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National Alliance Applauds New Bill to Strengthen Federal Charter Schools Program

WASHINGTON, D.C. —  Today Representative John Kline (R-MN), chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee and Representative George Miller (D-CA), senior Democratic member of the committee, introduced legislation to strengthen the federal Charter Schools Program (CSP). “We applaud Representatives Kline and Miller for their efforts to bring forth a strong, bipartisan bill that will better support the growth of high-quality charter schools,” said Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. “Many of our nation’s most successful charter schools would not have been able to open their doors without the support of the federal Charter Schools Program and we are grateful for this opportunity to increase that support.” The federal CSP’s primary purpose is to help expand the number of high-quality charter schools across the country through targeted grants. The new legislation proposes several key improvements to existing law, such as:
  • Making state Charter Support Organizations eligible to receive and disburse grants;
  • Formally creating a federal grant program to support the replication and expansion of high-quality charter schools;
  • Strengthening and codifying the Department of Education’s recent weighted lottery guidance to allow more schools to take advantage of the tool;
  • Allowing students to 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
  • Providing increased flexibility for the use of start-up grants.
“These policy changes will pave the way for more high-quality charter schools to begin serving students and families and help alleviate the current charter school waiting list of nearly one million student names,” continued Rees. “In addition to these important changes, we will work with members to encourage more comprehensive facilities support, more funding for the replication and expansion of high-quality charter schools, and increased funding for the Charter School program as a whole. One of the greatest challenges charter schools face is access to facilities because without a building, there is no school. We hope that Congress will help address this issue by incentivizing states to better support charter schools’ access to facilities.” Since 2010, all but one independent research study has found that students in charter schools do better than their traditional school peers. The most recent of those studies, by the Center for Research on Educational 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. “Charter schools are showing us that it is possible for all students—regardless of their backgrounds—to achieve at high levels and be prepared for college and life. We are pleased that Congress is embracing charter schools and supporting our efforts to ensure all American children have access to a great public school,” said Rees. 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.