Charter Schools and Elected Officials Putting Kids First

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Nina Rees, president & CEO of the National Alliance, with 2019 Champion for Charters Rep. Joe Wilson holding his award

Charter schools have always enjoyed bipartisan support from elected officials from all levels of government. During National Charter Schools Week, we celebrate the champions of the charter school movement.

If you’ve been following along with us this week you already know that charter schools are public schools, serving communities, and getting results for students. You may have also caught on to something else—the charter school movement is something that everyone can get behind.

Charter schools have enjoyed widespread bipartisan support from day one. Here at the National Alliance, we work with elected officials all over the country and we find Champions for Charters at all levels of government on the right and the left. Which makes sense because elected officials are just that—elected—and represent their constituents. And we know that voters on the right and the left support charter schools.

So, this week as we celebrate the incredible accomplishments of charter school leaders, teachers, and students, we are thrilled to have the White House and the U.S. Senate join us. The White House has issued a proclamation recognizing National Charter Schools Week going back nearly 20 years. President Bill Clinton encouraged the growth of charter schools, setting the precedent for every president to follow. Similarly, the U.S. Senate has recognized National Charter Schools Week for the past 20 years through Republican-led and Democrat-led terms. This year’s resolution was no different as the resolution was led by Senators Lamar Alexander and Michael Bennet and secured the support of Dianne Feinstein, Marco Rubio, Mitch McConnell, and Cory Booker (and many more) all coming together in agreement that charter schools are worth celebrating.

But the celebration this week isn’t just about charter schools—it’s about the people that embody the movement. And the National Alliance recognizes elected officials who support high-quality public school options and the families who want to choose the best public school for their child. This year, we’re recognizing 19 Champions for Charters, including three members of Congress who I am particularly excited to celebrate.

Ranking Member Virginia Foxx, North Carolina’s 5th Congressional District – Lifetime Achievement Award

I had the honor of meeting Ranking Member Foxx for the first time when she joined the National Alliance for our School Leaders of Color convening earlier this year, but her support for charter schools began long ago. As the ranking member of the House Education and Labor Committee, Congresswoman Foxx is clearly dedicated to supporting student’s in their educational endeavors and, given her background, it’s no surprise. She was the first member of her family to graduate from high school and went on to earn her bachelor’s degree and a MA in college teaching and a doctoral degree in education.

Representative Salud Carbajal, California’s 24th Congressional District – Rising Star Award

Congressman Carbajal’s background looks similar to many of the students who attend charter schools—his family immigrated to the United States from Mexico when he was five and he grew up in an economically disadvantaged neighborhood. Congressman Carbajal was elected to his seat in Congress in 2016, after campaigning as public servant who would work across party lines and is now a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. As a new member, he has already taken steps to support the federal Charter Schools Program since taking office and I look forward to his continued leadership on behalf of public school students.

Representative Joseph Morelle, New York’s 25th Congressional District – Rising Star Award

Congressman Morelle represents the district where I was born and raised—in the suburbs of Rochester, NY. I never heard about charter schools when I was growing up, but the charter school movement in the Rochester area has really grown over the last 10 years and there are about 6,000 students attending 19 charter schools in the region. That said, there are still thousands of students on charter school wait lists—and those are the students who will benefit the most from Congressman Morelle’s leadership. While still in his first term, Congressman Morelle has already taken steps to support the federal Charter Schools Program and I hope to see his support for the program continue until all of those students are off wait lists and into high-quality public schools of their choice.

Kim McCabe is the director of digital strategy at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

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