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Ranking Member Cassidy, Cornyn, Colleagues Introduce Bill to Support Development of New Charter Schools

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, John Cornyn (R-TX), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tim Scott (R-SC), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Mike Braun (R-IN), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), and Brian Schatz (D-HI) today introduced the Empower Charter School Educators to Lead Act, which would authorize existing federal funding to help states streamline the application process for opening new charter schools.

“When starting a new school, knowing how to help a child succeed is the utmost priority. Teachers have that knowledge,” said Dr. Cassidy.  “This bill gives teachers the resources to create their own charter schools so they can continue to provide a better future for our children.”

“Charter schools are an important part of America’s education system, but the process to start one is often bogged down by red tape,” said Senator Cornyn. “This legislation would make the application process more efficient for teachers, school administrators, and nonprofits interested in opening a charter school and help give parents more choices for their children’s education.”

"The complexity of the charter school application process discourages many educators from taking innovative approaches to advancing our country’s education system," said Senator Booker. "They should have the necessary support and financial resources to navigate the application process, so more children have access to high-quality public education. This bipartisan bill will provide vital funding and support for technical assistance and administrative requirements to encourage the development of new high-quality public charter school applications and promote innovation in our children's education."

“Every child - no matter their zip code - should have access to an education that sets them up to live out their version of the American Dream,” said Senator Scott. “That’s why millions of families have turned to the high-quality education provided by charter schools to offer a better future for their child. Making it easier to open first-rate charter schools in the communities that need them most will ensure more students have access to the educational opportunities best suited for them.”

“Every student deserves the opportunity to attend a school that equips them with the skills and high-quality education they need to succeed in today's economy,” said Senator Bennet. “Charter schools provide flexibility and innovative educational opportunities for students across Colorado, but too often, they run into burdensome red tape and regulations from the federal government. This bill would ensure that charter schools can access federal grants and reach more families in underserved communities.”

“I’ve always said that competition is the key to innovation: when parents have more choices and students have more opportunities, our education system is stronger,” said Senator Braun. “In Indiana, we have some of the best charter schools in the nation with practical focuses like STEM, foreign language, or vocational training. This legislation would work to further encourage and incentivize their development to benefit communities where they can better serve students.”


The Empower Charter School Educators to Lead Act would:

  • Authorize state entities receiving Federal Charter Schools Programs (CSP) grants to make pre-planning awards in amounts of no more than $100,000 to prospective applicants, or public or nonprofit entities that will support prospective applicants, provided they:
    • Are led by educators with at least five years of school-based experience;
    • Have successfully completed the development of an initial plan for the opening of a public charter school;
    • And have not yet submitted a proposal for approval of a charter to an authorized public chartering agency.
  • Permit state entities to use up to 5% of their grant funds for those pre-planning awards;
  • Raise the cap on the percentage of state entities’ grant funds that may be used for technical assistance and quality improvement activities from 7% to 10%;
  • Raise the cap on the percentage that may be used for state administration from 3% to 5%;
  • And clarify that states’ technical assistance activities may include assistance in locating and accessing a facility.

This legislation is endorsed by the Alliance for Public Charter Schools, Texas Charter School Association, National Associations of Charter School Authorizers, New Jersey Public Charter Schools Association, Colorado League of Charter Schools, Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools, Public Charter School Alliance of South Carolina, New Hampshire Alliance for Public Charter Schools, Charter Collaborative, Diverse Charter Schools Coalition, HawaiiKidsCAN, and KIPP Public Schools.


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