PPI Glossary of Terms
Authorizer – an entity that approves charter school applications and then monitors the schools to ensure success. Authorizers are given their authority by each state’s charter school law. They are ultimately responsible for the operational and educational integrity of each charter school they sponsor and for closing any that fail to function responsibly. Depending on the state charter school law, authorizers can be local school boards, state boards of education, state universities, state departments of education, or separate independent entities created by law that have as their sole duty sponsoring and overseeing charter schools in the state.
Bandwidth – The amount of data that can be transferred from one point to another within a network in a specific amount of time. It is measured in bits per second.
Blaine Amendment – the most common state constitutional clause that limits educational opportunity. The provision is in 37 state constitutions and has historically been interpreted to restrict educational choice programs that include private schools. Blaine Amendments received a great deal of press leading up to and following the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 30, 2020 decision in Espinoza vs Montana Department of Revenue, a case that dealt with Montana’s Blaine Amendment. That landmark decision found that the U.S. Constitution “forbids states from excluding religious schools as options for families participating in educational choice programs, including through Blaine Amendments.”
Blanket Waiver – a provision in some state laws granting charter schools a waiver from standard rules and regulations required for traditional public schools (but does not apply to health, safety standards or discrimination). Such a waiver means charters may set their own processes and rules for operations such as extending school days, using different educational resources and curricula, having independent teacher policies, etc. This freedom allows charters to innovate, an essential element of success.
CARES Act/CARES Funding – the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed by Congress in March 2020 in response to the public health and economic impacts of COVID-19.
DOE – Department of Education
Education Savings Account (or ESA) – allows parents to withdraw their children from public district or charter schools and receive a deposit of public funds into government-authorized savings accounts with restricted, but multiple, uses. Those funds—often distributed to families via debit card—can cover private school tuition and fees, online learning programs, private tutoring, community college costs, higher education expenses and other approved customized learning services and materials. Some ESAs, but not all, even allow students to use their funds to pay for a combination of public school courses and private services.
ESSA – the Every Student Succeeds Act was signed into law in 2015 and is the main public education policy for all K-12 public schools in the U.S. The law replaced its predecessor, the No Child Left Behind Act, and modified some provisions relating to standardized tests and put more control for education with states as opposed to the federal government.
GEER Fund (or Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund) – In April 2020, Congress set aside approximately $3 billion of the $30.75 billion allotted to the Education Stabilization Fund through the CARES Act for the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund. The U.S. Department of Education awards these emergency block grants to states so they can decide how best to meet the current needs of students, schools, postsecondary institutions, and other education-related organizations in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Governors have flexibility to use these funds for all students and schools, including private, homeschools, pod schools, charters, traditional public schools, etc.
Homeschool – a form of education for children typically taught by the parents within their own homes or home-based collaboratives.
Hybrid Learning – a combination of in-person and virtual learning.
LEA (or Local Education Agency) – the district based public authority within a state that maintains administrative control of public schools locally.
Microschool – Microschools are the equivalent of a modern-one room schoolhouses which varies in size, approach and governance, combining blended learning, home schooling and private schooling.
Personalized Learning – an education approach that focuses on student competency and mastery of material over traditional subject matter time tests and end of course grades.
Pod School – a learning environment created by a parent or group of parents to educate their children in a small group setting.
Scholarship Tax Credit (or tax-credit scholarship) – allows taxpayers to receive full or partial tax credits when they donate to nonprofits that provide private school scholarships. Eligible taxpayers can include both individuals and businesses.
Tuition Tax Credit – allows parents to receive state income tax credits (or deductions, depending on the program) for approved educational expenses such as private school tuition, books, computers, tutors and transportation.
Voucher – gives parents the ability to use all or part of the public funding set aside for their children’s education to pay partial or full tuition at a private school.