Department of Education ‘waging war’ on charter schools with new regulations, school choice advocate says


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The Department of Education is “warring charter schools” with newly proposed rules that would make it harder for them to receive start-up grants, an advocate for school choice told Fox News.

The rule would tighten requirements for charter schools seeking start-up funds, such as proving there is demand for a new school and showing how they would ensure diversity. There would also be restrictions on the amount of outside for-profit companies that could manage operations.

“The Biden administration is essentially waging war on charter schools,” Corey DeAngelis, national director of research for the American Federation for Children, told Fox News. “But more importantly, the administration, through these regulations, is waging war on families who want these schools for their children and that is absolutely atrocious.”

Congress approved $440 million for the charter school program in its spending bill. One of the changes proposed by the Ministry of Education, which was published on March 12, would require applicants applying for a grant under this program to provide evidence of over-enrollment in existing traditional public schools.

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An attendee holds a sign reading “Strong Public Schools 2020” during the National Education Association’s (NEA) #StrongPublicSchools Presidential Forum in Houston on July 5, 2019. (Sergio Flores/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
(Sergio Flores/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

“It doesn’t make sense if you care about the needs of families, but it makes sense when you’re thinking about protecting the status quo,” DeAngelis told Fox News.

“Just imagine if a Safeway wanted to open a location…and in order to get a grant from the city or just to open, they had to prove and provide proof that the nearby Walmart had customers coming out the door wrapping around the building. ,” DeAngelis continued. “It wouldn’t make sense if your only goal was to try to find the policy that works best for individual customers.”

The proposal says the enhanced restrictions would provide fiscal oversight and encourage collaboration between traditional public schools and charter schools. But critics said the rule would kill the charter school program.

WILMINGTON, DE – DECEMBER 23: Miguel Cardona speaks after President-elect Joe Biden announced his appointment as Education Secretary at the Queen Theater on December 23, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware.  Cardona, Connecticut's education commissioner, will face the urgent task of planning for the safe reopening of schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.  (Photo by Joshua Roberts/Getty Images)

WILMINGTON, DE – DECEMBER 23: Miguel Cardona speaks after President-elect Joe Biden announced his appointment as Education Secretary at the Queen Theater on December 23, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. Cardona, Connecticut’s education commissioner, will face the urgent task of planning for the safe reopening of schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Joshua Roberts/Getty Images)
(Joshua Roberts)

DeAngelis said the Department of Education is proposing the rules as an attempt to protect teachers’ unions and public schools at the expense of families.

Charter schools are publicly funded, but private institutions.

DeAngelis argued that they provide a competitive alternative to public schools and provide a higher quality education that directly meets the needs of parents. He said the growing popularity of charter schools threatens teachers’ unions.

“Unionized public schools try to avoid accountability every step of the way, either through their regulation or through funding charter schools and their competition,” DeAngelis said.

“School choice is a rising tide that lifts all boats,” the school choice advocate told Fox News. He said charter schools create competitive pressures, which often improve government-run schools.

Students and other charter school advocates gather in Olympia, Wash., in November.

Students and other charter school advocates gather in Olympia, Wash., in November.
(AP Photo/Rachel La Corte)

“Parents have been scrambling for the past two years trying to find the best fit for their children, and now you have the Biden administration trying to enact these regulations to make exercising those choices as difficult as possible.” , DeAngelis said. “Parents are already voting with their feet in large numbers.”

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He pointed to a study that showed enrollment in charter schools increased by 7.1% for the 2020-2021 school year, while public schools saw a drop of 3.3%, a drop nearly 1.5 million students.

“Of course, the teachers’ union monopoly is freaking out right now,” DeAngelis said. “And one way to prevent families from accessing those options that they believe are best for their children is to use the heavy hand of government to trap those low-income families in the system that isn’t working for them.”

The public comment period ends on April 14.


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