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Former Legislator Looks Back 20 Years To The 1st Minn. Charter School

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(credit: Jupiter Images)

(credit: Jupiter Images)

(credit: CBS) Susie Jones
Susie Jones has been with WCCO Radio since 1996. She started as a...
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ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) - 20 years ago, the first Charter School in the nation opened in St Paul, after the Minnesota legislature passed the first chartered school law.

Ember Reichgott Junge was the State Senator who authored the bill. She says it wasn’t easy.

NewsRadio 830 WCCO’s Susie Jones Reports

“The actual legislation came from a group of citizens, called the ‘Citizens League’ which is still here today,” said Reichgott Junge.

She said there were some visionaries who wanted to improve public education and they brought that idea to the legislature.

“And what’s so remarkable about that is that it really was the citizens taking the lead on it,” she said.

Reichgott Junge said Democratic leaders took it forward, and it was ultimately passed by a bi-partisan coalition in the Minnesota Senate and House.

“So it came from the middle of the political spectrum,” she said

Chartered Schools, she said, were a new way to deliver public education.

“It was to give freedom and autonomy to teachers and parents so that they could try new ways to improve education,” said Reichgott Junge.

They had to abide by state laws.

City Academy in St Paul was the first. Reichgott Junge says now over two million students attend 5,600 chartered schools in the United States.

She said 70 percent of the American public supports the idea.

There will be a National Convention June 19-22 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

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