Today, U.S. Sen. David Vitter introduced the 21st Century Charter School Act, a public education reform bill that encourages the growth and replication of successful charter school models.
"Investing in charter schools, which operate with greater freedom and flexibility than traditional public schools, is a great way to ensure that our nations' children receive a quality education. We must encourage and publicize charter school models that work, and create awareness of successful public charters," said Vitter. "Improving education begins at the local level, where decisions about education are best made by teachers, principals, and parents. My bill removes bureaucratic red tape faced by charter schools and empowers local leaders to invest in original ideas by encouraging states to support and properly fund charter schools," said Vitter.
The 21st Century Charter School Act allows chartering associations to directly apply for federal education grants that can be used for planning, program design, and initial implementation of the charter school, and it establishes an annual review and evaluation for all grant recipients. The bill also encourages states to remove restrictive charter school laws, allowing for greater quality and autonomy. Further, the bill ensures that charter school funding is commensurate with public school funding on a per pupil basis and encourages states to create charter schools in districts with large numbers of schools designated as in need of improvement.
"In Louisiana, the majority of charter schools operate as their own Local Education Agencies; accordingly, these schools, pursuant to your bill, will be eligible to apply for these federal funds without relying on a "middle man' to administer the monies," said Caroline Roemer, executive director of the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools. "As such, this bill remedies a long-standing concern of school leaders by enhancing charter schools' abilities to operate efficiently."
The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools also supports the 21st Century Charter School Act. "The bill recognizes that just replicating our best charters isn't enough, and requires these schools and grant administrators to have in place plans for disseminating the success factors to other public charter schools and public school districts. This will ensure that dollars spent to support the growth of our best charter schools will have an impact far beyond just the individual school or campus that receives funding," said Nelson Smith, president and CEO.