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For release: January 31, 2005
Contact: Dan Gerstein, (202) 746-4643
CHARTER SCHOOL LEADERSHIP COUNCIL KICKS OFF NATIONAL CAMPAIGN TO EXPAND CHARTER MOVEMENT, IMPROVE SCHOOL QUALITY
WASHINGTON -- The newly formed Charter School Leadership Council (CSLC) today announced an ambitious first-year agenda to focus the national charter movement on the dual goals of growth and quality, starting with the appointment of a high-level Task Force on Quality and Accountability to help raise the bar of charter school performance.
"The Hassel report has done the charter movement a valuable service by providing a much more complete picture of charter performance than we have gotten from recent highly publicized studies," CSLC President Nelson Smith said. "It affirms that most charters are doing well, though not as well as we want. But it also shows that there is a lot more we need to know in order to build on our strengths and address our weaknesses."
To help meet that challenge, CSLC's new Quality and Accountability Task Force will be charged with developing an action plan for quality growth over the next six months. While the task force membership is still being finalized, Smith said several nationally-recognized charter school operators and distinguished education reform experts have already agreed to serve, including: Yvonne Chan of the Vaughn Next Century Learning Center in Los Angeles; Mike Feinberg founder of Houston's KIPP Academy (and a CSLC board member); Norman Atkins, co-founder of the North Star Academy in Newark, NJ; and Ross Weiner, Principal Partner at the Education Trust.
"We want to leverage the experience and knowledge of the best people in this field to help us define and measure quality, identify the major barriers to it, and determine the best ways to promote and reward excellence as we spur expansion in the charter movement" Smith said.
As the Task Force goes about its work, Smith said CSLC will be working on several priority areas, including telling the charter story more effectively through the experience of charter parents, founders, and teachers; building the movement's infrastructure so that every charter school has access to the services it needs; and representing the movement with a credible, unified voice on policy. In that area, initiatives are already underway to develop recommendations on implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act and the federal Charter Schools Program.
"But that is just the beginning of our agenda," Fuller noted. "Over the coming years we intend to be an active and faithful force for change, and for the ideals that drive our movement: innovation, freedom, responsibility, excellence, and the promise of public education."
"Our ultimate goal is to make this revolutionary idea a central, permanent part of our public education system and harness the true potential of charter schools to meet the growing demand from parents and students for more high-quality, highly-accountability educational options."
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