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“Gold Standard” of Authorizers Pays Tribute to Michigan Pioneer

CER President Jeanne Allen keynotes dedication ceremony for newly named Governor John Engler Center for Charter Schools

CER Press Release
Washington, D.C.
May 21, 2012

Mount Pleasant, MI – Recognizing the contributions of 3-term Governor John Engler to improved academic achievement in Michigan and its ripple effect beyond, Jeanne Allen, President of the Center for Education Reform (CER), today joined leaders of the state in honoring former Governor John Engler on the campus of Central Michigan University (CMU). CMU – the largest authorizer of charter schools in Michigan and a national exemplar – is renaming its Center for Charter Schools after former Governor Engler, whose leadership in the state created superior charter schools, and widespread public support for reform.

Engler signed Michigan’s charter school law in 1994, one of the nation’s earliest, and led the transformation of public schooling from a focus on systems to a focus on students. In her keynote address, Allen specifically praised Engler for his leadership in the effort to bring accountability and transparency to American education:

“Today’s dedication event is about much more than charter schools. It’s about meeting the urgency for performance-based accountability through all of our educational entities, the very kind that the Center for Charter Schools at Central Michigan University has demonstrated in its excellent oversight of its 56 charter schools in the great lakes state. Governor John Engler pioneered a movement for student-centered funding and transparency for results. His commitment to that idea paved the way for one of the most successful and respected university authorizers in the nation to blossom and has resulted not only in an environment rich in choice and accountability here, but replication of strong charter laws modeled on Michigan’s around the country. It is fitting that his name will be on this center, the gold standard in university authorizers of charter schools.”

The state of Michigan is home to 160 university – authorized charter schools, half of all university sanctioned charters in the nation. CMU leads the pack but shares a distinction for quality authorizing with several others in the state. CMU authorized-charters educate more than 28,000 Michigan students, who are exceeding the performance of their traditional public school counterparts. “We need more authorizers willing to challenge paradigms, charter new learning opportunities for communities and their children, and drive dramatic improvements in quality as a whole in American education,” added Allen.

Michigan earned an A grade in CER’s national ranking of charter school laws, the 5th strongest law in the nation. Allen also praised state leaders for efforts to raise teacher quality and rethink how education is delivered in Detroit.

While Allen’s remarks lauded the progress yielded by the efforts of people and institutions like Governor Engler and CMU, she also gave a candid assessment of the problems we still face in education. “The strides made should be an example to states like Georgia, Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Tennessee to name a few, where there is a critical need for the educational success that authorizers like the Governor John M. Engler Center for Charter Schools have demonstrated can occur if laws are done right.”

For more information about the John Engler Center for Charter Schools visit their website at http://media.cmich.edu/pr/cmu/cmu-to-dedicate-center-for-charter.aspx.

You can watch a video of Jeanne’s speech here.

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