House Dems praise bipartisan charter school bill

While stressing that not all charter schools perform better than public schools, several Democrats said they have clearly offered another educational path for students and have helped discover best practices from which all schools can benefit.

Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) said the inclusion of language in the bill requiring charter schools to share more information with public schools, and take on students with learning challenges, brings them back in line with their original purpose.

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"This bill will return charter schools to their original mission, by helping improve the public school system, and ensuring that charters no longer operate in isolation without strict accountability," she said. She noted that the bill would require charter schools to "adopt practices that promote inclusion, that allow for the increased enrollment of students with disabilities and limited English skills, and provide an information sharing system regarding systems' programs."

Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), the ranking member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, lent his support to the bill by noting it is the first bipartisan bill to reauthorize the Elementary Secondary Education Act.

"These schools have often become the myth-busters of what's possible for a demographic of children that have all too often been written off," he said of charter schools.

The House concluded debate on the bill shortly before 3 p.m. and began debating eight amendments to the bill. Members will debate amendments until about 4 p.m. before breaking to prepare for President Obama's speech to a joint session of Congress.

Amendments requiring recorded votes are expected to be taken up next week.

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