Clinton Salutes Visionary Lawmaker
(Atlanta, GA, June 21, 2011) In his keynote speech at the annual National Charter Schools Conference in Atlanta, former President Bill Clinton acclaimed the visionary role of CSDC Board Vice-Chair and former Minnesota State Senator Ember Riechgott Junge in launching the charter school movement. Reichgott Junge authored Minnesota’s pioneering charter law, paving the way for the establishment of the nation’s first charter school and the thousands that have been created in its wake across the country. Minnesota’s charter law continues to rank as one of the strongest on the books, and has served as a model and benchmark for the laws that have since been pased by 39 other states and the District of Columbia.
Reichgott Junge’s recently completed book “Zero Chance of Passage: The Charter School Story” chronicles the story of this legislative precedent in state and national education policy. Minnesota’s charter law, passed in 1991, sparked a movement that Clinton, who was at the conference to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award, helped push forward on a national level with the inclusion of the federal Charter Schools Program in his reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in 1994. Clinton also signed into law the “Charter Schools Expansion Act of 1998,” authored by CSDC’s President and CEO, former Congressman Frank Riggs, when Riggs was chairman of the House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Youth and Families.