April 2012 - The Story of America

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Archive for April, 2012

Spain Declares War on USA – April 24, 1898

6 Things You May Not Know About the Spanish-American War

On April 24, 1898, Spain declared war on the United States, which days earlier had passed a resolution supporting Cuba’s independence. The United States issued its own declaration on April 25, making it retroactive to April 21.

In January 1898, as tensions flared between Cuban revolutionaries and Spanish troops, the battleship USS Maine was sent to Havana to protect American interests and civilians there. On February 15 a massive explosion sank the vessel, killing 266 sailors. Sensationalist newspaper articles and advocates of war accused the Spanish of destroying the ship, and a naval inquiry soon concluded that a mine had caused the disaster. With the rallying cry “Remember the Maine!” galvanizing Americans, President William McKinley reluctantly signed a resolution supporting Cuban independence and threatening Spain with military action. Today, however, experts generally doubt the Spanish had a hand in Maine’s demise. Though we may never know for sure what unleashed the tragedy that helped spark a war, recent investigations have implicated the ship’s design, ammunition storage and coal bunker.

Jimmy Doolittle Air Raid over Japan – April 18, 1942

Sixteen US Air Force B-25B Mitchell bombers take off from the flight deck of the USS Hornet for an air raid on Japan, on April 18, 1942. The unprecedented use of medium bombers from an aircraft carrier enabled the surprise attack on the Japanese homeland. Even with modifications and extra fuel the bombers were at the limit of their range and would not be able to return to the carrier. Instead, after bombing, they were to continue their flight over Japan and attempt to land in China or Russia.

When the USS Hornet was spotted by a Japanese patrol vessel the mission was brought forward, and the margin of error in the range was reduced even further. The crews all took off in the knowledge that they were very likely to have to crash land or ditch in the sea. Each aircraft carried three 500-pound high-explosive bombs and one incendiary bomb.

The raid was led by Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle.

ALA Library Bill of Rights and Forrest Brisbin Spaulding

The Man Who Wrote the Library Bill of Rights

Forrest Brisbin SpauldingIn this world of Internet searches, question and answer websites and Google books, it is easy to forget the amazing impact of libraries on the young people of this nation. Much of this can be traced back to the Library Bill of Rights, a specialized form of the bill of rights acknowledging the right of American citizens to access to free information and books about the nation and written by its greatest writers and thinkers.

Much of that bill is owed to Forrest Brisbin Spaulding. His name is one that should be recognized across America because he helped to safeguard the right of any US citizen to information. Seen as a patriot, he has been honored by American Libraries as one of the 100 most important American leaders of the 20th century.

Born in Nashua, New Hampshire, Spaulding has been described as a scrawny kid who was taught a love of books by his parents. An only child, he grew up to be the kind of character he read about in his books, a chain smoking wordsmith who loved puns and traveling by train.

He first began working in the library industry by helping the YMCA organize traveling libraries for soldiers patrolling the Mexican border. Even though there were not many readers there and few books given and collected, he did his utmost best to ensure soldiers were given a wide range of books to read.

Between 1917 and 1919, Spaulding worked for the Des Moines Public Library as its director. After a short amount of time there, and while still young, he moved to Peru to oversee its museums and libraries where he also worked as a correspondent for the Associated Press. This sojourn gave him an object lesson in government censorship. On his return to America, he once again took up his role in Des Moines and went on to hold it until 1952.

His greatest contribution to America was the Library Bill of Rights. Like so many of America’s greatest achievements, this began as a local event. One that blossomed and spread across the country until taken up by the Library Association.

During the 1930s Spaulding was becoming increasingly concerned about censorship in America. He had seen its effects on the people of Peru and argued with strength and vigor that those same effects should not be felt by the people of America. He stressed that knowing too much about a person such as Adolf Hitler or about communism was not the problem for the people. He believed that the problem would come from knowing too little. The more mysterious a person or movement, the less people knew, the more attractive it would look to some.

Spaulding wrote the Library Bill of Rights in 1938, as the world stood on the brink of a second world war. Later that year, he presented it to the Des Moines Public Library’s board and it was used as a general proclamation for a person’s right to information. The library vowed to stand firm against any attempt to curtail its collection and to ban certain books from being available to read.
The bill states that:

I. Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.

II. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.

III. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.

IV. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.

V. A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.

VI. Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.

