For Immediate Release
U.S. Department of Education
May 3, 2004
Charter Schools Fact Sheet
U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige today kicked off the celebration of National Charter Schools Week, May 3-7, with a visit to the SAIL (School for Arts In Learning) Charter School in Washington, D.C. Paige's visit is part of part of a national effort to highlight the contributions of public charter schools; other senior department officials are visiting other charter schools around the country to mark the week.
"Charter schools continue to expand options for parents and students around the country," Paige said. "These public schools are providing powerful, innovative education services for students to help ensure that no child is left behind as we strive to improve educational achievement for every child in America."
"Charter schools are part of a multiple delivery system for education that includes public schools, home schools, cyber schools, private schools and parochial schools," Paige added. "The more choices parents have, the better they will be able to pick the right environment for their child. Empowered with options and information, parents can help their children achieve and succeed."
Charter schools are public schools under contract or charter from a public agency to organizations that want to create alternatives within the public school system. Charter schools are free and open to all students. These schools provide enhanced parental choice and are exempt from many statutory and regulatory requirements. In exchange for increased flexibility, charter schools are held more accountable for improving student academic achievement.
This year marks the 12th anniversary of the opening of the first charter school. Since then, almost 3,000 charter schools have opened in 38 states and the District of Columbia that educate more than 700,000 children.
Throughout this week, charter schools will host open houses and welcome the public to visit, learn and experience some of the activities that go on in charter schools.
The creation and support of charter schools are key elements of the No Child Left Behind Act -- President Bush's plan to make sure every child in America receives a quality education.
This year, the administration is providing $256 million in support for charter schools -- a $32 million increase over last year's funding.
The president's proposed 2005 budget continues his commitment to charter schools, with a total request of almost $320 million, including $100 million for the Credit Enhancement for Charter Schools Facilities Program, which assists charter schools in acquiring, leasing, and renovating school facilities through competitive grants to public and nonprofit entities for loan guarantees, insuring debt and other activities that facilitate private lending.
Contact the Office of Public Affairs for information on when and where senior department officials will be visiting.