By Lesli A. Maxwell | Ed Week
June 17, 2009
President Barack Obama and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan have been championing charter schools for months, creating what some advocates believe is the most forceful national momentum to expand the largely independent public schools since the first charter opened nearly 20 years ago.
That high-profile advocacy is being matched, moreover, by significant financial leverage, thanks to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Mr. Duncan has pledged that states with laws he deems unfriendly to charters will be last in line for the grant money he will have broad authority to award from the $4.35 billion Race to the Top fund established under the economic-stimulus law.
Repeatedly, Mr. Duncan has warned the 26 states that currently impose caps on the numbers of charter schools, and the 10 states that do not permit charters at all, that they risk being at a “competitive disadvantage” for the discretionary grants for programs to help states boost student achievement.