Thursday, December 22, 2016

Carol Burris: Under Trump, will the marketplace be the only regulator of school ‘choice’? - The Washington Post

Under Trump, will the marketplace be the only regulator of school ‘choice’? - The Washington Post:

Under Trump, will the marketplace be the only regulator of school ‘choice’?
Image result for market forces

The “school choice” movement in the United States is bound to get a huge boost from President-elect Donald Trump’s selection of Betsy DeVos, a Michigan billionaire and choice advocate, as his secretary of education. If she is approved by the Senate, as expected, DeVos will push to expand a range of choice programs that use public funds for schools not part of traditional public systems.
DeVos has called the public education system in the country — which many see as America’s most important civic institution — as a “dead end” and a goverment-run “monopoly.” That’s why public education advocates are worried about her impending leadership at the U.S. Education Department.
One of the pieces in DeVos’s constellation of choice programs are charter schools, which are publicly funded but operated independently from traditional systems, sometimes by nonprofits and somethings by for-profit companies. Nationwide the charter school sector has grown over the past few decades amid a debate about its virtues and drawbacks — and even whether the publicly funded schools are public or private entities. Some charters are excellent. But as the sector has grown, so have problems that have gone unaddressed.
Ohio and Utah have troubled charter sectors, as does Arizona, where there are no laws against conflicts of interest and where for-profit charters do not have to open their books to the public. In Michigan, 80 percent of the charters are operated entirely or substantially by for-profit entities. Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale recently declared his state’s charter school law the “worst” in the nation. California has more charter schools and charter school students than any other state in the nation.
This fall I published a four-part series on California’s charter schools, often called the “Wild West” of the charter sector. Why? Here’s an example:
*One charter school closed in 2014 after state auditors found a number of issues, including indications that administrators funneled millions of dollars in state funds to the schools’ operator and her family and friends. As the Los Angeles Times reported, some of the allegations against the school operator were downright “bizarre.” Auditors questioned the use of school funds to pay a more than $500,000 settlement to a former teacher who sued, claiming she had been wrongly terminated after she was ordered by the school director to travel to Nigeria and marry the director’s brother-in-law so he could become a U.S. citizen. The operator’s penalty? She paid “a $16,000 fine for misconduct that includes using public education funds to lease her own buildings,” the Times said.
That series was written by former award-winning high school principal Carol Burris, who is now executive director of the nonprofit Network for Public Education advocacy group. She chronicled many of the glaring problems with the charter school law in California. Here is a new post by Burris about charter schools and the “choice movement.”
By Carol Burris
The drive to privatize the public education system under the guise of “choice” is well under way — and can be expected to pick up steam when Donald Trump becomes president. He chose as his education secretary a Michigan billionaire named Betsy DeVos, who is an ardent supporter of school choice who has said the public education system is a “dead end.”
During the past 60 years, public education has been the frog in the pot of water, as school privatizers and “education reformers” have slowly turned up the heat. Over 1 million students Under Trump, will the marketplace be the only regulator of school ‘choice’? - The Washington Post:

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