Representatives Jared Polis (D-CO), Tom Petri (R-WI), Rubén Hinojosa (D-TX), Brett Guthrie (R-KY), Susan Davis (D-CA), Erik Paulsen (R-MN), John Delaney (D-MD), and Aaron Schock (R-IL) today introduced the All Students Achieving through Reform (ALL-STAR) Act, a bipartisan bill to update and improve the Title V Charter Schools Program (CSP), the federal government's program to support the financing and growth of public charter schools across the country. This legislation will enable and encourage new charter school start ups in addition to the replication and expansion of high-quality charter schools and new charter school models.
"All students should have access to high-quality schools where children can learn, grow, and develop skills that will help them succeed in college and the workforce," said Rep. Polis. "Across the country, high-quality public charter schools are demonstrating that all students can achieve at high levels. The All-STAR Act would encourage more high-performing charter schools to form, replicate what works in education, and ensure accountability for public dollars."
"I'm pleased to support this bipartisan effort to promote high-quality public charter schools across the country," said Rep. Petri. "Many students who may have otherwise been lost in the education system have been given an opportunity to succeed because of the innovative strategies adopted by charter schools. This legislation would help expand the number of high-quality public charter schools so that more students have access to an education that will prepare for success in the 21st century."
The bill -- the All Students Achieving through Reform (All-STAR) Act -- includes aspects of the bipartisan Empowering Parents Through Quality Charter Schools Act, which passed the House of Representatives in the 112th Congress by a vote of 354-54. In particular, it would provide incentives for states to lift arbitrary caps on the growth of charter schools and pass other charter-friendly legislation, allow the Secretary of Education to award grants to individual charter schools and charter management organizations (CMOs) that have a demonstrated record of success, and provide support for public charter schools to secure facilities through credit enhancement activities.
"The bipartisan All-STAR Act makes important updates and improvements to the federal Charter Schools Program," said Nina Rees, President and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. "The bill will continue the program's focus on opening new charter schools, as well as support the replication and expansion of the nation's most promising public charter schools. The National Alliance applauds Congressman Jared Polis for his leadership and vision, and thanks all the original cosponsors for their strong support of the charter school movement. We look forward to working with Rep. Polis on this legislation and the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act."
Among the changes made in the 113th Congress, All-STAR increases the percentage of new competitive grants within the Department of Education's Charter School Program to replicate and expand the most successful public charter schools across the country. It also takes several steps to strengthen public charter school accountability, transparency, and governance to ensure that federal dollars are spent wisely.
"I am proud to join my colleague, Rep. Jared Polis, in introducing the ALL-STAR Act of 2013," said Rep. Hinojosa. "In my congressional district, I have seen high quality charter schools make a real difference in the lives of young people in South Texas. By replicating what works, our nation can continue to expand educational opportunity to greater numbers of disadvantaged students."
"Minnesotans can take pride in the fact that we've led the nation in developing successful public charter school options for our young students," said Rep. Paulsen. "The All-STAR Act will give new and already established charter schools the opportunity to grow, replicate, and provide our kids with the highest quality education possible. This bill takes us one step closer to ensuring a student's zip-code doesn't dictate the quality of education he or she receives."
"Improving educational outcomes is central to making our nation more competitive and improving the lives of our citizens," said Rep. Delaney. "Providing choice, encouraging innovation, and supporting educators is necessary to train a 21st century workforce. The All-STAR Act encourages new charter school start-ups and strengthens programs that are working for students and families. By any measure, Congressman Polis is an incomparable leader in educational reform and coming from the private sector he knows we have to foster innovation in our schools so our kids can thrive. I am honored to work with Congressman Polis and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle on this important bipartisan education legislation."
"I believe local control has to be an important aspect of our educational system. I understand well the intricacies and demands placed on school systems by administrators outside the borders of Illinois, which is why I believe the All-Star Act is an important legislative tool for states," said Rep. Schock. "This bill will help public charter schools by giving states the flexibility and incentives to adopt policies to support public charter school success. Public charter schools give parents and students educational options in their neighborhoods. By allowing more flexibility for these charter schools to use the CSP grant funding; they will be able to provide transportation, purchase instructional materials, implement teacher development programs and hire staff we can help put more students on a path toward success."
The bill would also offer additional freedoms for charter schools that receive CSP grants to use their funds to provide transportation, purchase instructional materials, implement teacher and principal professional development programs, and hire additional staff. Finally, the bill allows local education agencies (LEAs) and charter school authorizers to compete for the existing state grant program, increasing the opportunity for charter schools to start up in all states.
The bill is supported by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, Democrats for Education Reform, Center for American Progress Action Fund, New Schools Venture Fund, National Council of La Raza, Black Alliance for Educational Options, New Leaders, Students for Education Reform, Charter School Growth Fund, ConnCAN, Progressive Policy Institute, Fordham Foundation, and numerous outstanding charter management organizations.