Charter schools were created as an alternative to public schools, yet the government keeps creating new rules that limit how charter schools can offer innovative education. Why?
Here’s a transcript of our conversation:
Brittany: Hi, Ronni.
Ronni: Hi, Brittany.
Brittany: So, I think a lot of our listeners probably know that public schools are failing, and I don’t even know a time when they weren’t failing. To be honest, I don’t think there was ever a time when it was really thriving, but, so they’ve always been bad. But I think the pandemic showed us just how bad they were. so obviously there’s a lot of problems in general with just lackluster, you know, teachers that aren’t doing a very good job and the curriculum not being good. But, you know, during the pandemic we saw a whole lot of other bad things, which was trying to make kids sit and stare at a computer screen for eight hours a day, which was just heartbreaking. A lot of parents got to hear what was being taught in the classrooms and it was not okay. A lot of political opinions and social opinions had nothing to do with math or English or being taught to the kids. You saw teacher’s unions really not care about what was happening with the children because a lot of kids were suffering from getting really sad or being, you know, depressed or having anxiety. Because again, you had to sit in front of a computer screen for hours and hours while the world seemed like it was falling apart. It wasn’t good for anybody, but the teacher’s union didn’t want people to go back to school. So you had a lot of really bad things. Yeah. But from those bad things, the one good thing is a lot of people started fleeing public schools. Like a lot of parents were pulling their kids out in search of better options. And Ronni, now you did this long before the pandemic, but, your kids were homeschooled, right? For the most, for most of their lives.
Ronni: Yes. So actually, this may tie into the topic, but, so I was homeschooling my kids in California, but through an independent study charter school. And that’s a program that they have in California. And I think there’s a few other states that have similar programs. So technically, when I said that they were homeschooled, that means that I chose their curriculum and I taught them at home and we were flexible in our teaching style, but technically they were enrolled in a charter public school. And I did that because they were the public charter school was able to help us with funds to buy materials and curriculum. So some states have this option and I had been doing that. So it was homeschooling, but it actually was a charter school, so.
Brittany: Oh, interesting.
Ronni: I kind of got to see a little bit different, act now this year, now that we moved to Utah, I, am only homeschooling one of my children and I actually just started my two younger children at a charter school. So we have been trying many different things. So I have kind of a very well-rounded, viewpoint and perspective on all of this.
Brittany: I’m so glad you talked about charter schools, ’cause that is what we’re gonna talk about today. We’re gonna talk about why the government hates charter schools. Yeah. So homeschooling, like you said, you did for a while, is great. I think it’s wonderful. It’s not for everyone. I know a lot of parents who just can’t be at home all day. They work. Right. Or they can’t for some other reason they can’t be at home. Private school is another sometimes great option, though. Sometimes the curriculum and the teachers are just as bad, but it’s also very expensive. So not everybody can afford that. But charter schools, they’ve been able to offer families an alternative to public schools that won’t cost them any more than they’re already paying in taxes. So it is a public school. Yes. So a charter school is a public school, meaning the government still pays for ’em with federal fees, but, or fed, yeah. Federal taxes, but they’re more independent so they don’t have to do exactly what the Department of Education tells them. Like they don’t have, they can follow their own rules. They can hire whatever teachers they wanna hire. So they’re allowed to operate independently of public schools, which is great.
Ronni: Yeah, that’s exactly why I was able to homeschool my kids through them is because it was a charter school. But the way the charter school had been set up is, all of their kids were working independent studies, what they called it. So they’re all working from home. And then we as the learning coach, that was what they called the parents. We could, you know, request funds for certain things, but it’s because it was a charter school and so they were able to do that system. So.
