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.
FROM THE FIELD
The team at ConnCAN achieved a pair of wins in the current legislative session. One bill builds on the team’s work to diversify the teaching force in the state by establishing a minority teacher scholarship program, with grants of up to $20,000 available to interested high school graduates while also easing the requirements for teachers from other states to begin teaching in Connecticut. Another directly addresses student mental health by providing rapid and mobile behavioral and mental health services for children in a program that will be available 24 hours a day.
Last month, we profiled CarolinaCAN’s Marcus Brandon and the importance of his work to educate parents on their options. Like parents, however, schools need assistance in navigating scholarships and tax credits as well. At GeorgiaCAN, Outreach Director Steven Quinn continued these efforts by hosting a call with over 60 school representatives to provide information and ease the navigation of the approval process to accept Special Needs Scholarships.
NewMexicoKidsCAN’s Amanda Aragon was celebrated by her alma mater, the University of Tulsa’s Collins College of Business, as a recipient of the Outstanding Alumni award for her work advocating for improvements to New Mexico’s school system. In addition, she and her Student Success Coalition partners received a 2022 Great Grant from the Albuquerque Community Foundation.
Moment of Resilience
AFC’s Walter Blanks (an alumnus of 50CAN’s National Voices fellowship) poses for a photo with Oakmont Education’s Cris Gulacy-Worrel (a current member of the fellowship program) at a Washington DC rally for National Charter School Week. Alumni of the fellowship are an increasingly important part of the growing movement to create an education system of the future that empowers families with limitless options.