The Biden administration has added restrictions on schools applying for the federal Charter School Program, which provides grant money to charters in their first three years of operation. Education Department officials hope the new rules will support successful charter schools that remain open long after three years.
Broadly, the proposed rules would require charter school applicants to have a better understanding of how their schools would impact local public school districts and to demonstrate no ties to for-profit companies.
Under the proposed rules, applicants would have to complete a community impact analysis to demonstrate the need for a new school in the area.
The analysis also would require applicants to show that the new charter school wouldn’t negatively affect desegregation efforts in public school districts. Charter applicants would have to describe the steps they would take to avoid increasing racial or socioeconomic isolation in the public schools from which students would potentially be drawn to attend the charter.
“The Department recognizes that there are many districts that serve almost entirely students of color or students from low-income backgrounds, including Tribal communities, which in some instances may be due, in part, to redlining,” said Anna Hinton, director of the department’s Charter School Program, in a blog post. “High-quality charter schools that increase educational opportunities in these already homogeneous and isolated communities, or for underserved students, were always intended to be—and are—eligible for funding under the final priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria, and will not be at a competitive disadvantage for funding.”
One of the proposed requirements within the community impact analysis would have the applicants demonstrate sufficient demand for a charter school by indicating over-enrollment in public schools.
Incoming charter schools will have to gather community input and prove they aren’t managed by a for-profit company to receive federal funding under the administration’s finalized Charter School Program rules.