WASHINGTON, D.C. | March 12, 2014 -
The House Committee on Education and the Workforce, chaired by Rep. John Kline (R-MN), today held a hearing entitled, “Raising the Bar: The Role of Charter Schools in K-12 Education.” During the hearing, members discussed ways charter schools are empowering parents, pioneering fresh teaching methods, encouraging state and local innovation, and helping students escape underperforming schools.
In his opening remarks, Chairman Kline said, “For many children and their parents, charter schools are a beacon of hope for a better education – and a better life. The schools are extraordinarily in demand; wait lists for charter schools have grown steadily in recent years, reaching a new record of 920,000 students in 2012.”
Chairman Kline highlighted House efforts to support charter schools, noting the House-passed Student Success Act included provisions to reauthorize the Charter Schools Program and encourage the growth and expansion of these institutions. Read more about the Student Success Act here.
“However, the Student Success Act has been awaiting Senate consideration for more than six months,” Chairman Kline said. “Each day without Senate action is another day thousands of students remain trapped in underperforming schools…If the Senate refuses to bring education reform legislation up for a vote, then the House will explore opportunities to advance targeted legislation to encourage charter school growth.”
Lisa Graham Keegan, Chair of the Board for the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, explained the benefits of charter schools. “Public charter schools were created specifically to advance achievement. They reflect the vision, the skills, and the heart of the team that founds them,” Ms. Keegan said. “They are intentional schools, schools built to order, to meet a need known but not met, a possibility understood but not yet realized. Public charter schools were envisioned to be the place that we could find solutions for America’s most intractable struggle to realize our children’s potential. And they have been America’s best public education tool.”
Alan Rosskamm, Chief Executive Officer of Breakthrough Schools in Cleveland, Ohio, described Breakthrough’s success in raising the bar on student achievement. “In 2012-2013, Breakthrough students, on average, outperformed their peers across the city, county, and state in every subject,” Mr. Rosskamm said. “Nationally, Breakthrough Schools were recognized as 1st in reading growth and 4th in math growth among urban charter school networks in the United States in a study by the CREDO Institute at Stanford University.”
Dr. Deborah McGriff, Chair of the Board for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, stressed the importance of continuing the federal Charter Schools Program. “I don’t believe the public charter school sector’s growth to meet parental demand for educational options would have occurred the way it has without the presence of dedicated federal funding. Let me say that again to be perfectly clear: while public charter schools are inherently local, the movement would not have achieved its current success had it not been for the Federal Charter Schools Program.”
“Recent news highlights the challenges the charter school model faces, and underscores the importance of reauthorizing and strengthening the Charter School Program to help ensure these institutions can continue raising student achievement levels nationwide,” Chairman Kline concluded. “I look forward to discussing with my colleagues ways the House Education and the Workforce Committee can help strengthen the charter school model and support the expansion and growth of these innovative institutions.”
To learn more about today’s hearing, or to watch an archived webcast, visit www.edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.
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