Nina Rees, President and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, released the following statement in response to the president’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2021:
“President Trump has consistently said that school choice is a priority for his administration, but this budget, if enacted, would leave families in need with fewer school options. The education vision put forward by this budget is chilling. It would provide—through the proposed ‘Education Freedom Scholarships’ tax credit—extra federal financial help for families to access private schools, while withdrawing support for public school choice for our most vulnerable families by doing away with the Charter Schools Program (CSP).
“The president’s proposal to collapse the Charter Schools Program into a block grant with other federal education programs would jeopardize the ability of community leaders to start new schools because it would put too much power in the hands of anti-charter politicians at the state level. The CSP is especially important to single-site school leaders—many of whom are African-American or Hispanic educators seeking to better serve the students of their communities—who have limited access to resources to launch their schools. Without dedicated federal charter school funding, fewer charter schools will open and many of the 5 million students currently waiting for the chance to attend a charter school will never get in.
“The Charter Schools Program has generated a high return on taxpayer dollars and is one of the few federal programs that maintains bipartisan support. Most importantly, the program has put high-quality public schools within reach of families who have been neglected for too long. Sixty-seven percent of charter school students are students of color and 58 percent come from low-income families. These students now have choices that were once available only to wealthy families. Many of these students are going on to college and good careers because the Charter Schools Program made it possible for a high-quality, tuition-free school to open near them. The block-grant proposal would eliminate this opportunity for countless students and dim their futures. Combined with the $4.8 billion in proposed cuts to other public school funding, the president’s budget would cripple programs that both district and charter schools rely on to educate low-income students.
“The Administration’s $5 billion plan to provide tax credits to entice greater donations to private school choice programs has little chance of passing in the current Congress and even less chance of being utilized in states that don’t support private school choice. As a result, there’s no guarantee that this tax credit plan would ever help a student in need access a better school.
“By contrast, the Charter Schools Program allows the federal government to directly fund the creation of new, innovative public schools in the 45 states that have enacted charter school laws. Charter schools are free to all families and cannot discriminate on any basis. Numerous studies demonstrate charter schools’ success, especially for students of color. The Charter Schools Program has earned the continued support of leaders in both parties.
“I urge Congress to reject the ill-considered block-grant proposal and support the millions of children and families who need high-quality public school options.”