After national advocacy efforts and pushback from parents, teachers, students, grassroots advocates and elected officials, the U.S. Department of Education has softened proposed CSP rules that were originally unveiled in March.
The final rules were published on Wednesday and encourage but do not require collaboration between charter school applicants and traditional public school districts. The new rules also allow applicants to submit evidence besides district over-enrollment, such as charter waitlists, to demonstrate the need for proposed charter schools.
The initial proposal would have required states to prioritize CSP applicants that planned to collaborate with traditional public school districts or district schools. Under the original proposal, applicants also would have had to demonstrate that there was “unmet demand” for charter schools, including any “over-enrollment” at nearby traditional public schools.
“Though the impact will be less harmful than what was originally proposed, it is not without impact, said Nina Reese, President and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.”
The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools is concerned about the shortened timeframe for submitting CSP grant applications this year.
“With just 30 days, it will be difficult to complete the application on time, and many applicants may find the added complexity and compressed timeline an insurmountable hurdle,” said Reese.
When the original proposal was released in March, charter advocates were worried that the plan contained language that would disproportionately harm charter schools in Black, Brown, rural and indigenous communities. In the final rules, the U.S. Department of Education added clarifying language saying that schools in homogenous and isolated communities will not be at a competitive disadvantage in the grant competition. However, advocates say there are still narrative requirements that could make it more difficult for applicants of culturally affirming and indigenous schools to receive CSP grants.