Nine states, 17 charter management organizations and eight programs that help charter schools access private-sector funding are receiving a combined $253 million in federal grants to expand charter schools, the U.S. Department of Education announced last week.
The grants are the first for charter schools to be awarded under the Every Student Succeeds Act, and the states awarded funding include Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Texas and Wisconsin.
Two state-level programs are also among the eight entities receiving about $56 million through the new Credit Enhancement for Charter School Facilities program, which is intended to help charters secure funding to purchase, build or renovate facilities more affordably.
In addition to awarding the grants, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos continued to express her strong support for school choice when she spoke Thursday at the Harvard Kennedy School.
“I've been on the job now for some time, and I came into office with a core belief: it is the inalienable right and responsibility of parents to choose the learning environment that best meets their child's unique, individual needs. I'm even more convinced of that today,” she said. “The future of choice should be whatever parents want for their children. The future of choice relies upon parents being empowered to make choices for their children.”
As competition between charter schools and traditional public schools continues to increase in some parts of the country, some experts say it’s best for administrators to ignore the debates and focus on the needs and interests of the parents in their communities.