U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan Urges Public Charter School Supporters to Demand Quality; Childrens Defense Fund Leader Agrees Charter Sector Must Hold Itself Accountable for Student Success

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ATLANTA, GA - U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Children’s Defense Fund Founder and President Marian Wright Edelman today addressed 4,000 public charter school supporters at the National Charter Schools Conference hosted by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS). 

“Charter schools can play an important role in school reform by offering high-quality public school options for thousands of children,” Secretary Duncan said. I look forward to working with leaders in the charter school community, both to broaden their impact on strengthening the education system in states and communities and to enhance quality and accountability throughout the charter school sector.

“We know public charter schools are delivering the only high-quality public school option for thousands of children in major urban cities in America,” said Peter C. Groff, president and CEO, NAPCS. "Two strong advocates for children joined us today, U.S. Education Secretary Duncan and Children’s Defense Fund leader Marian Wright Edelman, to remind us that our children need more from us. That’s why professionals at every level of the movement: state education agencies, policymakers, authorizers, legislators, teachers and school leaders, gather at the national charter conference and commit to quality. We have shown some strong successes, and we intend to keep strengthening our movement as we strive to meet growing demand for more high-quality public charter schools.

Yesterday President Bill Clinton accepted a Lifetime Achievement Award from NAPCS for his ongoing support of public charter schools spanning more than twenty years. Since President Clinton left office, public charter school growth has remained steady. Over the last five years, enrollment in public charter schools increased by roughly 160,000 students per year.

“Public charter schools bring parents, students and a community together to design a unique public school meant to serve the community where it is developed,” said Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president, Children’s Defense Fund. "But to truly resolve the inequities present in public education, we must demand that charter schools hold themselves to the highest standards of quality and effectiveness. Accountability is crucial for all public schools.” 

The National Charter Schools Conference is open to credentialed media and registered conference attendees only. A complete overview of the weeks activities can be found at www.nationalcharterconference.org. More than 140 conference sessions will focus on helping educators and charter school supporters focus on building quality operations and academic programs into all charter schools. The theme for this year's conference is Because Every Child Can Succeed.

About the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS) is the national nonprofit organization committed to advancing the charter school movement. NAPCS works to increase the number of high-performing charter schools available to all families, particularly low-income and minority families who currently do not have access to quality public schools. The Alliance provides assistance to state charter school associations and resource centers, develops and advocates for improved public policies, and serves as the united voice for this large and diverse movement. NAPCS represents more than 1.8 million students enrolled in more than 5,000 charter schools across 40 states and the District of Columbia.