Reeves among 18 governors who oppose changes to federal charter school rules

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) — A group of 18 governors, including Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves, is urging the president not to make sweeping rule changes that could limit funding for new and existing charter schools.

On Monday, Reeves announced that he joined 17 other governors in signing a letter opposing proposed sweeping changes to federal charter school regulations.

The letter says the barriers proposed by the White House would reduce education options for millions of low-income families and exacerbate, rather than eliminate, inequities in the education system.

“Charter schools have been a positive path for millions of students across the country,” Reeves said in a social media post. “Now the Biden administration is trying to unfairly cut funding for these schools.”

Among the changes, the White House is proposing to cut federal grants to charter schools run by for-profit groups.

Mississippi law requires charter schools to be nonprofit organizations.

Four charter schools in Jackson are owned by a nonprofit organization, RePublic Schools Inc., including Reimagine Prep, Joel E. Smilow Prep, Smilow Collegiate and Revive Collegiate, according to the Mississippi Secretary of State’s website.

Although RePublic is a non-profit organization, it was unclear whether day-to-day operations were outsourced to for-profit companies.

RePublic officials were not immediately available for comment.

Another charter school in Jackson, Midtown Public Charter School, is owned and operated by Midtown Partners, Inc., according to the Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board.

The Biden administration is also seeking to require charter schools to work with existing school districts in the community and that applicants for charter school start-up grants show that existing districts in the community are suffering from “over-enrollment.”

In their letter to U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, however, the governors say the new normal “fails to recognize that the driver of parents’ decisions is their children’s desire to attend a school that meets the unique needs of their child.

They go on to say that “it cannot be ignored that enrollment is down in many big city school districts due to parents’ choice to leave closed or persistently failing schools.”

Governors are also calling the comment period shortened for rule changes.

“Traditionally, we have seen the comment period for rulemaking to be at least 60 days, providing greater opportunity for parental input. However, in this case, the administration allows approximately one month for comments,” they wrote. “We believe that a sustained and transparent rule-making process will produce better regulations and consensus and give parents greater opportunity to engage in the development of policies that profoundly impact them.”

Governors are asking the president to extend the public comment period, remove changes that would limit local control of charter schools, and defer changes until next fiscal year “so that the current program can be administered under long-term rules.” date and well understood by candidates.”

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Martha K. Merrill