National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Archives - North Carolina Coalition for Charter Schools

Debbie Veney Op-Ed: Don’t Cut Charter Schools Program Funding

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Debbie Veney is the senior vice president for communications and marketing at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. Photo credit: NAPCS.

President Biden’s FY 25 budget includes a funding cut to the federal Charter Schools Program. That proposed cut comes after years of  flat funding for a program that plays an important role in launching and expanding public charter schools nationwide. Debbie Veney, a senior vice president at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, has a new op-ed out about the political stakes for cutting charter funding–and how ignoring the needs of parent voters is perilous for politicians.

In our post today, we share an excerpt from Debbie’s op-ed below:

I vote in every election. When it comes to casting a ballot, whether it’s for president, Congress, state legislators, governor, mayor or city council, I am always going to vote based on what’s best for my child. There is nothing a candidate can say about any issue that will change this calculus. If I don’t believe my child will be better off with that person in office, they will not get my vote.

And I am not alone. There are millions of Americans — white, Black, Hispanic, Democrat, Republican, rural, suburban, urban — who will make the very same decision come November. Choosing to put our kids first is not a political issue; it’s just how we are wired.

Federal Charter Schools Program Maintains Level Funding for 2024

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The federal Charter Schools Program (CSP) will maintain its current level of funding for 2024. This is good news for a program that, with funding set at $440 million, represents a small fraction of federal spending on education–but plays a big role in helping charter schools nationwide grow. The program provides grants to help new charter schools launch and existing charter schools replicate or expand. In addition, CSP grants target access to facilities and more.

Eric Paisner, the acting president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, released a statement earlier this week about the FY 2024 budget, noting:

In the FY2024 Budget, signed by President Biden just days agothe federal Charter Schools Program (CSP) was protected from cut. Congress included level funding of $440 million for the CSPwhich was a remarkable victory given the contentious nature of the budget appropriations process this year. This marks the fifth year of level funding to the nation’s only source of dedicated federal funding for the creation of high-quality and in-demand public charter schools.  

The FY2024 budget includes new guiding language to allow for more flexibility in the use of CSP funds, including allocating funds to programs based on the needs of the field and supporting technical assistance for subgrantees. Most importantly, the cap is lifted on the State Facilities Incentives Grant, which makes it possible for the program to award new grants more frequently than once every five years. This means more schools will benefit from this funding stream as well as more states will be supported as they establish eligibility for this grant.

We thank the Appropriations Committee Chairs and Ranking Members for recognizing the value and educational opportunity public charter schools provide to families across the nation.

More advocacy for CSP lies ahead, however. Unfortunately, President Biden’s 2025 budget includes a $40 million cut to CSP. The Alliance is asking Congress for $500 million for the program. In addition, Congress is considering two bills that will amplify the work of CSP. Read more about those bills here. See more about the technical changes to CSP in the 2024 budget.

Student Opportunity: National Rising Leaders Initiative

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Recruitment for the Rising Leaders Initiative through the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools began this week! Applications opened February 5 and remain open through March 8, 2024. Who’s eligible? Students must be in high school and enrolled in a charter school. They must also be in good academic standing and have a record of service, along with an interest in “advocacy, leadership, and policy.”
Participating students are eligible to receive a $3,000 stipend.

Here’s the description of the Rising Leaders Initiative from the Alliance:

The Rising Leaders Initiative is a one-year advocacy training program for high school students who attend charter schools. It is designed to inspire student engagement in education advocacy and cultivate the next generation of young leaders who will shape education policies in their local communities and states. By providing students with the tools and resources they need to become effective advocates for choices in public education, we can create a brighter future for all students.

National report: NC’s charter growth is third-highest in the nation

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A new report out today from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools reveals North Carolina has experienced the third-highest charter growth of any state in the nation since 2019. The report, “Believing in Public Education,” includes four years of data (2019-2023) for 42 states, analyzing enrollment shifts fueled by the pandemic. Texas, Florida, and North Carolina lead the nation in charter growth, according to the Alliance report.

Nationally, charter schools have continued to grow since the pandemic. District schools, however, have not recovered from a dramatic enrollment downturn early on in the pandemic. Since 2019, 1.5 million students have left district public schools, while over 300,000 additional students have enrolled in the nation’s public charter schools. This represents a 9% enrollment increase for charter schools and a “net loss of 3.5%” for district public schools, according to the report.

North Carolina findings

  • North Carolina has experienced an 18.81% charter enrollment increase since 2019. Between 2019 and 2023, 22,308 additional students enrolled in N.C. public charter schools. District school enrollment, on the other hand, decreased by 2.89%, according to the Alliance report.
  • Black and Hispanic students are driving the state’s uptick in charter enrollment. They accounted for a larger share of North Carolina’s charter school enrollment increase, with 20.45% and 36.89% growth, respectively.

