FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 27, 2021
National Coalition for Public School Options on the Proposed Charter School Program Dissemination Grant Rules
Washington — The National Coalition for Public School Options, a national alliance of parents that supports and defends parents’ rights to access the best public school options, has filed parent comments regarding, the “Proposed Priorities, Requirements, and Definitions-Expanding Opportunity Through Quality Charter Schools Program (CSP)-National Dissemination Grants.”
As advocates for free and equal access without restrictions to public schools for all children regardless of zip code; we strongly believe that access barriers that prevent parents from choosing the best public school option for their child must be removed so that all students have equal access to a great education and can realize their full potential.
While the vast majority of CSP funds have been used to help expand access and opportunity, unfortunately, some CSP dissemination funds under the “authorizer priority” have been misused to advance authorizing approaches that run counter to the founding principles of chartering, stifling the charter sector and parent options. PSO has serious concerns how funds disbursed under this priority in the past have been utilized in manners that ultimately limit parent access and options, including extremely troubling recent research that suggests that those limits and barriers are disproportionately falling on communities of color.
PSO proposed a series of specific changes to the proposed rule to help address these problems.
Specifically, CSP funds under the proposed criteria have been utilized to:
- Counsel a statewide charter authorizer to engage in charter school closures in direct violation of state law. Fortunately, legal counsel for that authorizer rejected the suggestion.
- Create new authorizing procedures and environments that have led to wrongful charter application denials and closures, needing to be reversed either by state courts or state boards of education.
- Encourage authorizers to seek exemptions from state administrative procedure act requirements in decision-making with the explicit and stated purpose of making decisions without transparency or oversight and excluding parents from decision-making.
- Adopt pre-screening and other application overly cumbersome procedures that have led to a precipitous drop in charter applications – the frequently discussed “pipeline” problem that has recently emerged as one of the major challenges facing the charter sector.
“Federal funding should never be used to restrict a parent’s right to choose the best education for their child,” said Colleen Cook, President of the National Coalition for Public School Options.
“The CSP has been an incredible source to help create more public school options for families across the country in many ways, and it is our hope that the Department of Education will again make the ‘authorizer priority’ about empowering families and communities.”
Read PSO’s submitted comments and specific suggestions to improve the proposed rule here.
The National Coalition for Public School Options (PSO) is a national alliance of parents that supports and defends parents’ rights to access the best public school options for their children. The coalition supports the creation of public school options, including charter schools, online schools, magnet schools, open enrollment policies, and other innovative education programs. Additionally, we advocate for free and equal access without restrictions to these public schools for all children.
 See the report here, specifically stating it was funded in part by USDOE: https://chartercommission.idaho.gov/meetings/archive/2019/04-11-19/Tab-B-PCSC-Education.pdf?cache=1611240248583 The staff conclusion that CSP funds had been utilized to recommend charter closures in violation of state law can be found at page 7 of Exhibit 1.