National Alliance February Newsletter

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A Note from Nina

As you all know by now, one of our key goals at the National Alliance is to boost funding for the federal Charter Schools Program (CSP). We were pleased to see that President Obama’s final budget requests $350 million for the CSP – a $17 million increase over current funding.

To help ensure that Congress makes funding for charter schools a priority in 2016, we launched a new campaign last week and we ask that you join us in promoting it!

Using the hashtag #OpenTheDoors, we’re sharing stories about how charter schools are uplifting students, empowering parents, inspiring teachers, and strengthening communities. Please take a moment to visit the website, read the inspirational stories, and send a short message to Congress urging additional support for the charter school movement. We would appreciate you sharing the website with your networks and encouraging them to participate as well.

We’ve also released a comprehensive playbook highlighting how the CSP and federal policy make a vital contribution to the growth of high-quality charter schools. The playbook includes facts, data, and classroom experiences to help make the case for supporting charter schools. You can download it here.

Together, we’ll ensure that Congress makes charter public schools and students a priority in 2016!

Warmly,

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Nina Rees
President and CEO


New Report: Charter Movement Adds Schools and Students

More than 400 new charter public schools opened in the 2015-16 school year, and more than 250,000 additional students are attending charter schools this year, according to a new report from the National Alliance. California led the nation with 80 new charter schools, followed by Florida with 38 new charter schools, and Tennessee with 20 new charter schools. Overall, nearly 3 million students are now attending more than 6,800 charter schools nationwide. Click here for more details and to download the report.

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Federal Update

President Obama unveiled the final budget of his administration last week, and we were pleased to see that he continued the strong support he’s shown for charter public schools over the past seven years. The president proposed $350 million in Charter Schools Program funding for the next fiscal year, an increase over the $333 million the program will receive in the current fiscal year. You can find Nina’s statement here.

Now that the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is the law of the land, the federal Department of Education is getting to work establishing regulations to guide implementation of the new law. In January, the National Alliance submitted feedback to a series of questions from the U.S. Department of Education about ESSA implementation. Click here to read the National Alliance’s recommendations for ensuring that ESSA facilitates an environment in which high-quality charter schools can serve more students.


Progress in the States

Many eyes are on Massachusetts, as Governor Charlie Baker and key legislators work to lift the state’s cap on charter school growth. To knock down myths about Massachusetts charter schools, Gov. Baker recently launched a public information campaign to ensure that parents and voters know the facts. Massachusetts boasts some of the best charter schools in the country, and they are providing life-changing opportunities for students most in need. Unfortunately, their potential is limited by the current caps. While a cap-lifting bill appears to have support in the House, it faces tough odds in the Senate. If legislation does not pass, a ballot initiative to lift the cap is expected this fall.

Fixing charter school funding is the priority in New York, as charter schools in New York City and around the state wrestle with various issues related to unequal funding. Nina wrote about the need to improve funding in U.S. News. In an encouraging step, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s latest budget would provide an addition $27 million for charter schools in 2017. It would also put New York City charters back onto the standard funding formula that is part of the state’s charter school law – a step that should be taken for all charters in the state.

In Virginia, the House of Delegates just passed a bill that would let voters decide if the state constitution should be amended to allow the state Board of Education to authorize charter schools. Now the legislation needs to pass the Senate, and you can add your voice calling for passage here. A new National Alliance poll finds that 72 percent of likely Virginia voters favor having more charter public schools. Only 22 percent are opposed. Support jumps to 81 percent in the metro Richmond area. See our statement here.

Washington state legislators continue to debate measures to keep charter public schools open in the state following the Supreme Court’s decision striking down a voter-approved charter school law. The state Senate has passed a bill that reflects the voters’ intent and adjusts the funding mechanism that undergirded the Supreme Court’s decision. As similar legislation gets debated in the House, our friends at the Washington State Charter Schools Association have released new data showing that charter schools are already helping students make major learning gains. Let’s keep the progress going!

In West Virginia, state legislative leaders have once again introduced a bill to make the Mountaineer State the 43rd state in the nation to welcome charter public schools. The race is on, as the legislature is in session for just 60 days. The law proposed by House Education Committee chairman Paul Espinoza is closely aligned with the National Alliance’s Model Law and would put high-quality charter schools within reach of thousands of West Virginia students. We’re working closely with local partners to get this bill over the finish line.


 National Alliance Working in the Courts

An appeals court in Florida is considering a case that could affect the ability of the state’s Board of Education to review appeals from charter schools whose applications have been rejected by a local school board. To help make the case for students and parents who want access to more high-quality charter schools, the National Alliance joined several local and national partners to file an amicus brief outlining our position that the state Board of Education has clear constitutional authority to review appeals. Read more about the case and download the amicus brief here.


Welcome to the National Alliance!

patricia155.jpgJoin us in welcoming Patricia Guidetti to the National Alliance. As our Senior Manager of Programs, Patricia supports marketing, promotion, and general logistics for the annual National Charter Schools Conference and other events. Patricia comes to us from The Washington Center, where she worked in the Office of College and University Relations. She is a Philadelphia native and a graduate of La Salle University. We’re happy to have Patricia aboard!

 

 


 Advanced Registration for #NCSC16 Closes Feb. 26th
It’s time to act! Advanced registration for the 2016 National Charter Schools Conference in Nashville is open through February 26th. By registering now, you’ll save 30 percent – and you’ll be all set to enjoy a fantastic program designed to engage, educate, and energize! The conference will be held June 26-29, 2016. Get in the spirit by watching our preview video, or click here for event details, confirmed speakers, and other conference developments.
 
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