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National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Issues a Statement on Proposed Federal Funding for Charter Schools

For Immediate Release: Contact: Sarah Johnson, (202) 521-2826 Deborah Veney Robinson, (202) 521-2828 pressroom@publiccharters.org Funding Requests for both the Fiscal Year 2012 Budget and the Fiscal Year 2011 Continuing Resolution Support Charter School Growth WASHINGTON, D.C. — In response to President Barack Obama’s fiscal year 2012 budget request, and the proposed fiscal year 2011 Continuing Resolution, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools released the following statement from its president and CEO, Peter C. Groff: Over the past several days, both President Obama and the House Majority have proposed budget requests that would have a positive impact on the growth and replication of high-quality charter schools. Because the budget is the moral document of our nation, it shows what we care about and how much we care. These proposed investments show that the president, the secretary of education and the Congress care about our children and the nation’s future. On February 14, President Obama released his Administration’s fiscal year 2012 funding request for the federal government, including the U.S. Department of Education. The President’s request signaled his Administration’s sustained and strong commitment to education reform, and the recommended funding increase for the Department of Education is especially to be commended, given the country’s current economic challenges. We applaud the president for continuing to make progress against his pledged goal of doubling the amount of federal funding allocated to charter schools. With this proposed budget, the Administration takes noticeable steps forward to support education reform, including increasing funding for many deserving programs and pushing to maximize the effective distribution of the available funding by streamlining the Department of Education’s programs. However, the Department of Education again proposes funding ‘autonomous public schools’ with funding from the public charter school programs under a newly created Expanding Educational Options Program. The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools opposes this part of the proposal, just as we did last year. We argue that autonomous public schools are already sufficiently resourced with state and municipal funding, while charter schools desperately need these resources. We call upon the president and the Department of Education to continue the work of streamlining education dollars, and to stay clear of this duplicative spending. The Department of Education made several important requests, including $900 million for a new Race to the Top program which would now be open to school districts. It also requested an increase for the 21st Century Community Learning Center, up to $1.27 billion, an increase of approximately $100 million above the previous year’s funding. In addition, this funding can now be used for extended learning time, which is an important component of many high-quality charter schools. The Department of Education also requested $150 million for promise neighborhoods, a program that supports innovative and effective projects like Harlem Children’s Zone. We were especially excited to see a proposal of $90 million in funding for a new Advanced Research Projects in Agency-Education (ARPA-ED), which would be an exciting new way to focus on innovation, especially blended learning models. While it is time to begin looking ahead to next year’s budget, there is also unfinished business from fiscal year 2011. To bring closure to this year’s budget, on February 11 the House Majority released its proposed Continuing Resolution to provide funding for the federal government for the remainder of fiscal year 2011. On behalf of the public charter school movement, we applaud the support the new majority has shown for our sector. During this difficult economic time, we recognize Congress has many competing demands for funding. While many initiatives and programs are projected to receive less funding, the Continuing Resolution proposes to continue funding the charter programs at last year’s levels, which will ensure parents and children around the country have more high-quality public school options. In addition, we are hopeful that Congress will find a way to allow flexibility in the amount of this funding available for replicating and expanding our best charter models, as well as to support the existing facility aid programs. Enabling more funding to support these purposes won’t cost anything, and will allow the appropriations to best meet the needs of the charter school sector. We look forward to working with the Administration and Congress over these next few months to finish both the fiscal year 2011 work, as well as the work for fiscal year 2012. While these two proposals may have many differences, they both support charter school growth and show strong bi-partisan support for these innovative public schools. The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS) is the national nonprofit organization committed to advancing the charter school movement. The Alliance works to increase the number of high-performing charter schools available to all families, particularly low-income and minority families who currently do not have access to quality public schools. The Alliance provides assistance to state charter school associations and resource centers, develops and advocates for improved public policies, and serves as the united voice for this large and diverse movement. More than 1.6 million students attend nearly 5,000 charter schools in 40 states and the District of Columbia.