American children have suffered through the last two school years with shutdowns, masking, the joke known as “remote learning,” and the other maddening restrictions placed on growing kids. The process has put a huge psychological burden on these children with as yet unknown effects.
All of this nonsense has led to a precipitous drop in public school enrollments, which is leading to a funding “Armageddon” for districts.
So how is the Biden administration addressing these huge problems? The Education Department has decided to make creating and running charter schools even harder than they are now.
In March, the Department of Education issued a proposed rule-making that would change the eligibility requirements for new charter schools seeking seed money from the federal government’s $440 million Charter Schools Program (CSP). Reflecting the wish list of charter-hating teachers unions, and following the lead of union-influenced states like California, the new rules would disqualify for-profit charter companies, require a “community impact analysis” to demonstrate “unmet demand,” and ask applicants to show how they plan to create a diverse student body and staff.
“They’re beating on charter schools and they just need to back off,” Texas charter school parent Gregory Harrington, one of reportedly hundreds who protested outside of the White House Wednesday, told The Washington Post.
“Unmet demand”? Any reasonably run charter school is light years beyond most public schools, and the demand for quality education is huge.
When the law helping charter schools was passed in 1995, Democrats enthusiastically backed the concept. Not so much now.
“I am not a charter school fan,” Joe Biden declared on the campaign trail in February 2020, adding, inaccurately: “Because it takes away the options available and money for public schools.”
A sprinkling of Democratic politicians who came of political age in the 1995–2015 era, when charters were routinely championed by Democrats (and when test scores at long last were on the rise), has reacted to Biden’s proposed rule changes with chagrin.
The new rules would “create chaos and limit public school choice” and “gut” the CSP—”a program that I helped update and greatly expand, with bipartisan support, during my time in Congress,” Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) warned in The Washington Post last month. “[They] would halt innovation in its tracks and make it harder for communities to meet the educational needs of their students.”
It’s the teachers’ unions, of course. They are fanatically opposed despite ample evidence that charter schools and public schools can coexist peacefully for the benefit of all.
But this is not about helping the children. This is about teachers’ unions wanting to maintain a monopoly on education so they can create as many jobs for their members as possible.
And with that monopoly, they want to maintain a stranglehold on funding.
The $440 million figure from the federal government is the same as four years ago, when both the number of charter schools and the amount of cumulative inflation were both more than 10 percent lower than today. The likely 2022 impact of making a less valuable chunk of federal charter seed money more difficult to access is that there will be fewer new charter schools, at a time when everybody from Biden to Cardona to any parent or teacher you know can tell you that K-12 education is seeing its most significant crisis in at least a generation.
The move adds more evidence to a growing suspicion about Democratic and teachers union priorities over the past seven years, particularly during the policy debacle of COVID: They are putting students last.
Nearly two million children left the public school system in 2021. A lot of those kids are being homeschooled. Some have entered private schools. Others have just fallen through the cracks because of uncaring parents and disinterested teachers.
The problem is worse in big cities — exactly the place charter schools are most needed. The administration must take its jackboot off the necks of charter schools and allow them to flourish.
Otherwise, American Idiocracy can’t be far behind.