What’s Behind the Fight Over the Biden Administration’s Stance on Charter School Funding

Education Week by Libby Standford, June 6, 2022

The Biden administration’s push to tighten the use of federal charter school aid continues to draw heat, with the U.S. Department of Education combing through more than 26,000 public comments on rules it proposed in March. The changes would add restrictions on schools applying for the federal Charter School Program, which provides grant money to charters in their first three years of operation. Since its inception in 1995 through July 2019, the program awarded over $3.9 billion to fund public charter schools, according to the most-recent data from the Education Department’s office of elementary and secondary education. From 2006 to 2017, schools received an average of about $500,000 each from the grants included in the program. The Biden administration’s intent is to put a tighter leash on the use of the federal money by private entities and prevent premature closure of charters. The administration also hopes to maximize community support and assure charters don’t interfere with school desegregation efforts. But for some in the charter community, the proposals are an attack on the education model itself. Since they were released, charter school advocates including Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, a group of 18 Republican congressional lawmakers, and the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, have spoken out against them. Here are details on some of the most controversial elements, what supporters and opponents say about them, and where the process stands.

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