In 2015, Rich Berlin, the executive director of the DREAM Charter School, opened the first public school building in East Harlem, NY in nearly 50 years. To make this possible for families and students, Rich worked with seven city agencies, spent three years finding and purchasing land, and secured financing from 500 separate individuals and institutions.
I think we can all agree that Rich’s time would be better spent serving students in East Harlem than striking land deals. His story, however, is all too familiar. Since charter schools were established, their leaders have been responsible not just for educating students but also for securing buildings where they can learn.
To help correct this longstanding inequity, the Walton Family Foundation is establishing the Building Equity Initiative — a $250 million effort to make it easier for the nation’s best school founders to find and finance the facilities they need and deserve. By 2027, the initiative will help public charter schools serve at least 250,000 more students across the nation. Learn more in The Wall Street Journal.
We hope these resources will help talented educators open and grow more high-quality public charter schools to meet demand. We further hope this work will motivate cities and states to adopt policies that level the playing field for charters.
This new initiative alone will not ensure true building equity for charter schools. This will happen only when lawmakers set politics aside and put families and children first. Our hope is that this helps catalyze changes that will make it easier for innovative educators to create needed opportunities for America's students.