Throughout National Charter Schools Week, the Charter Blog will announce the 2013 Charter Champions! This year’s Charter Champion awards recognize five outstanding public officials for their service to the students and parents of the public charter school movement.
Given annually during National Charter Schools Week, the Charter Champion awards are presented to the very top federal, state and local public officials who lead the most impactful public charter school initiatives, who serve as the most visible charter school advocates and who—throughout their career in public service—have tirelessly supported charters as a high-quality public school option. This year’s state Charter Champions are Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves (MS) and State Senator Gray Tollison (MS). Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves (MS)Elected in 2011 as Mississippi’s Lieutenant Governor, Tate Reeves leads the 52-member state Senate. Lieutenant Governor Reeves made it a priority to enact legislation to improve the state’s public charter school law. Through numerous speeches, op-eds and interviews, he made the case to the state’s citizens about why Mississippi’s students needed to have the option of attending high-quality public charter schools. In the 2012 and 2013 legislative sessions, he fought hard for major changes to Mississippi’s charter school law, as evidenced by the fact that the Senate passed several charter school bills during this time period. Those efforts paid off when Mississippi enacted sweeping reforms to its charter school law in April 2013. These reforms would not have happened without the strong leadership of Lieutenant Governor Reeves. “I thank the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools for this honor and their support in our efforts to provide school choice,” said Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves. “I truly believe that improving the educational attainment level of our citizens is fundamental to improving our economy. Every child in Mississippi deserves an opportunity for success, and public charter schools are an essential ingredient to achieving that goal.” State Senator Gray Tollison (MS)State Senator Gray Tollison is a member of the Mississippi Senate, representing District 9 since 1996. In January 2012, Tollison was appointed Chairman of the Senate Education Committee. Senator Tollison has been a strong supporter of public charter schools throughout his time in the Mississippi Senate and has sponsored several charter school bills over the course of his tenure. In the 2012 and 2013 legislative sessions, he served as the primary sponsor of the major charter school bills passed by the Senate. He was a passionate and forceful advocate for charter schools during the floor debates on these bills and worked with his colleagues in the House and the Senate to pass a bill to make major improvements to Mississippi’s charter school law in April 2013. “Public charters across the country, and soon in Mississippi, are giving parents faced with failing schools a choice – the choice to give their child a high-quality public education that prepares them for college and careers,’ said Senator Gray Tollison. “I am honored to be selected as a 2013 Charter Champion, but the true champions are the parents in Mississippi who this year fought tirelessly to pass legislation to build a high-quality public charter school sector in our state.”