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Protecting the Education Disruptors
The Fight for Innovation Continues
Proponents go on offense to challenge charter school rules, while “The Blob” continues its march to reinstate the status quo. What a week!
Let’s start with:
Charters Challenge Federal Overreach
Some of you might recall the brouhaha over the Biden Administration’s changes to the federal public charter grant program, a program created by a bipartisan group of lawmakers that has enjoyed the support of every president since 1987 - until now.
The changes would in effect destroy the autonomy charter schools have - not make them better as Education Secretary Cardona suggests.
“It really is a fundamental question of who makes these kinds of decisions,” says Dan Quisenberry, head of the Michigan Association of Public School Academies (MAPSA) and one of this week’s guests on the Back to School edition of “in Piazza.” With the help of the Pacific Legal Foundation, Dan, on behalf of the MI charter school movement, is suing the Biden Administration to lift those regulations that are already having a chilling effect on charter school growth. At a time when parents want and need more opportunities to educate their children, putting options out of business is either pure stupidity - or a political move to secure the union’s continued political muscle and commitment.
Listen to in Piazza here: In Part 1, A Short Primer on the Biden Charter School Regulations, I break down the policy issues at play with my associate Michael Musante. Part II is an in-depth look at the lawsuit, what’s behind it and why it’s necessary, with Dan and his colleague Caleb Kruckenberg from Pacific Legal Foundation.
We suggested when this first happened that Congress move to dismantle the regs, to which some people said, they don't “have jurisdiction.” Enter US Senator Tim Scott from South Carolina, who is now moving quickly to do just that. He and 21 of his colleagues have introduced the Congressional Review Act (CRA) legislation, “to nullify the Biden administration’s new rules adding burdensome requirements to charter schools seeking funding.”
Here’s another way to look at it, from charter advocate and editor of “Charterfolk” Jed Wallace on the insanity behind the growing encroachment on charter contracts:
There are … “limitations so stifling that [they] worry we might never be able to create such innovative new schools as we were able to make when the movement first got started.”
Nine of the final twenty 2021 STOP Award Finalists were charter schools
Not only is their success owing to their strong educational approaches and unique innovations, but to the fact that the law permits them and in fact, fosters the very freedom that traditional educators beg their schools for on a regular basis. Networks like Friendship Public Charter Schools were able to turn on a dime during Covid, and every time they need to change to address student needs, Living School’s unique approach to student entrepreneurship isn’t clouded by requirements to ask the public whether they believe their school is necessary - that is evident in the enrollment, the waiting list and the progress the students achieve. Nor should we require Louisiana Key Academy, which focuses on the needs of Dyslexic students, to change its program to look more like the districts, one of the many perverse intentions scattered throughout the new Biden rules for charters as a condition of receiving federal money.
It’s insanity to tell innovators to become more like ailing school districts they are seeking to overcome in order to start, continue or grow a charter school.
Read the 135 pages yourself if you don’t believe that’s what is happening. But I’m confident that between the charter lawsuit, the Congressional bill and the upcoming elections, this union-driven folly of the White House will eventually be a thing of the past, though not without damage. Ask your representatives if they know about this and what they think and if they don’t, send them to in Piazza for an easy-to-listen-to primer on the subject.
And New York is strangling non-public schools
The very schools that were opened to serve students and that are now enrolling new students - particularly among the disadvantaged - in droves - are now going to have to comply with the same kind of failed rules that govern school districts. According to the New York Sun, “New York’s approximately 1,800 private schools will now be subject to oversight such as state-approved exams or accreditors to make sure the institutions meet academic standards.”
“Schools will have to demonstrate their secular instruction is comparable to that of local public schools by the end of 2023. If they don’t, local education officials will conduct reviews by the end of the 2024-25 school year.”
Let’s unpack this - local education officials, responsible for the decline in public education standards, are going to review non-public schools? When regulations say standards, regulators read those as inputs, not outputs. And regulations will tie private schools up in knots, compromising their ability to do precisely what they do best - turn on a dime. Like they did for kids in Covid, before and after. Real good policy, folks. Not. Sounds like it’s time for an election.
These cases underscore why we call it The Blob (like the movie!). It’s everywhere and like the education establishment, the opponents of innovation, it squeezes itself into every spot where there’s an opening to squash the oxygen out of vibrant, living things. And when it’s challenged, it just grows bigger. Join us for a little chuckle at this video we did for CER’s 13th Anniversary explaining what it’s all about.
At the end of the day, the only defense against the Blob is Parent Power.