MASSACHUSETTS EDUCATION Commissioner Jeffrey Riley announced earlier this year that he had brokered an agreement with the mayor of New Bedford, home to one of the state’s worst performing school districts, and a charter school there to allow the school to open a new campus in the city as long as it enrolls students like a traditional neighborhood public school.
The deal garnered a lot of interest for potentially paving the way for other states and school districts looking to grow their charter sector in a politically fraught environment. But earlier this month, Massachusetts state legislators used rare procedural maneuvers to block the legislation needed to give the project a green light, preventing it from ever being introduced in committee and thus ever allowing lawmakers to vote on it.
In the Bay State, where voters said, “No, thank you,” just two years ago to expanding charter schools, critics of the New Bedford deal argue that they don’t want a two-tiered public school system, and anything that smacks of emboldening charter advocates – like a back-door deal to open a charter school – sets a dangerous precedent, even if it’s blessed by the mayor and state education commissioner.
A senior presidential aide said Wednesday that American families should have various school options for their children, including private schools.
Jason Botel, Donald Trump’s education adviser, told a National PTA conference that some children may not thrive in traditional public or charter schools and should have an opportunity to attend private schools.
“We need an education landscape that offers high quality options to all students and parents,” Botel told the conference.
Botel, who has worked in both traditional public and charter schools, told the story of some of his students who were only able to succeed academically after going to private schools. “We are committed to ensuring that students and parents of all backgrounds for whom public school may not be the best option have access to high quality private schools,” he added.
The U.S. Department of Education announced today new grants totaling more than $157 million through its Charter Schools Program (CSP), which funds the creation and expansion of public charter schools across the nation.
Since the program’s inception, the Department has invested over $3 billion in the charter school sector, and worked to strengthen accountability and quality of charter schools that are creating opportunities for students facing challenging circumstances.
These grants have had a major impact on the nation’s charter school sector. During the 2013–14 school year, for example, nearly half of the nation’s public charter schools benefited from CSP investments. Today’s announcement follows a period of significant growth, as well as academic and operational improvement, within the charter sector. Educators are leading innovative, community-based public charter schools that educate almost 3 million students across the country. The Department is proud to support high-quality public charter schools, especially those that are creating pathways to college, credentials and careers for low-income students and first-generation college-goers.