A bipartisan group led by Sens. Tim Scott (R-SC) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) called on Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to revise a proposed regulation restricting eligibility for federal funding for public charter schools.
The senators' Thursday letter is the latest indication that the proposed regulation, which experts have warned could cut off hundreds of public charter schools nationwide from federal funding and force many to close, is unpopular even among members of President Joe Biden's own party.
"We respectfully ask that you revise the [regulation] in a manner that ensures that high-quality public charter schools are able to continue to expand using Charter School Program funds and permit schools to apply under the most recent guidelines issued for Fiscal Year 2020," the letter read. "This will allow grantees to compete fairly for federal funds and give relevant stakeholders the opportunity to review and properly engage with the Department on these proposed changes for consideration in future grant competitions."
DEMOCRATIC GOVERNOR SLAMS BIDEN PROPOSAL TO RESTRICT CHARTER SCHOOL FUNDING
In addition to Scott and Feinstein, the letter was also signed by Democratic Sens. Cory Booker and Michael Bennet, along with Republican Sens. Marco Rubio, Richard Burr, and Bill Cassidy.
"CSP was designed to provide critical resources to expand access to high-quality charter schools, but these proposed regulations could restrict access to new high-quality public charter schools," the senators wrote. "As such, we are concerned that the [regulation] does not prioritize the needs of students and limits high quality choices to certain families."
The regulation, which was proposed in March, has drawn heavy criticism from politicians and education experts on both sides of the aisle, who have expressed concerns that the regulations could force numerous charter schools to close as well as make it difficult for new ones to open.
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The Democratic governor of Colorado, Jared Polis, blasted the proposed regulation in a Washington Post op-ed last month, saying the Department of Education had failed to engage education stakeholders properly in drafting the regulation.
The Biden administration also faced criticism for restricting the public comment period for the proposal to 30 days, rather than the 60 days for most executive branch regulations.