WASHINGTON, D.C. - This week, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS) recognizes public officials from California, Rhode Island and New Mexico for their commitment to promoting high-quality charter schools. This years awardees are U.S. Representative Howard P. McKeon (CA), New Mexico State Senator Mark Boitano, Rhode Island Education Commissioner Deborah Gist and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. The honorees are announced annually during National Charter Schools Week, which runs May 1-7. Charter schools are delivering high-quality, public education options for children who may otherwise be trapped in chronically failing schools, and these unique schools are made possible through support from policymakers, said Peter C. Groff, president and CEO, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. On behalf of the 1.6 million families with children enrolled in charter schools, we thank these policymakers for their courage and commitment to high-quality public charter schools. Annually, the Champions for Charters awards recognize public officials for leading a major public charter issue or initiative, serving as a highly visible public charter school advocate, and consistently supporting charters as a high-quality public school choice option. This years honorees are being recognized for the following accomplishments:
- U.S. Representative Howard P. McKeon (CA) - As the former chairperson and ranking member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee McKeon ushered in a bill to improve and reauthorize the federal Charter Schools Program (CSP), an essential piece of legislation for helping new charter schools open. This bill was the first to focus on replication and expansion of the best charter school models. McKeon has continued to show his support for annual increases in appropriations for the CSP.
- New Mexico Senator Mark Boitano - New Mexico Senator Mark Boitano has demonstrated steadfast support for public charter schools during his 11 years in the legislature. In particular, his sponsorship of the 1999 Charter Schools Act and leadership in strengthening it in 2006 continues to open up countless new public education opportunities for children, teachers and principals throughout New Mexico.
- Rhode Island Education Commissioner Deborah Gist - Gist has led Rhode Island policymakers to partially lift the state cap on charter schools, and strengthen charter school accountability. Gist also pushed legislators to approve a school financing formula, which improved funding equity for all public schools including charters.
- Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa - Villaraigosa courageously backed charter school operators in their efforts to take over new and low-performing campuses in Los Angeles. Villaraigosa has also led efforts to give charter schools access to bond agreements and facilities throughout the city.
Today marks the beginning of the 12th annual National Charter Schools Week activities celebrating the ways in which charter schools are helping children and families. Charter schools are independent public schools that are free to be more innovative and are held accountable for improved student achievement. They foster a partnership between parents, teachers and students to create an environment in which parents can be more involved, teachers are given the freedom to innovate and students are provided the structure they need to learn. This week, public charter school supporters around the nation are hosting and participating in numerous activities to mark the movements success and growth.