Biden Admin Declares ‘War’ On Charter Schools Amid Increasingly Popular School Choice Movement

The Biden administration is planning a new regulatory assault on private and charter schools just as more parents are sending their children to them as a means of opting out of public schools that often include what they see as divisive and inappropriate curriculum and materials.

“The Biden administration — bound to the teachers’ unions — has now ‘declared war’ on charter schools, as Robert Maranto, editor of the Journal of School Choice, wrote at National Review Monday,” the Star News Network noted.

Specifically, the report says, the Biden Education Department is proposing “new rules that appear to actually deter applicants from seeking federal grants,” the outlet continued, which will greatly impact private schools.

“W]ith Democrats going woke and a new president in town, the U.S. Department of Education has declared war on charter schools, using obscure bureaucratic rulemaking to kill the federal charter-school program without having to explain why,” Maranto noted of the new proposed rule, which was entered into the Federal Register March 14, with the commentary period lasting until April 13.

The Wall Street Journal explained in a Sunday piece:

Applicants will now have to describe “unmet demand for the charter school.” Having hundreds or thousands of children on charter waiting lists won’t suffice. The Administration wants evidence of “over-enrollment of existing public schools,” as well as proof that the new charter “does not exceed the number of public schools needed to accommodate the demand in the community.”

This means that charter applicants in school districts with shrinking enrollment, which includes many big cities, would almost certainly be rejected. “Demand for charter schools isn’t just about demand for the availability of any seat but the demand for a high-quality seat,” says Karega Rausch, president and CEO of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers. That’s why charters have waiting lists in cities with empty public-school buildings.

“Nationwide, I believe the enrollment drop in public schools is about 1.5 million students, or more, which was roughly about a 3% decline in enrollment,” Corey A. DeAngelis, national director of research at the American Federation for Children, told the Star News Network regarding the drop in public school enrollments.

“We saw Census Bureau numbers suggesting a doubling of homeschooling relative to pre-pandemic levels. Charter school enrollment jumped by 7%, whereas the government-run school enrollment dropped by about 3%. And, so, people were voting with their feet even before these massive expansions of school choice that we saw in 2021, the year of school choice,” he added.

“Just imagine if we had universal school choice, if all of the funding followed the child, every single child, to wherever they wanted to get an education?” DeAngelis said. “We probably would have seen a much larger exodus from the government-run school system in the pandemic period.”