Michigan-Ohio coalition seeks to block Biden administration’s crackdown on charter schools

A coalition of charter schools in Michigan and Ohio filed a lawsuit Monday challenging the Biden administration’s newly put in place hurdles on federal funding for independent public schools.

Complaint filed in Michigan federal court accuses Department of Education of violating 2015 expansion of federal charter school program with final rule that increases requirements for schools seeking to qualify for grants approved by Congress.

“Unfortunately, the U.S. Department of Education is channeling the administration’s apparent hostility toward charter schools into crafting unconstitutional rules, which will deprive the most needy students of educational opportunities,” reads the statement. the 31-page petition filed by the Pacific Legal Foundation.

The foundation, which represents the Michigan Association of Public School Academies and the Thomas B. Fordham Institute in Ohio, sought an injunction to end the “sneak attack on the charter school curriculum.”

Under the new regulations, scholarship applicants “must prove that traditional public schools are overburdened, not just that they are not meeting the needs of their students; must seek approval from existing public schools; and must show that they are not serving too many racial minority students,” the foundation said.

The upshot is that the rule, which went into effect on Friday, “essentially allows existing schools to veto the existence of their competitors,” the foundation said.

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“This new rule will deeply harm children who need the educational opportunities offered by charter schools,” said Dan Quisenberry, president of the Michigan Charter Association. “Charter schools shouldn’t be punished just because traditional public schools — and the current administration — don’t like them.”

The department said its improved criteria would improve collaboration between charter schools and traditional schools; increase disclosure requirements to prevent private companies from accessing federal funds and help avoid scenarios in which charters and proposed charters take federal money but close prematurely or never open.

“The Department’s current regulations are intended to promote careful, data-driven planning for newly established charter schools and initiatives to expand or replicate existing high-quality charter schools,” the fact sheet said. from the DOE.

In the lawsuit, however, opponents argued that the administration lacked the authority to issue stricter criteria.

“This attack on charter schools is not only deeply unfair to children who would benefit from educational alternatives, it is illegal. The Department of Education does not have the authority to enact these new rules,” said Pacific Legal Foundation attorney Caleb Kruckenberg. “The agency cannot advance a policy agenda contrary to clear instructions from Congress otherwise.”

Mr. Biden said during the 2020 presidential campaign that he was “not a fan of charter schools,” echoing the sentiments of teachers’ unions that have long fought against the expansion of K-12 alternatives. fast growing.

The National Center for Education Statistics said that between the fall of 2009 and 2019, public charter school enrollment more than doubled from 1.6 million to 3.4 million, while the number of students in traditional public schools increased. decreased by 500,000 students over the same period.

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