Supreme Court Establishes a New Standard for Educational Benefit

By: Paul O'Neill

Yesterday, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a unanimous 8-0 ruling in the landmark Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District case. The amicus brief we submitted in partnership with the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools can be found here. Writing for the Court, Chief Justice Roberts stated that, “[t]o meet its substantive obligation under IDEA, a school must offer an IEP [Individual Education Program] reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances.”

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Skinny Budget Released: Long on Cuts and Short on Details

By: Lauren Morando Rhim 

The President released his “skinny budget” this morning and it proposes significant cuts to important programs across nearly every government agency. The budget for the Department of Education outlines proposed cuts of $9 billion—13% of the Department’s total budget—most notably to programs designed to bolster the quality of teachers across the country and after-school programs. While the increase in funds devoted to encouraging school choice—$1.4 billion to creating new charter schools and voucher programs and $1 billion in portable funds—may create opportunities, both critics and champions of school choice can agree on the critical importance of ensuring that such investments simultaneously balance equity and quality with quantity.  Of particular concern is ensuring that any investments in choice contain assurances that the rights of students with disabilities are preserved.

The federal Charter School Program of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act has been instrumental to helping grow the charter sector over the last 25 years; grants to states to create programs that support charter development and implementation efforts have provided critically needed start up funds that enable schools to start on a solid foundation. However, infusions of cash do not guarantee the creation of high quality schools that serve all children well, especially those students on the margins. As veteran and new charter school authorizers consider presumably larger applicant pools, we implore them to maintain high standards and execute robust performance contracts to ensure that growth leads to more good schools and not more average or low-performing schools. Furthermore, as the charter sector faces a potential growth spurt, we hope more charter schools and in particular, charter management organizations, leverage this opportunity to develop innovative programs for all students, including students with disabilities. Such investments will position the sector to realize its potential to be a laboratory for innovation that long term, can benefit all public schools.  

For a more in-depth analysis, see:  

The Secretary of Education Must Ensure That Charters Educate Students With Disabilities As They Do Any Other Students

“Implementation and enforcement of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal responsibility. While states have some discretion in how they serve students with disabilities, states do not and should not have a right to decide whether to implement IDEA.  While we support choice, charters and innovation that can lead to better outcomes for all students, the U.S. Department of Education cannot shirk its responsibility to ensure all students’ federally-defined civil rights are upheld." 

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Webinar on ED Special Ed Guidance Package

Please join the National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools (NCSECS) for a webinar taking a deeper look at the Department of Education's recently released guidance on educating students with disabilities, including an examination of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, restraint and seclusion of students with disabilities, and how Section 504 and IDEA are implemented in the charter sector. Read more about the guidance in our recent blog.

We are offering two opportunities to participate in a live webinar hosted by NCSECS and led by our co-founders Lauren Morando Rhim and Paul O'Neill. Each webinar will provide an opportunity to ask questions of our experts.

We look forward to having you join us for this opportunity.

To register, click on the date you wish to participate: