Kirk Bill, S. 2304, Rewards Innovative Charter Schools; Bipartisan Bill Expands Student Access to Charter Schools Nationwide
CHICAGO–(ENEWSPF)–May 9, 2014. As Congress moves to consider legislation to support public charter schools throughout the country, U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) today demonstrated his continued support for charter schools and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education at the Perspectives/IIT (Illinois Institute of Technology) Math and Science Academy.
A steadfast proponent of charter schools, Sen. Kirk outlined new, bipartisan legislation that will boost Federal charter school funding to $300 million and promote charter access to suitable facilities. Along with Kirk, sponsors of the bill include Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), and Mary Landrieu (D-La.). Companion legislation in the House of Representatives also has bipartisan support.
“Students in Chicago Public Charter Schools are 26 percent more likely to enroll in college than their counterparts in traditional public schools,” Sen. Kirk said. “If we are going to continue to advance as a nation, we must make sure that our students remain competitive in the job force and in the global community. Charter schools are leading the way and improving education for millions of students across the country and tens of thousands of students in Illinois.”
Sen. Kirk was joined by Rhonda Hopps, CEO of Perspectives Charter Schools, Julie Puzon, Principal of Perspectives/IIT Math and Science Academy, and John Anderson, President of IIT. Ninety-two percent of graduates of Perspectives High Schools go on to enroll in college, as opposed to 56 percent of traditional Chicago Public School graduates.
“All of us at Perspectives Charter Schools and in the wider public charter school community are grateful to Senator Kirk for his support of high-quality charter schools,” said Rhonda Hopps, CEO of Perspectives Charter Schools. “Because of his support, our students at Perspectives graduate from high school, enroll in college, and persist towards graduation at rates above the national average for all students, regardless of background.”
“The vision of Perspectives/IIT Math & Science Academy is to prepare students for college success in scientific and mathematical fields utilizing their skills in problem-solving, scientific inquiry, and literacy,” said Julie Puzon, Principal at Perspectives/IIT Math and Science Academy. “With support from public leaders like Senator Kirk, we are able to combine academic rigor with enrichment activities and exposure to careers in the STEM fields.”
“Illinois Tech is proud of our partnership with Perspectives Charter Schools and the Perspectives/IIT Math & Science Academy in Chicago’s historic Bronzeville neighborhood,” said John Anderson, president of Illinois Institute of Technology. “It is an example of how we deliver on our mission as a university to partner with local schools to provide innovative educational experiences in science, technology, engineering and mathematics which result in innovative solutions for the city of Chicago and communities throughout our state.”
There are 67 public charter schools operating 145 individual locations in Illinois, and more than 20,000 Illinois students are on waiting lists to attend public charter schools. More than 54,000 public school students in Chicago attend charter schools, such as the Perspectives Charter Schools, accounting for 22 percent of the city’s high school students. In 2013, the 11 highest-performing non-selective public high schools in Chicago were charter schools. Students in Illinois charter schools are 18 percent more likely to graduate from high school than their peers in traditional public schools.
Nationwide, there are approximately 6,400 charter schools in 43 states and D.C. serving over 2.5 million students. There are more than one million student names on charter school waiting lists. Under this proposal, as many as 500 new charter schools could open with federal support every year.
The federal Charter Schools Program was authorized by Congress in 1994 and most recently reauthorized in 2001.
Earlier this week, Sen. Kirk was given a “Champion for Charters” award by the National Alliance for Charter Schools for his advocacy on the issue.