Charter Schools & ESSA Regulations: “We Are Not The Same”

We strongly oppose the inclusion of this requirement, which is not authorized by the statute. The Department bases this proposal on a desire “to provide transparency.” (No further justification is provided in the NPRM.) We, too, support greater transparency, regarding both charter and non-charter schools, but this requirement would result in the reporting of misleading data. Moreover, the proposed requirement appears to be based on the premise that charter schools should look the “same” as district public schools in close proximity, when by definition charter schools are open enrollment. Lastly, the proposed requirement that is not in the statute, and would not equally apply to all public schools – only charter schools would be included.

The National Association for Public Charter Schools gave a very long public comment for the draft regulations put forth by the United States Department of Education and Secretary John King.  Even they aren’t happy with parts of these regulations.  Many felt the Every Student Succeeds Act gave gifts to the charters, but apparently the charters do not like some of these regulations.

The most important question is not who is enrolled in a charter school; it is whether all students and families who may wish to enroll have the opportunity to enroll – only then is the parent’s choice a meaningful one. The comparison data that the Department is asking for would not reflect this factor because the data would confuse and conflate the decision to enroll with the opportunity to enroll. As such, comparison data may be one indicator of meaningful access but comparison data are not the correct, best or only frame with which to evaluate equity.

I find some of their statements very ironic.  Especially for some charter schools in Delaware where the opportunity to enroll is buried in selective enrollment preferences and factors that lead to very low populations of at-risk students: African-Americans, students with disabilities, and English Language learners.  So much so that the American Civil Liberties Union filed a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights in December, 2014.

Like some charters in Delaware, this collection of America’s largest charter school organizations and franchises want to cherry-pick through the regulations to insert additional language in the Every Student Succeeds Act.  This is the one that disturbs me the most:

We recommend that the Department revise proposed section 200.24(d)(2), by adding a new clause (iii) reading as follows:

“(iii) Using funds that it reserves under section 1003(a), directly provide for the creation of new, replicated, or expanded charter schools to serve students enrolled in schools identified for comprehensive support and improvement, and other students in the local community, provided that:

“(A) The SEA has the authority to take such an action under State law or, if the SEA does not have that authority, the SEA has the LEA’s approval to use the funds in this manner; and

“(B) Such charter schools will be established and operated by non-profit entities with a demonstrated record of success (particularly in serving students from communities similar to those that would be served by the new charter schools), which the State shall determine through a rigorous review process.”

This language would be consistent with other provisions of the proposed regulations that support the concept of making charter school options available to students who would otherwise be enrolled in low-performing schools. It would take a different approach than just authorizing conversions, by making it possible for students enrolled in comprehensive support and improvement schools (as well as other students in the neighborhood or local community) to have the opportunity to transfer to a charter school run by a highly successful operator. We emphasize that the language would allow an SEA to use section 1003 funds for this purpose with the approval of the affected LEA, unless state law gives the SEA the authority to take such an action without LEA approval. (It would thus be somewhat parallel to the language currently in section 200.24(d)(2) allowing the SEA, with the LEA’s concurrence to provide school improvement activities through external partners). We strongly recommend that the Department adopt this recommendation.

I have no doubt you strongly recommend the Department inserts this into the law.  We have yet to see, based on equal demographics, that charter schools do better than traditional public school districts.  There are many charter schools that seem to work merely as rigor universities for high achievement on state assessments, but that is not a true barometer for student success which has been proven time and time again.

To read the rest about what the charters want and ALL the organizations and charters that signed this comment, read the entire document below:

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Kevin Ohlandt

I am a proud parent of a son with Tourette's Syndrome and several other co-morbidities. I write on this blog to educate other parents so they know a bit more about not only special education, but all the really bad things that are happening with public schools in Delaware and the USA. We are all in this together, and if our children aren't able to advocate for themselves it's up to us parents! We need to stop letting companies run our schools, and demand our children get a proper education. Our Departments of Education in our states have become weak with fear from the bullying US DOE, and we need to take back our schools!

4 thoughts on “Charter Schools & ESSA Regulations: “We Are Not The Same””

  1. 17% of Charter Schools do perform better than their local public school counterparts, and 35% perform worse. The remainder (48%) perform no differently.

    Opening Charter schools next to a public school can be best seen as being similar to opening up a grocery store right next to another one. Both do poorly whereas one would do just fine..

    Cancer starts because the body refuses to recognize it as a harmful entity. It fails to fight against it. Charters are a cancer upon giving every child an equal opportunity to succeed in this world.

    I reiterate. There can never be such thing as a “good charter”… Such is an impossible thing to ever occur as long as we allow public funds to leave public schools to follow students over to non-public schools. One just can’t short 4 people to make things better for 1, and call it progress.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. And on a second reading, I though not surprised, am slightly disgusted by the greedy arrogance of these particular charter school operators… The whole point of their argument can be summed up as follows: we don’t like the rules that You, The People chose to impose upon us; so give us different ones…

    It’s the two year old who sees a candy bar at the grocery store check out line and begins screaming its high pitched shrill shriek…..

    You want to say: can someone shut that baby up!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is the harm of money in politics. If we have a struggling school let’s not fix it, let’s open a new school so we’re paying twice as much. The old-school will be starved of resources and only get worse.

    What kind of public policy is this? Suppose we had charter police or charter firemen so the taxpayers can pay for duplication. Why not just help the public schools get better?

    It seems the whole charter idea is a failure, because it abandons those schools entirely, cherry picks the most motivated families, and then deceitfully tries to compare themselves to the schools that serve all kids.


  4. You take one penny of public tax dollars and you ARE the same—publicly-funded, and that makes charters subject to public transparency, oversight, and accountability measures. End of discussion!
    No transparency, etc.—NO PUBLIC TAX DOLLARS. It’s really very simple.


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