With the country focused on Ukraine and our current economic woes, the Biden administration is taking the opportunity to target charter schools. Amid nationwide debate over the curriculum many public school districts have employed in the classroom, the White House is seeking to impose measures designed to make it harder for parents to choose how and where their children are educated.
The New York Post reported that the Biden administration's Office of Elementary and Secondary Education slipped 13 pages of rules into the $1.5 trillion proposal to fund government agencies. The provisions would essentially block federal support to charter schools.
It appears the president is attempting to skew the process in favor of those who oppose charter schools. Instead of allowing two months to receive input, as is normal, the White House is allowing only one month to receive input on the proposed rules and has limited the comment process. The NY Post explained that “to ensure transparency, proposed new regulations are published in the Federal Register, with lengthy public-comment periods before rules are finalized.” These comment periods are intended to give “time for experts, interest groups and the public to offer input, making regulations both more legitimate and more realistic.”
There are several problematic elements in the rules the administration is suggesting. For starters, it recommends that charter schools wishing to receive federal funding “collaborate with at least one traditional public school” and “provide a letter from each partnering traditional public school or school district demonstrating a commitment to participate in the proposed charter-traditional collaboration.”
In essence, the rules would require charter schools to get approval from their competition: public schools.
The proposed rules would require charters to prepare a “community impact analysis” showing “unmet demand for the charter school, including any over-enrollment of traditional public schools.” Since many parents have already pulled their kids from public school to pursue other educational options for their children, this creates a situation in which these institutions are under-enrolled, meaning that low-income parents would no longer be able to choose a different school.
Even further, the provisions would require charters to report on the “racial and socio-economic diversity of students and teachers” in the school and “the impact of the charter school on racial and socio-economic diversity in the public school district.” The administration likely created this rule because it knows that charter schools typically serve low-income students – which means the socio-economic diversity might not be up to par as far as the federal government is concerned.
If the White House gets its way, charter schools will also be subject to reporting requirements that contract with for-profit companies such as those providing food service, tutoring, and others. Of course, this burden will not be placed on public school districts.
So what is the real motivation behind this move?
In a piece for Newsweek, Darvio Morrow sums it up nicely:
Why are they doing this? It should be clear to anyone paying attention that there are people inside the administration who don't give a damn about providing equal access to education. They expect low-income parents and children to wait until they can provide you with their system controlled “utopia.” If your child ends up with a poor education in the meantime, that was just a sacrifice for the “greater good.”
But I would also posit that this attack on charter schools is a response to the rising attitudes against public schools. Parents of all socio-economic backgrounds have become alarmed at the far-leftist ideas being pushed in America's classrooms. They don't want their kids being subjected to ideas inspired by Critical Race Theory. These folks do not want teachers instructing their young children about gender identity and sexuality. In fact, all they want is for their kids to learn reading, math, and other essential subjects.
There are several reasons why the rate of homeschooling and private school attendance has climbed precipitously over the past couple of years. But one of the primary contributors is concern over what teachers are presenting to their students. It can be no wonder, then, that parents are seeking alternatives; if public schools are focused more on a woke agenda than education, it seems natural that they would look at other options. In light of this, it is probably safe to assume that Biden's actions against charter schools will only be the first of the Democrats' efforts to limit school choice.