Ohio knows charter schools. A lobbyist for the charter school industry wrote the law. Charter schools are mistakenly called “community schools.” Most charter schools in the state are failing schools, but that does not dim the enthusiasm of the GOP legislature for them. Ohio welcomes for-profit charter schools. Charters drain money from public schools.

For the first time in the history of the federal Charter Schools Program, which started in 1994, the federal U.S. Department of Education has proposed regulations to exclude for-profit management of charters that seek federal funding to expand and to require charters seeking federal funding to present a summary of their charter on the locality where they plan to open.

Jan Resseger, who lives in Ohio, sent the following appeal to her followers.

Please Support the Proposed USDOE Rule Changes for the Federal Charter Schools Program

Submit a comment supporting the Department’s new stronger regulations. You can submit your comment HERE, and you must submit the comment before April 13, 2022.

Please read Ohio Public Education Partners’ explanation of an urgently important development that requires our immediate attention. The U.S. Department of Education has published a notice in the Federal Register proposing new rules to strengthen oversight of the federal Charter Schools Program (CSP). It is urgently important for each one of us to write and submit a formal comment expressing support for stronger oversight of the Charter Schools Program.

First, even though the Elementary and Secondary Education Act forbids the allocation of federal dollars to for-profit charter schools, the owners of for-profit charter management organizations (CMOs) have learned how to get around the law. The U.S. Department of Education has proposed to stop the misallocation of federal Charter Schools Program (CSP) dollars to for-profit charter school management companies that hide behind the nonprofit charter schools they manage under sweeps contracts.

Second, when a charter school asks for Charter Schools Program startup funds, the Department has declared its intention to require a community impact statement to ensure that there is a need for a new charter school in the community and that the school won’t promote racial segregation. Neither should rapid expansion of charter schools undermine urban neighborhoods. The most serious consequence of out-of-control charter school expansion has been evident in large cities, where charter schools advertise lavishly to attract families from public schools.

Here is the language of the two urgently important rules the U.S. Department of Education proposes to add:

First — “Each charter school receiving CSP funding must provide an assurance that it has not and will not enter into a contract with a for-profit management organization, including a non-profit management organization operated by or on behalf of a for-profit entity, under which the management organization exercises full or substantial administrative control over the charter school and, thereby, the CSP project.”

Second — “Each applicant must provide a community impact analysis that demonstrates that there is sufficient demand for the proposed project and that the proposed project would serve the interests and meet the needs of students and families in the community or communities from which students are, or will be, drawn to attend the charter school, and that includes the following: (a) Descriptions of the community support and unmet demand for the charter school, including any over-enrollment of existing public schools or other information that demonstrates demand for the charter school, such as evidence of demand for specialized instructional approaches. (b) Descriptions of the targeted student and staff demographics and how the applicant plans to establish and maintain racially and socio-economically diverse student and staff populations, including proposed strategies (that are consistent with applicable legal requirements) to recruit, enroll, and retain a diverse student body and to recruit, hire, develop, and retain a diverse staff and talent pipeline at all levels (including leadership positions).”

Please submit a comment supporting the Department’s new stronger regulations. Don’t let yourself be intimidated by the complicated language and presentation of the new rules in the Federal Register. Begin your comment by thanking the Department of Education for strengthening long-needed accountability in this program. In simple prose, explain your support for each of the proposed new rules for the Charter Schools Program. In your comment, if you like, you may quote the language (above) of each rule followed by your reason for believing the new regulation is so important. Your comment may be as long or as short as you like—a few sentences or several paragraphs. Longer comments must be submitted as attached documents.

You can submit your comment HERE, and you must submit the comment before April 13, 2022.

If you are not planning to write your own comment, you may send the Network for Public Education’s action alert letter, but I urge you to personalize your letter by adding a few sentences of your own.

Jan Resseger