Introducing Newest Network Members: Part 1
June 1, 2018

The Network’s newest members include a range of single state advocacy organizations and organizations supported by national networks like Teach Plus and 50CAN. This also marks the first state charter associations to join the Network. Network leaders, in partnership with the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, developed criteria for state charter associations to demonstrate alignment with the Network’s core values. We’re excited to announce that seven state charter associations are also among our newest members.

The Network now connects 87 state advocacy organizations and charter school associations and 22 national policy partners—in total representing 35 states and the District of Columbia.

Throughout the month of June, we’re excited to introduce the Network’s newest members, beginning with the eight organizations below.  

We will share details about remaining new members later this month (though you can see a complete list here). Meanwhile, you can follow this Twitter list to see a real-time feed of member and partner activity. Also, make sure you’re subscribed to our bi-weekly Game Changers email to follow significant policy advances across the country.

Arizona Charter Schools Association

Eileen Sigmund, President & CEO

The Arizona Charter Schools Association is dedicated to supporting Arizona’s thriving public charter school sector. As the voice of Arizona’s charter schools, the Association engages a diverse coalition of policymakers, school leaders, and community members for a fair, transparent policy landscape that allows high-quality charter schools to flourish throughout Arizona. Since 1995, the Association has served as an innovative leader in transforming public education for Arizona’s 1.1 million students. Driven by the belief that all Arizona students should have access to a high quality public school, the Association is focused on creating and sharing innovative programs designed to support leaders and teachers as they work to improve student achievement.

They have been relentlessly focused on the quality of the AZ charter sector, and have results to show on this focus for the last decade: If Arizona charter students were their own state, they would rank first in the nation in eighth-grade math, and second for eighth-grade reading, according to recent scores from the National Assessment for Educational Progress or Nation’s Report Card.

They are currently focused on increasing education funding and basing funding on students’ needs, not the systems.


Terence Ryan, President

Bluum is committed to ensuring Idaho’s children reach their fullest potential by cultivating great leaders and innovative schools. They seek to empower and support educators by developing innovative leaders, growing successful school models, sharing research and learning innovations, and providing school support and management help.

In recent years Bluum has made strides to improve and expand Idaho’s charter school sector, including streamlining the process for opening a new charter school, passing an innovation schools bill based on the work being done in Indiana and Colorado, and passing a debt guarantee fund for charter schools. In partnership with Public Impact, Bluum generated a school funding simulator that is being used by Education Commission of the States in its work with the Idaho School Funding Interim Committee.

In partnership with their sister organization, the Idaho Charter School Network, they are currently working to bring more autonomy to Idaho’s public schools, more financial and academic transparency to full-time online charter schools, and bring equitable financing to charter facilities.


Irene Holtzman, Executive Director

FOCUS empowers and protects the public charter school sector in Washington, D.C. by advocating for and strengthening autonomy, equity, quality, and choice. They are a constant presence at city hall, educating elected officials and policymakers about the strength of public charter schools and advocating for their most important needs: equitable public funding, access to facilities, and protecting the freedom and flexibility that schools need to meet the needs of their community.

FOCUS also collects, analyzes, and reports annual performance information on all public schools—charter and traditional. Their online data center is a resource for everyone from the public and the media to policymakers and public charter school leaders.

They also offer an array of school services, from a startup program—which provides aspiring public charter school leaders with the tools and guidance necessary for creating successful charter school applications and opening outstanding schools—to consulting and training programs that highlight best practices for strengthening school performance in areas such as curriculum development, labor law, and data utilization.

Their current priorities are defending charter school autonomy, ensuring adequate public funding, ensuring that ESSA implementation both holds schools to a high standard and is grounded in research and best practices, and working to remove barriers to high-quality school growth.


David Miyashiro, Founding Executive Director

HawaiiKidsCAN, founded in 2017, is dedicated to empowering communities with accessible information and helping elevate community voices and concerns to build the conditions for all students in Hawaii to thrive.

In their first year of operation, HawaiiKidsCAN has strategically taken up policy campaigns around funding for charter school facilities, expanding equity and access to quality computer science education, and exploring the creation of Dual Language Immersion programs in Hawaii’s most diverse public schools.

The organization is a proud member of the 50CAN network, and is piloting new approaches to student and teacher grassroots work using 50CAN’s advocacy framework.