Brittany: See, and it’s so great ’cause I, you know, when I, think when you and I first met in person, I asked you how on earth you were able to homeschool in California of all places. And then you mentioned this to me. So that’s really great because charter schools also made it easier for you to homeschool. So it was like two and one deal. So, charter schools have been great because they offer kids from all sorts of backgrounds, a chance at a better education than they would’ve been able to get in the traditional public schools. But it’s been especially helpful for students who are from poorer neighborhoods where the schools are really, really bad because these are kids that may have not only just their education would’ve been bad, but maybe they would’ve gotten caught up in a bad crowd and just, you know, would’ve gotten down a bad path. But these specialized charter schools, especially in places like New York, they’ve really helped kids get a leg up on their education. It’s been so wonderful. It has changed so many lives. But the Biden administration is not a fan of charter schools. In fact, that is like a real quote. When Joe Biden was running for president, he flat out said, though, I don’t think he knows what he is saying half the time, but he flat out said, I’m not a fan of charter schools. Which is funny to me ’cause I don’t know this for sure, but I’m sure his kids did not go to public school. That’s just that much, I dunno, but they are actually taking action to make it harder for new charter schools to start. And what happens if it’s harder for new charter schools to start, that means that kids like you and and families all over aren’t going to get a chance at a better education. They’re stuck in the school system. So let’s talk about what these new rules are. So first of all, there was a charter school bill, and I can’t remember what it’s called, forgive me. that ba that gives all the money is how Congress allocates or gives money to charter schools to start. And Congress set very specific guidelines. Like, you have to do this, you have to do this, you have to do this, and then you get the money. And they even, had bipartisan support, meaning both Republicans and Democrats, everyone supported giving charter schools even more money because there’s just so much evidence that they work so well. It takes less money for them to do better things than it does for public schools which are constantly being given money and they don’t get any better.
Ronni: Did you know that in most charter schools, their teachers are not in the union? Yes. That may be a big part of it as well.
Brittany: Maybe a big part of it as well. Exactly. That’s to the point where you get to operate independently. There’s so many more things you can do in a charter school that you can’t do in a public school. So Absolutely. That’s a great point. So, what, basically what the Department of Education did is they’re like, you know what? We’re gonna set new guidelines, but here’s the problem. They’re not allowed to do that. So there’s only one branch of the government that can make laws, and that is Congress. But the Department of Education thought they were just gonna try to do it anyway. So they put in their new laws and they said that charter schools now have to do three things. The first one is new charter schools can’t start and get money unless it can show that it’s needed. So what does that mean? So basically that means unless a school district has too many kids and their schools are too crowded, then a charter school doesn’t get to start. They’re basically gonna say there’s no need for you. But that’s weird because that’s not why charter schools are around. You know, as we just talked about Ronni, for your kids, it gave them more options. Charter schools exist to give parents and families and students better options for their education. But now the Biden administration is saying, no, charter schools only get to be created if there’s not enough room in the school district. So that’s pretty scary. So that’s, not a great, that’s not a great development. And then the other thing, and this is almost worse, is a charter school, if they wanna get money to be, to start up a new charter school, they have to prove that they’re gonna work with public schools. So they have to be in a partnership with public schools who are gonna have some say in looking over what they teach and what they do, which is the complete opposite, as we talked about, of what a charter school is supposed to do. Right. it’s supposed to be independent.
Ronni: I’m actually, yeah. I’m trying to, in my head, think how that would work from what I know about, my own kids being in charters. And I actually used to teach at a charter school back in the day as well.
Brittany: Isn’t it nuts? It’s nuts.
Ronni: That is because it exactly, it takes away the point of a charter is that it’s supposed to be, teachers and families, you parents that come together to decide what is best for their kids, what type of education they want to do, and then create the school around those needs. So to then put that underneath a public school, which does everything one way, I am curious how they are seeing that that could work. I mean.
Brittany: It’s gonna be.
Ronni: It’s probably not going to work, but it’s not gonna work. Wondering what they’re thinking.
