I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving last week. It was nice to take a few days to appreciate our loved ones and the many gifts we have.
As we head toward the end of the year, our eyes are focused on the future. The elections will bring changes to Washington, D.C., and to state capitals across America—and the National Alliance is prepared. We consistently work with charter school supporters on both sides of the aisle to advance the interests of our students. We released a statement congratulating all the winners, including National Alliance charter champions Jared Polis, the incoming governor of Colorado; Kyrsten Sinema, the next senator from Arizona; and Charlie Baker, who was re-elected governor of Massachusetts.
We look forward to continuing to work with members of both parties to promote issues vital to our students, including increased funding for the Charter Schools Program, Title I, and IDEA, and action at all levels of government to address the charter school funding inequities that are preventing students from having access to great schools. These funding challenges were made vivid again this week by a new University of Arkansas study showing that charter schools in 14 major cities receive an average of nearly $6,000 less per student than district schools.
There’s a lot of work to do, and one thing is certain: This movement of parents, educators, and policymakers has gained strength over the past 25 years, and we’ll keep moving forward to deliver on our promises to students.
Thank you for your support and your commitment to public charter schools!
PS – We’re grateful to everyone who donated to the National Alliance on Giving Tuesday. If you’d like to make a contribution to support our efforts to give all families access to high-quality public education options, please click here.
Public Charter Schools and Native Students
As part of Native American Heritage Month, we released updated data on public charter schools serving Native students. The report details schools serving a high-concentration of Native students and those operating on tribal lands. Also, be sure to read a blog post by 2019 Florida Teacher of the Year Joy Prescott, who describes how the Seminole Indians of Florida have overcome hardships, culminating in a charter school on the Brighton Seminole Indian Reservation. In addition to a rigorous curriculum, students at Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School are taught to speak Creek—the tribe’s native tongue—and learn about their heritage. In a separate blog post, discover how Michigan’s Joseph K. Lumsden Bahweting Anishnabe Academy helps students of all backgrounds gain new perspectives on Native American history, culture, and the ongoing challenges facing First Nation communities.
This month’s elections set the table for the next Congress. With the new Democrat majority in the U.S. House, Bobby Scott (D-VA) will chair the House Education and Labor Committee and Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) will chair the Appropriations Subcommittee that oversees the Charter Schools Program (CSP). The National Alliance has solid relationships among key Democrats, including Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), who this week was elected Chair of the House Democratic Caucus. We honored Jeffries in September at the inaugural #BringTheFunk Charter School Leadership Awards, which recognized the strong support of Jeffries and his colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus. Building on these relationships will be an important part of our strategy going forward.
In the Senate, Roy Blunt (R-MO), who has been supportive of our requests on CSP funding, looks set to retain his position as chairman of the Appropriations Committee’s Labor HHS Subcommittee. And our ally Lamar Alexander (R-TN) is poised to remain the Chair of the HELP Committee. We look forward to building deeper relationships with the many champions who have supported the CSP in the past, notably Michael Bennet (D-CO).
The two-year budget deal that Congress struck has now expired and raising the Budget Control Act caps will be a crucial first step to securing greater resources for our schools (including Title I and IDEA funds). We’ll also be paying close attention to potential infrastructure legislation, as well as a bill that would create new bonds, which might be available to help finance capital costs for charter schools. Sharp partisanship is likely to be an obstacle to progress in the 116th Congress, but we will continue to build bipartisan support for charter schools—the sort of support that has gotten us this far.
One product of our successful advocacy is the $400 million in CSP grants awarded by the U.S. Department of Education this fall. Senior Policy Advisor Christy Wolfe offers a close look at how the money is being distributed across 38 states and maps out the results. See how your state fared! In addition, applications are now open for CSP Grants for the Replication and Expansion of High-Quality Charter Schools. An estimated $90 million will be available. Eligible CMOs must serve one of two absolute priorities to apply: they must either propose to open a school in a rural community or demonstrate that at least 40 percent of the students across all of their charter schools are students from low-income families. A pre-application webinar will be held on Thursday, December 6 at 12:00 PM EST. To register for the webinar, email your name, organization, and contact information with the subject line “CMO Grants Pre-Application Meeting” to firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications are due by January 10, 2019.
With plenty of new and returning elected officials heading to office in January, it’s a great time to start thinking about hosting a school visit for lawmakers. The National Alliance has compiled a toolkit that offers guidance on the entire process. Please share with schools in your orbit, and feel free to contact Elise Cranston for support with hosting a school visit.
State-level elections this month produced victories for charter school supporters, as well as for candidates who need more convincing.
