WASHINGTON (Feb. 19, 2020) – Charter schools are under attack from both sides of the aisle. Many Democratic presidential candidates have actively expressed concerns about charter schools. Senators Warren and Sanders have pledged to stop funding new charters through the federal Charter Schools Program (CSP). And last week, President Trump introduced a budget proposal that would eliminate funding for this program.

In the sixth installation in a series on civil society, Ginny Gentles, founder of School Choice Solutions, details the substantial early support the CSP received from Democrats in Congress and the White House. She describes the program’s goal to provide seed funding for teachers, parents and local organizations to launch innovative schools designed to meet the needs of their communities.

Gentles finds that leaders in the charter sector credit the CSP for fueling the growth of charters throughout the country, both by encouraging the passage of state charter laws and providing charter school developers with start-up funding. The CSP has awarded approximately $4 billion in start-up funding for charter schools and related charter school grants since its inception. The CSP has had a substantial impact as the charter movement has grown from a small group of charter states and schools in the early 1990s to 45 states with charter laws and over 7,000 charter schools serving 3.2 million students today. When the federal Charter Schools Program office analyzed CSP grants awarded between the 2006-07 and 2013-14 school years, they found that the CSP funded nearly 60 percent of charter schools opened in that period.

Featured Publications