Let's Capture History Together!
This website is the first of its kind to record the history of chartering across the nation in the original words and documents of chartering founders.
Launched by the National Charter Schools Institute and led by former Minnesota Senator Ember Reichgott Junge, the author of the first charter school law in the nation, this resource will become home to the historical foundations of chartering and the pioneering charter school story in multiple states. Over 20 leading chartering founders have already contributed their oral histories or committed their documents to the Library to preserve the legacy of the chartering idea. And we are just getting started! With your help, we hope to capture charter school history from all 44 states plus D.C.
Why a National Founders Library?
In its earliest form, a library served as an archive of information for the public good, for those who perhaps could not collect or afford to maintain such a volume of work. The National Founders Library will serve this foundational purpose while also providing the collective narratives of change driven across our educational landscape.
The preservation of this history will:
- Assist policymakers, researchers and journalists in revisiting the original purposes and rationale of the charter law.
- Empower educators, educator candidates, families and communities to try new ways of teaching and learning.
- Propel innovation and opportunity in both the charter and district sectors.
- Reward results and encourage school leaders to be more responsive and adaptive.
- Restore and elevate substantive discussions and public civility around an issue that is still not well understood by the general public today.
- Inspire future leaders to overcome barriers and create new possibilities in K-12 education policy and practice.
Each state has its own unique story around the inception of chartering. The goal of the National Charter Schools Founders Library is to capture these stories and make them digitally available to those interested in learning about the movement’s important history.
The Library will become the digital and permanent home for primary sources from around the country documenting the origins and growth of chartering. It will be a central repository for important primary materials, including, but not limited to: speeches, white papers, historic legislation, personal papers of chartering pioneers and leaders, and key media documentation. Oral histories and stories from key pioneers will be available by video links and transcribed texts.
Now is the Time
Almost 30 years into the charter schools movement, many of the founders and key players have moved on in their careers or retired. That’s why we believe it is imperative that the historical records and primary source materials of these pioneers are identified and preserved lest they get discarded and forever lost.
Would you like to record the chartering oral history in your state? We invite chartering pioneers and state chartering leaders to find out how to record your state’s history! Contact Ember Reichgott Junge at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Discover the Need
"As Democrats, what are we waiting for? We have always been the party considered most responsive to education needs. We must continue to earn that reputation by responding to our changing times." - Senator Ember Reichgott Junge. The Freedom to Be Better: Speech to Democratic Leadership Conference.
Over the last 25 years, the idea of chartering has spread across the country. The charter schools movement has learned a great deal as new laws have been created, new schools opened, new ways of teaching were pioneered, and new leaders emerged. Important materials, like speeches, white papers, historic legislation, personal papers of leaders, and the like, are spread too far across the country. We believe that gathering, cataloging, preserving, and making this knowledge accessible is essential to continuing the charter idea's growth. The history of the origins and first quarter century of chartering can and will inform the future.