April 18, 2022 3:06 pm

Appropriations Committee Chair DeLauro Issues a Blistering Reproach of the Misinformation Campaign to Stop Charter School Program Reforms

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Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, issued a blistering reproach of how “the national trade organization representing for-profit EMO’s is running a well-funded misinformation campaign” to stop the proposed regulations of the U.S. Department of Education to provide more accountability and transparency in the federal Charter Schools Program (CSP).

Although Chairwoman DeLauro does not mention the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools (NAPCS) by name, that organization has been leading the campaign telling President Biden and Secretary Cardona to #backoff. “In 2019, the NACPS Hall of Fame winner was Fernando Zulueta, the founder and owner of the largest for-profit chain in the United States, Academica. Zulueta served on their board for years,” according to Carol Burris, the Executive Director of the Network for Public Education. NPE issued a report on the for-profit charter industry last year, entitled “Chartered for Profit: The Hidden World of Charter Schools Operated for Financial Gain.”

Burris continues, “The campaign of misinformation waged by NACPS at defeating sensible reforms in CSP regulations has been relentless. Wild and untruthful claims made include that the Department does not believe rural charter schools and culturally affirming charter schools should exist, that public school districts would need to approve new charter schools, and that the regulations would override state law. Each of these outrageous false claims are intended to do one thing–frighten parents who send their children to charter schools to oppose the regulations in order to ensure that for-profit run charters and white flight charters can still get CSP funding.”

According to the Chair’s press release, which you can find here, this is not the first time that the same organization has used misinformation in order to protect the for-profit charter industry. The “trade organization” presumably the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, led a similar campaign of misinformation last summer, according to Chair DeLauro.

“In July 2021, House Democrats passed the fiscal year 2022 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies appropriations bill which included a landmark provision prohibiting federal funding to charter schools run by for-profit education management organizations (EMOs),” wrote Chair DeLauro. “Predictably, the for-profit charter EMOs were not pleased with this legislative development. In response, their national trade organization led a well-funded misinformation campaign incorrectly claiming that the provision would prevent federal funds from going to any charter school that uses a contractor for any discrete service.”

Chair DeLauro goes on in the release to praise the Education Department’s CSP reforms. “I applaud the Department for its efforts to introduce greater accountability and transparency in the CSP program. Further, I urge the Department to disregard bad faith arguments from self-interested organizations that misrepresent these important proposals.”

The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools received a CSP grant of nearly 2.4 million dollars in 2018, as did other charter school trade and lobby organizations who are joining the #BackOff campaign.