Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibilityTennessee Gov. Lee joins 17 other governors in opposition to proposed federal charter school rules – DC QUAKE
April 18, 2024

Tennessee Gov. Lee joins 17 other governors in opposition to proposed federal charter school rules

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Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee is one of 18 Republican governors to send a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona opposing proposed federal regulations for charter schools.

The rules include requiring grant applicants to describe any unmet need in a community, including over-enrollment of existing public schools or evidence of demand for a charter school and specialized instructional approaches.

Critics say the regulations are an attempt to undermine bipartisan legislation passed by Congress in 2015 — the Charter Schools Program — that provided financial assistance for charter operators to increase the number of these schools.

Tennessee is currently discussing a new public school funding formula that would fund each student based upon a $6,860 base amount with added weights for learning needs. Students would also be able to take that funding with them to a public charter school under the proposal.

“The Administration seeks to impose a new standard that will require charters to demonstrate that the relevant school district is ‘over-enrolled,'” the letter states. “By focusing on the number of seats, rather than the number of ‘high-quality’ seats, the new standard fails to consider that a driving force in a parent’s decision is the desire for their child to attend a school that meets their child’s unique needs.”

The letter was also signed by governors Kay Ivey (Alabama), Mike Dunleavy (Alaska), Doug Ducey (Arizona), Asa Hutchinson (Arkansas), Ron DeSantis (Florida), Brian Kemp (Georgia), Eric Holcomb (Indiana), Kim Reynolds (Iowa), Larry Hogan (Maryland), Charlie Baker (Massachusetts), Tate Reeves (Mississippi), Mike Parson (Missouri), Pete Ricketts (Nebraska), Chris Sununu (New Hampshire), Mike DeWine (Ohio), Kevin Stitt (Oklahoma), and Greg Abbott (Texas).

The proposed new federal guidelines also include requiring a description on how the schools will “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).”

The public comment period on the new standards for federal requirements for grants to charter schools ended on April 13.

“We oppose any attempts by the federal government to act as a national charter school board, impose a top-down and one-size-fits-all approach, and undermine the authority of parents to choose the educational option best for their child,” the letter said. “Specifically, we take issue with both the substance and process of the proposed rule, and therefore, we ask that the comment period be extended, the community impact analysis requirement be removed, and implementation be delayed by one year.

“Charter schools are public schools, and many of the 3.5 million American students enrolled in charter schools are educated through the public education system in our states. Charter school leaders are essential partners in offering high-quality options that deliver outcomes for students and provide competition to lift academic achievement in nearby schools.”

This article was originally posted on Tennessee Gov. Lee joins 17 other governors in opposition to proposed federal charter school rules

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