On June 22, the House Education and the Workforce Committee approved a bill to reform and strengthen the current charter school program by a bipartisan vote of 34 to 5. The bill, the Empowering Parents through Quality Charter Schools Act, is the second in a series of education reform bills designed to revamp the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), currently known as No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).
“This legislation will open the doors of opportunity for parents and children across the country,” said House Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Subcommittee Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-CA), who is the bill’s sponsor. “By encouraging the development and expansion of more high-quality charter schools, not only will we offer fresh hope to the more than 400,000 students currently on charter school waitlists, we will also take a great step toward building a stronger, more successful education system.”
The bill also drew support from Representative George Miller (D-CA), top Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee. “When charter schools are run and managed effectively, and when they’re accessible and successful for all students, including students with disabilities and English language learners, they can be used as a tool to drive innovation in our schools,” Miller said. “If we can keep up this pace of bipartisan action on education reform, and move forward with the rewrite of ESEA, we will be on track to dramatically transform our schools and finally bring them to the future.”
The bill would provide greater opportunities for states to support the development and expansion of successful charter schools while increasing charter school accountability and transparency. Specifically, the bill would strengthen quality authorizing practices, provide transparency on financial audits, and make student achievement and equal access part of the decision process for renewing and expanding charter schools.