Brittany: Wondering what they literally want them to get a permission slip that says, yes, we allow this charter school to start and we’re gonna be, you know, it’s so just so ridiculous. So the next thing that they wanna make, schools do is racially engineer students. Basically. They wanna make sure that, that there’s no racial disparity in charter schools. But here’s the funny thing about that is their concerns cause their concerns are like, okay, well maybe this charter school isn’t gonna let enough black kids in, or this one isn’t gonna let you know, whatever it is. Well, if you look at the numbers, public schools are far more, I’m not gonna call them segregated access, but they have more of that, the racial divide than any charter school does. And the other funny thing, is every time the government tries to meddle with trying to racially engineer students in charter schools, it goes badly. So there was one lawsuit years ago where there was a charter school, and it was in a predominantly black neighborhood, but they had a quota. A quota meant they had to have a certain amount of students. So in this school, you had to have 75% black students in the charter school, and the other 25% had to be white. Now, that was supposed to be to help more black kids get in. Right? But guess what happened? There were no white kids in the neighborhood, so there were no white kids to put in the school. And because they had already reached the 75% mark, they weren’t allowed to let more black kids in. So they just didn’t.
Ronni: Even though they had room in the classrooms for them.
Brittany: Even though they had room in the classrooms. And so there was one, student, I can’t remember his name, and he had tried, he passed the test and got in and they basically just kept saying, sorry, there’s no room for you, but we have all these empty desks because we can’t get other kids here, but because of this quota law, we can’t let you in. So luckily, they won their lawsuit, and that quota law got taken away. So that’s really good.
Ronni: Oh, good.
Brittany: But, so the charter schools know now what the Biden administration is trying to do something similar, and it’s just, it doesn’t work. So it’s just so crazy. So why do these people hate charter schools? Well, I think that’s an excellent question, and it reminds me of, you know, the Ron Paul, Connor and I have talked about this, had that plaque on his desk that said, don’t steal Government hates competition. And that’s kind of what this is, right? Charter schools are a competition to public schools, and charter schools are doing great. Public schools are not doing so great. And they know that. And instead of innovating and being better at their jobs, maybe hiring better teachers, not using, with not using the teacher’s unions, they’re just continuing to do things the way they’ve always done and it just doesn’t work. So, that’s what this comes down to the Department of Education doesn’t want to make themselves better. Instead, they just want you to make it so they can’t lose students to the charter schools because public schools get money per student they have. So every kid that comes to their school, they get more money. And again, as I mentioned earlier, it’s crazy to me because charter schools have shown that they get less money per student, and they have way better outcomes whereas public schools get tons of money and they’re always complaining they don’t have enough, and then they’re doing far worse. So at the end of the day, what this comes down to is that the government doesn’t care about kids. They want, just wanna keep their power. Right. They don’t want families to have a choice in education and it’s really scary. But luckily, there are two charter school organizations in Michigan, I can’t remember where the other one is, I wanna say, but that might be wrong. That they are suing the government and saying like, you’re not allowed. Yes. ’cause they’re saying, you’re not allowed to do this because you don’t have, the Department of Education doesn’t get to make laws. That’s not their job. And the Department of Education is part of the executive branch of the government. ’cause that’s, the president kind of creates everything under the executive, but they don’t have that power. So fortunately, there are two charter school organizations that are not willing to stand by and let this happen. And they are suing the Department of Education and the Biden administration because they don’t have the right to do this. There’s something called separation of powers in our Constitution, which says that every branch of the government has to stay in their lane and do what the Constitution tells ’em they can do and when it comes to making laws, only Congress is allowed to make laws. And the Department of Education, they’re under the executive branch, so they just aren’t allowed to do that. So these charter school organizations are suing. They’re taking them to court, and they’re saying, what you’re doing is unconstitutional. So we will see what happens with that. But I really hope that it has a good outcome because again, the more charter schools available, the more kids have access to the better education that they deserve. So hoping for the best on that. But we will wrap it up there today. So thank you so much for listening. Don’t forget to like and subscribe and share with your friends. And until next time, we will talk to you later.
Ronni: All right. Talk to you later.