U.S. lawmakers to consider charter school bill

Part 114 of 113 in the series Educating America

By Mary C. Tillotson | Watchdog.org

U.S. lawmakers are considering a bill to reauthorize the federal charter schools program.

The House of Representatives is expected to continue debating the bill and cast a vote Friday. A similar bill was introduced Wednesday in the Senate .

“With a bill expected to pass the House this week, and now a bill introduced in the Senate, there is momentum building around reauthorizing and improving the federal Charter Schools Program,” Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, said in a statement.

CHARTER SCHOOLS: A federal bill would reauthorize the U.S. charter schools program.

More than a million students nationwide are on waiting lists for charter schools.

The program allows for charter schools to apply for competitive grants to help with costs of starting a charter school. The bill would allow high-performing charter school networks to receive grants to expand, among other changes.

Under the House bill, about 8 percent of the grant money can be used for expansion grants, The remain money is for startup grants.

While expanding successful charter schools is important, helping startup charter schools operate is key, Kara Kerwin, president and CEO of the Center for Education Reform, which supports the bill, said in a memo.

The high-performing charter school networks “would never exist if they too weren’t once just a start-up, a ‘mom and pop’ operation, with an innovative and bold idea to transform student learning,” the memo said.

Contact Mary C. Tillotson at mtillotson@watchdog.org.