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To Educate and Inform on Issues Relating to Public Education

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US House Appropriations Chair: Blistering Reproach to Opponents of For-Profit Charter School Regulations

by Carol Burris, Executive Director of the Network for Public Education

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, issued a blistering reproach of how “the national trade organization representing for-profit EMO’s is running a well-funded misinformation campaign” to stop the proposed regulations of the U.S. Department of Education to provide more accountability and transparency in the federal Charter Schools Program (CSP).

Although Chairwoman DeLauro does not mention the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools (NAPCS) by name, that organization has been leading the campaign telling President Biden and Secretary Cardona to #backoff. “In 2019, the NACPS Hall of Fame winner was Fernando Zulueta, the founder and owner of the largest for-profit chain in the United States, Academica. Zulueta served on their board for years,” according to Carol Burris, the Executive Director of the Network for Public Education. NPE issued a report last year on the for-profit charter industry, entitled “Chartered for Profit: The Hidden World of Charter Schools Operated for Financial Gain.”

Burris continues, “The campaign of misinformation waged by NACPS at defeating sensible reforms in CSP regulations has been relentless. Wild and untruthful claims made include that the Department does not believe rural charter schools and culturally affirming charter schools should exist, that public school districts would need to approve new charter schools, and that the regulations would override state law. Each of these outrageous false claims are intended to do one thing–frighten parents who send their children to charter schools to oppose the regulations in order to ensure that for-profit run charters and white flight charters can still get CSP funding.”

According to the Chair’s press release, which you can find here, this is not the first time that the same organization has used misinformation in order to protect the for-profit charter industry. The “trade organization” , presumably the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, led a similar campaign of misinformation last summer, according to Chair DeLauro.

Finally, Reasonable Federal Regulations for Charter Schools Management!

The U.S. Department of Education has proposed regulations to curb charter school management problems. The regulations are tied to federal funding. This is great news! They tackle for-profit charter schools and require community impact studies of charter schools. The Department wants your feedback. Please submit your comments here.

Below I have summarized my comments about the proposed regulations.The Department needs to hear from you. Please stand up and be counted.

I am writing in response to the invitation to submit comments regarding “Proposed Priorities, Requirements, Definitions, and Selection Criteria-Expanding Opportunity Through Quality Charter Schools Program (CSP)-Grants to State Entities (SE Grants)

I strongly support the Department’s attempt to ensure that charter schools operated by for-profit management corporations do not receive CSP grants. As a resident of Florida, I can attest to the problems created by for-profits running schools. In my state, over 50% of our charter schools are run by for-profit management companies.

I strongly support the proposed regulations that seek to bring greater transparency and assess the impact of a new charter school on the community. I especially support the inclusion of a community impact analysis “to inform the need, number, and types of charter schools to be created in a given community.”

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to submit comments. And thank you for proposing much needed reforms.

Sue Legg

Florida Files State Test Waiver Request

Governor DeSantis filed a request to waive federal requirements for state testing in 2021.  If approved, state tests would not be administered.  Specific federal waivers include:

  1. Implement and report the results of the state’s accountability system;
  2. Calculate progress toward long-term goals and measurements of interim progress or indicators;
  3. Meaningfully differentiate among public schools using data from the 2020-2021 school year;
  4. Account for an assessment participation rate below 95 percent; and
  5. Identify schools for comprehensive support and improvement, targeted support and improvement, and additional targeted support and improvement based on data from the 2020-2021 school year.

Florida would still be required to:

  1. Continue to support previously identified schools in the 2021-2022 school year;
  2. Resume school identification in the fall of 2022; and
  3. Publically report the percentage of students, by subgroup, not assessed and the percentage chronically absent.
  4. The waiver application does not exempt Florida from state accountability requirements. The results of state assessments are crucial to help identify students who need specialized supports, help teachers tailor their instructional delivery to support individual student needs, and ensure equity in opportunity and closing achievement gaps for millions of Florida’s at-risk students.

For the most up-to-date data, FDOE will report school performance data, disaggregated by student subgroups, at www.knowyourschoolsfl.org.

Florida has its own requirements based on state test scores.  DeSantis’ emergency order will allow districts to opt out of reporting school grades, school improvement ratings, and learning gains associated with teacher evaluations.  Districts will be allowed to determine if students should be promoted or should graduate from high school.

These waivers are only for one year.  It is a good time to reevaluate the entire testing and accountability system.  There is no good reason to require expensive annual testing at every grade level.  The way Florida uses those scores to rank schools needs to be rethought.

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