The Washington Post

Congress to consider charter-school legislation

A bipartisan group of senators plans to introduce a bill Wednesday meant to encourage the growth of charter schools across the country, mirroring legislation expected to be taken up in the House later this week.

The legislation would consolidate existing federal grant programs that encourage new charter schools to open and that help charter school leaders afford suitable buildings. The bills would also boost charter-school funding from the $250 million budgeted in fiscal 2014 to $300 million, though the Senate version would reserve more of those dollars for replicating existing successful schools as opposed to opening brand new schools.

States that are using charter schools to turn around long-struggling traditional schools, or that have policies in place to help charter schools secure facilities, would have an advantage in the grant competition.

“We're going to build on the success of charter schools with this bill,” said Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), a key sponsor, who said the legislation would permit the development of 500 charter schools per year across the country.

Along with Landrieu, the bill’s supporters include Michael Bennet (D-Colo,), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), ranking member of the Senate’s education committee.

On the other side of Congress, the effort has been spearheaded by Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.) and Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), the chairman and ranking member of the House education committee.

Charter schools are taxpayer-funded but independently run. Most are not unionized, and their rapid growth across the country in recent years — helped along by the strong support of the Obama administration — has stoked endless debate in education policy and political circles.

The House bill is widely expected to pass, and Landrieu said she’s hopeful that a strong show of support from Democratic representatives — especially Miller — will spur the Senate to act.

“He’s a very well-respected, more liberal voice on schools,” Landrieu said of Miller. “I think his endorsement and support is going to go a long way to convince a lot of Democrats to join this effort.”

Emma Brown writes about national education and about people with a stake in schools, including teachers, parents and kids.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
Making family dinnertime happen
Deaf banjo player teaches thousands
New limbs for Pakistani soldiers
Play Videos
A veteran finds healing on a dog sled
Learn to make this twice-baked cookie
How to prevent 'e-barrassment'
Play Videos
Syrian refugee: 'I’m committed to the power of music'
The art of tortilla-making
Michael Bolton's cinematic serenade to Detroit
Play Videos
Circus nuns: These sisters are no act
5 ways to raise girls to be leaders
Cool off with sno-balls, a New Orleans treat

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.