Sherlean Roberts: Charter schools deserve support, not sabotage

Author: Sherlean Roberts
Date: April 26, 2022
Source: ReimaginED

Last month, the Wall Street Journal broke news about new charter school criteria proposed by the Biden administration that would sabotage the $440 million federal Charter Schools Program that assists with front-end costs for new charter schools.

Among the most egregious criteria are rules that would require charter operators to prove that local public schools are over-enrolled and that charter schools do not exceed the number of public schools needed to meet demand.

These rules wrongly assume that over-enrolled public schools are the only reason a student might need a charter school. The rules likely will result in less funding for charters, which would be detrimental to families everywhere – families like mine.

The opportunity I had to attend Dr. Howard Fuller Collegiate Academy, a charter school in Milwaukee, changed my life for the better. It provided me with college tours, pre-college access programs, and the ability to begin college courses during high school. Without the support of my charter school, it would not have been possible for me to attend Marquette University as a Burke Scholar.

The fact that I attend a prestigious university on a full-ride scholarship is a testament to the power of a high-quality K-12 education. I am forever thankful for the opportunities that school choice afforded me, and I don’t want to see the students coming up after me denied a similar opportunity simply because of rules set up to protect the status quo.

Charters are being punished precisely because so many students like me want to go to them. The proposed charter school criteria implies that public schools must be at capacity to justify the need for new charters, yet enrollment trends show that in the last two years, millions of students left the traditional school system for homeschool or other alternatives.

Clearly, families are searching for education options, whether or not public schools are at capacity.