Trump-DeVos launch school privatization campaign

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by Hannah Goldstein

President Donald Trump and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos recently visited a private school in Orlando, Fla., on the first stop of their campaign to promote the privatization of public schools.

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During their visit to the religious school two weeks ago, Trump and DeVos promised to implement quickly what would be the first national “school choice” program, which would include private school vouchers, for-profit charters, charters, online schools, home schooling and tax credit scholarships. Trump or DeVos have yet to lay out a legislative framework, but when Trump first announced his plan last September at a failing Ohio charter school, he said the program would be funded by taking $20 billion from existing education programs. He said he would urge states to provide another $120 billion.

Educators, parents and an extensive body of research (examples include this, plus this, as well as this and this) maintain vouchers destabilize already underfunded public schools, offer unreliable gains in academic performance, fail to give parents any real educational choice and increase segregation. Voucher critics believe the ultimate aim of privatizers is to transform public education into a profit-making industry.

Utah elementary school teacher and National Education President Lily Eskelsen García said:

What’s also troubling is that vouchers undermine accountability to parents and taxpayers. Private and for-profit schools that receive taxpayer-funded vouchers have almost complete autonomy on how they operate. They can pick and choose which students they want and which students they’ll turn away. These schools don’t have to follow academic standards, don’t have to hire qualified teachers and don’t have to disclose financial decisions to the public.

While Trump and DeVos Parents posed for photos inside the Florida school, educators, parents and lawmakers protested outside the private school. And like his Ohio charter school visit, there was an inconvenient fact that Trump overlooked: the state’s voucher program for special needs students, the McKay Scholarship, asks students with disabilities to waive their rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, IDEA.

As Trump and DeVos promote their “vouchers for all” proposal over the coming weeks and months, it’s important that public school supporters stay informed so as not to fall prey to alternative facts. Below are a handful of books and articles that look at public school privatization. You can access a more expansive reading list here.

David W. Hursh: “The End of Public Schools”

Hursh analyzes the advancements of private foundations and principles on public education. He explains in depth the discussion about standardized testing, tenure, and charter schools. Hursh also elaborates on resistance efforts made by students and teachers.

Megan E. Tompkins-Strange: “Policy Patrons”

Tompkins Strange introduces the policy making process of four significant education philanthropies. She offers insight on the politics that act as the foundation for educational philanthropies and their effect on education reform. The author discusses the significant resistance made by student’s teachers, and parents across the country,

Jesse Hagopian: “More Than a Score”

Using essays, poems, speeches and interviews, Hagopian, a Seattle teacher, criticizes the motives of education reforms by stating that the people who are making decisions about education have little to no influence in the education realm.

Christopher Tienken and Donald Orlich: “The School Reform Landscape”

The authors take an in-depth look at free-market school reform over the last 60 years. They conclude that the efforts are built not upon empirical evidence, but instead on foundations of myth, fear, and lies.

Charles P. Pierce: “Don’t Believe the Charter School Hype…it’s All About Profits

Pierce criticizes the lack of accountability in funding charter schools with public money.

Peter Greene: “Privatizing Primer

In a step-by-step analysis of why privatization is harmful, Greene accounts for the detrimental effects of over testing, who has all the power, and how those people turn education into profit.

Reader Comments

  1. Teachers are not to be blamed for common core or the ills of education. We have to do as we’re told by administrators and politicians. In addition, children need to be accountable for their learning, behavior is a huge problem in our school that teachers have to deal with on a constant basis. If parents and students would do their share, teachers could focus more on instruction!

  2. I am not sure about charter schools, there isn’t enough information about it yet. I think it’s ridiculous to assume it is all about profit. I think we need to reeducate teachers and ban common core. That should be the very first step. I am sick of teachers who push their personal agendas and push islam. Common Core Standards are poison to our children, they most definitely have poisoned way too many teachers already. We need to do something fast. It’s high time we make sure that the next school year starts out clean off common core and teachers who poison our children. Enough already!

    1. Where in the world are you coming from and where do you get your facts? Charter schools have been around for decades and there is plenty written regarding the impact they have on student achievement. It has been found that students in charter schools achieve no better than public schools even though they can pick and choose what students to accept (excluding those students with special needs) while taking dollars away from public schools. These charters and /or religious or private schools have no accountability to the tax payers. They can spend as they choose. Many are there simply to make a profit. Investigate them and you will be shocked at the amount of money these corporations, yes corporations, receive from your tax dollars. Look at what they pay their presidents. It is outrageous when you think that these mega dollars could be used in a classroom. Before you made many of your statements, it would have been better if you had done a little research on the subject. Better yet, why don’t you volunteer in a public school classroom to experience what an awesome job educators do.

      1. I don’t know what your problem with Common Core is. Do you know anything about it or are you just echoing some politician? Common Core does nothing more than to set standards for all children across the United States. Is it a bad thing to expect all children in 5th grade across the country to know the same things? Or any other grade? I think not. Your statement about teachers’ agenda and Islam are too general to have any credence in facts. Sounds like to have a serious grudge.

    2. Doris,
      Just curious….are you a teacher? Do you work in a public school? Do you have children in public schools? Teachers that push Islam?? What are you talking about??
      Charter schools have been around for several years. Not sure why you can’t find enough information about them. Try googling them. Maybe you are the one that needs “reeducated”.

    3. So, money is going to private schools, religious schools…..and sooner or later…Islam schools….???? Or will 45 figure a way to keep the funds from “those” private schools? Uhg.

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