The following was submitted to the US Department of Education during its public comment window for the proposed update to the national charter school guidelines.
Dear Secretary of Education Cardona,
The people of Utah are tired of federal overreach. Your proposed priorities and requirements for federal grants to charter schools are just another example in the long line of federal guidance that isn’t right for Utah.
You claim that this guidance is designed to “create results driven practices” to help “promising practices and accountability.” But what results are you hoping to achieve? Nothing in your guidance is designed to increase academic outcomes. Instead, it increases the emphasis on “diversity.” Your rules require charter schools to report their demographic information, adding a bureaucratic burden to these schools. Many charter schools are in urban areas across the country serving black and brown communities.
The new guidance requires “charter schools proposed to be opened, replicated, or expanded” only be in areas where demand “does not exceed the number of public schools needed to accommodate…the community.” This is not why charter schools begin. They are created to provide something different for the community.
Salt Lake School District may have to reduce the number of employees because of its shrinking student population. Your guidance, therefore, would impact the most diverse city in Utah. Why would you want to remove choices for these students?
Finally, your requirements ignore the COVID reality. Districts across the nation chose to delay opening, forcing families to find other options. Charter schools fulfilled this need for many families. Your new rules seem determined to force families back to the traditional schools which failed the students.
Stop trying to force federal agendas into our charter schools.