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Regulations Hinder Choice

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February 11, 2013

The Fordham Institute’s most recent report School Choice Regulations: Red Tape or Red Herring? examines different types of regulations on private school choice programs and how implementation of regulations effects schools’ participation. It’s not surprising that there is a correlation between regulatory burden and school participation in private choice programs. However, when schools were surveyed about their concerns to participate in programs, they cited not enough eligible families as the reason not to participate, not excessive regulations. But, excessive regulations shouldn’t be overlooked.

We’ve seen concerns about excessive regulation in choice programs and charter schools increase over the years and even discussed these increasing rules on The Stossel Show on Fox Business News. The federal government requires a state to sign onto Common Core in order to receive funds, and regulatory creep at the state and local level is putting charter school autonomy and flexibility in danger.

We’ve known for years that the numbers reported by the fed govt of disadvantaged students in charters was wrong. It was wrong because, as we found out through our annual survey, almost 39 percent of charter schools don’t’ participate in the F&RL program, and therefore their students aren’t counted as such. Why don’t they participate? The most prevalent reason why charters do not participate is because they do not have the proper facilities to prepare meals. Twenty-one percent choose not to apply because of the massive amount of paperwork and bureaucratic red tape that is difficult to abide by with fewer administrators. In 2006, 48% of survey respondents chose not to apply for F&RL status because of the amount of paperwork involved.

This report and its findings aren’t shocking to those who have been keeping an eye on regulatory issues, but reiterating the fact that regulations are a burden to reforms meant to have freedom and flexibility sure doesn’t hurt.

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