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The New Reality Roundup | Week 114

It’s week 114 of our new reality and while local leaders are working late into the night in statehouses to expand opportunities for kids and ensure a more equitable education for all, the Biden Administration seems determined to roll back opportunities for students of color in public charter schools.

“New rules proposed by the Education Department to govern a federal grant program for charter schools are drawing bipartisan backlash and angering parents, who say the Biden administration is seeking to stymie schools that have fallen out of favor with many Democrats but maintain strong support among Black and Latino families,” writes Erica Green in The New York Times. “Leaders across the charter school community have said the new requirements would quell the growth of such schools, which serve 3.6 million students — 69 percent of them students of color and two-thirds from low-income households — and have waiting lists of millions more…On Wednesday, an estimated 1,000 parents and advocates from across the country rallied at the Education Department and the White House in opposition of the rules.”

“The most revealing aspect of the administration’s rules is its defense of them—or rather, its lack thereof,” writes Jonathan Chait for New York Magazine. There has been little justification for the changes, which “impose a blizzard of new conditions for accessing funds for charter schools” and “unnecessarily onerous application requirements that will make it hard for small charter schools to comply” at a time when parents are desperate for options that can help their kids get back on track. “Hopefully, the administration will grasp the damage it is incurring and rethink its proposal.”

The conclusion of Erica Green’s story captures the intense frustration felt by so many who share that sentiment through a quote from Naomi Shelton, the chief executive of the National Charter Collaborative, which supports charter school leaders of color: “The people who are fighting for this don’t even look like the folks who would be impacted. And the students who come to us are not students they’re even engaging with.”

Last time in the New Reality Roundup, we highlighted a big win by TennesseeCAN in shifting the way the state funds schools to a student-centered model, and looked at the promise of the Kahn World School, a new program that matches mastery-based online curriculum with coaching, tutoring and small group discussions.

This week, we look at the progress being made in career and technical education, and the importance of advocates participating in the upcoming elections.

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