The Biden administration recently released proposed reforms to a nearly 30-year-old federal program that has provided billions of dollars in grants for charter schools, and predictably some charter supporters have launched an unrestrained attack.
The bipartisan charter lobby alleges, among other things, that President Biden wants to “gut” the Charter School Programs, is kowtowing to unions and is willfully harming marginalized students. One magazine piece has this headline: “Biden Abandons the Obama Legacy on Charter Schools” — as if that were something to behold — and this subtitle: “The Education Department chooses teachers unions over poor kids.”
That’s not what’s happening — for one thing, the administration hasn’t proposed cutting a dime from the program — but that hasn’t stopped the attacks on the proposals, which are being supported by Roberto Rodriguez, a strong charter school supporter who was an education adviser to President Barack Obama and is now Biden’s assistant education secretary for planning, evaluation and policy development.
“There is a bit of a mythology that this is an attempt to do away with charter programs or curb the programs or curb the growth of charter schools,” said Rodriguez in an interview. Sure, he could have turned against charters, but he hasn’t: “The administration supports high-quality schools, including high-quality charter schools.”
Charter schools are funded by the public but privately operated. They are not monolithic — no more than schools in traditionally operated public districts are. Each state has its own rules, some resulting in better-quality charter schools than others.
Charters enjoyed bipartisan support for years — and still do — but support within the Democratic Party has lessened because of real problems in parts of the sector that supporters don’t like to publicly address. They include repeated scandals of financial fraud and waste, mismanagement, segregation, and under-enrollment of students with special needs. Charter schools in some places also drain resources from school districts that educate most of America’s schoolchildren.
Story continues at: Charter Schools