Education News

MI Atty. Gen. Schuette shares Betsy DeVos’s goal to take scarce public school funding for vouchers

by Félix Pérez

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Voucher advocates like Education Secretary Betsy DeVos like to dress up their proposal in lofty-sounding words such as “freedom” and “choice.” And just as a salesman whose product is perceived negatively, voucher proponents have sought to repackage their idea, sometimes as education saving accounts, education tax credits, personalized learning accounts or opportunity scholarships.

But whatever form they take or name they use, vouchers have the same results.

  • They take scarce funding from public schools and divert them to programs with little to no accountability, leading to the loss of millions of dollars to private school operators who fraudulently misrepresented enrollment data, failed to provide safe and academically appropriate learning environments, and otherwise gamed the system for personal profit.
  • They do not improve student achievement; evaluations of voucher programs in Milwaukee, Cleveland, and Washington, D.C., have all found no statistically signicant differences in the academic achievement of voucher students compared to public school students, and recent evaluations of programs in Ohio, Indiana, and Louisiana revealed that voucher students scored lower than their peers attending public school.
  • Vouchers undermine student civil rights, including the rights of students with disabilities. Private school students forfeit due process and other rights guaranteed in public schools. Private schools can and do discriminate by denying admission based on religion, sexual orientation, citizenship status, English language proficiency and disability. Private schools that enroll students with disabilities may decline to provide the services or accommodations guaranteed to such students in public schools (or charge parents extra for them), and may segregate children with special needs from other children. Private schools may also suspend or expel students without due process.
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DeVos has pushed and funded campaigns for vouchers for decades, most notably in her home state of Michigan. Her missionary zeal and generous donations when she was chairwoman of the American Federation for Children — a position she held immediately before her confirmation as education secretary — led her to support voucher campaigns in other states as well.

DeVos’s dogged pursuit of public school funding for voucher schools has like-minded allies at the state level, including Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, who is running for governor in November.

Schuette is a strong supporter of Betsy DeVos’s push for charter schools and school vouchers. According to VoteSmart, an independent voter service website, Schuette supports providing “parents with state-funded vouchers to send their children to any participating school (public, private, religious).” Schuette, in a newspaper column praising DeVos for education secretary, took a swipe at public schools, saying, “too often the educational model looks like a horse and buggy system built on corduroy roads.”

Schuette and DeVos share a long history in their home state of Michigan. The DeVos family and DeVos organizations contributed at least $136,000 to Schuette’s campaigns between 2009-2014.

2 responses to “MI Atty. Gen. Schuette shares Betsy DeVos’s goal to take scarce public school funding for vouchers

  1. Public education is so important to democracy. The public schools will become institutions for the disadvantaged and disabled, while the private schools will get the money and the best students. For profit education is already ripping off massive amounts of taxpayer funds for worthless programs. Look into the cyber schools and their pathetic results. Founders of these programs become millionaires, while many of their students don’t even finish or get a diploma. (EDUCATION WEEK “Ohio’s Largest Cyber Charter Closes Mid-Year”, Jan. 19, 2018)

  2. We have to get every person who values public education to get out and vote against these knuckleheads. Some of them probably nevr went to public school to begin with and some of them may have received money to back this voucher system. Public education is the best way for a middle class kid to get a good education and get a start on better future. Like it said in the article these private schools get to pick who they admit and they don’t have to take kids that learning disabilities or have something else that hinders their learning. These private schools can kick kids out easily and then guess what these kids have to find another school to go and guess what that school is usually a public school. So it doesn’t make sense to me that we should be taking money from the public schools to give to these private schools that can pick and choose who they take. Lets be honest it costs more to educate a special education student (maybe 2 or 2.5 times more) so you can see why these guys don’t want them, it’s not cost effective.

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