A bipartisan group of eight U.S. Senators is seeking to provide pre-planning grants for new charter schools led by educators. Last week these lawmakers introduced the Empower Charter School Educators to Lead Act. If passed, the bill would leverage grants under the federal Charter Schools Program that would enable educators to plan and launch high quality public charter schools.
The senators sponsoring the bill include four Republicans and four Democrats: Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA), John Cornyn (R-TX), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tim Scott (R-SC), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Mike Braun (R-IN), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), and Brian Schatz (D-HI). Senator Cassidy is the ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee.
Primarily, the legislation would:
- Enable state entities that receive federal Charter Schools Program (CSP) funds to award “pre-planning grants” to prospective charter applicants who are educators with at least five years’ experience.
- Allow states to use up to 5% of their overall grant dollars for these special planning grants.
- Create more capacity for states to allocate grant funds for technical assistance and quality improvement–and allow help finding a facility to be part of technical assistance.
The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools supports the legislation, as do a number of other charter organizations.