10 items public charters are hoping for from Biden administration
The number of students in public charter schools has surpassed 3.3 million in 44 states.
And yet, over the past several years despite growing interest in them from children and families, more than 3.5% of those schools close each year with no new ones taking their places, according to the nonprofit National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.
The Alliance says that disproportionally affects populations that are both diverse and disadvantaged, including students of color – especially those from the Latinx community – those who are low-English proficiency (LEP) students and students with disabilities.
With a new president, Joe Biden, and a new administration taking shape, the Alliance is hoping those students and others attending traditional public schools will be front of mind when decisions on funding and services for children are considered.
“This administration has already voiced a strong commitment to unifying the nation and serving the needs of working families,” said Nina Rees, president and CEO, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. “Support for public education is surely a critical component of executing on their objectives, and we look forward to working with the administration to ensure every child in America has access to a high-quality public education,” she added.
Alliance officials noted the fallout the COVID-19 pandemic has had throughout K-12 education – from budget shortfalls to learning loss in reading and math to disparities in those who live in underserved communities.
For public school charters, funding is a major concern. Though states often provide slightly more aid to public charters overall, the Alliance says they receive only about three-quarters of what other public schools net overall.
Most major metropolitan areas show the same gaps, totaling nearly 33%, to which University of Arkansas professor Patrick Wolf said, “this a wake-up call for policymakers to develop more equitable school funding solutions. Closing the funding gap can help all schools deliver on the promise of a high-quality education for every student.”
Though it did not call for the complete leveling of the public school/public charter field, the Alliance did put out 10 recommendations it hoped the new education leadership, under prospective Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, would tackle in its 2021 Education Priorities:
- Providing more COVID-19 relief. The Alliance wants to see more monies going to public charters and specifically to closing equity gaps related to remote learning.
- Highlighting student achievement. Blanket waivers will not solve the learning loss from the pandemic, but measuring student achievement will have positive outcomes.
- Creating more paths for diverse teachers. With funding and training such as Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) and Teacher and School Leader Incentive Program (TSLIP), education can further expand its pool of teachers.
- Making high-need schools top priority. “We support the President’s proposal to triple funding for Title I, as well as his proposal to increase funding for federal Title III and IDEA, while better targeting aid to the highest-need states and school districts,” says the Alliance, which also notes the sticking point mentioned above in per-student funding.
- Updating facilities across the U.S. The president’s commitment to upgrading the infrastructure at schools notwithstanding, the Alliance says it is imperative that further investments are made regarding both traditional and public charters, as well as new opportunities for those charters.
- Getting HUD involved: The Alliance would like there to be a more synergistic effort between shared insight from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the education system “co-located with public housing” that includes public charters. The goal … to get students into high-quality schools whenever possible.
- Encouraging educators to start new schools. Offering grants to teachers under the Charter Schools Program would help those in the planning stages get high-quality schools off the ground. A number of public charters have seen closure after the first year, so this would encourage the development of more “high-quality charter applications, which must be approved before they can access federal start-up funding for planning and implementation.”
- Including all innovative schools in Biden plan: The Alliance says, many charter schools incorporate career and technical education and early college models into their program.
- Putting funds for pre-K into charter schools: Not every state’s public charters offer childcare or pre-K, but many do. They also offer robust services for those in special education. Charters would like to play a part in helping construct Biden’s plan to boost these programs.
- Fueling best practices, growth for charter schools. The Alliance wants $60 million to be put toward future facility development and innovative modeling.