Source: United States House of Representatives – Representative Michelle Steel (CA-48)
Washington, D.C. – Rep. Michelle Steel (R-CA) joined Rep. Chris Jacobs (NY-27) to send a letter to Department of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona on a proposed rule change to the Charter Schools Program that would limit school choice access for families. The letter was cosigned by Education and Labor Committee Republican Leader Virginia Foxx (NC-05) and 21 other Members of Congress. Last month Rep. Steel introduced the Protecting Charter Schools from Federal Overreach Act of 2022 to prohibit the Secretary of Education from finalizing this proposed rulemaking.
“The federal government has no business restricting families’ options for their children’s education,” said Rep. Steel when she introduced the legislation. “Parents, not teachers unions or DC bureaucrats, know what is best for their children, and we cannot allow the Administration to remove school choice as an option for countless families.”
“The Department of Education’s hostile disposition towards educational freedom in America underscores one simple fact: it is beholden to satisfying the demands of its union allies over those of parents and families,” said Representative Foxx. “Shackling charter schools through heavy-handed government intervention only breeds more bureaucratic bloat that impedes upon the educational pursuits of students.”
On March 14 the Department of Education published a Notice of Proposed Priorities, Requirements, Definitions, and Selection Criteria (NPP) for programs under the Charter Schools Program in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The proposal places new requirements and regulations on the opening and operation of charter schools which would threaten their their ability to provide alternative education options for families.
“The NPP goes beyond your statutory authority to add or change requirements under the law. The NPP makes the application process more complicated and burdensome and will thus limit the growth of charter schools. Charter schools provide a free, public education to families who choose to enroll in these schools. Limiting the growth of these institutions will harm students seeking learning options beyond the traditional public school system, which is beholden to teachers’ unions rather than to parents and students,” the lawmakers wrote.
They continued, “The federal program is meant to increase the number of charter schools, expand opportunities for children with special needs and other traditionally underserved students, and increase schools’ accountability. The NPP, if implemented as proposed, would lead to fewer state applications, fewer schools eligible for subgrants, and weakened school operations.”
“When the federal government oversteps its authority and sets more regulations for how these schools should interact with the community – which is exactly what the NPP does – the process of opening a charter school is unnecessarily and unjustly complicated. When the federal government takes away the locally responsive aspect of charter schools, it undermines the value and purpose of charter schools and hurts the students those schools exist to serve,” they concluded.
The letter was cosigned by Reps. Virginia Foxx (NC-05), Elise Stefanik (NY-21), Rick Allen (GA-12), Scott Fitzgerald (WI-05), Mike Kelly (PA-16), Doug Lamborn (CO-05), Julia Letlow (LA-05), Patrick McHenry (NC-10), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA-02), John Moolenaar (MI-04), Ralph Norman (SC-05), Burgess Owens (UT-04), Bill Posey (FL-08), Adrian Smith (NE-03), Joe Wilson (SC-02), Russ Fulcher (ID-01), Glenn Grothman (WI-06), Lisa McClain (MI-10), Diana Harshbarger (TN-01), Tim Walberg (MI-07), and Jim Banks (IN-03).