PRESS RELEASE | MAY 9, 2021 | For Immediate Release
Contact: Wendy Larvick, National Charter Schools Institute
Cell: (517) 231-5111
National Charter Schools Founders Library Marks 30th Anniversary of Chartering with Website Launch
Free Resource Features Oral Histories and Original Documents from Charter Pioneers
The National Charter Schools Founders Library launched its new website today bringing a first-of-its-kind, free online resource of the charter schools movement and its origins to the general public. This comes in celebration of National Charter Schools Week May 9-15, 2021 and the approaching 30th anniversary of the signing of the first charter law in Minnesota on June 4, 1991.
The launch of the Founders Library website begins a 17-month 30th anniversary “year” featuring monthly oral histories and virtual roundtable discussions with bipartisan pioneers around the origins of chartering and the current issues of today. Governor Jeb Bush will lead off the new oral histories on May 14th in recognition of the 25th anniversary of chartering in Florida; and in June, authorizer pioneers Josephine Baker and Tom Nida will recount the origins of the 25-year history of charter schools in Washington D.C. The commemoration of the birth and evolution of chartering will culminate in September, 2022, marking the opening of the nation’s first charter school, City Academy, in St. Paul, Minnesota, along with the passage of California’s charter law.
“Chartering is about citizens and educators taking the lead. It’s not about one party or another, it’s about kids; it’s about results and innovation. It’s time to revisit our original purposes,” said Ember Reichgott Junge, the former Minnesota State Senator (1983-2001), who authored the nation’s first charter school law in 1991. “I’m delighted the Founders Library is now available at www.CharterLibrary.org to allow others to learn the factual origins and history of chartering as well as its lessons.”
The Founders Library began in 2018 as a vision of the National Charter Schools Institute and Ember Reichgott Junge to collect, preserve, and make accessible the origins and evolutions of chartering.
“My papers were housed at the Minnesota Historical Library, but to be accessed, one needed to locate a box high up on the sixteenth shelf of a large warehouse,” said Reichgott Junge. “Researchers, policymakers, and journalists had to hunt for this authentic, original information. By digitizing the collection and placing it online with the Founders Library, the documents can now be accessed anytime from anywhere.”
Today the Founders Library houses papers, artifacts and 40 video oral histories from pioneers across the country, including those of Ted Kolderie, considered the intellectual thought leader of the “system redesign” called chartering. The pioneering states of Minnesota, California, Colorado, and Michigan are represented with their own comprehensive pages, videos, and timelines.
The Founders Library looks to grow its collection with those who were there at the inception of the charter idea to its national evolution today. The Library will collect charter school stories from students, educators, and policymakers from across the country in the months and years ahead. The Library also seeks partners in the creation of more historic state pages and timelines.
“The charter idea is fundamentally about innovation and opportunity,” said Dr. James Goenner, President and CEO of the National Charter Schools Institute. “The Founders Library is capturing and digitizing history to make it easily accessible for people to learn from the past and build a brighter future.”
The Founders Library team is grateful to the pioneers who have donated their collections and participated in video oral histories to date, as well as to the individuals and organizations who donated their talent and funds to make the new website a reality.
If you would like to get involved with the Founders Library through sharing your collection, capturing an oral history, creating a page representing your state, or simply donating to the cause, visit www.CharterLibrary.org.
Additional contact: former Minnesota State Senator Ember Reichgott Junge, firstname.lastname@example.org, 612-750-1262, author of Zero Chance of Passage: The Pioneering Charter School Story.