House passes bill revising federal charter school program

In floor debate last Thursday, Democrats in particular praised the bipartisan nature of the bill. Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) said the bill would return charter schools to their original purpose, which is to help improve the public school system. She and others added that by ensuring a more inclusive enrollment in charter schools, they would help avoid a situation in which public schools are left with only disadvantaged students.

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Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), ranking member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, said Thursday that charter schools have a role to play, especially with disadvantaged kids.

These schools have often become the mythbusters of whats possible for a demographic of children that have all too often been written off, he said.

In votes held last Thursday, the House accepted amendments aimed at stressing the need for charter schools to share best practices with public schools, and allowing charter schools to receive grants for expansion if they show successful student outcomes after three years, among other amendments.

In votes Tuesday, members rejected language from Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.) that would have encouraged the secretary of Education to prioritize grants to schools that use energy-efficient buildings. That amendment failed in a 195-220 vote.

Members also rejected language from Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) that would have stripped language from the bill requiring that grants only go to high-quality charter schools, defined in part as schools that have shown success with minority students, students with disabilities and other disadvantaged groups. Members opposed that language in a 43-374 vote.