New Education Funding Bill Threatens Charter Schools

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Well, it’s been a big week here in Washington. The House of Representatives released their bill to start the conversation about education funding for the upcoming year. As we emerge from a challenging year for teachers, schools, and students we were anxious to see what the bill proposed. But, unfortunately, the bill is incredibly concerning for those of us in the charter school community.

What is the education funding bill?

The bill is referred to as the Labor-HHS Appropriations Bill. It’s a bill that was released by the U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee that has jurisdiction over funding for education programs, including:

  • Charter Schools Program: The only source of federal funding to help start new charter schools and replicate and expand great ones.
  • Title I: Provides funding to all public schools with high numbers or high percentages of children from low-income families
  • IDEA: Supports students with disabilities by requiring schools to provide a free, appropriate education in the least restrictive environment to all students.

What’s the problem with the education funding bill?

We have two concerns with the bill.

One is that while the bill proposes increasing overall education funding by 40%, it proposes a $40M cut to funding for the Charter Schools Program. Demand for free school choice options only grew during the pandemic, this is not the time to make a cut to the only federal program that helps open new schools or expand or replicate current schools.

The other problem is that the bill slipped in some language that would make any charter school that contracts with a business to provide supplies and services to students completely ineligible to receive federal funds for anything, including all of those programs designed for public school students that are described above.

Wait, WHAT?!

Yes, exactly.

School lunches, buses, textbooks, computers, electricians, plumbers, cleaning services… most schools—district, charter, magnet, or private—contract out those services so that they can focus on doing what they do best, educating students.

If the bill passes with this language, it would single-out charter schools and the public school students who attend them. Charter school leaders would be forced to choose between accessing the federal funds their students are entitled to or working with businesses to provide the supplies and services their students need.

What can I do?

Great question! We need to raise awareness and ignite activism.

  1. The most important thing you can do is contact your members of Congress and make sure they are aware of the problem and know that it is a PROBLEM for you. We’ve made it easy by drafting a letter for you to send to them with one click, but feel free to edit and express your concern and outrage.
  2. Tell everyone you know. Post it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok. Send it to your family, friends, and school community. The more people who join us, the better chance we have of getting this language shot down.
  3. Invite your representatives to your school to see the great work you do there.  It will be hard to propose language like this in the future if a member understands how the school serves your community.

Kim McCabe is the senior director of communications at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools

Take one minute to demand Congress treat all public school students fairly!