by Brian Washington
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If you’re a regular Education Votes reader, you know that President Trump and his Education Secretary Betsy DeVos are huge backers of voucher schemes, which take scarce funding away from public schools to give to unaccountable private schools.
Despite the fact that communities across the nation are pushing back against vouchers, because of how harmful they are to public schools and the vast majority of students who attend them, DeVos is relentless in her support for this flawed education policy.
For example, she has traveled the country promoting vouchers, met with ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) leaders to brainstorm ways to get them into more communities, and is backing a budget proposal that includes a national voucher scheme. There’s even talk that she and President Trump may urge lawmakers on Capitol Hill to incorporate vouchers into tax reform.
However, yesterday, DeVos got some bipartisan push back from federal lawmakers. A Senate sub-committee rejected two proposals that, if approved by Congress, would have helped DeVos to move forward with school privatization plans.
The panel rejected her requested $1 billion boost to the Title I program, which is designed to educate disadvantaged students. DeVos wanted to use that money to help local districts create or expand her privatization agenda which, in addition to vouchers, also includes charter schools run by for-profit companies. It also rejected a proposal to use a program within the U.S. Department of Education to nurture private school vouchers.
DeVos is what you might call a one-trick pony. Her solution to every challenge facing public education is privatization—be it private school vouchers or for-profit charter schools.
However, educators know that if we’re going to get serious about every child’s future, we have to resource our neighborhood public schools to ensure they have the following:
- Inviting classrooms;
- A well-rounded curriculum;
- Class-sizes that are small enough for one-on-one attention; and
- Support services such as health care, nutrition, and after school programs for students who need them.
Speaking of after school programs, that same Senate subcommittee also rejected a Trump-DeVos request to eliminate federal funding to help cover the cost of such programs. Instead, the panel approved $1.2 billion for the 21st Century Community Learning Center. The House has approved similar funding.