Senators Introduce New Charter Schools Legislation
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today Senators Mark Kirk (R-IL), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Michael Bennet (D-CO) introduced the Expanding Opportunity Through Quality Charter Schools Act, legislation that will reauthorize the federal Charter Schools Program.
“We thank the senators for their leadership and vision in introducing this important legislation,” said Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. “Earlier this week, we revealed that there are now more than one million student names on charter school waiting lists. In order to give these students and families the opportunity they are looking for, we must ensure the growth of high-quality charter schools. This legislation is a critical step in that direction.”
The federal CSP’s primary purpose is to help expand the number of high-quality charter schools across the country through targeted grants. The Expanding Opportunity Through Quality Charter Schools Act will:
- Give priority to states that provide equitable funding to charter schools;
- Prioritize grants to states that ensure start-up funds are awarded only to charter schools with fundamental autonomy over budget, operations, and personnel;
- Clarify and codify the Department of Education’s recent weighted lottery guidance to allow more schools to take advantage of the tool;
- Ensure students can remain within an existing family of charter schools as students move from elementary to middle to high school without having to reapply through a lottery; and
- Make state Charter Support Organizations eligible to receive and disburse grants.
These provisions are also included in House legislation expected to be considered later this week. H.R. 10, the Success and Opportunity Through Quality Charter Schools Act, was introduced in April by Reps. John Kline (R-MN) and George Miller (D-CA).
There are three major differences in the Senate legislation: it prioritizes grants to states that have policies to help charter schools acquire or lease facilities; contains no cap on funding for the CSP; and allocates a larger percentage of funding to high-performing charter school networks to expand and replicate.
“With a bill expected to pass the House this week and now a bill introduced in the Senate, there is momentum building around reauthorizing and improving the federal Charter Schools Program,” Rees continued. “I urge leaders in the Senate to move this legislation quickly so that we can address the hundreds of thousands of students and families hoping for the opportunity to attend a high-quality public charter school.”
For more information about National Charter Schools Week, please visit publiccharters.org/charterschoolsweek.
About Public Charter Schools
Public charter schools are independent, public, and tuition-free schools that are given the freedom to be more innovative while being held accountable for advancing student achievement. Since 2010, all but one independent research study has found that students in charter schools do better in school than their traditional school peers. For example, one study by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University found that charter schools do a better job teaching low income students, minority students, and students who are still learning English than traditional schools. Separate studies by the Center for Reinventing Public Education and Mathematica Policy Research have found that charter school students are more likely to graduate from high school, go on to college, stay in college and have higher earnings in early adulthood.
About the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools is the leading national nonprofit organization committed to advancing the public charter school movement. Our mission is to lead public education to unprecedented levels of academic achievement by fostering a strong charter sector. For more information, please visit our website at www.publiccharters.org.