Friday, December 23, 2016

Charter schools controversy will only grow under Trump -

Charter schools controversy will only grow under Trump -

Charter schools controversy will only grow under Trump

(CNN)President-elect Donald Trump hasn't been coy about his vision for public schools: He wants them to become more like their private counterparts.
Trump proposes spending $20 billion to allow for "school choice" -- the ability for families to use federal dollars in the form of vouchers on their school of choice, be it a charter, a magnet, private or a traditional public school.
    Trump has not laid out a detailed plan, nor has he specified where the money will come from. He proposes "reprioritizing" existing federal money, a gambit experts say is sure to face bipartisan opposition from lawmakers who don't want to lose existing funds for their district.
    But his pick of billionaire donor Betsy DeVos to be education secretary suggests an aggressive approach to reshape education.
    In her home state of Michigan, DeVos is a forceful proponent of charter schools. She and her husband have lobbied for them and other nontraditional alternatives.
    Charter schools are publicly funded and independently run, sometimes operated by for-profit companies. That means they don't have to follow the district's rules, even though they may receive funding from them, or hire unionized teachers -- a distinction that has put them at odds with teacher unions.
    Advocates say that freedom lets charter schools sidestep policies that lock troubled schools into a cycle of failure, and allows for a more flexible, innovative curriculum.
    As far as DeVos is concerned, charters are "an extension of public education," not "anti-public education," said Matt Frendewey, national communication director for the American Federation for Children, the school choice advocacy group DeVos co-founded. She resigned as chairwoman in November.
    Critics, however, say the promised outcomes don't always live up to the hype. Charter school administrators have too much unchecked power, they argue, while money is siphoned from the poorest school districts to benefit charters at the expense of the area's other public schools, where the majority of children remain.
    Some studies determined that charter schools are not necessarily better, as a rule.
    "We believe that the chance for the success of a child should not depend on winning a charter lottery, being accepted by a private school, or living in the right ZIP code," said Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Education Association, the largest teacher's union, in a statement after DeVos was nominated in November.
    Charter schools are accountable to the local bodies that oversee them, known as authorizers. In some states, it's the local school district; in others, it's an independent organization created by state law.
    DeVos herself has faced criticism in Detroit over the lackluster performance of charter schools she championed in Michigan.
    Detroit Free Press investigation, for example, found that charter school students in Michigan tended to score lower on achievement tests than students at more traditional schools. DeVos has been accused of pushing charter schools there despite their poor performance and lack of accountability.
    "When I hear her name and I think about education, I think about choice without quality," Tonya Allen, president and CEO of the Skillman Foundation, part of a coalition to fix Detroit schools, previously told CNN.Charter schools controversy will only grow under Trump -

    Latest News and Comment from Education