DeVos continues efforts to drum up support for national voucher scheme that will harm students

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by Brian Washington

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Even though the list of states saying “no” to vouchers, including places like Tennessee, Arkansas, Texas, Nevada, and Maine, appears to be growing, that’s not stopping Education Secretary Betsy DeVos from touting this failed education policy wherever she goes.

Her latest stop: The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools’ annual convention, where she tried to rally those in attendance behind her destructive national voucher plan.

“[W]e must recognize that charters aren’t the right fit for every child. For many children, neither a traditional nor a charter public school works for them,” said DeVos, who has never attended or worked in a public school and has proven over and over again she’s unqualified for her new job.

Vouchers, which supporters often refer to as tuition tax credits and opportunity scholarships in an effort to mask what they really are, drain scarce resources away from public schools to give to private and religious schools.

DeVos and her boss, President Trump, are pushing a budget in Congress that includes a national voucher plan. It’s a budget educators say would dramatically harm students and public schools.

Using your tax dollars, the Trump-DeVos budget would set up a $1 billion national voucher scheme—giving federal money to private schools that are unaccountable to the public. (Click here to get a quick rundown of some of the other ways the Trump-DeVos budget would harm students, educators, and public schools.)

Last week, DeVos put in a lackluster performance on Capitol Hill defending the plan before a U.S. Senate subcommittee. During the hearing, she refused to say whether private or charter schools receiving federal funds would be banned from discriminating against students based on their sexual orientation or religion.

“On areas where the law is unsettled, this department is not going to be issuing decrees,” said DeVos. (Check out the video below).

 

 

Yesterday, at the charter school convention, DeVos, described as a four-star general in the privatization movement, bragged about how she and her husband brought charters to Michigan, more specifically Detroit. However, what she didn’t tell the crowd is how the system they set up, which lacked transparency and accountability, has failed the city’s kids, who are among the poorest in the nation, and created an educational environment where publicly-funded schools must fight and compete for limited resources. It’s an environment where very few students can thrive. In fact, even pro-charter forces have called Detroit’s charter school system “one of the biggest school reform disasters in the country.

If DeVos and President Trump seriously care about every child’s future, then it’s time for both of them to get serious about doing what works. We’re talking about resourcing our neighborhood public schools so that students have class sizes that allow for one-on-one attention, a well-rounded curriculum, quality after-school programs (which the Trump-DeVos budget would cut by $1.2 billion), support services such as health care, and nutrition programs.

TAKE ACTION: Educate Betsy DeVos about the value of public schools. Tell her why public schools are worth fighting for and what she can do, as education secretary, to help.

Reader Comments

  1. Education in Kansas was taken away from students by the governor the parents elected. Parents abdicated their responsibility to have their children because they did not think critically about whether they could cut back on paying taxes and still have the dream they wanted for their children. Parents soon discovered they had tossed their children’s education into the wind for a few dollars decrease in taxes.
    Unless you were schooled at home, someone paid for your education – public or private. My education was provided by my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles and other people I might not have known. I am grateful to them! Your responsibility for the education you received is to make sure the next generation or two is well educated. I think the phrase today is, “Pay it Forward”. My grandmother received monies from my uncle who was in the service; she paid it forward for me to go to business school. I paid it forward when I helped my sister attend college and helped my brothers with what they needed. I expect them to be paying it forward for their children and someone else’s children.
    I study the biographies of school board candidates. I want to know their philosophies of education and how they envision themselves fitting into a child’s world. I vote for them because I feel they will help make good decisions regarding students, curricula, and teachers. I don’t just mark a ballot box because I like the name Bob or Susan.
    We parents have more responsibility than teachers. We cannot abdicate it. Paying taxes is the least of what we can do. We can become involved – volunteer at school (library, field trips, one-to-one math help), attend PTA meetings, attend school board meetings, telling others – as well as you can – what’s really happening at board meetings and in education today (when did you start multiplication, extra reading, science experiments – compare that with the grade your children started in those areas – grades ahead of when we did!). Be the parents that teachers recognize when you attend conferences because you care enough to know what’s happening to your child’s education (do you think they are learning at par, could move ahead faster or needs a little help), playground activities (are they playing nicely with others, arguing, bullying, or taking a few minutes to themselves), extracurricular participation (vocal or instrumental music, speech, athletic activities) more often than quarterly conferences.
    When it’s time to consider tax increases for education, be the leader in examining and discussing how taxes affect education, how your children’s education compares with other schools in your area and nationwide, knowing how well students really are doing in your district – what they can do or need help doing. Compare your school district with others and speak out as to whether another $2.00 in taxes can really accomplish in your district. Speak out whether you’re a parent, a grandparent, or just someone who really cares about children.

