WASHINGTON, D.C. | May 8, 2014 -
For many children and their parents, charter schools are a beacon of hope for a better education – and a better life. The schools are extraordinarily in demand; waitlists for charter schools have grown steadily in recent years, with more than one million students’ names on waitlists for the 2013-2014 school year.
Charter schools have a proven track record of success, encouraging higher academic achievement in even the most troubled school districts. I recently had the opportunity to visit two impressive charter schools in my home state of Minnesota. At both of the schools, without exception, students were engaged, excited, and eager to learn.
I know firsthand this is not a trend unique to charter schools in Minnesota. In fact, each time I visit quality charter schools, whether here in Washington, D.C. or in Prior Lake, Minnesota or even Harlem, New York, I’ve been amazed by the creative curriculum, the outstanding educators, and the students’ incredible progress.
Clearly, these institutions are a valuable part of a successful education system. However, the federal Charter School Program is in need of key reforms to enhance access and ensure continued educational quality. That’s why I partnered with my colleague, the Senior Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, to advance the Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act.
This bipartisan legislation will encourage more states and families to embrace charter schools – while also including several provisions to urge these schools to reach out to special populations, including at-risk students, children with disabilities, and English learners.
The bill will streamline the federal charter school program, while ensuring these institutions remain accountable to families and taxpayers. The bill also expands the allowable use of federal resources to support not just new charter schools, as under current law, but also the replication and expansion of successful charter schools.
Additionally, H.R. 10 will direct charter schools to share best practices with traditional public schools, helping to ensure school leaders are working together to implement successful education practices throughout the community.
Madam/ Mister Speaker, as we work to help more students access a quality education, we must support charter schools as a valuable alternative to failing public schools, and work together to encourage their growth. The Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act is a commonsense proposal that will improve educational opportunities for students across the board and provide families with additional school choice options.
I am very pleased members of the Education and the Workforce Committee have put their differences aside and worked through a very bipartisan process to develop an exceptional piece of legislation. I’d like to thank members and staff for these efforts, and I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join with us in supporting legislation that can have a hugely positive effect on children nationwide.