Though this year has been difficult for us all, the charter school community continued to push forward.
Charter schools all around the country inspired us this year by not only providing educational services in times of uncertainty, but also meals, mental health support, and unconditional community aid. Additionally, charter school families used their voices to speak up during an election year to ensure the needs of their children are met through high-quality public education.
Here are the top 10 highlights from the National Alliance in 2020:
1. Ten Charter Schools Honored with Above and Beyond Awards for Outstanding Service During COVID-19 Pandemic (May)
The National Alliance honored 10 charter schools from across America with inaugural Above and Beyond Awards as part of celebrations for National Charter Schools Week. These schools went to remarkable lengths to meet the needs of not only their own students and families, but their larger communities in the face of the pandemic. “When charter schools nationwide transitioned to distance learning, it became clear to us that charter schools were setting a model for the rest of the nation on what it looked like to step up and care for their communities in the face of a global pandemic.” – Nina Rees, president & CEO of the National Alliance.
The eleventh edition of the National Alliance’s annual ranking of state charter school laws, Measuring Up to the Model: A Ranking of State Public Charter School Laws, showed jumps both big and small. For the fifth consecutive year, Indiana has the nation’s strongest charter school law in the country, ranking No. 1 (out of 45). The makeup of the top 10 shows that many existing states continue to strengthen their laws based on what’s working (and what’s not working) and that many new states rely heavily on those lessons so they don’t repeat the mistakes of the states that came before them.
3. National Alliance Statement on Proposed Cut to the Federal Charter Schools Program and the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force (July)
The federal Charter Schools Program is a staple of the movement that helps grow and strengthen the high-performing charter schools across the country. We were disappointed that the House Appropriations Committee voted to reduce the programs funding by $40 million in fiscal year 2021, though the reduction did not succeed. Recommendations from the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force on K-12 education were also harmful to charter schools. However, we recognized and applauded the leadership of Representatives who stood up for charter school students.
4. Education Leaders Send a Message to the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force: Stop Picking on Charter Schools (July)
After the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force proposed policies that would harm charter schools, more than 50 Charter Management Organizations released a letter in response to the draft platform recommendation. The National Alliance stood with education leaders who strongly urged the Biden campaign to reconsider an education platform that is dangerous for public school students, especially the large population of Black and Hispanic students who attend charter schools. We hope these voices are reflected in policies from the incoming Biden administration.
In response to President Trump’s Fiscal Year 2021 Budget Proposal Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance, released a statement: “President Trump has consistently said that school choice is a priority for his administration, but this budget, if enacted, would leave families in need with fewer school options.”
6. Punching Above Their Weight: Charter Schools are Disproportionately Represented in U.S. News’s Top 100 Best Public High Schools (April)
When the U.S. News & World Report released their 2020 rankings of the 100 best public high schools in the country, we were pleased to see 21 charter schools on the list. Although charter schools make up only slightly more than 10% of U.S. high schools, they account for nearly 18% of schools in the top 5% and nearly a quarter of schools in the top 1% in the rankings.
The coronavirus has hit us all hard, and countless students’ education was disrupted. The National Alliance released a statement on the U.S. Senate passing of the CARES Act. We were grateful to U.S. Senate leadership for their work in securing resources for our K12 education system while ensuring that charter schools, their staff, and the students they serve are treated fairly in this time of national emergency.
8. Coalition of Education and Advocacy Organizations Release Statement on Secretary of Education in the Biden Administration (November)
Given the significant disruption to education in America this year due to the pandemic, and the likely long-term consequences, the appointment of the Secretary of Education is one of the most consequential cabinet posts. The National Alliance joined a coalition of education and advocacy organizations in curating a list of seven criteria to gauge the relative fitness of potential nominees.
9. National Alliance Releases Report on How Charter Schools Serve Students During COVID-19 School Closures (August)
The National Alliance released a report conducted by Public Impact, Learning in Real Time: How Charter Schools Serve Students During COVID-19 Closures, that compares how charter schools and district schools served students during COVID-19 closures. The report found that, on average, when compared to districts, charter schools had stronger expectations for teachers to provide direct instruction, real-time instruction, and check-in points with students and families.
The untimely death of Gorge Floyd shook the nation and erupted in anger and outrage. The National Alliance condemned the unjust killing and stood with the African American community. We mourn the loss of George Floyd’s life and the lives of so many others who came before him—named and unnamed.
Reed Mitchell is the communications coordinator for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.
Read more of the National Alliance's series of year-end blog posts for 2020:
I am trying to find the dates for National Charter School Week 2021 and am unable to find it; can you please tell me when it is? I need to incorporate it into my board book. Thank you.
Hi Iliana - can you please email our team at firstname.lastname@example.org? We'll be able to help you from there.