A year after being written by Spaulding, the American Library Association adopted it as their own. One of the major revisions included the removal of Spaulding’s original introduction. In it he decried the totalitarian states that had grown up around the world, the suppression of free speech and censorship in general. After being used to fight fascism and the circulation of books such as “Mein Kampf,” the Bill was used to fight the suppression of communist literature.

While best remembered for the Library Bill of Rights, Spaulding should also be remembered for his work with the YMCA in the 1910s, the foundation of the Waterfront University for unemployed men in the basement of Des Moines Public University and for using WHO radio as a library outreach program. His life has since been turned into a play entitled “The Not So Quiet Librarian” by Cynthia Mercati starring Tom Milligan.

Emma Watts is a freelance writer based in England who grew up in New York and loved the enthusiasm for history, the Constitution and freedom that the American people show. Currently she writes for the Lane furniture company discussing the latest fashion trends in interior design.

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This Day in US History: April 12

1945: President Franklin Delano Roosevelt dies and Harry Truman takes over.

1861: American Civil War kicked off as Fort Sumter is attacked.

Medal of Honor Winner Captain Ed Freeman

Medal of Honor Winner Captain Ed FreemanYou’re a 19 year old kid.

You’re critically wounded and dying in the jungle somewhere in the Central Highlands of Viet Nam

It’s November 11, 1967.
LZ (landing zone) X-ray.

Your unit is outnumbered 8-1 and the enemy fire is so intense from 100 yards away, that your CO (commanding officer) has ordered the helicopters to stop coming in.

You’re lying there, listening to the enemy machine guns and you know you’re not getting out.

Your family is half way around the world, 12,000 miles away, and you’ll never see them again.

As the world starts to fade in and out, you know this is the day.
Then – over the machine gun noise – you faintly hear that sound of a helicopter.
You look up to see a Huey coming in. But… It doesn’t seem real because no MedEvac markings are on it.

Captain Ed Freeman is coming in for you.

He’s not MedEvac so it’s not his job, but he heard the radio call and decided he’s flying his Huey down into the machine gun fire anyway.

Even after the MedEvacs were ordered not to come. He’s coming anyway.

And he drops it in and sits there in the machine gun fire, as they load 3 of you at a time on board.

Then he flies you up and out through the gunfire to the doctors and nurses and safety.

And, he kept coming back!! 13 more times!! Until all the wounded were out. No one knew until the mission was over that the Captain had been hit 4 times in the legs and left arm.
He took 29 of you and your buddies out that day. Some would not have made it without the Captain and his Huey.

Medal of Honor Recipient, Captain Ed Freeman, United States Air Force,
died last Wednesday at the age of 80, in Boise, Idaho

May God Bless and Rest His Soul.

Honor this real hero.

Please.

Rough Riders Flag and Arizona Connection during the Spanish American War

Teddy Roosevelt and Rough Riders San Juan Hill 1898

Presented By Matthew C. Krahn
Arizona Capitol Museum Guild Historian

When Congress declared war on Spain in late April of 1898, President McKinley authorized the raising of a volunteer regiment of cowboy cavalry from the western territories of Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Indian Territory. The “Rough Riders” was formed from men from the western frontier of the United States – men who were used to life in the saddle and to the use of firearms – and from some eastern high-class young men who were athletic and also skilled in horsemanship and the use of guns…but for entirely different reasons. In addition there were men from almost everywhere else! The unit included miners, cowboys preachers, tradesmen, writers, professors, athletes, and clergymen. Remarkably, there were men from each of the forty-five states then in existence, the four territories and from fourteen countries! There were even sixty Native Americans on the roster.  The unique combination reflected the interesting contrasts in one of the men who was one of the driving forces behind the unit – Theodore Roosevelt, the man who was initially the regiment’s lieutenant colonel and later its colonel.

