A group of 22 House Republicans is demanding that Joe Biden scrap an administrative rule that they allege would cause great harm to charter schools nationwide by cutting them off from federal education funding.
Rep. Chris Jacobs (R-NY) led the group in writing a letter last week to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona calling out the burdens imposed by the department’s proposed rules. The rules would cut federal education funding to for-profit charter schools and would require any new charter schools to prove in advance that they are “necessary” by showing that public schools in their proposed areas are “over-enrolled.”
The letter was released by the lawmakers on Monday to commemorate the start of National Charter Schools Week. It claims that the proposed rules take education options away from parents and students. The GOP lawmakers added that the rules limit choice to the “traditional public school system, which is beholden to teachers’ unions.”
The letter argues that charter schools provide families with a free public education and a choice from different options that will best match their children’s needs. It adds that limiting the growth of charter schools will harm students who would benefit from options beyond those schools that are “beholden to teachers’ unions.”
Democrats have joined with teachers’ unions for decades in opposing charter schools. The typical argument is that the schools pull resources away from traditional public schools. Joe Biden promised during his 2020 campaign to outright ban all federal funding for for-profit charter schools.
Charter schools designed to earn a profit usually receive state and local funding and have been eligible for federal educational grants. The newly proposed federal rules would create multiple new conditions for approval of those grants.
To receive federal funds, charter schools would have to partner with local public schools. The charters would also have to provide details of how they “targeted” racial and socioeconomic characteristics in student bodies and staff.
The representatives’ letter argues that the Biden administration’s obsession with diversity statistics will actually harm poor and minority communities. They point out that the rules will limit the growth of charter schools in racially isolated areas and harm underserved students who will not have the choice of attending a high-quality charter school.
Charter schools across the country saw enrollment increase by 7% during the 2020-2021 school year as teachers’ unions fought to keep schools closed to in-person education during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the same period, public schools lost more than 1.1 million students.