Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Trump terrifies public school advocates with education secretary pick - The Washington Post

Trump terrifies public school advocates with education secretary pick - The Washington Post:

Trump terrifies public school advocates with education secretary pick

Advocates of public education in the United States have worried that President-elect Donald Trump would tap an education secretary who would speed up the privatization of public schools, a move that many fear could destroy America’s public education system, the country’s most important civic institution. Well, they were right about the appointment — and then some.
After Democrats Michelle Rhee and Eva Moskowitz said they weren’t interested in the job, Trump tapped Betsy DeVos, a former Republican Party chairwoman in Michigan and chair of the pro-choice advocacy group American Federation of Children.
Seen by her supporters as a tireless, driven supporter of school choice, opponents say she is the most ideological and anti-public education nominee ever to be put forward to run the the nearly 40-year-old department. They fear that Trump, along with DeVos, will push “choice” programs that many see as draining resources from the traditional public school districts that educate most American schoolchildren.
School choice has become a central priority of the corporate school reform movement, which aims to have the U.S. public education system run on market forces. School choice proponents say that charter schools and vouchers offer parents important options for their children’s education — allowing them to leave their neighborhood schools in search of something better — and that traditional public schools have failed in many places.
School choice opponents say that “choice” not only siphons resources from traditional systems but also promotes segregation, discriminates against students with the most severe disabilities, and fights against public oversight. There are studies that exist in support of any side, but the preponderance of independent research shows that choice programs have failed to systemically improve student achievement and have harmed public school districts.
That prospect was clear this month in Massachusetts, when voters refused to agree to raise a cap on charter school expansion, and Moody’s, the rating agency, applauded the move, saying it would allow urban districts to maintain their current financial operations without added pressure from charters that could create virtually insurmountable money problems.
Betsy DeVos has made clear her interest is in promoting choice, including for-profit charters, and has helped promote them in her own state, Michigan, also working against efforts to allow real public oversight of these schools. This past August, the Detroit Free Press published a storythat said:
Michigan taxpayers pour nearly $1 billion a year into charter schools — but state laws regulating charters are among the nation’s weakest, and the state demands little accountability in how taxpayer dollars are spent and how well children are educated.
A yearlong investigation by the Detroit Free Press reveals that Michigan’s lax oversight has enabled a range of abuses in a system now responsible for more than 140,000 Michigan children. That figure is growing as more parents try charter schools as an alternative to traditional districts
The push for choice at the expense of traditional public education is what terrifies public school advocates. At some point, they fear, too many traditional systems will not be able to sustain themselves financially because of underfunding and financial pressure from charters and voucher programs, and that they ultimately will collapse.
Where would students go? There are not enough charter schools or private schools to fill the void in most places — and rushing to open new schools without sufficient planning and Trump terrifies public school advocates with education secretary pick - The Washington Post:

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