Looking ahead to new horizons in education, the U.S. Department of Education has just disclosed that they have awarded a grant for $25 million in funding to help bring charter schools in Alabama. In 2015 Alabama passed legislation to finally allow for the opening of charter schools in the state. Even though they are now allowed in the state, only four have been opened since. All of this federal grant funding is aimed at attracting charter schools into the state
Seeing the need for incentive, the Department of Education decided to award New Schools for Alabama, a nonprofit in the state, the grant for a total of $25 million to be utilized in assisting and persuading more charter schools to come into the state. Grants such as these, can easily be found amongst others through GrantWatch.com, a listing service of available grants. The organization hopes to use the funding to bring and help fund 15 new schools. Tyler Barnett, the executive director for New Schools for Alabama said in a press release that his organization will look to push their efforts towards educationally underserved areas and students.
The Plan of Action
Alabama joined two other states, who were awarded the grant as a part of their Charter Schools Program grant. The program has grown significantly since it was authorized in 1995 and has funded a total of 20 states in the last three years.
Barnett states that he knows that this grant could be a large influx of charters flooding into the state and has such plans to disburse the grant money accordingly. Schools of Alabama plan to oversee a competitive process to sort through the applications for funding they are expecting. Grants will be assigned to a total of 15 different schools at a maximum of $1.5 million per school and spanning a period of five years. This means there is a potential that three schools could be added every year throughout the five-year process.
The organization plans to focus on schools planning to serve underprivileged children that might not have the availability to better educational options otherwise. They plan to do this by gauging the poverty level of schools through free or reduced meal eligibility and focusing on these areas. The ways to do this is by using the federal grant funding aimed at attracting charter schools into the state in a way that benefits the entire education system as a whole.
Although many praise the state for the planned expansion of the charter school program, many members of the current public education community see it as a failure in the system. Members of the Alabama Education Association, an organization who represents the employees of the public-school system in Alabama, have been very vocal about their opposition of charter schools. Many asking, “When you dilute the funding going to the public schools in a system, who ultimately is paying that price?”
State Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh (R-Anniston) responded to this opposition, with strong remarks regarding the program. He was “very happy” to see Alabama win this grant, after sponsoring the law that made charter schools legal in 2015. He also went on to express that the public needs to be informed and reminded of the fact that these schools are public schools as well and help further educational goals for everyone in the state. He followed with the statement that, “This talk about taking money out of public schools is ridiculous,” stating once again that the focus of the grant is on economically underdeveloped areas where the children need help greatly in the education space.
If you, your organization or local government need assistance in searching for educational grants available to you, check out GrantWatch.com or for more news regarding education check out the other articles in our Education section.