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                            THE WHITE HOUSE
                     (Office of the Press Secretary)
For Immediate Release                                        May 4, 2000


                                May 4, 2000

Today President Clinton will visit the City Academy public charter school in St. Paul, Minnesota, to highlight the success of the charter school movement and to unveil new steps to help charters. City Academy is the nation's first charter school and was the only charter school in operation when the President was first elected in 1992. Thanks in part to the Administration's leadership, there are now over 1,700 charter schools. Today the President will meet with students from City Academy, release an Executive Memorandum directing the Secretary of Education to develop guidelines for businesses and faith-based organizations to help charter schools succeed, announce the release of $16 million in new grants and $121 million in continuation grants for charter schools, and participate in an online webside chat with students from around the country. May 1-5 is National Charter Schools Week and the President will take this opportunity to challenge communities to create more high quality public charter schools to increase choice and competition in public education.

CHARTER SCHOOLS: IMPROVING PUBLIC EDUCATION AND EMPOWERING PARENTS. Public charter schools exemplify a standards-based approach to education. Every charter school works with a public authority to establish clear performance standards. A charter school that fails to meet the terms of its charter is closed down. The federal government helps fund charter schools through the Department of Education's Public Charter Schools Program. The program, reauthorized with the President's leadership in 1998, gives priority to states that have strong standards for academic accountability. Charter schools receiving funding from the federal government must be measured by the same state assessments as any other public school. 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), and the Education Department reports that seven out of ten charter schools have a waiting list of students who want to enroll.

AWARDING NEW GRANTS TO EXPAND THE CHARTER SCHOOL MOVEMENT. President Clinton has long been a champion of charter schools. When he was first elected, there was only one public charter school open in the United States. Now, thanks in part to almost $400 million in federal funding and efforts to disseminate effective strategies, there are now 1,700. Thirty-six states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia now have laws on the books that enable the creation of charter schools. The President?s FY 2001 budget includes a $30 million increase in funding for charters, bringing total funding to $175 million annually. Today, the President will announce the release of $16 million in new grants to charter schools and $121 million in continuation grants. Local charter schools use federal funding for planning, development, and start-up costs.

DRAWING SUPPORT FROM BUSINESSES AND FAITH-BASED GROUPS. The President today will also release an Executive Memorandum that calls on the Secretary of Education to develop guidelines explaining how business groups and faith-based organizations can be involved with charter schools. The President believes that employers can play a key role in helping launch and sustain charter schools, and the proposed guidelines will help local businesses understand how they can be involved. There are now more than 100 employer-linked charters nationwide. Likewise, although charter schools must be non-sectarian in their admissions and practices, faith-based groups can play a positive role in creating and supporting public charter schools. There are successful partnerships between public schools and faith communities across the nation in after-school programs, school safety, discipline and student literacy.

ONLINE WEBSIDE CHAT WITH STUDENTS FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY. While at City Academy, the President will participate in a live "Webside Chat," hosted by, with middle school and high school students from across the country. In the tradition of President Franklin Roosevelt's Fireside Chats, the President will use the latest technology to communicate directly with students on a range of topics. Last fall, the President conducted his first live Internet chat. He plans to host other "Webside Chats" on other vital issues.