As both a unique challenge and opportunity, Hawaii only has a single school district. HawaiiKidsCAN is the first PIE Network member in the Aloha State.

Illinois Network of Charter Schools

Andrew Broy, President

The Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS) advocates for the improvement of public education by leveraging the charter school model as a catalyst to transform lives and communities. INCS works to ensure that charter public schools have adequate and equitable resources, the autonomy to find innovative approaches to meet student needs, and a fair and transparent policy landscape that allows high-quality options to thrive. As the voice of Illinois charter schools, INCS engages a diverse coalition of policymakers, school leaders, parents, and community members to create systemic change and secure high-quality schools for underserved communities.

While they are actively working to fully implement last year’s funding equity advancement, they have also shifted their work to charter facilities and charter pension contributions.

Based on their commitment to strong accountability, INCS drafted the initial charter school quality policy that governs Chicago Public Schools closure, renewal, and expansion decisions for all district-authorized charter public schools. In addition, INCS developed an annual evaluation process designed to identify schools in need of remediation before renewal and closure decisions by the authorizer.

New York City Charter Schools Center

James Merriman, CEO

For the past 13 years, the New York City Charter School Center – the country’s first citywide charter support strategy – has served as a one-stop-shop for ensuring the growth and vitality of NYC’s charter sector. Their integrated approach to building a favorable policy environment, solving industry-wide challenges, ensuring quality, growing the movement and providing key supports and services has “cleared the brush,” so that charter schools can focus on their core work of educating children.

The Charter Center is committed to multiple overarching goals: ensuring that laws and policies allow for the sector’s continued growth and sustainability; growing the number of high quality charter schools in NYC; and promulgating the tenants of charter schooling.

They work to achieve these goals guided by five strategic priorities:

  • Ensure a Charter-Friendly Public Policy Environment
  • Grow a High Quality Charter Sector and Strengthen New Schools’ Capacity
  • Promote Sustainability and Operational Excellence
  • Encourage and Empower Charter Schools to Serve All Students
  • Transfer Charter School Innovations into the Public School System

Teach Plus Colorado

Mark Sass, State Policy Director

Teach Plus Colorado works to build the capacity of teachers to bring their expertise to policy creation, implementation, and sustainability. Through their instructional practice programs, they empower excellent teachers to engage with their colleagues and support their growth.

Teach Plus Colorado is focused on working with policy makers to create policies that reduce the use of suspensions and expulsions of students, especially for students of color. They are also providing feedback to the state on the recruitment and retention of teachers, as well as ways to increase state funding for education.

Teach Plus Colorado Fellows are working on ways for the state to incentivize school districts to provide leadership opportunities for teachers as well as partnering with policymakers to ensure teachers are aware of best practices surrounding student discipline.

Teach Plus Illinois

Josh Kaufmann, Executive Director

Teach Plus Illinois is working with educators to reform school discipline, address widespread teacher shortages, and strengthen early childhood education. Earlier in 2018, Teach Plus Illinois Fellows released a policy paper highlighting the implementation of school discipline reform. They have also introduced legislation (SB2347) that would require training in alternative and restorative discipline practices.

As founding members of the Teachers for Illinois’ Future coalition, Teach Plus Illinois is actively working to address teacher shortages while ensuring both teacher quality and improved  diversity of Illinois’ educator workforce.

They also added organized teachers to help push for a historic education funding reform in Illinois in 2017. Teach Plus Illinois Policy Fellows held house meetings around the state, met with state legislators, and appeared in print, radio, and television around the state to advocate for funding reform.

Earlier in 2018, they launched an Early Childhood Educator Advisory Board to develop tools and expertise to address critical issues around compensation parity and alignment between pre-K and K-12 education. They hope to use this as a launch to a full scale fellowship in 2019.

During the creation of Illinois’ ESSA plan, Teach Plus Illinois conducted outreach to hundreds of educators and through their research, policy briefs, and participation in state working groups, nearly all of their teachers’ recommendations were included in the state’s final ESSA plan.

Stay tuned for more details on more of the Network’s newest members, including: the Black Education Strategy Roundtable, Colorado League of Charter Schools, NewMexicoKidsCAN, Teach Plus California, Teach Plus Indiana, the Tennessee Charter School Center, and Washington State Charter Association.

To see a complete list of new members and partners click here



Expand All

    Ashley Schmidt

    Ashley is PIE Network's Senior Director of Member Engagement & Communications

    Leave a response

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *