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Statement on Signing the Charter School Expansion Act of 1998

October 22, 1998

Today I am pleased to sign into law H.R. 2616, the "Charter School Expansion Act of 1998." This bill will help foster the development of high-quality charter schools, consistent with my goal of having 3,000 charter schools operating by early in the next century, and will help lead to improvements in public education more generally. I am particularly gratified by the bipartisan manner in which this bill passed the House and Senate.

I have long championed charter schools— public schools started by parents, teachers, and communities, open to all students regardless of background or ability, and given great flexibility in exchange for high levels of accountability. When I was elected President there was only one charter school in the Nation, and now there are more than 1,000 serving more than 200,000 students. This bill will help strengthen our efforts to support charter schools, providing parents and students with better schools, more choice, and higher levels of accountability in public education.

As the charter school movement spreads throughout the country, it is important that these schools have clear and measurable educational performance objectives and are held accountable to the same high standards expected of all public schools. To further this goal, H.R. 2616 requires the Department of Education to give priority in awarding grants to States in which the performance of every charter school is reviewed at least once every 5 years to ensure the school is fulfilling the terms of its charter and students are meeting achievement requirements and goals. It also will reward States that have made progress in increasing the number of high-quality, accountable charter schools. Finally, it makes clear that any charter school receiving funding under this program must be measured by the same State assessments as other public schools. These important qualitycontrol measures will help charter schools fulfill their potential to become models of accountability for public education.

I am also pleased that H.R. 2616 provides new authority for successful charter schools to serve as models, not just for other charter schools, but for public schools generally. At a relatively low cost, such model schools will provide in-depth advice, materials, and other information on various aspects of their programs— helping to start up new public schools and helping existing schools learn from their successes. By drawing on the experience of high-performing charter schools throughout our Nation, this legislation will help bring the benefits of innovation and creativity to hundreds of thousands of additional children.

I am confident that this legislation will augment the ability of parents, teachers, and others to strengthen public education in their communities. This bill represents an integral part of our effort to improve public schools and help all of our students get the high-quality public education they need and deserve.


The White House, October 22, 1998.

NOTE: H.R. 2616, approved October 22, was assigned Public Law No. 105-278.

William J. Clinton, Statement on Signing the Charter School Expansion Act of 1998 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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