OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorney General John O’Connor is leading 15 other state attorneys general in opposition to the Biden Administration’s new regulatory proposal regarding federal grants for public charter schools.
In a letter to the U.S. Department of Education, the attorneys general argue two of the proposed changes to the Charter School Program (“CSP”) would decrease the education opportunities for students in areas with underperforming schools. Under a proposed community impact analysis requirement, an applicant trying to open or expand a charter school must demonstrate demand through over-enrollment in local public schools, failing to consider evidence of demand for high quality education due to poor performance rather than over-enrollment. Additionally, a proposed partnership priority unfairly penalizes charter schools who compete with local school districts and gives low-performing public schools a veto over funding for local charter schools.
“Charter schools are publicly funded, privately run schools which provide alternatives for families unhappy with the existing local public schools,” said Attorney General O’Connor. “Congress funded charter schools to encourage better education throughout the country. Enacting these proposed changes will defeat the very reason public charter schools are allowed.”
Congress stated in federal law that the first purpose of the Charter School Program is to improve education opportunities for all people in the United States. The program is “intended to provide an alternative to low-performing schools in order to improve education, not merely to supplement offerings by traditional public schools,” the letter states.
The attorneys general argue changing the preferences for funds will inevitably decrease the total funding awarded to charter schools that compete with underperforming public schools. The coalition sees no good reason for the Biden Administration to discourage or give lower ranks to charter school grant applications that would fund charter schools to compete with local school districts and urges the Department of Education not to adopt the proposed changes.
Attorney General O’Connor is joined by the attorneys general from the following states in signing onto the letter: Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Virginia.