This regiment was designated “The First United States Volunteer Cavalry” and was to go down in history as “Roosevelt’s Rough Riders.” The idea of a volunteer cowboy regiment from Arizona originated in Prescott, and was inspired by Alexander Brodie and Mayor “Buckey” O’Neill. They had been recruiting for a volunteer Arizona regiment long before a war was declared. Because the Prescott or Northern Arizona Cavalry was the first to fill its quota, and was also, along with the southern Arizona unit, the first to arrive at the training base at San Antonio, Texas, it was designated “A” Troop. The southern unit was formed as “B” Troop. As Herner states, “thus the Arizonans assumed all seniority rights and corresponding troop designations.” They were the first troop of the first squadron (known as the Arizona Squadron) of the First United States Volunteer Cavalry. As Captain of “A” Troop, “Buckey” O’Neill also became the senior Captain of the regiment. Alexander Brodie commanded the First Squadron (consisting of four troops) and was, therefore, the ranking Major of the regiment. “A” Troop went on to serve with distinction in the war to liberate Cuba from Spain. The troop figured prominently in the two main battles of the Cuban campaign involving the 5th Army Corp.

At Las Guasimas the troop, led by “Buckey” O’Neill, formed the extreme right wing of an extended skirmish line that pressed forward, through thick jungle, to help dislodge the Spanish from their positions. At San Juan Hill, the troop recovered from the devastating loss of its commander, Captain “Buckey” O’Neill, and participated in the famous charge of the “Rough Riders” led by Theodore Roosevelt. Several members of “A” troop were with Col. Roosevelt at the front of the regiment when the Spanish positions were taken. Fifteen members of “A” troop were either killed or wounded during these engagements. Several more died of dysentery. After returning to the United States with the regiment, they were disbanded, on September 15, 1898, only four months after leaving Prescott. In the words of Theodore Roosevelt, “it marked the close of the four months life of a regiment of as gallant fighters as ever wore the United States uniform.”

Upon final preparations the regiment was ready to leave Prescott and head for departure in Florida. It was brought to the commander’s attention that Roosevelt’s Rough Riders had everything ready but did not possess the Stars and Stripes for the regiment to bring in to battle. The story goes that upon hearing this news the ladies of the Women’s Relief Corps of Phoenix decided to make a flag for the regiment to take with them. Working all through the night they sewed together a “beautiful silk standard” by hand. The materials are rumored to have been very difficult to come by, and the story describes an amazing blue gown being used to construct the blue field in which the star would lay.

The flag was completed and presented to the regiment by the Governor of Arizona, personally handing the flag to the regiment’s leader Captain James M. McClintock. As the handoff was completed a chorus of young girls from the Territorial Normal School began to sing “God Be With You Till We Meet Again”. This in turn according to war correspondent Edward Marshall was met by the Rough Riders rowdy rendition of “A Hot Time” (composed in 1896, by Theodore Metz it was a favorite of the military at the turn of the 20th century). As the Rough Riders made their way to Tampa for the trip to Cuba they received a very warm welcome form the people of the South. The cheers and praise was so great that Theodore Roosevelt’s own account of it was recorded by Edward Marshall: “Everywhere the people came out to greet and cheer us. Everywhere we saw the Stars and S tripes, and everywhere we were told, half-laughing, by grizzled ex-Confederates, that they greet the old flag as they now were greeting it, and to send their sons as they now were sending them, to fight and die under it”.

The first volunteer regiment in Cuba would be the first to raise the US flag over foreign soil since the Mexican War, these were but a few of the accomplishments of the Rough Riders and their special flag from right here in Arizona! So where else did the colors travel while in battle; stories of its exploits throughout the war have become legendary in the area of flag history. The one that shines above the rest was most famously noted when the flag was seen waving above the crest of Loriltires. It is here Surgeon La Motte, Color-Sergeant Wright, Trumpeter Platt, and Edward Marshall, climbed the hill with the famous flag. They discovered an abandoned block-house and attempted to hoist Old Glory up. The impromptu band of flag raisers realized the tin roof of the house was too slippery, and all but gave up on hoisting the colors when a sailor came to the rescue. Risking injury the sailor grabbed the flag the women of Arizona had worked so hard to produce, and attached it to a piece of lumber atop the block-house. On the bay below as material and men wade ashore one of the soldiers caught site of the flag fluttering in the wind. The stories go Marshall said that a fever pitch of patriotism caught on, steam-whistles blew, nearly 20,000 men yelled and cheered joined by a dozen military bands. The women and really the town of Prescott thousands of miles away must have been very proud indeed!

