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Public Statements

Empowering Parents Through Quality Charter Schools Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

The House in Committee of the Whole House on the state of the Union had under consideration the bill (H.R. 2218) to amend the charter school program under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965:

* Mrs. BIGGERT. Mr. Chair, I rise today in support of H.R. 2218, the Empowering Parents through Quality Charter Schools Act.

* While there is no silver bullet to resolve all the problems facing our nation's education system, this bill represents a critical step toward better preparing our children to meet the challenges of a 21st century economy. It is also the first major element of reform to be acted on this year by either chamber of Congress.

* We all want our kids to be able to attend a great school. It's like my father told me, ``If you have a good education, you can accomplish anything.''

* That's why transparent and accountable charter schools are so important. They ensure greater access among our children to the high-quality education they deserve. Moreover, charter schools often operate in flexible and innovative ways that promote student success.

* Unfortunately, demand for these opportunities continues to outpace supply. Over 400,000 U.S. students remain on waiting lists for enrollment in charter schools.

* That's why I support H.R. 2218, which contains provisions that will remove barriers to the establishment of charter schools, improve academic performance, and reduce the number of students waiting for admission. This legislation also establishes commonsense quality controls that will protect students and taxpayers alike. The bill requires accurate assessments of schools though independent financial audits, and establishes clear academic and performance standards.

* Following passage in the House, this bill will be sent to the Senate, where I hope it receives the consideration it deserves. And, should it be signed into law, I will continue to work with my colleagues to monitor its impact and ensure that our nation's charter school system continues to reflect the transparency and accountability required by this legislation.

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