WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools announced the 2014 Champions for Charters federal, state, and local elected officials who have worked to advance the growth and success of public charter schools. Seven elected lawmakers will be honored at the U.S. Capitol at a reception during National Charter Schools Week.
"Charter schools depend on lawmakers to understand the role we play in American education," said President and CEO Nina Rees. "Every year, the number of elected officials supporting our work grows. Together, this year's Champions for Charters have founded charter schools, strengthened state laws to allow more charter schools to open and access much-need funding, and advocated for a stronger federal Charter Schools Program. Through their work, every one of them has helped make a difference for children who need access to high-quality public school options."
The 2014 Champions for Charters are:
Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL). A strong advocate for charter schools in the U.S. Senate, Senator Kirk has introduced a bill to promote the replication and expansion of high-performing charter schools and has continued to urge his Senate colleagues to support increased funding for the federal Charter Schools Program.
Representative George Miller (D-CA). In addition to years of support for the work of high-quality public charter schools, Congressman Miller recently helped author, introduce, and is working to help secure passage of a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that will strengthen and improve the federal Charter Schools Program.
Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY). This year Governor Cuomo stepped in to support the charter school community in New York City at a critical time. He negotiated a budget deal with state lawmakers that guarantees future New York City charter schools rent-free space in under-used public school buildings or funding to offset the cost of renting a building.
Governor Brian Sandoval (R-NV). Under Governor Sandoval's leadership, Nevada's charter school law now ranks among the top 15 in the nation (increasing from 22nd in 2012 to 13th in 2013) on the National Alliances annual charter school law ranking. Most recently he supported and signed a bill into law that increases charter schools access to state bonds to help finance school facilities.
State Senator Jill Tokuda (D-HI). Senator Tokuda chaired a task force on charter school governance and accountability that made recommendations for significantly improving Hawaii's charter school law and led the passage of a bill that contained these recommendations. These changes increased Hawaii's law ranking from 35th in 2012 to 14th in 2013. This year, Senator Tokuda is sponsoring legislation to provide facilities support to public charter schools.
State Representative Phil Owens (R-SC). Representative Owens has led efforts to ensure charter school students are treated the same as all public school students by advocating for equal access to funding and resources. He and his staff have also helped shape state policy to significantly improve South Carolinas charter school law and increase charter school accountability.
Mayor Kevin Johnson, Sacramento, CA. Mayor Johnson, the new chair of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, has founded multiple charter schools and helped convert a low-performing high school into a charter school with a focus on preparing students for college. His schools have become some of the highest-performing schools in Sacramento. After becoming mayor in 2008, Johnson started STAND UP for Great Schools, a program that engages the broader community in a wide range of education reforms, including supporting public charter schools.
The Champions for Charters reception will be held Tuesday, May 6, at 5:30 p.m. at the U.S. Capitol, HVC-200. Media interested in attending and covering the reception should RSVP to Katherine@publiccharters.org.
About the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools is the leading national nonprofit organization committed to advancing the public charter school movement. Our mission is to lead public education to unprecedented levels of academic achievement by fostering a strong charter sector. For more information, please visit our website at www.publiccharters.org.