The flag from Arizona would go on to appear in almost every battlefield in the war, serving as bravely as the soldiers who carried it. I would like to leave you with my personal favorite tale regarding this special flag and its adventures abroad. In Las Guasimas, Color-Sergeant Wright was grazed three different times near his neck by Spanish bullets while carrying the flag from Arizona. The flag received at least four bullet holes that we are aware of while in battle, but thankfully it did survive to make its way back home. Soon after the Rough Riders became legendary and Roosevelt went on to eventually become president of the United States of America. The regiment was discharged honorably from service, and the unique men that made up the famous volunteer regiment made their way home. Teddy Roosevelt’s legendary Rough Riders existed for only 133 days but earned a lasting place in the history of the United States. Few groups that were so short lived have made such an impression in the hearts and minds of Americans. I am proud to call Arizona my home, and thank you all for joining us here today!

AZ Rough Riders Flag Working Bibliography

Abbott, Samuel. The Dramatic Story of Old Glory. New York: Boni and Liveright, 1919.

In this account of famous American flag stories author and member of the American Historical Association retells numerous flag stories. In chapter 42 he discusses the famous Rough Riders flag sewn by the ladies of the Women’s Relief Corps of Phoenix. The flag trailed with the famed 1st Volunteer Calvary Division from Prescott, AZ into multiple engagements in the war with Spain.

Edward, Marshall. The story of the Rough Riders, 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry: the regiment in camp and on the battle field. New York: G.W. Dillingham Co, 1899.

A very detailed account of the building and creation of the Rough Riders, starting in Prescott and following them all the way until their disbandment upon returning to America. This detailed account of the furnishing of regimental colors by the ladies of the Women’s Relief Corp of Phoenix is very fascinating. The author discusses the vital role the flag played in being the first to accompany the Rough Riders Division.

I have provided some links as well that will direct you to several E-Books regarding the flag in question. My efforts continue to acquire the hard copy, as many of these are very old first editions they have been digitized to avoid mass lending.

Rough Rider: Bucky O’Neill of Arizona
http://books.google.com/books?id=bO5HPgpFGbQC&lpg=PA158&dq=Women%E2%80%99s%20Relief%20Corps%20of%20Phoenix%20rough%20riders%20flag&pg=PA158#v=onepage&q=Women%E2%80%99s%20Relief%20Corps%20of%20Phoenix%20rough%20riders%20flag&f=false

The Stars and Stripes and other American Flags
http://books.google.com/books?id=Ka4aAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA227&dq=Women%E2%80%99s+Relief+Corps+of+Phoenix+flag+for+rough+riders&hl=en&ei=1WZUTfnlBMGclgewt7SzCg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=9&ved=0CF4Q6AEwCA

Rough Riders’ Flag is part of Arizona’s History

Teddy Roosevelt and Rough Riders San Juan Hill 1898

It was 1898 and the Spanish-American War had just begun.

The men of the First US Volunteer Cavalry, more commonly known as Roosevelt’s Rough Riders, were eager to leave Prescott, to fight for Cuba’s independence.

The Rough Riders had weapons, ammunition, supplies, even regiment mascots. But no US flag could be found among the items that had been packed for the long trip.

“They were about to leave without an American flag. Personally, it’s the first thing I would have packed,” Matthew Krahn, historian at the Arizona Capitol Museum Guild, told an audience of about two dozen people Wednesday afternoon.

Krahn’s history lesson was a part of an annual tradition where the Rough Rider’s flag is displayed during a ceremony at the museum. Typically, the flag is unveiled to little pomp, but Arizona’s upcoming centennial celebration changed that. This year, the Arizona Rough Riders Historical Association, a living history group, was invited to a re-enactment ceremony.

One of the re-enactors represented a seamstress for the Women’s Relief Corps of Phoenix, who worked all night to make the almost forgotten flag.

The Rough Riders took a train across the Deep South to their deployment site in Tampa, Florida. Krahn said the Civil War, which had ended in 1865, had not been forgotten.

“The flag and the Rough Riders acted as a unification between the North and South,” Krahn said.

After arriving in Cuba, the flag would become the first one flown over foreign soil since the Mexican-American War. However, the man who flew the flag is identified by historians only as “the unnamed sailor.”

After being honorably discharged in September 1898, the flag’s ownership is speculative. Krahn said some believe Color-Sergeant Albert P. Wright, a native of Yuma, brought the Rough Riders’ flag back to Arizona. The museum has had the flag since statehood in 1912.

The flag is on display at the Arizona Capitol Museum through July.

