Our movement has made some major strides this year and so has the leading organization advocating for the millions of students attending or wanting to attend a public charter school.
Here are the top 10 highlights from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools in 2018:
The National Alliance was thrilled when seven of the top ten high schools were charter schools, as named by U.S. News & World Report. The three top spots were claimed by Arizona’s BASIS Scottsdale, BASIS Chandler, and BASIS Oro Valley. This data further validated the tremendous work charter schools are doing on behalf of their students nationwide.
The nation’s premier charter school conference took place in Austin, Texas, June 18-20. The event brought together over 4,700 educators, school leaders, state-level leaders, charter support organizations, charter management organizations, and advocates to engage around the vibrant public charter school movement in America. The conference theme—Empowered to Dream Big—inspired participants to get back to their charter school roots and think outside the box, and paid homage to our host state where everything is bigger!
The National Alliance released its annual state-by-state ranking of public charter school laws, Measuring Up to the Model: A Ranking of State Public Charter School Laws, Ninth Edition. The 2018 rankings demonstrated that many states, such as Indiana, continue to strengthen their laws based on prior indicators of success and that new states are relying heavily on those lessons learned.
On Friday, September 28, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement awarded the National Alliance a $2.4 million grant over three years to establish the Charter School Facility Center, the first-ever entity solely dedicated to helping public charter schools access better and more affordable facilities and facility financing. This was a critical step to addressing facility challenges impeding students’ ability to access a high-quality public-school building and meeting increased demand for charter schools.
Including our grant for the Charter School Facility Center, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement awarded $399 million in Charter Schools Program (CSP) grants among four programs: funding state entities, developer grants, credit enhancement, and national dissemination. We were excited to congratulate the winners of the 2018 CSP grant competition as they work to expand high-quality charter school options across 38 states in 2019.
In a historic ruling for public education in Washington earlier this year, the state’s Supreme Court ruled in El Centro de la Raza vs. Washington that public charter schools are constitutional, upholding their place in the public education system and ensuring current and future charter school students will have access to a high-quality public education. The ruling was a win for all children in Washington, especially the more than 3,400 public school students whose futures were put into question.
The National Alliance honored 20 local, state, and federal elected officials as 2018 Champions for Charters for their efforts to provide better educational options to student. This year’s bipartisan cohort (comprised of 11 Democrats and 9 Republicans) joins a distinguished body of Charter Champions dating back to the award’s inception in 2006.
Kevin Hesla, director of research at the National Alliance, co-authored an article, Pensions under Pressure: Charter innovation in teacher retirement benefits, which studies charter schools in five states that offer flexibility on state pensions—Arizona, California, Florida, Louisiana, and Michigan—to uncover new management strategies that could be applied to the broader teacher labor market. The National Alliance shared key findings from the research.
The U.S. Department of Education announced the 349 schools recognized as 2018 National Blue Ribbon School winners earlier this year. Of the 300 public school winners, 20 were public charter schools. The National Alliance was thrilled to see the charter school sector’s strong representation in this year’s cohort.
We joined families, schools, and communities across the country in celebrating National Charter Schools Week, May 7-11, 2018. As part of its week-long celebration, the National Alliance shined a spotlight on public charter school achievements by honoring the school leaders, teachers, elected officials, advocates, students, and alumni who have made charter schools possible and successful.
Melinda Tolliver is the digital media manager at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.
See our other posts in the 2018 in Review series:
- Top 10 Posts on The Charter Blog in 2018
- 5 Celebrities Supporting Charter Schools in 2018
- State and Legal 'Greatest Hits' for Charter Schools in 2018
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