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Brown Amendment Bad Precedent for Federal Policy and Bad for Kids

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Ohio Senator Pushes Amendment in Every Child Achieves Act to Regulate Charter Schools

Washington, D.C.
July 13, 2015

Under the guise of accountability, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) has introduced an amendment to force states to comply with new and onerous regulations that micro-manage charter school operations and finance, as well as dictate under what terms states may and may not hold schools accountable. Brown’s amendment, backed by the national teachers’ unions, is a veiled attempt at destroying charter schools.

“Because most states’ charter laws permit exemptions from onerous bureaucratic rules, charter schools have long been a thorn in the side of entrenched interest groups who have power in the status quo,” said The Center for Education Reform (CER) senior fellow & president emeritus Jeanne Allen. “Despite more than 20,000 students on waiting lists in cities like Columbus and Cincinnati, the good Senator from Ohio has never demonstrated support for charter schooling.”

According to a review by The Center for Education Reform, the Brown amendment would have the effect of putting the federal education department in charge of charter school oversight, requiring states to adopt new and onerous rules which conflict with current state authorizing preferences and differ state by state. A state university, for example, that authorizes and monitors charter schools would have to do more federal compliance reporting for its charter school work than it currently does for its core higher education business, despite proven results.

In fact, charter schools are more successful at reaching and helping students – particularly minority and low-income students – than traditional public schools, according to dozens of studies, such as pathbreaking research conducted by Stanford University economist Caroline Hoxby.

Senator Brown’s amendment would have the effect of dampening those results and discouraging new and innovative models of schooling.

“It’s just bad policy, period,” said CER president Kara Kerwin, who recently visited with policymakers and charter schools in Ohio and found a vibrant and highly energetic charter sector working on accelerating school improvement. “We urge the U.S. Senate to reject any further attempts at making charter schools operate like the failed public school bureaucracy they were created to change.”

The text of Senator Brown’s amendment can be found here.

Proposed charter school language in Every Child Achieves Act is already infused with substantial oversight and can be found here.