Eight U.S. senators (including Texas Sen. John Cornyn) introduced a bill last week that was clearly written with the help of the charter school lobby. The Empower Charter School Educators to Lead Act would allow billionaire-funded nonprofits operating as “state entities” to keep more of a cut when dispersing Charter School Program (CSP) grants. The bill would also allow these “state entities” to award up to $100,000 to would-be charter entrepreneurs, including religious organizations, to pre-plan a charter school before they have even submitted an application to an authorizer.
As the NPE has documented, CSP planning grants have led to enormous waste and fraud. Millions of CSP dollars have gone to school entrepreneurs who never opened a school — a fact confirmed by the Department of Education and the Government Accountability Office. That is why the NPE and other public education advocates supported the addition of modest guardrails in 2022 that provided guidance on how and when planning grants could be spent.
Clearly, that did not sit well with the charter lobby, led by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, which persuaded these eight senators to make it even easier to get funding to pre-plan a school.
There’s more. This bill would also increase the funding “state entities” can keep for themselves when they disperse grants. That cut is already at 10%, and this bill would raise it to a whopping 15%. Contact Sen. Cornyn today. Stop the charter school lobby’s new attempts to fleece American taxpayers and undermine public schools.