General Robert E Lee Surrenders at Appomattox Courthouse: April 9, 1865

Gen. Robert E. Lee surrenders at Appomattox Courthouse this day in 1865, thus ending the Civil War.

Further Reading: http://americancivilwar.com/appo.html

Civil War Death Toll Raised 20 Percent

Since the 1860s, most people agreed that 618,222 men died in the Civil War, 360,222 from the North and 258,000 from the South — by far the greatest toll of any war in American history. By combing through new census data from the 19th Century, J. David Hacker, a demographic historian has recalculated the death toll and increased it by more than 20 percent — to 750,000.

The new figure is already winning acceptance from scholars. Civil War History, the journal that published Dr. Hacker’s paper, called it “among the most consequential pieces ever to appear” in its pages. And a pre-eminent authority on the era, Eric Foner, a historian at Columbia University, said:

“It even further elevates the significance of the Civil War and makes a dramatic statement about how the war is a central moment in American history. It helps you understand, particularly in the South with a much smaller population, what a devastating experience this was.”

Dr. Hacker decided to look at the ratio of male to female deaths in 1870. Next, he examined mortality figures from the decades on either side of the war — the 1850s and 1870s — so that he could get an idea of the “normal” ratio of male to female deaths for a given decade. When he compared those ratios to that of 1860-70, he reasoned, he would see a dramatic spike in male mortality. And he did. Subtracting normal attrition from the male side of the equation left him with a rough estimate of war dead.

He had made several assumptions, each of which stole accuracy from the final result. Among them: that there were no war-related deaths of white women; that the expected normal mortality rate in the 1860s would be the average of the rates in the 1850s and 1870s; that foreign soldiers died at the same rate as native-born soldiers; and that the War Department figure of 36,000 black war dead had to be accepted as accurate because black women suffered so terribly both during and after the war that they could not be used as a control for male mortality.

The study had two significant shortcomings. Dr. Hacker could make no estimate of civilian deaths, an enduring question among historians, “because the overall number is too small relative to the overall number of soldiers killed.” And he could not tell how many of the battlefield dead belonged to each side.

“You could assume that everyone born in the Deep South fought for the Confederacy and everyone born in the North fought for the Union,” he said. “But the border states were a nightmare, and my confidence in the results broke down quickly.”

With all the uncertainties, Dr. Hacker said, the data suggested that 650,000 to 850,000 men died as a result of the war; he chose the midpoint as his estimate.

He emphasized that his methodology was far from perfect. “Part of me thinks it is just a curiosity,” he said of the new estimate.

“But wars have profound economic, demographic and social costs,” he went on. “We’re seeing at least 37,000 more widows here, and 90,000 more orphans. That’s a profound social impact, and it’s our duty to get it right.”

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/03/science/civil-war-toll-up-by-20-percent-in-new-estimate.html?_r=2

Matthew Krahn: Contributor to Stories of USA

Matthew C. Krahn:

Matt Krahn is an Arizona native and graduate of Arizona State University’s Baccalaureate program in Secondary Education with an emphasis in American History. Matt has continued his passion for historical studies at the graduate level. He is currently attending American Military University, where he is pursuing a Masters of Arts in Military History. In addition to Matt’s academic pursuits, he is also a member of the Arizona Rough Riders Association, the Theodore Roosevelt Association, the American Historical Association, and the Society for Military History. Matt currently serves as the Arizona Capitol Museum Guild Historian.

First Black Congressmen: GOP or Democrat? – 1st Black Caucus

The First Black Congressmen GOP

1st Black Caucus:

Left to Right:
Senator Hiram R. Revels: Senator from Mississippi
Representative Benjamin S. Turner: Republican from Alabama
Representative Richard H. Cain: Republican from South Carolina
Representative Robert B. Elliot: Republican from South Carolina
Representative Josiah T. Walls: Republican from Florida
Representative Richard Allen: Republican from Texas
Representative Robert Smalls: Republican from South Carolina

The First Black Congressmen GOP

After the Civil War it became possible for Blacks to vote in the south. This was made possible by the passage of the Reconstruction Acts by Congress. Five states had a majority Black population: Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina. Prior to the Reconstruction Acts, which were given more support by the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution, there were 627,000 White voters in the south and no Black voters. After Blacks gained the right to vote, and there were 703,000 who did so, it became possible for Blacks to hold office on a local and statewide basis.

