As President Obama announced plans to devote more money to Charter Schools this week, experts stress increased oversight to help ensure success. According to todayâ€™s New York Times article, one influential charter group member told the House Education and Labor Committee that the federal government had spent $2 billion since the mid-1990s to finance new charter schools but less than $2 million, about one-tenth of 1 percent, to ensure that they were held to high standards. â€œItâ€™s as if the federal government had spent billions for new highway construction, but nothing to put up guardrails along the sides of those highways,â€ said Greg Richmond, president of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers. Here are a few important facts about Charter Schools:
o Over one million students are enrolled in more than 3,500 schools in 40 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico this year.
o Under the NCLB Act, persistently low-performing schools may be converted to charter schools as an option for restructuring them.
o On average, the funding gap between charter schools and traditional schools is 22 percent, or $1,800 per pupil. The average charter school ends up with a total funding shortfall of nearly half a million dollars.
o The Department of Education, through the Charter Schools Program (CSP), began a competitive grant program for alleviating the financial constraints in planning and starting a charter school.
o Since 1995, when CSP started administering start-up grants, the number of states that have passed charter laws has risen to 40.
o According to the first-year report of the National
Study of Charter Schools, the three reasons most often cited to create a charter school are to:
â€¢ Realize an educational vision
â€¢ Gain autonomy
â€¢ Serve a special population
In addition to greater oversight, charter school achievement can be accelerated by establishing student success and transition programs that are data-driven, since research is one area that charter schools lag behind compared to public schools. Every LifeBound program, grades 5-12, offers data assessments so that schools can see the results. Charter schools need the kind of support organizations like ours provide, as well as commitment from standard-setting teachers and leadership, parents and the community at large.
How can we ensure that Charter Schools have access to student success and transition programs that are proven to increase academic achievement?
Why do some charter schools perform so much better than other charter and non-charter schools?
What can traditional schools learn from high-performing charter schools that might be incorporated into the public school system?
NEW YORK TIMES
by Sam Dillon
WASHINGTON â€” The Obama administration plans to significantly expand the flow of federal aid to charter schools, money that has driven a 15-year expansion of their numbers, from just a few dozen in the early 1990s to some 5,000 today.
But in the first Congressional hearing on rewriting the No Child Left Behind law, lawmakers on Wednesday heard experts, all of them charter school advocates, testify that Washington should also make sure charter schools are properly monitored for their admissions procedures, academic standards and financial stewardship.
The president of one influential charter group told the House Education and Labor Committee that the federal government had spent $2 billion since the mid-1990s to finance new charter schools but less than $2 million, about one-tenth of 1 percent, to ensure that they were held to high standards.
â€œItâ€™s as if the federal government had spent billions for new highway construction, but nothing to put up guardrails along the sides of those highways,â€ said Greg Richmond, president of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers.
Charter schools operate mainly with state financing, and with less regulation than traditional public schools. A provision of the No Child law offers federal startup grants, usually in the range of $150,000 per school, to charter organizers to help them plan and staff a new school until they can begin classes and obtain state per-pupil financing.
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