Biden wants to further restrict charter schools? Even many Dems think that's nuts.
Democrats vs. Biden on Charter Schools
Senators oppose and parents rally against new limits on federal grants.
By The Editorial Board
Updated May 11, 2022 12:01 am ET
The Biden Education Department continues to take heat for its proposed new and restrictive rules for a federal charter school grant program. Protests from parents and a growing number of Democrats are a warning to the Administration that its sneaky push to limit school choice is regressive and unpopular.
In a May 5 letter to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, seven U.S. Senators—including Democrats Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), Michael Bennet (Colo.), and Cory Booker (N.J.)—wrote that the rules for applying for the Charter Schools Program funds do “not prioritize the needs of students” and limit “high quality choices to certain families.”
The Senators take issue with the requirement that schools applying for the money provide evidence of charter demand and declining enrollment in district schools. “This would empower federal reviewers to ignore state and local decisions to authorize new public charter schools,” they write. The requirements could “make it difficult, if not impossible,” for charters to access the federal funds.
Colorado’s Democratic Gov. Jared Polis also objects to the rules. The “community impact analysis” requirement would give “anonymous grant reviewers in Washington the ability to veto parent, community, district and state efforts to open a new school,” he wrote last month in the Washington Post. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has also assailed the new rules and backed charters with donations from his foundation.
On Wednesday hundreds of parents from 20 states will rally in Washington, D.C., outside the Department of Education and the White House to protest the rules. More than 30 parent and education advocacy groups are involved, including charter networks in Texas and Illinois. Parents will speak, and the protesters plan to deliver copies of public comments to the Education Department.
The rally is a chance for parents to express that the federal rules are “not going unnoticed” and are an “assault” on education choice, says Janel Artis-Wright, executive director of the Freedom Coalition for Charter Schools and a parent of two daughters who attended charters. She says the rules are a particular affront to black and Hispanic families—and “hypocritical” for an Administration that preaches diversity.
The protest is the latest sign of the political backlashsince the rules were released in March. The Biden Administration is tight with the teachers unions, but sticking to its biased charter rules is a mistake that will hurt children and do political damage to President Biden.
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Appeared in the May 11, 2022, print edition.