Barack Obama Ascends to Nations Top Post on Platform of Change

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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 educational reform.

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), "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

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.


    Jenni Johnson

    CGC Communications


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, visit .

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