All the early Black congressmen (and senators) were members of the Republican party. This is because the Republicans, exemplified by President Abraham Lincoln, were the party in office during the Civil War and many abolitionists belonged to the Republican Party. The Democrats were opposed to all attempts to banish slavery.

Thirteen of the twenty-two Blacks elected to Congress during Reconstruction were ex-slaves and all were self taught or family trained. There were seven lawyers, three ministers, one banker, one publisher, two school teachers, and three college presidents. Eight had experience in state assemblies and senates. There were problems, however, as five of the first twenty Blacks elected to the House were denied their seats and ten others had their terms interrupted or delayed. Claims of vote fraud were the most common ploy used by Whites to deny an elected Black person his seat.

What is a Community Charter School?

A column on today’s Arizona Republic opinion page makes clear the stark differences in thought over how to improve education in the United States.

One camp believes increased choice is a critical component of any school improvement effort. Another camp, like the one occupied by Arizona School Boards Association executive director Tim Ogle, believes increased choice “fails an unacceptable number of students.”

The well-respected Council on Foreign Relations just announced in a recent report that America’s education system poses a national security risk. Only seventy five percent of students graduate on time and only about seventy percent of high school graduates are fit to serve the military.

In the toughest economy since the Great Depression, we have had numerous conversations around the Arizona Chamber board table about the lack of qualified workers.

Even in this challenging economy, jobs are available for individuals who complete high school and receive additional training, particularly in a STEEM area. That’s not a typo. In addition to science, technology, engineering, and math, I am adding an “E” for “English” after receiving dozens of cover letters from university graduates at a grammar level below that of my second-grade daughter.

After hearing the constant drumbeat of negative education stories, it seems almost impossible to imagine that our education system could be turned around. But, consider that just 20 years ago reducing crime in urban areas like New York City was considered to be out of reach. Then, the combination of bold leadership from Mayor Rudy Giuliani and policy changes like truth-in-sentencing reforms that kept violent criminals incarcerated, paved the way for the Big Apple to significantly reduce crime.

Or recall that there was once a sense that welfare programs couldn’t be fixed, until Governor Tommy Thompson and Wisconsin passed bold reforms that were copied in other states and finally enacted in Washington, D.C. by President Clinton and a Republican Congress.

We can dramatically improve education in this country. We already know what reform will restore our education system: charter schools. The question is no longer, “What works?” The question is now, “How do we replicate those models that have already proven to be successful?”

I define charters as schools that receive public dollars in exchange for being held accountable for the results of their students. We need to double down and make sure that schools that are working can be replicated across the country. We need to make sure that every child in America has the opportunity to attend a well-functioning charter school so there will be no more scenes of young Americans depending on the bounce of a lottery ball to determine their future.

Arizona was at the cutting edge of the charter school movement when lawmakers in 1994 passed legislation that allowed for charter schools to operate in the state. Today, there are more than 520 charter schools in Arizona, with the number of students attending those schools having reached 135,000.

Over the past three academic years, enrollment in traditional Arizona public schools has declined 3.7 percent while enrollment in charter schools increased by 31 percent. Charter schools now account for 11.6 percent of total public school enrollment.

Nationally, over two million students attend 5,637 charter schools located in 39 states and the District of Columbia. Thanks to the leadership of US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and the Race to the Top program, the future for charter schools appears bright.

Despite strong growth in the number of charter schools and students, the demand continues to far exceed the supply. Last August, a local Scottsdale charter school held an online enrollment session for the 2012-2013 academic year beginning at 6:00 am. By 6:02 am, there were no more slots available.

In the 20 or so years of public education reforms, certain networks of schools are clearly performing at an elite level. At least two of the networks are in Arizona, the BASIS Schools and the Great Hearts Academies.

As I have written about in the past, the BASIS schools are truly spectacular. Dr. Michael and Olga Block now have six schools in Arizona and have plans to open three additional Arizona schools and one D.C. school over the next two years. These schools pick up academic awards on a regular basis. The Great Heart Academies are also growing rapidly with impressive results.

As pointed out in the Council on Foreign Relations report, “Enhanced choice and competition, in an environment of equitable resource allocation, will fuel the innovation necessary to transform results.”

Increased choice means better prepared kids, and a better America.

edited from article by Glenn Hamer (President and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry)

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