Charter Schools & ESSA Regulations: “We Are Not The Same”
We strongly oppose the inclusion of this requirement, which is not authorized by the statute. The Department bases this proposal on a desire “to provide transparency.” (No further justification is provided in the NPRM.) We, too, support greater transparency, regarding both charter and non-charter schools, but this requirement would result in the reporting of misleading data. Moreover, the proposed requirement appears to be based on the premise that charter schools should look the “same” as district public schools in close proximity, when by definition charter schools are open enrollment. Lastly, the proposed requirement that is not in the statute, and would not equally apply to all public schools – only charter schools would be included.
The National Association for Public Charter Schools gave a very long public comment for the draft regulations put forth by the United States Department of Education and Secretary John King. Even they aren’t happy with parts of these regulations. Many felt the Every Student Succeeds Act gave gifts to the charters, but apparently the charters do not like some of these regulations.
The most important question is not who is enrolled in a charter school; it is whether all students and families who may wish to enroll have the opportunity to enroll – only then is the parent’s choice a meaningful one. The comparison data that the Department is asking for would not reflect this factor because the data would confuse and conflate the decision to enroll with the opportunity to enroll. As such, comparison data may be one indicator of meaningful access but comparison data are not the correct, best or only frame with which to evaluate equity.
I find some of their statements very ironic. Especially for some charter schools in Delaware where the opportunity to enroll is buried in selective enrollment preferences and factors that lead to very low populations of at-risk students: African-Americans, students with disabilities, and English Language learners. So much so that the American Civil Liberties Union filed a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights in December, 2014.
Like some charters in Delaware, this collection of America’s largest charter school organizations and franchises want to cherry-pick through the Charter Schools & ESSA Regulations: “We Are Not The Same” – Exceptional Delaware: