Statement from Nina Rees, President and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, on the House Labor-HHS Appropriations Bill.
“For the fourth year in a row, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations has proposed a funding cut to the Charter Schools Program (CSP), the nation’s only source of dedicated federal funding for the creation of high-quality and in-demand public charter schools. It is worth noting that the recently enacted FY22 budget and the President’s FY23 budget level funds the program.
“A cut to the CSP is particularly egregious because these unique public schools overwhelmingly serve students who are Black, Brown, or from low-income families. New survey data from The Harris Poll shows 74% of parents would consider sending their child to a public charter school if one were available in their area. Congress should listen to what parents are clearly telling them.
“Further, we are disappointed that language in the Committee bill proposes additional regulations to the CSP program while the administration is already regulating the program. If adopted, this unclear language will prevent charter schools from accessing the services of companies that all other public schools can access.
“This cut comes after the U.S. Department of Education issued proposed rules to make CSP funding essentially inaccessible to many leaders who want to start and grow charter schools. Taken together, the proposed funding cut and proposed rule changes for the program can only be interpreted as an attempt to hurt the very schools that serve some of our nation’s most vulnerable students. If enacted, the rules will disproportionately harm single site leaders of color and those from rural communities. The proposed rules are a back-door attempt to prevent new charter schools from opening—contrary to the very purpose of the CSP. Furthermore, due to insufficient funding, the Department has not made any new awards to new grantees since 2020.
“Other federal public education programs saw an increase in funding both in President Biden’s budget request and in the House Labor HHS budget. We are pleased that the administration and Congress see fit to prioritize public education, especially as our country navigates the exacerbated inequities in educational access caused by the pandemic. The administration’s pledge to lift all forms of excellence in education cannot be fully achieved without explicit support for all public schools – both charter and district. In particular, we thank Representatives Moolenaar and Letlow for their support during today’s committee meeting.
“These innovative, student-centered public schools enroll more than 3.6 million students and overwhelmingly serve students of color. Given the strong support for charter schools from families, especially in Black and Brown communities, prioritizing funding for the Charter Schools Program would help to meet the growing demand and serve America’s students and families with high-quality education options.”
About the CSP
At its current funding level of $440 million, the CSP amounts to less than one percent of federal spending on K-12 education. Research has consistently shown that charter schools across the country still receive nearly 30 percent less per pupil per year in funding than neighboring district-run public schools. For more than 25 years, the CSP has provided states with resources to help ensure every child can access a high-quality public education. It is the backbone for both the public education system and the charter school movement, strengthening their efforts to provide more equitable opportunities for all students.