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Learning from High-Quality Charter Schools

This week, the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to consider the Empowering Parents through Quality Charter Schools Act (H.R. 2218). This important legislation will help more students gain access to a quality education by facilitating the development of high-performing charter schools.

Charter schools embody choice and flexibility in education – two key pillars of Republican education reform efforts. Not only do charter schools support innovative curriculum and special programs uniquely geared to meet the needs of the student population, they can also inspire progress in traditional public schools. 

That’s why state and local education officials in some U.S. cities are turning to charter schools for ideas to help improve area schools. A recent New York Times article showcases this effort in Houston, Texas: 

In the first experiment of its kind in the country, the Houston public schools are testing whether techniques proven successful in high-performing urban charters can also help raise achievement in regular public schools. Working with Roland G. Fryer, a researcher at Harvard who studies the racial achievement gap, Houston officials last year embraced five key tenets of such charters at nine district secondary schools; this fall, they are expanding the program to 11 elementary schools. A similar effort is beginning in Denver.

“We can’t sit idly by and let parents think that only the quality charter schools can educate poor kids well,” said Terry Grier, Houston’s hard-charging superintendent. “If you see something good, why not try to replicate it?”

As noted in the article, however, the successful practices employed by local charter schools are not always effectively relayed to other educators. To help more cities raise the bar on student achievement, H.R. 2218 will not only incentivize states to remove barriers to charter school growth, but will also encourage the sharing of best practices between charter schools and traditional public schools.

To learn more about the Empowering Parents through Quality Charter Schools Act, click here.

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