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Education Department Offers Guidance on Charter Lotteries

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Charter schools receiving federal funds may now hold weighted lotteries in favor of disadvantaged students, according to new nonregulatory guidance from the U.S. Department of Education.

Previously, the Education Department had threatened to withhold federal funding from charter schools that held weighted lotteries, most notably from the Success Academy charter school network in New York City run by Eva Moskowitz. The new guidance, however, says that as long as it is permissible within an individual state's charter school law, charters can provide admissions preferences for students "who are economically disadvantaged, students with disabilities, migrant students, limited-English-proficient students, neglected or delinquent students, and homeless students."

Many charter advocates have been pushing for the move. Only days before the guidance came out last week, Michael J. Petrilli, the executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post that called for the creation of weighted lotteries in the nation's capital. He subsequently praised the new guidance on his blog.

Similarly, Nina Rees, the president and chief executive officer of the Washington-based National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, commended the change. "This new guidance brings the federal government in line with policies several states have already put into place so charters can enroll disadvantaged students in alignment with their missions," she said.

Vol. 33, Issue 20, Page 4

Published in Print: February 5, 2014, as Education Department Offers Guidance on Charter Lotteries
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