Biden’s new administration rules for charter schools spark bipartisan backlash

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About 1,000 parents and advocates from across the country rallied at the Department of Education and the White House on Wednesday to oppose the rules.

Malachi Armstrong, a kindergarten dad who attends a charter school in Philadelphia, was among the attendees, who held signs, wore T-shirts with protest messages and repeated chants of “step back from our schools”. Mr Armstrong, who said his child was attending a charter school in Philadelphia after his underfunded state school closed, called the proposed rules “insane”.

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“Charter schools aim to be different,” he said. “They know the difficulties – and I’m sure the Department of Education knows this – and how bad public schools can be.”

The rally followed several high-profile denunciations of the proposed rules, including opinion pieces from Michael R. Bloomberg, the billionaire philanthropist and former New York mayor, and Governor Jared Polis of Colorado, a Democrat. In a letter sent last week, Senators Dianne Feinstein of California, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Michael Bennet of Colorado joined Republicans in asking the department to review them.

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The Biden administration has maintained a funding level of $440 million a year for the federal charter school program, which has helped fund about half of existing charters, with grants that help cover a range of costs. starter such as furniture and buses.

But in recent years, President Biden has joined the ranks of Democrats who have cooled off on charter schools, which are publicly funded but independently run. The party had long passed them as a compromise with taxpayer-funded private school tuition vouchers, which Republicans support.

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As a candidate, Mr Biden said he was not “a charter school fan,” which came as a shock to many given that schools had proliferated under the charter-friendly Obama administration. During the campaign trail, Mr. Biden promised to cut for-profit charters — less than 12% of the nation’s 7,700 charter schools — from federal funding.

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