In reaction to the outcry by many about new rules the Biden Administration was trying to impose regarding charters qualifying for money as part of the U.S. Education Department’s Charter School Program, the government has removed some of the most obnoxious provisions and kept one big one intact. According to a highly comprehensive story on this issue by Linda Jacobson of The74, gone are the requirements for charter schools to demonstrate collaboration with the local school district in order to receive funding to open or expand a charter. However, the Department would still like to see a “partnership” between the two entities. Also, the mandate to demonstrate a need for the school that will not take students away from the traditional public school system has been modified to allow for a charter to show a waitlist as well as other methods to illustrate a need for the school in order to qualify.
Ms. Jacobson explains the part of the rulemaking that is an obstacle for charters:
“Karega Rausch, president and CEO of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, described the new rules as “workable,” but said he remains concerned about a requirement that new charters be racially and socioeconomically diverse — or explain why they’re not. The rule says operators must note how their charter school won’t ‘hamper, delay or negatively affect any desegregation efforts in the local community.’
The provision ‘places additional unnecessary and unwarranted burdens on schools proposing to serve large proportions of lower-income students and students of color,’ Rausch said. ‘And there is no clarity on what constitutes a valid desegregation effort and how applicants will know if any effort exists.’”
The other complication for access to the annual $440 million appropriation is that charters only have until August 5th to apply. Apparently, in the past those seeking these dollars have had at least four months to submit the necessary paperwork. This in itself could turn charter operators off about requesting this grant. Again from The74 piece:
“’The fact that they have taken some of our comments seriously indicates the power of advocacy,’ said Nina Rees, CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. But she added that if the added documentation required and the small window to apply ‘dampens interest’ in seeking the funds, that would be ‘victory for our opponents.’”