“There is much to applaud in the President’s FY23 proposed budget for education. Many students in vulnerable populations, including those from low-income communities, students with disabilities, and multilingual students would benefit from significantly increased funding. We were also pleased to see $20 billion in Title I funding as well as increased proposed funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities, Minority-Serving Institutions, and Community Colleges. Another bright spot in the budget is $1 billion in funding for additional social workers, school nurses, school psychologists, counselors, and other health professionals.
“Many students who attend public charter schools are part of these groups and have been historically underserved – nearly 70% of charter school students are Black or Brown and nearly 60% qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. We were therefore disappointed that President Biden’s FY23 budget proposal did not include an increase in funding for the Charter Schools Program (CSP). The CSP is the nation’s only source of dedicated federal funding for the creation of these unique public schools. For the past five years, the CSP has been level-funded at $440 million, which amounts to less than 1% of all federal spending on K-12 education. Meanwhile, demand for charter schools is at an all-time high.
“The current level of funding for the CSP is not adequate to meet the demand of parents. We had hoped that the President’s budget would have gone further and increased funding for the start-up, growth, and replication of high-quality charter schools. During the 2020-2021 school year there was a 7% increase in charter school enrollment and several states passed legislation to expand charter schools. Charter schools serve 3.5 million students, and 5 million more students would attend one if it were available. These innovative, student-centered public schools desperately need more funding from the federal government to serve all the families who need and want them.
“The President’s budget, released on the heels of new CSP rules and regulations proposed by the U.S. Department of Education, sets a troubling pattern. The proposed rules and regulations would disproportionately impact single-site, rural, Black, Brown, and Native charter school leaders, and the very students the Administration is looking to support in significant parts of the President’s budget. This back-door attempt to prevent new charter schools from opening runs counter to the very purpose of the CSP.
“The National Alliance is actively working with lawmakers from both parties and our champions across the nation in all branches of government – state-level, local and national – to remediate the issues in CSP regulations and increase funding for the CSP to $500 million for FY23 to support these free, innovative, public schools. We will continue fighting for American children and equity.”