Skip to content

President Biden’s Attack on Charter Schools

Escuelas charter, El American

Leer en Español

[Leer en Español]

It is not surprising in the least bit that President Biden and his administration are attacking charter schools. After all, when the National Teachers Union’s (NEA) president asked Biden if he was supportive of charters, he said point-blank that no federal funding would go to charters if he got elected. It was part of his campaign promises.

Making good on that promise, the U.S. Department of Education recently issued a notice that would disproportionately hurt charter schools, students, and parents across our country.

The new regulations for the Charter Schools Program not only restrict access to federal grant funding; it makes it nearly impossible for schools to access this financial support.

Furthermore, the proposed rules require charter schools to acquire signed collaboration agreements with school districts before the opening. As anyone who is familiar with education reform knows, collaboration among charters and school districts can sometimes be complex. Therefore, under these recommended guidelines, school districts would have the power to decide if a charter school can or cannot open.

Lastly, the advised regulations say a charter school would only be allowed to open if district schools are full — even if parents and children may want public school options.

It might have been expected, but the war Biden’s administration is waging on charter schools makes no sense. First and foremost, Democrats’ rallying cry for education is the public school system; however, the administration is actively working against what they so strongly advocate for because charter schools are public schools— a lifeline that nearly 3.6 million families in the U.S. rely on.

The argument for these rules is also absurd when one looks at the national performance rankings of every high school in our country, published by U.S. News last week, detailing how charter schools have made significant contributions to education in the United States.

The sad reality is the criticism against charter schools is merely political. Research suggests that quality charter schools provide opportunities for students whether that be college prep, STEM curriculum, or other integral arts. And the doors charters open for low-income families or communities of color are unparalleled.

In 2021, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) published a meta-analysis of research on charter school impacts and competitive influence spanning three decades. Some of the most important findings were that charter schools in urban areas improved test scores, especially for Black, Latino, and
low-income students, and that attending some urban charter schools increased college enrollment.

Another study, conducted by the Program on Education Policy and Governance at Harvard University, revealed that children in charter schools made larger academic gains, with the difference equating to nearly an additional half-year of learning throughout the study. African-American students, and students from
disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds, made the most progress.

Don’t be fooled, though. The fight against charter schools is not because of the schools’ abilities to educate students, but rather because the teachers union is pushing for all funding to go to the traditional public schools. It was reported in 2020 that Biden collected the largest financial contributions from teachers’ unions
that were openly against charter schools and school choice programs.

As I said, it is no surprise that President Biden is following through with his campaign promise. After all, he is a politician who needs funding to be reelected, and the unions have invested heavily. But with abysmal public approval ratings, he would be wise to think about making a move that would harm many of his voters.

Come election time, voters will remember how Democrats have played politics with families seeking educational opportunities where the funding follows the students. But most of all, voters need to send a strong message, at all levels of the ballot box, to elected officials hampering access to the American Dream by restricting high-quality education.

Valeria Gurr serves as director of external affairs relations for the American Federation for Children. She was the program manager for the Nevada Institute for Children’s Research and Policy and is a passionate advocate for educational choice, particularly for underserved families. For more information, visit: https://www.federationforchildren.org.

Valeria Gurr

Leave a Reply