From: The Honorable Jared Polis
Sent By: bo.morris@mail.house.gov
Date: 3/3/2016

Support Charter Schools in FY2017

Deadline to sign: Friday, March 18

Dear Colleague:

We are writing to ask you to join us in sending the attached letter to the Labor-HHS Subcommittee in support of FY 2017 funding for the federal Charter Schools Program (CSP).

As you may know, public charter schools are offering outstanding educational options to students nationwide and, in particular, to children living in poverty. Since 2010, 15 of 16 independent studies have found that students attending public charter schools do better academically than their traditional school peers. Moreover, over half of the students served by public charter schools are eligible for free or reduced-priced lunch, over half are students of color, and 17 percent are Limited English Proficient—all higher percentages than those served in traditional public schools.

Unfortunately, the supply of these innovative public schools has not kept up with demand. While 2.9 million children are currently enrolled in public charter schools nationwide, more than 600,000 of our nation’s students remain on charter school wait lists, unable to attend the school of their choice.

Our letter to the Appropriations Committee seeks to correct this imbalance. It requests $350 million for the Department of Education’s programs that support public charter schools, including those to support the launching of new public charter schools, sharing successful innovations with other traditional public schools, and providing incentives to state governments and other stakeholders to provide school facilities. This amount will help shrink the nation’s public charter school waiting lists and will improve educational choices available to our constituents.

We appreciate your attention to this matter, and ask that you join us in our efforts to fund the public Charter Schools Program. If you would like to sign, or if you have any questions, please contact Bo Morris with Rep. Polis (bo.morris@mail.house.gov, 5-2161) or Tim Carlton with Rep. Hunter (tim.carlton@mail.house.gov, 5-5672).

Sincerely,

Jared Polis                                                                   Duncan Hunter

Member of Congress                                                   Member of Congress

 

 

The Honorable Tom Cole                                The Honorable Rosa DeLauro
Chairman                                                          Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Labor, Health and               Subcommittee on Labor, Health and
Human Services, and Education                      Human Services, and Education
U.S. House of Representatives                        U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515                                   Washington, DC 20515

 

Dear Chairman Cole and Ranking Member DeLauro,

As the Committee begins consideration of FY 2017 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies appropriations legislation, we request an increase in funding for the Charter Schools Program (CSP) to $350 million. We are very appreciative of the significant funding increase that the CSP received in the FY2016 Consolidated Appropriations bill, and hope that the committee can continue to build on this investment. 

In the 2015-16 school year, public charter schools are educating more than 2.9 million students in over 6,800 schools. Forty-three states and the District of Columbia have enacted charter school laws and in over 160 communities, more than 10 percent of students attend public charter schools. In 14 cities, charter school enrollment exceeds 30 percent. Over half of the students served by public charter schools are eligible for free or reduced-priced lunch, over half are students of color, and 17 percent are Limited English Proficient—all higher percentages than those served in district public schools.

In the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), Congress affirmed the value and importance of the Charter Schools Program. ESSA retains grants to state entities, including a requirement that any state entity that receives a grant must use at least seven percent of funds on improving the work of charter school authorizers. In 2015, more than 27 states applied for grants, but there was only sufficient funding for eight states. ESSA requires that at least three states receive awards each year, and also permits states to fund the replication and expansion of high-performing charter schools.

ESSA also codifies and guarantees a dedicated funding stream for high-performing non-profit charter management organizations (CMOs) to replicate and expand their schools in communities that are most in need of better educational options. We request that no less than 18 percent of CSP funds be targeted to supporting this investment. Since 2010, more than 32 high-performing CMOs have received grants to open more than 400 new schools in 23 states and the District of Columbia.

ESSA also reserves 12.5 percent of funds for the financing of charter school facilities; the acquisition and financing of facilities continues to be a challenge for charter schools and these federal funds leverage state and private investments. Finally, the CSP was one of the few programs in ESSA that received an increase in its authorization level over the lifetime of the bill, which is a sign of the bipartisan support for the program.

Public charter schools continue to grow and deliver outstanding educational options to students nationwide and, in particular, to low-income children. Since 2010, many research studies have found that students in charter schools do better in school than their traditional school peers. A 2015 report from the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University found that charter schools located in our nation’s largest urban districts are showing significant positive performance impacts for the most disadvantaged students. Overall, students enrolled in urban charter schools gained 40 additional days of learning in math and 28 additional days in reading compared to their traditional public school peers.  Separate studies by the Center on Reinventing Public Education and Mathematica Policy Research have found that charter school students are more likely to graduate from high school, go on to college, stay in college and have higher earnings in early adulthood.

CSP funds are critical to support the launching of new charter schools, sharing successful innovations with other traditional public schools, and providing incentives to state governments and other stakeholders to provide school facilities. Thank you for considering this request – we recognize this is a time of limited means and we greatly appreciate your support for meeting the existing and ever-growing parent demand for high-quality public school options.

Sincerely,