The Club for Growth Foundation submitted public comments to the U.S. Department of Education’s proposed charter school grant program (CSP) rule. The proposed rules, as written by the Biden Administration, would prevent the expansion of student access to high-quality charter schools, protecting teachers’ union members and sheltering poorly performing school districts at the expense of low-income and minority students.
The Foundation informed the Department that the proposed rule would thwart the statutory requirement that directed the Department to increase student access to high-quality charter schools. Having clearly ignored the will of Congress, the Department was forced to accept and adopt the Foundation’s positions in their final rule.
Specifically, the Foundation objected to the requirement that charter school grant applicants (“CSP Applicants”) be required to collaborate with public schools and districts, giving public schools and public school districts an effective veto over charter school creation and expansion. The final rule removes these criteria as a requirement.
Additionally, the Foundation objected to the proposed rule’s language that would effectively have required that CSP Applicants prove over-enrollment in traditional public schools to demonstrate local need for the charter school. This was an attempt by the Department to create a loophole in the Congressional directive.
Charter school demand is often disconnected from over-enrollment at public schools, so this requirement would prevent the creation and expansion of high-quality charter schools. In response, the final rule stated that a wide variety of data could be considered to demonstrate local need.
Finally, the Foundation objected to the proposed rule’s language which would require racial and socio-economic diversity at proposed charter schools, as this would eliminate funding for high-quality charter schools where they are most needed, in areas composed of almost entirely low-income and/or minority students, denying these students access to high-quality charter schools. The final rule makes clear that funding will not be withheld from these areas.
Overall, the Foundation, through its public comments, succeeded in preventing the Department of Education attempt to ignore Congressional mandates because they did not match the Biden Administration’s policy priorities. Having been called out for the overreach, the Department was forced to adopt a final rule that actually promotes and does not inhibit the creation and expansion of high-quality charter schools.