Peter Greene writes here about the proposal to tighten federal regulations so that for-profit corporations will not qualify to receive federal charter funding.

Greene writes:

This is exactly the kind of boring policy wonk stuff that can make ordinary humans nod off. But it;’s worth paying attention to. It’s even worth giving the feds your two cents. I’ll tell you how at the end of this. First let me explain what’s happening.

The Charter Schools Program (CSP) is a federal grant program that gives charter schools money both for start-ups and expansions. It’s a big, beautiful federal tax dollar gravy train, and it’s been running for many years through many administrations. The first batch of granty largesse was disbursed in 1995; since then something like $4 Billion has been thrown at charters, with decidedly mixed results. A report from the Network for Public Education found that about 1 out of every 4 dollars ($1 billion) had been spent on fraud and waste, including schools that closed within a year as well as schools that never opened at all (spoiler alert: no, the taxpayers don’t get their money back when that happens). Despite all that, the gravy train is still running, this year to the tune of about $440 million.

But if we’re going to do this, couldn’t we at least institute a few rules for getting the grant money? That’s what the Biden administration is proposing right now, and we are all invited to offer our thoughts before the proposed rules are adapted and/or adopted.

The language of the proposal is about priorities–in other words, if you meet these certain guidelines, you score more points in the Give Me Some Grant Money contest– and application requirements. So let’s take a look at the proposed language and see what we’ve got, because some of this is good and some of it could be better.

Greene explains the changes the feds want to make. And he also gives you information on where to write to express your views. If you or your organization thinks that the feds should stop enriching for-profit corporations, you should write a letter. The charter industry is working furiously behind the scenes to organize their allies and to fight these new regulations.

Greene writes:

Offering your two cents is the easiest thing in the world (Well, not the easiest–but pretty damn easy). On the government website that I’m linking right here, you can find a copy of the full proposal. Up and to the right is a blue button that says “comment,” which you just click on and there you go. There’s a guide in case you want some “how to” tips. You can comment as an individual or as a group representative. You can even comment anonymously.

Do not be intimidated. One of the comments currently up at the sites say, in total, “Hi hello I believe this is an important topic to discuss!”

And here’s the thing. The charter industry does not want this, and they are already mustering troops to flood these comments with tales of how this will hurt the children and cripple their good work and be a terrible awful no good very bad thing, even though these rules boil down to a simple message–

Maybe charter schools should partner with communities and other people interested in education instead of partnering with people whose main interest is making money.

So tell the feds that. Make your voice heard. Help the government make one tiny step toward the kind of charter function and accountability that we always should have had.