Along with our state association partners, we look forward to working with the re-elected governors of Alabama (Kay Ivey), Arizona (Doug Ducey), Arkansas (Asa Hutchinson), Hawaii (David Ige), Iowa (Kim Reynolds), Maryland (Larry Hogan), Massachusetts (Charlie Baker), Nebraska (Pete Ricketts), New Hampshire (Chris Sununu), Rhode Island (Gina Raimondo), South Carolina (Henry McMaster), and Texas (Greg Abbott) to strengthen their charter school laws. We’ll also be working with Gov. Cuomo and our partners in New York to help lift the charter school cap that soon will be reached.
We will be deepening our relationships with the newly elected governors of Alaska (Mike Dunleavy), Colorado (Jared Polis), Florida (Ron DeSantis), Georgia (Brian Kemp), Idaho (Brad Little), Ohio (Mike DeWine), Oklahoma (Kevin Stitt), South Dakota (Kristi Noem), Tennessee (Bill Lee), and Wyoming (Mark Gordon), all of whom have expressed support for charter schools.
In places where strongly pro-charter governors are leaving office, such as California, Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin, we look forward to learning more about the priorities of the new governors and working cooperatively to keep policy moving in the right direction.
The Mississippi State Supreme Court is weighing whether to uphold a ruling that allows state and local funding to follow a student to their choice of public school. The National Alliance filed an amicus brief highlighting the important role Mississippi charter schools play in offering families a choice for public education. (Read our full statement.)
From The Charter Blog
Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr., CEO of the National Math and Science Initiative, former astronaut, and 2018 National Charter Schools Conference featured speaker, wants students to know that they are born with the makings of greatness and that they, as much as anyone else, are responsible for determining what they do with their innate talents. Read more in “Students must know and share our belief in their potential.”
From Our Partners
Leveraging Charter Schools in School Improvement Strategies: The National Alliance has partnered with ExcelinEd and Chiefs for Change to provide information on leveraging federal funds and promoting rigorous, evidence-based turnaround strategies. Through the partnership, ExcelinEd has released a toolkit, School Interventions Under ESSA: Harnessing High-Performing Charter Operators. The brief urges states and districts to consider a wide variety of intervention strategies.
NACSA Authorizing Videos: For years, the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) has known that great authorizing leads to great charter schools, even though the role of charter school authorizers remains largely misunderstood. To increase the visibility of authorizing, NACSA has produced two explainer videos: What is an Authorizer? and Why Authorizing Matters. Watch these videos to learn more about the importance of authorizing!
Engaging Families in School Choice: Roland Martin’s School Choice Is the Black Choice tour will kick off this Sunday, December 2, in Indianapolis. This is the start of a 10-city tour to engage black families on issues of educational equity, student achievement, and parental involvement.
The University of Arkansas released Charter School Funding: (More) Inequity in the City, which finds that public charter schools in 14 cities received, on average, 27 percent less total revenue ($5,828 less per-pupil funding) than traditional public schools. The study examined federal, state, local, and nonpublic dollars (such as individual donations and grants from charitable organizations) received by public schools during the 2015-2016 school year. Read the report and see the National Alliance’s statement.
The National Council on Disability released Charter Schools—Implications for Students with Disabilities as part of a report series on school choice. The report provides an overview on students with disabilities in charter schools and makes recommendations to policymakers and stakeholders to replicate successful charter school best practices. Read the National Alliance’s statement.
In Massachusetts, researchers find that charter enrollment boosts spending on instruction in nearby districts.
The Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) marks its 25th anniversary with Thinking Forward: New Ideas for a New Era of Public Education, a volume of essays rethinking foundational aspects of the current education system, from funding to accountability to equity.
CRPE and TNTP survey the field and offer promising local strategies for improving the supply of charter school teachers.
Get Ready for NCSC19!
The 2019 National Charter Schools Conference will be held from June 30 - July 3 in Las Vegas! Relive the excitement from last summer by checking out the 2018 National Charter Schools Conference YouTube playlist. And sign up here to be the first to know when registration opens for NCSC19!
Great Talent Needed!
The National Alliance is currently recruiting a Communications Coordinator, a Development Manager, and a Programs Manager. Please click here for more details on each position, and pass the word to great candidates!
We want to connect great talent with great opportunities throughout the charter school movement. Our Charter School Job Board includes job openings for a variety of positions across the country. It’s a great resource for organizations looking to hire and for individuals looking to make a difference in the lives of students.
Support the National Alliance
The National Alliance is a non-profit organization that relies on generous partners like you. Please consider supporting the growth and sustainability of charter schools by making a tax-deductible gift or adding your name to our advocacy list. Thank you!