U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La.) today introduced a budget amendment in the U.S. Senate that would support the expansion and replication of charter schools that have a proven record of success.
Alexander said: "There are many successful charter schools that are changing students' lives, and it's that success that we need to replicate to reach many more children. These schools give teachers the freedom to use their firsthand knowledge, administrators the chance to use their good judgment and parents the ability to choose better schools for their children--giving more students the chance to move up the economic ladder."
McConnell said: "I am proud to support this measure that prioritizes school choice initiatives that incentivize the expansion of successful charter school models. If our schools are failing, America fails with them. Students, parents and communities in Kentucky and across America must demand schools put students first, produce results, and reward outstanding teachers. One successful approach that has been implemented in 42 states, but not in Kentucky, is the establishment of public charter schools."
Landrieu said: "Public charter schools provide quality options for families that are not fortunate enough to live in areas with a robust public education system, or do not have the means to pay for private schools. In Louisiana, we are seeing dramatic gains in educational outcomes with quality public charter schools. Parents who are doing everything they can to give their children every opportunity for success deserve not only a quality choice, but a solution to educating them. Successful charter schools provide that choice and that solution. The time is now to make them a central component of our education strategy all across the country."
Today there are 6,000 charter schools -- representing around 6 percent of all public schools -- serving 2.3 million students in the United States. Charter schools, which involve more flexibility in curriculum, provide more choices for parents to improve their children's future and more freedom for teachers and principals to increase the performance of their students.
A recent Mathematica Policy Research study found that a sample of 43 Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) middle schools have positive and statistically significant impacts on student achievement across all years in math, reading, science and social studies and are outperforming their traditional public school peers on state assessments. Nationally, KIPP educates 41,000 students, 90 percent of whom are minority and 83 percent low income, in 125 charter schools in 20 states and D.C. According to the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University, in New York City, charter school students on average make 25 percent larger learning gains in reading and 63 percent in mathematics than their traditional public school peers. Another CREDO study found that, in Michigan, charter school students on average make 35 percent larger learning gains in reading and 42 percent in math than their traditional public school peers.
The senators' amendment would support a program that provides for the replication and expansion of high-quality charter schools across the country, ultimately without increasing the debt.