Paige Announces $198 Million in Support for Charter Schools
New grants totaling $71 million are being awarded to Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Tennessee, which recently passed charter legislation, is being funded for the first time. Unlike the other states, Arizona’s $3.5 million will go to 27 schools that receive funds directly from the department. In addition, the department is directly funding one school in New Hampshire, and, for the first time, two schools in Wyoming.
To provide ongoing support to start-up charter schools and to share best practices, more than $119 million in second- and third-year funding will go to 17 states and to 82 schools in Arizona and one in Nevada.
“Charter public schools are a critically important part of the education landscape in this country,” Paige said. “Thanks to charter schools, more parents have more choices than ever before, and these grants will help keep strong the charter school movement in the United States and, most important, help ensure that no child is left behind.”
In most cases, the U.S. Department of Education’s Public Charter Schools Program makes the awards to states, which in turn make subgrants to eligible charter schools. The funds provide support for planning and program design; measuring student progress; professional development; and for acquiring curricula, materials and supplies. In addition, charter schools that have been open for at least three consecutive years, have strong leaders, have raised student achievement, and report high levels of parent satisfaction may receive grants for up to 24 months to share best practices with those who are creating new schools or are converting existing public schools to charters or to other schools including charter schools.
The remaining nearly $7 million in continuation grants was awarded to the Field-Initiated National Activities Projects which support national activities including: research and data collection; technical assistance; providing information on facilities; and sharing best practices in instruction and assessment.
The department estimates that about 2,400 charter schools are operating this school year around the country. Some 38 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have charter school legislation. Charter schools are public schools operating with a contract, or charter, from a public agency. They are created by groups of parents, teachers, school administrators or others who want to provide alternatives within the public school system, with museum, local businesses and community organizations among their partners. They are intended to stimulate the creativity and commitment of teachers, parents, students and citizens and, therefore, contribute to better student achievement.
Charter schools are free of cost to parents and open to all students, but exempted from most statutory and regulatory requirements in exchange for performance-based accountability. They must meet standards set forth in their charters for students and the school as a whole, or else the chartering agency can close the school. Charter schools must be non-sectarian and abide by civil rights, health and safety laws.
Program Office, (202) 260-1882