  2. DeVos and Charter schools are truly about the bottom line. With little to no oversight of charter schools, we will court challenge after court challenge to ensure our children receive a sound and proper education. In the end, it is OUR public money, not DeVos or Mr. Trump’s, neither of which know anything about education. Their deep pockets allowed them to send their children to the best of the best in schools, which is great. Buy 99% of the US population do not have that luxury or economic ability. Funding our public schools properly, and paying our teachers PROPERLY will bring out the best of the best to ensure our children are educated to a standard that will allow them to compete with any other nation. Only the American people can ensure that this message is heard within the beltway, loud and clear, as well as within our respective states.

  3. If Ms DeVos wants school choice she can foot the bill vs using her millions to influence politics and politicians. No one is against school choice – fund the public schools adequately and let them provide more school choice. The nation cannot provide school choice at the expense of the public schools and the children who attend them.

  4. Most of our students are in public schools…How will the less fortunate get transportation to a private school..
    Don’t cut any of the afterschool programs and STEM programs.

    1. Check your state laws about transportation. If a private school student is on the bus route, it must provide transportation to that school.
      What less fortunate student attends a private school? In our state, if the private school does not have enough textbooks, the public school system must provide them.
      When families enroll in a public school, they get what they signed up for – a full education. A private school can request grants and other monies plus public school services. Vouchers and constant requests can take funding from public schools, making them less able to serve the majority of the students of our country.

  5. In Chicago charter schools teachers are organizing. One charter school union just voted to join chicago public schools’ union.

    I believe if public ed was funded equally and adequately with less government involvement, mandates, students would flush

    1. The charter school union (teachers and, possibly, staff) recognizes where it will get the help it wants. Our school districts are based on property taxes and a state-wide formula. The schools my children attended are excellent – the only government involvement in our “local rule” system is to deal with the funding formula to fund rural and urban schools in the same manner – not the way your letter sounds your system is funded.
      It is most important in our school district to create tests to measure what is taught, not to teach to the test even though it doesn’t match the federal testing program. The district looks forward to what students need to know, how to best teach it, how to create critically-thinking students and adults.
      Look at what you want, look at PTA experience in Chicago for help in starting an active Parent-Teacher-for-All-children, become a goal-setting, critical-thinking group to benefit students. Attend meetings of school boards so you’ll know what’s truly happening in the direction of the school districts. Educate yourselves as parents to educate your children.

  6. We can’t sustain democracy when all children do not have access to education. More resources are needed to make sure underprivileged children are given equal opportunity to develop, not fewer. If children don’t have opportunities they will develop into angry or depressed young adults who are susceptible to demagoguery. Private religious schools often discourage critical thinking . These are disastrous for free democratic societies .

  7. DeVos is a mouth piece for those few who only care about their profit margin! God in the capitol sense has been diminished to profit and loss. The greater loss is the children who do not possess a silver spoon! These children will create the next generation endowed with rage and misgivings! Those infected with this logic suffer from CLS disease: cheat lie and steal. The elderly old white elephants created this mess in Kansas! Fear: false education appearing real is now the logic of the day! Seventy percent of all Kansas have no children and have abandoned the need to hold the rope and give back! Little schools will disappear; God bless! Really!!!!

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