A Modest Federal Investment with Strong Returns For Public School Students

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The National Alliance releases the 2021 Charter Schools Program Annual Report

This week, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Appropriations Committee will consider legislation that includes funding for the federal Charter Schools Program (CSP). The CSP is the only federal source of funding for the growth and replication of these innovative, student-centered public schools that currently serve more than 3.3 million students. Today, the National Alliance releases the second-ever CSP annual report to offer a brief history of the program, provide information about grantees in the past fiscal year, and summarize the program’s impact.

The CSP is critically important to the growth of the charter school sector. Charter schools are often located in urban areas, and overwhelmingly serve students who are Black, Latino, and from low-income families. More than 1 million students have access to high-quality public schools that would not have existed without the CSP. 

Given the significant learning loss students face due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our nation needs more public schools that can accelerate learning gains. Supporting the CSP would be a small but important step towards a public education system where every student has the opportunity to attend a school that meets their unique needs.

“This year marks the 30th anniversary of the first charter school law. Since that time, these innovative and student-centered public schools have grown to serve 3.3 million students in 7,500 schools across the country. The Charter Schools Program is critically important to the growth of the charter school sector. In many states, we are seeing increased demand for charter schools because parents want more and better public school options. This is not the time to move backwards,” said Nina Rees, President and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

The CSP is a federally funded grant that provides charter school leaders with funds to: cover school startup costs, facilities finance, and expansion and replication of high-performing charter schools. Grants can pay for professional development and recruitment of teachers; supplies, training and equipment including technology; minor renovations to buildings; community engagement; transportation; and other non-sustained costs not met from other funding sources.

At its current funding level of $440 million, the CSP amounts to less than one percent of federal spending on K-12 education. For more than 25 years, the CSP has provided states with resources to help ensure every child can access a high-quality public education. The CSP is the backbone of the charter school sector, strengthening efforts to provide more equitable opportunities for all students.

Read the Charter Schools Program 2021 Annual Report