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.