The Biden Administration and the national unions that are his campaign funders are in the process of putting in place rules to stop the growth of charter schools. Arizona leads the nation in percentage of children who attend public charter schools. Our charter school program allows any child who wants to get a top level education to receive one regardless of need. The Biden Administration policies will directly hurt low income and minority populations who are seeing a dramatic growth in charter schools available in their communities across Arizona. Over 20% of Arizona’s student population is in a public charter school.
Opponents of charter schools often claim that these institutions divert funding from public schools, this simply is not true. In Arizona we invested almost $12 billion dollars into our public schools over the last seven years. Every year since 2015 we have increased education funding in Arizona.
These restrictive rules the Biden Administration has proposed include requiring a public charter school to collaborate with a local school district. If a school district refuses to partner, it would give veto authority over the new school opening, even if there is a significant community need. I will not stand for this, when I go to Congress, we will protect freedom of choice in education. It is morally repulsive not to provide children and parents the opportunity to learn because you’re focused more on politics than the child. Our children and parents have gone through enough already with shut downs, virtual learning and significant learning loss these past few years.
In our Congressional District we are lucky to have great schools for our kids, but choice cannot be taken out of our parents’ hands. I will support what works. In the past ten years Arizona Charters increased enrollment by over 67%. In the last year that records were available, over 12,000 new students enrolled in our Charter Schools. In 2020, Charter Schools had more than 57% minority students who are either Latino, African American, Asian or of mixed race. From 2015 to 2021, Arizona Charter Schools had higher State test score passing rates than the state average. Nearly every racial and ethnic subgroup of students in every grade level posted higher pass rates in charter schools than their district peers. I will not let this success story be stopped in Arizona.
The further away we get from teaching our children basic reading, writing and arithmetic, the further our country will fall behind. The ridiculous bureaucratic rules such as requiring that a charter school prepare a “community impact analysis” demonstrating that there is an “unmet demand” for the school. The rule requires evidence of “over-enrollment of existing public schools.” As I discussed in the previous paragraph, more parents are choosing public charters over traditional district schools. This is an easy way to keep new charter schools from moving forward. It is an anti-competitive rule that would keep charters from opening as the Administration is well aware the data in states like Arizona shows parents are moving rapidly out of district schools.
The most egregious of these new rules is based on race and economically diverse school staff. We constantly hear that we are facing teacher shortages across Arizona and the country. Why would we limit those who are willing to put the dedicated time and effort into teaching our kids, they would be disqualified because they are not the right “race” or how much money their family makes. This is another sign that the Administration cares little about our children instead of making their political friends’ social experiments a reality.
The Administration draft rules would force social experimentation issues. We need to replicate what works and always strive to implement the best education practices that are available to get more student achievement. The Federal Government needs to let states like Arizona meet its own needs, not a one-sided top down approach. At the Federal level, we must get out of the way of programs that are successful, focus on empirical data not politics. The Biden Administration collaboration with the national unions, as has been shown, only harms our students and parents. It is another Biden recipe for disaster.
As your Congressman, I will always put People before Politics and protect our freedom.
Kelly Cooper, Small Business Owner and Candidate for AZ-04