OKLAHOMA CITY – Earlier this month, the Biden Administration conceded to Attorney General John O’Connor’s criticisms of a new regulatory proposal regarding federal grants for public charter schools.
“I am glad that the Biden Administration accepted my request to abandon its flawed plans for charter school funding,” said Attorney General O’Connor. “All students deserve access to a high-quality education and underperforming public schools should not be able to veto their own competition.”
In an April letter to the U.S. Department of Education, General O’Connor was joined by 15 state attorneys general in arguing that two proposed changes to the Charter School Program 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 would have been required to 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 would have unfairly penalized charter schools who compete with local school districts and gives low-performing public schools a veto over funding for local charter schools.
The Department’s final rules on the Charter School Program removed both of the objectionable provisions. They deleted all requirements for over-enrollment data, changing the community impact analysis requirement to merely a needs analysis that could be met in any number of ways, including showing over-enrollment. They also demoted the partnership requirement to merely an idea they encourage, ensuring that no one is penalized for applying without a public school partner.