Over the last year, families and educators faced so many unanticipated obstacles. Education, as we knew it, was completely disrupted and the significant learning loss caused by the pandemic will have lasting effects for many children.
And we know that not all students were equally affected. The digital divide became more obvious than ever as schools transitioned to remote learning, leaving many students from low-income families without access to educational resources. Charter schools, which serve a higher proportion of students from low-income families, proved to be part of the solution.
As parents became more acquainted with their children’s learning throughout the pandemic, they explored new options for their families. Parents aren’t picky about the delivery system—district or charter—they care about their child’s experience and how they are learning. The federal government shouldn’t discriminate either. As we look ahead, we must focus on providing adequate resources, autonomy, and accountability to ALL public schools so that they can deliver the high-quality education that their students need.
We look forward to working with the new administration to strengthen all public schools, and we’ve channeled that excitement into our 2021 policy priorities. You’ll need to read the full report to learn more about our 12 priorities for the upcoming year, but here are four of the priorities I’m most excited about.
1. Propose additional COVID‑19 relief for education and treat charter schools fairly.
The National Alliance supports at least $2 billion in total funding for distance learning to ensure all students and teachers are better prepared in the likely event of future stay‑at‑home orders. We also support additional resources for E‑Rate and targeting resources to the schools with greatest need. Include charter schools in pre‑K and childcare proposals.
2. Examine the impact of access to affordable housing and quality schools.
The we support increasing funding for Section 8 housing vouchers so that families with school‑aged children can also better access high‑quality schools, including public charter schools. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development should devote a portion of its research budget to collecting data on public schools, including public charter schools, co‑located with public housing.
3. Propose $500 million for the CSP in the FY 2022 budget.
The CSP is funded at $440 million for fiscal year 2021—the same allocation it received in FY 2020 and FY 2019. We recommend an additional $60 million should be used to provide additional resources for facilities funding programs and for grants to encourage new charter school models and other innovations.
4. Empower educators to open their own schools.
A new authority, encouraging state‑level funds to be used for pre-planning grants to help incubate new high-quality schools, or creating a priority within national dissemination grant funds, would allow a percentage of state CSP grant funds to be awarded to teacher‑led planning or school incubation projects.
Kim McCabe is the senior director of communications for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.
See the full recommendations in our paper, The Charter Community's Education Priorities for 2021, or watch the webinar discussion.