Charter School Support Is a Prerequisite for Race to the Top Funds


United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan this week warned states that they'd better be open to charter schools if they want to get a piece of the $4.35 billion Race to the Top Fund. And, what's more, those states that do allow charter but put caps on their growth will need to remove those caps.

The Race to the Top Fund is designed to help states in their efforts to bolster student achievement. It provides $4.35 billion to create incentives for states to create "innovative" programs that can be replicated throughout the country. And, in general, it's aimed at funding programs that satisfy the principles outlined in the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, which include creating and saving jobs; ensuring transparency, reporting, and accountability; and improving student achievement through school improvement and reform. The application period for the Race to the Top Fund will open this summer, with one-time grants being distributed by the end of the year.

"States that do not have public charter laws or put artificial caps on the growth of charter schools will jeopardize their applications under the Race to the Top Fund," Duncan said, according to a transcription released by the U.S. Department of Education. "To be clear, this administration is not looking to open unregulated and unaccountable schools. We want real autonomy for charters combined with a rigorous authorization process and high performance standards."

According to information released by ED yesterday, 10 states do not allow public charter schools, and 26 of the 40 states that do put "artificial caps" on the number of public charter schools allowed. These issues, among others, according to ED, are "restricting reforms, limiting choices for parents and students, and denying children access to new high-quality instruction."

"I am advocating for using whatever models work for students, and particularly where improvements have stagnated for years," Duncan said. "We cannot continue to do that same thing and expect different results. We cannot let another generation of children be deprived of their civil right to a quality education."

About the Author

David Nagel is the former editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal, STEAM Universe, and Spaces4Learning. A 30-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art, marketing, media, and business publications.

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