BLOG: High-Quality Education Options at Center of Dept. of Ed Charter School Grants

By Jacqueline Cooper, BAEO Interim President

Following a period of significant growth within the charter school sector that educate almost 3 million students across the country, the U.S. Department of Education Monday announced new rounds of charter school grants totaling more than $157 million through its Charter Schools Program (CSP). The school grants closely align with BAEO's mission of supporting parental choice in selecting high-quality educational options for their children.

This year's state grant program awarded $125 million in new grants to eight states as well as an investment of more than $32million in 12 high-quality charter management organizations (CMOs) that serve students from low-income families. The funding will enable them to run state-level grant competitions to support approximately 400 students, and will use these funds to replicate their successful programming for more than 40,000 additional students.

"We applaud the Department of Education's commitment to supporting the growth of high-quality charter schools across the country. Public charter schools, along with traditional public schools and private schools, are an integral part of the comprehensive approach needed to expand to a high-quality education, especially for low-income and working-class Black families," said Jacqueline Cooper, interim president of BAEO. "More and more Black families are voting with their feet and sending their students to public charter schools. We need to continue supporting that choice, while also taking lessons from successful charter schools to improve traditional public schools as well."

Most of this year's grantees are newer CMOs who are receiving their first charter grant. They are particularly focused on educating students who would otherwise be enrolled in low-performing schools and on encouraging diversity within their student populations. Prior to today's announcement, the CMO program had previously invested over $230 million in planning and implementing more than 400 high-quality public charter schools and opening over 250 public charter schools across 20 states.

Many public charter schools, especially those serving students in high-poverty, urban areas, have seen promising improvements in student achievement. According to a 2013 study by Stanford University's Center for Research on Outcomes (CREDO), the relative performance of charter schools compared to traditional schools has improved each year. The most recent CREDO study showed that charter school students in urban areas gain roughly 40 days of additional learning per year in math and 28 additional days of learning per year in reading.

Read the department's full announcement as well as view the complete list of grantees here.