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Charter Schools Strike Back Against the Biden Administration

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Remember when President Joe Biden launched an attack on charter schools by instituting measures designed to make it harder for them to receive federal funding? Well, it looks like charter schools are fighting back against the administration’s desperate attempt to limit educational options for parents.

A confederation of charter schools in Michigan and Ohio launched a lawsuit on Monday against the White House for imposing measures designed to make it more difficult for these institutions to receive federal funding.

The Washington Times reported:

The complaint filed in federal court in Michigan accuses the Department of Education of violating the 2015 expansion of the federal Charter Schools Program with a final rule that increases requirements for schools seeking to qualify for congressionally approved grants.

“Unfortunately, the U.S. Department of Education is channeling the Administration’s apparent hostility towards charter schools into unconstitutional rulemaking, which will rob the neediest students of educational opportunity,” reads the 31-page motion filed by the Pacific Legal Foundation.

Under Biden’s new measures, schools applying for grants “must prove that traditional public schools are over-enrolled, not just failing to serve the needs of their students; must seek approval from existing public schools; and must show that they are not serving too many students who are racial minorities,” according to the foundation.

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

The suit also alleges that the new rules “essentially lets existing schools veto the existence of their competitors.”

Dan Quisenberry, who heads the Michigan charter association, told the Times that the new measures “will profoundly harm children who need the educational opportunities that charter schools provide.”

“Charter schools shouldn’t be punished just because traditional public schools — and the current administration — don’t like them,” he added.

The Department of Education (DOE) claims the new provisions will “improve collaboration between charter and traditional schools; increase disclosure requirements to prevent private companies from accessing the federal funds, and help avoid scenarios in which charters and proposed charters take federal money but then close prematurely or never open,” according to the Washington Times.

But the plaintiffs argue that the White House does not have the authority to make such a movie.

“This attack on charter schools is not only deeply unfair to kids who would benefit from educational alternatives, it’s illegal. The Department of Education has no authority to issue these new rules,” said Pacific Legal Foundation attorney Caleb Kruckenberg, who also argued that only Congress possesses the power to institute such a policy.

Biden has been a vocal opponent of charter schools and said he was “not a charter school fan” during the 2020 campaign. He is a close friend and ally of the teacher’s unions, who are also in opposition to charter schools because they pose a competitive threat to government-run schools.

Speaking of public schools, when you look at the enrollment numbers, it is easy to see why Biden and company are coming after charters. Public school attendance took a nosedive during the COVID-19 pandemic, and they have not yet recovered. Indeed, enrollment in charter and private schools has seen a substantial increase, as has the rate of parents choosing to homeschool. The public school system is in a bit of a pickle at the moment.

Kathleen Porter-Magee, superintendent of Partnership Schools, wrote about a National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) study whose findings “reveal a historic 3.8% nationwide enrollment increase for all Catholic elementary and secondary schools.” This marked “the first increase in two decades and the largest recorded increase by NCEA.”

When it was first reported that the White House’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education had snuck 13 pages of rules into the $1.5 trillion proposal to fund federal agencies, even Mr. Magoo could have seen it was a naked attack on charter schools. Republicans in the House and Senate education committees slammed the administration, pointing out that the DOE would have to submit the regulation to Congress, which would then launch a review.

Nevertheless, Biden is still trying to limit educational alternatives for parents who are concerned with how public schools are teaching, or indoctrinating, their children. However, the battle over school choice is far from over, and Democrats are not in an advantageous position.

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