Monitor this Company
CHICAGO, Nov. 25 // -- The election of Barack Obama on Tuesday,
November 4, 2008 was an event that caused a seismic shift of our nation's
path. In addition to the policies that Obama used to build his
"change"-centered campaign platform, it is also the first time that charter
public schools have an advocate that holds the nation's highest post.
Throughout Obama's tenure as an Illinois Senator and his recent presidential
campaign, he has shown an understanding that comprehensive public school
reform is an issue that cannot be ignored.
Obama understands that as a nation, the United States cannot ignore the
educational needs of our students. "These kids syndrome, the tendency to
explain away the shortcomings and failures of our educational system by saying
that 'these kids' can't learn, or 'these kids' don't want to learn, or 'these
kids' are too far behind," said Obama. "We are not a 'these kids' nation,
we're a 'our kids' nation. We are the nation that has always understood that
our future is inextricably linked to the education of our children," Obama
continued. This sentiment is reinforced by fact that Obama has promised to
double federal funding for charter schools. The increased support from the
federal level shows that charter public schools can serve as a model for
Change Is Coming ... It's a Necessity
The United States has prided itself as a land of opportunity. Yet, it
possesses an embarrassingly large educational achievement gap that leaves
thousands of students without equal learning opportunities. This kind of
social neglect not only impacts the students, but society on a number of
levels. "It is our responsibility to provide children with the educational
resources needed to achieve despite where they live or how much their parents
earn," said Elizabeth Evans, executive director of Illinois Network of Charter
Schools (INCS), http://www.incschools.org. "We have to move away from the idea
of 'these kids' and realize that they are 'our kids,' and if they fail it is
solely 'our' fault," Evans continued.
Since 1941, 40 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have
signed into law charter school legislation. Charter public schools work and
succeed by providing innovative, high-quality education, which increases
student performance. However, the commissioning of charters varies on a
state-by-state basis and education policy changes are needed to effectively
close the achievement gap.
In Illinois, charter public schools have developed into a top performing
sector within Illinois' public education system. To tout the benefits of
charter public schools and Obama's support, a video has been created and can
be found at http://www.charterschangelives.com.
Since 1997, students enrolled in Illinois' charter public schools have
achieved the following:
-- Higher graduation rate (89%) in comparison to other public high schools
-- Thirty-two percent more charter public school students attend selective
or very selective colleges than the system average
These achievements stand in stark contrast to these eye-opening facts:
-- The United States has the highest dropout rates of any industrialized
nation in the world
-- Six million students read below their grade level
-- Twenty percent of students are not prepared to take college-level
courses in English, Math or Science
Why Charter Public Schools Are Needed
Charter public schools are built with the needs of a community in mind.
They are governed by boards of directors that include parents, teachers,
business and community leaders who understand the distinctive needs and issues
within their districts. With greater community engagement, charter public
schools will help more students in public schools get a great education.
Funding is an additional area that hampers the commissioning and
advancement of charter schools as they do not receive comparable per-pupil
funding as traditional public schools. Charter public school leaders should
not be forced to depend on foundation grants and other private donations to
support quality education in the public school system. Funding inconsistencies
severely hamper the additions of new charter public schools.
As charter public schools continue to prove their effectiveness, business
and community leaders are taking a sincere interest in the future of public
education in Illinois. For charter schools to remain viable and experience
continued growth, business leaders and entrepreneurs are needed to jumpstart
these learning institutions by providing innovative thinking and resources.
The Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS) is dedicated to improving
the quality of public education by promoting and invigorating the charter
school concept. The voice of the state's charter schools, INCS advocates for
legislation to strengthen charter schools, educates the public about the value
of charter schools, and supports the dissemination of best practices
throughout the system.
For more information,