This week, the Senate will vote on a resolution that would invalidate President Biden’s restrictive federal Charter School Program (CSP) regulation, which decimates the future of charter schools in our country. 

Biden’s regulation is a political giveaway to the teachers unions, effectively hamstringing attempts to create and fund new charter schools. Under the rule, new charter schools must prove the need for their existence, such as overcrowding at nearby district public schools. It makes no sense to wait until traditional public schools are overcrowded to start building another option. Plus, a student whose under-enrolled school is letting him down deserves other options every bit as much as a student struggling in an overcrowded one. 

In order to access federal funding, new charters must also prove their diversity bona fides by “outlin[ing] plans to establish and maintain a racially and socio-economically diverse student body or describ[ing] how its student body promotes the CSP’s mission to provide high-quality educational opportunities to underserved students.” This is an absurd, politically–motivated hurdle. Students deserve educational options no matter their race, their neighbors’ races, or their classmates’ races. It is disturbing to think that the current regulatory environment would deny students educational opportunities on the basis of race statistics. 

Sec. Cardona backed off the worst of his initial proposal, which would have required would-be charter schools to partner with existing district public schools. This would have placed charter operators in the unenviable position of having to ask the local teachers union for permission to build a competitor. Fortunately, the final regulation encourages, but does not mandate, this kind of “partnership.” Still, the rule places roadblocks in the way of new charter schools. 

Senate Joint Resolution 60, in tandem with House Joint Resolution 94, would void Biden’s rule by declaring it “shall have no force or effect.” Sen. Tim Scott introduced the resolution, along with 21 co-sponsors, in September. Rep. John Moolenar (R-MI) introduced the House version the same month, along with 9 co-sponsors. All co-sponsors in both chambers are Republicans. 

The Biden administration’s antagonism of charter schools might be predictable for today’s Democratic party, but it would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. Former President Obama called charter schools “incubators of innovation,” and both Clintons used to be vocal champions of charters, that is until the teachers unions started funding Hillary’s 2016 campaign. 

In 1997, then-Senator Biden called for greater educational choice, even including private schools. He said, “When you have an area of the country—and most often here we are talking about inner cities—where the public schools are abysmal or dysfunctional or not working and where most of the children have no way out, it is legitimate to ask what would happen to the public schools with increased competition from private schools and what would happen to the quality of education for the children who live there.”

Flash forward to 2021, when National Charter School Week celebrated the 30th year anniversary of the first charter school law. Past presidents from both parties had issued proclamations recognizing charter schools’ contribution to the educational landscape, but Biden broke the streak.  

Public charter schools often serve students who are being abandoned by their government-assigned public schools. In fact, minority students fare better in charter schools than in traditional public schools, according to a Stanford University study. Teachers unions conveniently ignore this fact when they couch their anti-charter activism in language about “equity.” If they really wanted to walk the walk on helping poor and minority students, they would abandon their government-sponsored control of schools and allow new options to spring up. 

The vote today will force each sitting Senator to either step up for charter schools or back down in the face of teachers union bullying. Should at least 51 of them choose the former path, President Biden and Secretary Cardona will see the sharpest rebuke to date of their anti-charter policy.