April 28, 2022

FL Blasts Biden Administration for New Restrictive School Choice Proposal: “Disastrous to Students”

Gov. Ron DeSantis and Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, January 30, 2019.
Gov. Ron DeSantis and Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, January 30, 2019.

By Lydia Nusbaum

April 28, 2022 Updated 4:24 P.M. ET

TALLAHASSEE (FLV) – Florida Department of Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said the U.S. Department of Education’s proposed changes to selection criteria for charter school grants would be “disastrous to students.”

Corcoran sent a letter in April to United States Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona urging him to reconsider proposed changes to requirements, definitions and selection criteria under the Expanding Opportunities Through Quality Charter Schools Program. The program provides states grants to open and new charter schools

“Although these changes are certainly cloaked with noble intent—support for public education, improved racial equity, elimination of perceived profiteering—their facade is desperately misleading, and their practical impact will assuredly be disastrous to students, parents and communities served by thriving school choice programs throughout the country,” Corcoran said. 

Corcoran said the proposed changes would require each public charter school applicant to maintain “racially and socioeconomically diverse student and staff populations.” 

However, Corcoran said in the letter that this criteria would conflict with the random student assignments, also known as lottery assignments. 

“[The lottery assignments] allow parents to choose a public charter school, regardless of its demographics. The unintended consequence of these priorities will be to limit choice, rather than promote it,” Corcoran said. 

Florida’s education commissioner continues to say that the proposed changes would require prospective charter schools demonstrate an “unmet demand” for a charter school. 

“Limiting an unmet demand for a public charter school in this way goes far beyond showing that a public charter school has community support,” Corcoran said. “Parents choose public charter schools because they want their children there, not because the school district does not have space for them. No new priority should conflict with this reality.”

The U.S. Department of Education said the changes will “promote positive student outcomes, student and staff diversity, educator and community empowerment, promising practices, and accountability, including fiscal transparency and responsibility, in charter schools supported with CSP funds.”

You can read the U.S. Department of Education’s proposed changes here

You can read the Florida Department of Education commissioner’s letter here.

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