CHARTER SCHOOLS FUNDING: Voting 365 for and 54 against, the House on Sept. 13 passed a bill (HR 2218) to fund charter schools at $300 million annually through fiscal 2018. The bill would provide grants for operating expenses and to leverage private loans for building or renovating classroom space.
The nation’s 5,000 charter schools, which educate about 5 percent of the nation’s K-12 students, receive public funding but are freed of many of the rules that bind traditional public schools. In return, they are expected to produce superior academic results and show traditional schools a model for improvement.
George Miller, D-Calif., said: “Charter schools began 20 years ago as a laboratory for innovation to help tackle the stagnant education system ... and to give options to parents who felt helpless. These schools have often become the myth-busters of what is possible for a demographic of children that have all too often been written off.“
Gwen Moore, D-Wis., objected to the bill’s allowing state governors to receive grants for charter schools. She said that in Wisconsin, “We have constitutionally elected superintendents of public instruction. And it should remain within their purview to oversee and administer this program.”
A yes vote was to pass the bill.
Voting yes: Olver, Neal, McGovern, Frank, Tsongas, Markey, Lynch, Keating
Voting no: Tierney
Not voting: Capuano
GREEN SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION: Voting 195 for and 220 against, the House on Sept. 13 refused to promote green practices and materials in the building and renovating of charter schools. The non-binding amendment to HR 2218 (above) called upon the Department of Education to give preference to applications from states that use tax incentives and other policies to encourage green construction in school systems.
Rush Holt, D-N.J., said: “Energy bills are the second highest operating expenditure for schools after personnel costs. So we must do all we can to help schools implement green building practices and reduce their energy costs.”
John Kline, R-Minn. said the amendment would “dramatically increase the cost of building elementary and secondary charter schools” and “is not an appropriate role for the federal government.”
A yes vote backed the amendment.