Washington, D.C. – Today the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (National Alliance) announced it will give the prestigious Charter Schools Lifetime Achievement Award to U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), as part of continued celebrations during National Charter Schools Week. Since the award’s inception there have only been two other recipients, Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker, former chief of staff to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (2016) and former President Bill Clinton (2011).
Senator Alexander was first recognized by the National Alliance as a “Champion for Charters” in 2007. As Chair of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee and a member of the Senate appropriations committee, Senator Alexander understands the value of charter schools and works hard to ensure more students have access to a high-quality public-school option. Senator Alexander’s leadership inspired his staff and other colleagues to lead legislative initiatives and resolutions that strengthened the charter school sector. Senator Alexander has champion charter schools since they were created and his clarity around providing high quality education options today makes him an invaluable leader in education equity.
“There are thousands of passionate advocates, administrators and teachers in our movement, but the work of Senator Alexander to provide all students with access to a high-quality public school is second to none,” said Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. “Senator Alexander is leaving an impressive legacy: No child’s destiny should be determined by their zip code. After decades of being a steadfast champion of charter schools, it is an honor to present our highest award, the Charter Schools Lifetime Achievement Award, to Senator Alexander.”
"I was around for the start of charter schools,” U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander said. “I remember the Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party in Minnesota created the first dozen or so start-from-scratch schools, and then President George H.W. Bush—through his U.S. Department of Education—encouraged those new American schools, start-from-scratch schools. Then, as he left office, and I left office as U.S. Secretary of Education, I wrote every school district and asked them to create one of those new start-from-scratch, public charter schools. And, look where we've come today — seven percent of all public schools in America are charter schools. That means more freedom for teachers. That means more choices for parents and for children. The thing I like best about it is that over the years it's been a bipartisan effort. So, it's been a great thirty years for the teachers, for the parents and for the students. Let's make it another great thirty years and see where we can take this country.”
"Senator Alexander has a long history of advocacy on behalf of charter schools," said Maya Bugg, CEO of the Tennessee Charter School Center. "Senator Alexander’s support has been crucial for the growth of high-quality charter schools across Tennessee and the more than 38,000 students they serve. We thank him for his championing of charter schools over the years."
The Charter Schools Lifetime Achievement Award is granted to extraordinary individuals who devote tireless passion in support of charter schools and dedicate their lives to accomplishing significant results for the charter school movement. This honor is awarded to contributors who have had a lasting and fundamental impact on, not only charter schools, but the education system as a whole. The awardee is someone who has demonstrated an unparalleled commitment to the cause, and whose numerous achievements have been acknowledged by charter school advocates, their professional peers, and the general public.