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Public Charter School Leaders of Color Take to the Hill to Educate Congress

Public Charter School Leaders of Color Take to the Hill to Educate Congress

March 1, 2022

In more than 75 meetings with congressional lawmakers, 41 public charter school leaders of color today delivered a message of equity, innovation, and hope in public education. Hosted by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, leaders from 21 states and the District of Columbia virtually advocated for these unique public schools and their families and students, as well as for equitable funding for the Charter Schools Program, the only source of dedicated federal funding to support the growth of public charter schools.

“During this convening charter school leaders of color will advocate on behalf of their parents, students, and teachers for the critical resources necessary to create the kinds of schools that their communities need and want,” said Ron Rice, Senior Director of Government Relations for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. “Congress needs to hear their stories and partner with these leaders who are making a difference in their communities, improving the public education system and the lives of families and students.”

Charter schools historically serve proportionately more students of color and more students from low-income communities than district schools. According to the most recently available data (2019-20 school year), 69.7% of charter school students are students of color compared to 52.9% of district school students, and 58.7% of charter school students participate in the federal free and reduced-price lunch program, compared to 51.6% of district school students. Charter schools also employ more teachers of color and are more likely to be led by a leader of color. According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, 32% of charter school teachers and 33.5% of charter school leaders are people of color compared to 20% and 21.4%, respectively, in district public schools.

Charter School Leaders said the following about today’s meetings:

“I’m advocating for parents to have the sole power to choose the best education environment for their child. I believe charter schools represent the best public option for parents desiring a different and a more personalized experience for their child.”

“I believe in charter schools because unlike districts, they can make localized decisions quickly to address the needs of the students they serve, versus being stifled by unnecessary bureaucracy. They also force districts out of complacency and raise the level of service for students in all schools.”

“I believe that charter schools serve as a critical piece of the educational landscape by offering a wide variety of programming to students. Families should have the right to select a school that best meets their child’s needs, and that requires both district and charter school options.”

“Charter schools give parents a choice in their child’s education. Because of Charter Schools, families do not have to relocate just to ensure that their child has a high-quality education that meets their expectations. This is why I believe in charter schools.”

“I am advocating for quality public schools. It is imperative that scholars of color be afforded access and that is made possible by having a quality educational experience.”

The Charter Schools Program (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, Hispanic, or from low-income families. More than 1 million students have access to high-quality public schools that would not have existed without 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. Equitable funding is necessary to provide the same quality of public education – regarding facilities, teacher pay, curriculum, technology, meals, etc. – to all students, and to provide more students with the opportunity to attend a public charter school. 

According to a new study from the Fordham Institute, an increase in total charter school enrollment share is associated with a significant increase in the average math achievement of low-income, Black, and Hispanic students, especially in larger metro areas. In addition, increases in Black and Hispanic student charter school enrollment are associated with sizable increases in the average math achievement of these students, especially (again) in larger metro areas. Finally, an increase in total charter school enrollment share is associated with a significant narrowing of a metro area’s racial and socioeconomic math achievement gaps.

Hundreds of thousands of families switched to charter schools during the first full year of the COVID pandemic, signaling strong demand for new public school options. According to the National Alliance’s September 2021 report, Voting with Their Feet: A State-level Analysis of Public Charter School and District Public School Enrollment Trends, charter school enrollment increased 7% during the 2020-2021 school year. In all, nearly 240,000 new students enrolled in these unique public schools, while 1.4 million students left their district public schools. Charter schools are an important part of the public school ecosystem. Without them, overall public school enrollment declines would have been far worse, and many families would have suffered even more during this time of unprecedented challenge.

The following 41 leaders from around the country participated in meetings with their congressional representatives today:

Leaders and experts are available for interview and comment. Please reach out to Alanna Klein at [email protected] to schedule.

About Public Charter Schools
Public charter schools are independent, public, and tuition-free schools that are given the freedom to be more innovative while being held accountable for advancing student achievement. Since 2010, many research studies have found that students in charter schools do better in school than their traditional school peers. For example, one study by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University found that charter schools do a better job teaching low income students, minority students, and students who are still learning English than traditional schools. Separate studies by the Center on Reinventing Public Education and Mathematica Policy Research have found that charter school students are more likely to graduate from high school, go on to college, stay in college and have higher earnings in early adulthood.

About the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools is the leading national nonprofit organization committed to advancing the public charter school movement. Our mission is to lead public education to unprecedented levels of academic achievement by fostering a strong charter sector. For more information, please visit www.publiccharters.org

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