This week House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and ranking Democratic Representative Miller (D-CA) introduced HR 10—the Success and Opportunities through Quality Charter Schools Act—to reauthorize the federal Charter School Program for another five years.
NACSA president and CEO Greg Richmond announced NACSA’s strong support for this important legislation during a congressional visit to Global Academy Charter School in Minneapolis by Chairman Kline and committee member Representative Luke Messer (R-IN).
HR 10 continues many of the initiatives that currently support quality charter school growth in the Charter School Program–a state-based and individual school grant program that provides support for new and expanding charter schools, charter facilities assistance, and support for national charter quality initiatives. It would also formally authorize a program to support high quality charter management organizations (CMOs) that has for years only been funded through the annual appropriations process and puts new focus on encouraging charters schools to increase their outreach to students with disabilities and English learners.
Here’s an outline of the bill’s key provisions provided by its sponsors:
THE SUCCESS AND OPPORTUNITY THROUGH QUALITY CHARTER SCHOOLS ACT:
- Promotes state efforts to develop and expand charter schools.
- Improves the Charter School Program authorizing to support the replication and expansion of successful charter models.
- Supports the sharing of best practices between charters and traditional public schools.
- Encourages charter schools to reach out to special populations, including at-risk students, students with disabilities, and English learners.
These are all important elements, but I personally am most excited about the details of the bill that prioritize and support quality charter school authorizing. Authorizers play a crucial role in advancing charter school quality and protecting student and public interests and HR 10 recognizes that a vibrant, high quality charter sector depends on strong, quality authorizers.
There are provisions throughout HR 10 that support authorizing, but I think the ones that are likely to have the biggest impact are in the State grant program. The state grant program impacts every state that receives a grant—which in this reauthorization would be at least 15 states over the program’s five year lifecycle—and often influences policy in even more states as policy makers revisit outdated charter laws to compete for future grant cycles. At every step of the way states that receive grants must demonstrate their support for high quality authorizing, including their commitment to charter school accountability, a plan to improve authorizer quality, and how they will provide support and oversight for authorizers. These commitments are backed up with financial support, as for the first time a state entity must spend at least 7% of its grant on a set of activities that includes improving authorizer quality.
NACSA strongly supports this important legislation and we’re energized by its bi-partisan support for charter school quality and strong authorizing. You can read NACSA’s statement on the bill here and learn more about it here.