National findings

  • Hispanic students are driving charter growth across the country. They account for 50% of all new charter students nationwide since 2019.
  • Charter enrollment increases represent a national trend. Of the 42 states included in the Alliance analysis, 40 have experienced charter school growth since 2019.
  • Last year, charter schools added students at exponentially higher rates than district schools. The study reports nationwide that “charter schools enrolled nearly ten times the number of new students as district schools in the last school year.”

In a press release, Lindalyn Kakadelis, the executive director of the Coalition, said:

North Carolina has embraced the idea that parents deserve a choice in their children’s schooling, and parents are responding. Importantly, the state’s charter movement also continues to diversify as it grows, as this report makes clear. Public charter schools offer something different, from innovative curricula to concentrations in STEM, the arts, and more – representing an appealing option for families across demographic groups.

This table from the Alliance report captures enrollment shifts across the country between 2019-2023.

Source: “Believing in Public Education: A Demographic and State-level Analysis of Public Charter School and District Public School Enrollment Trends,” National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, December 12, 2023.

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Dispelling Misconceptions about Public Charter Schools

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Misconceptions about public charter schools abound. As a recent national poll discovered, even some public school teachers are unaware of some basic facts about charter schools. (Read more about that on the Coalition blog.) Fact: Charter schools are public schools. They’re free for students to attend, and they’re open to all. The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools is tackling common misconceptions head-on (as is the Coalition!). We have some great resources to share.

  • Here’s one: Listen to a podcast with David Griffith, the associate director of research at the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation.
  • Here’s another: View a sidebar comparison of the differences between district and public charter schools.
  • Explore the Coalition’s new online resource: An About Charter Schools web kit.
  • Watch our video introduction to charter schools from State Superintendent Catherine Truitt below.

New National Poll: ‘Listen to Your Teacher’

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A new report from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools explores teachers’ views on K-12 education, with some notable findings. Titled “Listen to Your Teacher: An Analysis of Teacher Sentiment on the State of Public Education,” the report includes poll findings from over 1,200 public charter and district school teachers. While many teachers are tired–and concerned about students–charter teachers report more durable motivation and higher levels of job satisfaction.

The Alliance released some of the poll findings in a sneak peek memo earlier this summer. (Read a Coalition blog post about that memo.) But this week’s report also provides in-depth analysis, and comes at a time when concerns are rising about teacher attrition. In fact, citing analysis from Chalkbeat of six states–including North Carolina–the Alliance notes that “more teachers left in 2021–22 than ‘at any point on record.'”

Some key findings about teachers overall

  • Most teachers support public school choice (78% of district teachers and 87% of charter teachers).
  • A majority of teachers are weary and worried: 58% are worried or anxious, 67% are burned out, and 72% are overwhelmed.
  • Teachers are quite concerned about students: 84% said student mental health is “at an all-time low.”

Key findings about charter school teachers

  • Charter school teachers are more likely to be satisfied with their work: 97% of charter teachers vs. 83% of district teachers.
  • They’re also more likely to report steady or increased motivation to teach. Seventy-nine percent of charter school teachers say they are as motivated–or more motivated–to teach than when they first started, compared to just 34% of district teachers.
  • Charter school teachers are less likely to consider leaving. More than half, 52%, have “never considered leaving the profession,” compared to 20% of district teachers.

Misconceptions and information gaps persist about charter schools

The report also highlights some surprising gaps in information. In particular, many teachers do not know that charter schools are public and free.

  • A majority of district teachers, 52%, don’t know that charter schools are free. The same is true of 43% of charter school teachers. Moreover, 51% of district teachers don’t understand that charter schools are public, along with 38% of charter school teachers.

Source: “Listen to Your Teacher: An Analysis of Teacher Sentiment on the State of Public Education,” National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, August 9, 2023.

As the Alliance notes,

These widespread misunderstandings about charter schools, even among teachers who work at them, seem to indicate that more and clearer public discussion about the unique features— and benefits—of charter schools is needed.

Download the full report here.

National charter group: Top takeaways from Stanford study

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Analysis of Stanford’s landmark CREDO study, revealing impressive learning gains for charter students, continues to accrue.  Yueting (Cynthia) Xu of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools has developed an excellent list of seven top takeaways from the study. We’ve covered results from the CREDO study in some earlier posts (here and here), but one finding, highlighted in Xu’s post, deserves special attention. Not only does it affirm the value of the charter model for student performance right now, it also offers reason for even greater optimism as the movement continues to grow. Why? As Xu notes:

The charter school sector is demonstrating improvement over time.

From 2009 to 2023, charter school students consistently demonstrated substantial positive learning gains. In the 2009 CREDO study, charter school students showed less growth in reading (6 days less) [and] math (17 days less) compared to their district school peers. In the 2013 study, charter school students had stronger learning growth in reading (6 more days) and similar learning growth in math compared to their peers in district school. In 2023, charter school students gained an average of 16 additional days of learning in reading and 6 extra days of learning in math.

