With Bipartisan Support, Law on Expansion of Charter Schools Passes the House

Thursday, September 15, 2011

In a rare display of bipartisanship, the House approved a bill on Tuesday supporting the expansion of charter schools, the first part of a legislative package planned by Republicans to carry out a piecemeal rewrite of the main federal law on public education, No Child Left Behind.

The bill, passed Tuesday by a vote of 365 to 54, tweaks an existing federal grant program that provides start-up money for new charter schools ? currently about $250 million? and adds some quality control provisions.

It had the support of charter operators as well as civil rights and school improvement groups. If passed by the Senate, it would replace the charter school provisions of No Child Left Behind, the sprawling school accountability law that President George W. Bush signed in 2002.

?This is an important first step in our efforts to improve current elementary and secondary education law,? Representative John Kline, the Minnesota Republican who heads the House education committee, said in a statement after the vote.

Earlier, Republicans and Democrats joined to beat back an amendment proposed by Representative Steve King, Republican of Iowa, that would have exempted charter schools, which are publicly financed but independently operated, from the law?s requirement that schools break out scores in reading and math for minority and disabled students and show progress in each group.

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