News: Quick Takes

U.S. Senate recognizes school choice with bipartisan National Charter School Week resolution

The U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan resolution May 14 celebrating the 20th anniversary of National Charter School Week.

National Charter School Week runs from May 12 to May 18 and celebrates the more than 7,000 public charter schools across the country in 44 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Roughly 3.2 million students currently attend a charter school.

Senate education committee Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, and Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colorado, introduced the resolution congratulating students, parents, teachers, and leaders of charter schools nationally for their ongoing contributions to education.

Alexander served as U.S. Secretary of Education under former President George H.W. Bush, while Bennet was superintendent of Denver Public Schools in 2009 when he was appointed to the Senate.

“Charter schools give teachers more freedom to teach and parents more freedom to choose the school that best suits their child,” Alexander said in a news release. “This National Charter Schools Week, we continue to show bipartisan support for charter schools, which give students a real opportunity to attend a school that’s right for them.”

“Every child deserves an excellent education that will prepare them for success in a twenty-first century economy,” Bennet said in the same release. “National Charter Schools Week is an opportunity to celebrate the teachers, leaders, and parents who work hard every day to expand students’ opportunities in life.”

The resolution came with a slew of co-sponsors, Democratic and Republican, including North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr.

North Carolina has a long history with charter schools. In 1996, the General Assembly passed the Charter School Education Opportunity Act. The law allowed the creation and funding of public charter schools in the state while capping the number of schools at 100. It wasn’t until the cap was lifted in 2011 that charter schools really began to flourish. Today, 184 charter schools operate in North Carolina.