… This latest report from CREDO is one of the strongest pieces of evidence of charter school success in recent history. Between the 2009 and 2023 studies, amidst stagnant overall performance across the nation, the trend of learning gains for students enrolled in charter schools is both significant and positive. These results show that “the framework of charter schools helps current students and strengthens public education overall.

Read more about the CREDO study in the Wall Street Journal and New York Magazine.

Report: Charter Schools More Likely to Serve Alternative Education Students

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A new issue brief from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools highlights a little-known facet of the charter movement: Charter schools serve a disproportionately higher share of alternative education students, compared to other schools. While such students come from a range of backgrounds, they share a common and consistent risk factor: They face higher odds of dropping out of school than other students.

The issue brief, released in June, evaluated alternative education campuses (AECs) in 34 states in 2021-22.

Some topline findings:

  • Of the nearly 2,800 AEC campuses nationwide, 555, or 20%, are public charter schools.
  • Charter schools serve 7.2% of public school students nationwide, but enroll 42% of students in AECs.
  • In North Carolina, 11% of AEC students attend charter schools (see p. 29 in the Appendix). Overall, charter school students comprise around 9% of the state’s public school students.

Screenshot from: “Going the Extra Mile: An Overview of Charter School Alternative Education Campuses,” National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, June 9, 2023.

Key demographic factors and proficiency rates, according to the brief:

Most AEC students (95%) are enrolled in grades 9-12, 74% are students of color and 47% are Hispanic or Latino. Sixty-eight percent of charter school AEC students are economically disadvantaged. Despite the odds being stacked against many students, the average proficiency rates among charter school AEC students are slightly higher than those of their district school counterparts in both English language arts and math.

The brief also included 2020-21 graduation data from 10 states. In these states, graduation rates rose more rapidly in charter AECs (comparing four-, five-, and six-year cohort graduation rates). However, charter AEC graduation rates were slightly lower overall, compared to non-charter AECs. The brief suggests that “policies need to be broadened to include a wider range of information about student outcomes to understand the performance of schools like this.”

Read more:


Congressional lawmakers want to boost funding for Charter Schools Program

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Funding for the federal Charter Schools Program (CSP) may get a boost. Congressional lawmakers are proposing an additional $10 million for CSP, which provides grants for new charter schools as well as charter school replication and expansion across the country. Program funding has not increased in recent years.

Nina Rees, the president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, released a statement about the proposed funding increase, which is in the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee’s FY 24 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Bill. She noted:

All students and families deserve access to a high-quality public education. We thank the House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee members for recognizing the value and educational opportunity public charter schools provide to families across the nation with an increase of $10 million to the federal Charter Schools Program (CSP) and by providing important new flexibility for state program operators. The program, which has been flat funded for four years, expands opportunities for students.

Read the bill text here.

New survey highlights job satisfaction of charter teachers

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A new survey from The Harris Poll and the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools reveals important insights about the views and motivations of teachers today. The Alliance commissioned the survey to examine trends in light of current teacher shortages and to assess teachers’ views of public education. Of particular note: Charter school teachers seem more satisfied with their jobs and working conditions than district teachers, and they have maintained this sense of fulfillment over a long arc of time and despite challenging circumstances in recent years.

“Listen to Your Teacher” poll assessed views of over 1,200 teachers

Pollsters queried 1,211 public district and public charter school teachers between May 10 and May 30, 2023. Results are only available in a sneak peek memo, with full findings coming in August. However, here are some of the top takeaways on teachers’ perspectives:

  • Most teachers, 97%, don’t believe the public really understands the rigors of their jobs.
  • Almost 40% have considered leaving teaching–either in the past or by the end of the year.
  • Teachers view student behavior/discipline and pay as their top challenges.
  • Nearly 8 in 10, or 79%, of all teachers say public school choice is important for families and teachers.

See an overall infographic from the Alliance below:

Source: National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, “Listen to Your Teacher” (Sneak Peek Memo), June 20, 2023.

Charter school teachers report higher satisfaction and fulfillment

However, something different is going on with charter schools, according to the Alliance. Charter school teachers report more satisfaction and fulfillment than district teachers. For instance, according to the poll:

  • 97% of charter school teachers are satisfied with their jobs, compared to 83% of district teachers.
  • 79% of charter school teachers say they are as motivated–or more motivated–to teach than when they first started, compared to just 34% of district teachers.
  • 90% of charter school teachers feel valued by their school’s administration, compared to 68% of district teachers.

See the infographic from the Alliance below regarding charter teachers:

Source: National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, “Listen to Your Teacher” (Sneak Peek Memo), June 20, 2023.

In a press release, Debbie Veney, the senior vice president of marketing and communications at the Alliance, said this about the charter findings:

It looks like there is something interesting happening in charter schools and it’s helping to create conditions for happier teachers who can keep their motivation high, even in tough times. These findings suggest there might be practices in charter schools that could be replicated to better support teachers in other kinds of schools.