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President Bush, Senator Lieberman & others praise charter schools as part of "National Charter Schools Week"

WA CHARTERS, Thursday, May 2, 2002

Dear Friends,

Political leaders of both Republican and Democratic persuasions are taking time this week to honor America's 2,400+ charter schools, their 550,000+ students, and the educators, parents and community leaders who created them.

National Charter Schools Week is being celebrated for the third consecutive year. This year's celebration is particularly meaningful in that this is the 10-year anniversary of the opening of America's first charter school (in Minnesota) in 1992.

Here are some of the highlights:

U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige: "Charter schools embody the principles of President Bush's NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND plan - marrying strict accountability for results, greater options for parents and families, and more freedom and flexibility than traditional public schools. This week, we will celebrate the success of these schools and how they're changing the education landscape across the country." (U.S. Department of Education Press Release, April 25, 2002)

U.S. Senator (and former Vice Presidential Candidate) Joe Lieberman: "From seeing several charter schools up close, I am convinced that they represent one of the most promising engines of education reform in the country today. Charter schools grant educators freedom from top-heavy bureaucracies and their red tape in exchange for a commitment to meet high academic standards. . . . The results speak for themselves. Today, over 500,000 students attend more than 2,400 charter schools in 34 states, the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. And nationwide, charter schools have combined waiting lists long enough to fill another 1,000 schools. Parents and educators in turn have given these programs overwhelmingly high marks. Growing research shows that charter schools are effectively serving diverse populations, particularly many of the disadvantaged and at-risk children that traditional public schools have struggled to educate. . . . Recognizing that greater choice and accountability enhances our public education system, I recently urged all American colleges and universities to create charter schools. Parents are crying out for more high-quality public school options that prepare their children for college, and colleges are perfectly positioned to help." (Congressional Record, April 25, 2002)

Governors issuing pro-charter school Proclamations: Gray Davis (CA); John Rowland (CT); Ruth Minner (DE); Roy Barnes (GA); George Ryan (IL); Jane Swift (MA); Jesse Ventura (MN); Ronnie Musgrove (MS); Kenny Guinn (NV); James McGreevey (NJ); Michael Easley (NC); Mark Schweiker (PA); Jim Hodges (SC); and Scott McCallum (WI). (Charter Friends National Network, www.charterfriends.org).

As you know, Washington State is not celebrating National Charter Schools Week because our state remains one of the 13 "laggard" states that have still, after 10 years, failed to authorize charter schools in any form, even for children trapped in "persistently low performing schools." As a result, families and educators have fewer choices, children continue to "fall through the cracks" and Washington state forfeits more than $2,000,000 EACH YEAR in federal charter school funding.

Please contact your local legislators (each legislative district has 2 representatives and one senator) and inform them of your strong support for bringing charter schools to Washington State. This is easy to do. Simply call the toll-free Legislative Hotline at 800-562-6000 and ask the operator to leave the same message for each of your local legislators. Your phone call will help set the stage for the November 2002 elections and the January 2003 Legislative Session.

THANK YOU for everything you're doing to bring these innovative, independent public schools to children, families and educators of Washington State. HOLD THE VISION!

Jim
Jim & Fawn Spady, co-directors,
Education Excellence Coalition
4426 - 2nd Avenue NE
Seattle, WA 98105-6191
Jim office phone: 206/634-0589
Jim & Fawn home phone: 206/275-2089
Jim e-mail address:JimSpady@aol.co

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