PRESIDENT CLINTON RELEASES $100 MILLION IN GRANTS
TO SUPPORT PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOLS
August 28, 1999
In his weekly radio address, President Clinton announced that the U.S.
Department of Education will distribute almost $100 million in grants to
support public charter schools. The awards include $41 million in new
grants and $54 million in continuation grants. Charter schools are
public schools started by parents, teachers, and communities, open to
all, and given more autonomy and flexibility than traditional public
schools in staffing decisions, curricula design and other areas. In
exchange, they are held to high levels of accountability for student
achievement defined in a public performance contract or "charter."
INCREASING FEDERAL INVESTMENTS IN CHARTER SCHOOLS. The grants that the
President released today will help new charter schools with costs
associated with planning, opening or expanding a new school. The money
may be used to purchase materials and supplies, hire staff, and provide
high-quality professional development for teachers. Public charter
schools also use federal funds to develop accountability systems for
student achievement that are aligned with state standards. In addition,
this year successful charter schools with at least three years of
experience will be able to use funds to help disseminate best practices
to other schools or to help individuals or groups starting new public
charter schools learn from their experience.
President Clinton's ONGOING leadership in support of charter schools.
When the President was first elected, there was only one public charter
school operating in the United States. According to the U.S. Department
of Education, more than 1700 public charter schools will be open this
year. Federal leadership and assistance has played a key role in this
rapid growth by supporting the development and growth of individual
public charter schools and helping to disseminate effective practices
and strategies among schools. 36 states, Puerto Rico and the District
of Columbia now have laws that allow the creation of charter schools.
IMPROVING PUBLIC EDUCATION AND EMPOWERING PARENTS.
Public charter schools exemplify a standards-based approach to
education. A public authority works with each charter school to
establish clear performance standards in its charter, and the school is
then held accountable for meeting those standards. Charter schools that
fail to meet the terms of their charter are closed down. The federal
law supporting charter schools, which was reauthorized with the
President's leadership in 1998, gives priority in awarding grants to
states that have strong standards for determining that schools are
fulfilling the terms of their charters, and students are meeting
academic standards and goals. Charter schools receiving funding from
the federal government must also be measured by the same state
assessments as any other public school. Moreover, public charter schools
serve a diverse student population. According to the U.S. Department
of Education, 52 percent of charter school students in 1997-98 were
white, compared to 58 percent in all public schools in their states.
About 16 percent of public charter schools serve a higher percentage of
students of color than do traditional public schools in their
surrounding districts, and seven out of ten have a student body
racial/ethnic composition that is similar to their surrounding district.
President Clinton believes that providing public school choice for
parents will help build a public school system that meets the individual
needs of every student and helps all students reach high academic
standards. States and school districts around the country are using
public charter schools, magnet schools, theme or focus schools,
inter-district choice options, and other innovations to offer parents
and children high-quality options to find the school that best suits
their needs. Surveys find high levels of support and satisfaction among
parents of public charter school students. A recent national survey
found that 65 percent of parents rated their child's public charter
school as better than their former public school (only 6 percent rated
them worse). The U.S. Department of Education reports that seven out
of ten charter schools have a waiting list of students who want to