Paige, Senior Officials Celebrate Charter Schools Week

Paige, Senior Officials Celebrate Charter Schools Week

Choice, autonomy and accountability are three words that can describe the principles from which charter schools operate. They expand parental options, offer students alternatives and provide communities with educational choices. They are freed from the bureaucracy that often stymies other public schools. And they are closed if they fail to deliver.

Now in their second decade of operation, charter schools have become a fixture in school systems across the nation, and U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige and his senior staff will celebrate their contributions to improving public education when they visit schools around the country during National Charter Schools Week, April 28-May 2.

Charter schools are popular with policymakers, parents and teachers alike. While the first such school opened only a decade ago, today there are 2,700 schools serving almost 700,000 students nationwide. Research suggests that charter schools can boost performance, particularly among disadvantaged children.

“Charter schools are helping to make sure that the educational needs of all children are being met,” Paige said. “They’re giving parents more opportunities to put their children in schools that will be held accountable for boosting their academic achievement. We’re going to visit some of these places to see firsthand some the great things happening in education.”

Throughout this week, charter schools will host open houses and welcome the public to visit, learn and experience some of the activities that go on in charter schools.

Last month, the department issued guidance on the impact of the new Title I requirements on charter schools. The guidance provides general information on how No Child Left Behind impacts charter schools, including details on accountability requirements; public school choice; supplemental educational services; and teacher and paraprofessional qualifications. The department also recently announced new grant competitions for its Public Charter Schools Program and its Credit Enhancement for Charter Schools Facilities Program.

The following is a schedule of events for department officials:

Tuesday, April 29–11 a.m. Under Secretary Gene Hickok will speak in New York at the New York Charter School Association Parent and Student Rally. Contact: Gwen Mannweiler (202) 205-3668 Tuesday, April 29–9:30 a.m. Deputy Under Secretary for Innovation and Improvement Nina Rees will tour Camino Nuevo Academy (K-7) in Los Angeles and will be the keynote speaker at a luncheon. Contact: Megan Flock (202) 205-4500 Thursday, May 1–8:30 a.m. Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Gerald Reynolds will tour Ross Hill Charter School in Detroit and Henry Ford Charter School in Dearborn, Michigan, where he will be the featured luncheon speaker. Contact: Lisa Diaz (517) 204-6046 – C Friday, May 2–10 a.m. General Counsel Brian Jones will visit the Millennium Charter School and the Arts and College Prep Academy in Columbus, Ohio, and will be the keynote speaker at the Ohio Charter School Conference. Contact: Anita Nelam (614) 224-2647 Friday, May 2–10 a.m. Assistant Secretary for Vocational and Adult Education Carol D’Amico will tour the 21st Century Charter School and the Irvington Community School in Indianapolis, Indiana, as well as be the keynote speaker at the luncheon. Contact: Marty Dezlan (765) 717-2165 – C

Note to editors: Some officials’ plans TBD. Contact OPA for updates.