there are bright spots, such as Oklahoma City charter schools, statewide academic performance is lagging the nation.