Bipartisan bill will strengthen federal Charter Schools Program by providing more equitable access to pre-planning resources needed to open a new school
Today, Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, John Cornyn (R-TX), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tim Scott (R-SC), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Mike Braun (R-IN), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), and Brian Schatz (D-HI) introduced the Empower Charter School Educators to Lead Act which would allocate Charter Schools Program (CSP) grant funding for pre-planning grants to school leaders and educators looking to start high-quality public charter schools. The funds in this bill are intended to help equalize the opportunity for educators and school leaders who want to open a charter school but lack access to resources needed to navigate the complex process and planning costs required to submit a high-quality charter school application.
Pre-planning funds help leaders design their school and establish a leadership team prior to submitting a charter application to an authorizer. This type of support targeted to educators is difficult to provide under the CSP, yet research shows this financial assistance correlates with a strong charter school application and school opening. This public support may be especially valuable to educators of color, from low-income backgrounds, or in rural areas who may have less access to philanthropic support.
“The Empower Charter School Educators to Lead Act is a great step forward in attracting a diverse pool of educators and community leaders across the country to open high-quality public charter schools,” says Nina Rees, President and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. “This is a win for communities, families, and students. Local educators and leaders know best how to serve their students and this bill offers them the critical resources they need to put a plan to open a charter school. On behalf of the charter school community, we thank Senators Cornyn and Booker for their leadership in introducing this bill and Senators Cassidy, Scott, Bennet, Braun, Hassan, and Schatz for sponsoring the bill and their lifelong support for greater educational opportunities for all kids and families.”
According to a study by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA), most charter school proposals do not identify support from an incubator, philanthropy, or community partnership, however, those that did were more likely to be approved by their authorizing board. Further, additional resources for technical assistance and administration are needed because of the significant new requirements for charter school grantees that were added last year, on top of the already complex program.
What the bill would do:
- Allow State Entities receiving CSP grants to use a portion of their funding to make pre-planning awards to experienced educators to support the development of high-quality charter applications.
- Raise the current caps on the percentage of funds that can be spent on technical assistance and administration to ensure that states can support a high-quality charter school community and comply with new regulatory requirements.
- Explicitly authorize states to provide technical assistance to charter schools on accessing facilities, a major need in the charter school community.