RELEASE: Modernizing the Charter Schools Program Should Balance Growth with Improving Quality and Tackling Structural Challenges

Washington, D.C.—The Center for American Progress released a new column looking at how the 25 year-old federal Charter Schools Program (CSP) should be reformed to better meet the sector’s strengths and challenges. Currently, approximately 85 percent of CSP funding supports the creation of new charter schools. The piece calls on policymakers to pursue a more balanced approach to charters that encourages smart growth of high-performing schools, improves the quality of existing charters, and addresses challenges in the charter sector.

Policy recommendations outlined in the piece include:

  • Conduct community-wide analyses spanning traditional school districts and the charter sector to project enrollment patterns and research what kinds of programs parents want for their children.
  • Provide grants to launch and support unified enrollment systems and improve equitable access to charter schools and other public schools of choice.
  • Invest in programs to support early-growth charter networks.
  • Provide consortia—including districts, charter schools, associations, and authorizers—grants to support special education cooperation and improve economies of scale for small charter operators. Provide grants to states to make curricular resources from the most successful charter operators widely available.
  • Ban incentive compensation for student recruitment and enrollment; establish clear conflict of interest requirements for school leaders and board members; and require that management contracts for charter schools ensure that critical decision-making authority remains with the school’s board.

“The federal Charter School Program has helped expand opportunity for students by supporting the growth of high-performing charter schools, but it should do more to help existing charter schools improve and push states to tackle clear challenges in the sector,” said Neil Campbell, Director of Innovation for K-12 Policy at CAP. “Moving forward, a balanced approach to charter school policy is the best way to support the goal of a quality seat for every child.”

Please click here to read Modernizing the Federal Charter Schools Program by Neil Campbell.

For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Colin Seeberger at cseeberger@americanprogress.org or 202.741.6292.