Cook: Protect public schools, cherish public education
For those of us who cherish public education among our democracy’s greatest civic institutions, these are trying times.
We strive every day to support the American vision for a strong and inclusive public education system that ensures that all students can succeed, regardless of their zip code.
That’s why it is so disappointing to see President-Elect Trump’s choice of Betsy DeVos to head the U.S. Department of Education.
DeVos has no experience or expertise in public education. In fact, her sole qualification seems to be using her family’s billions to fund relentless efforts to dismantle America’s public school system, while promoting failed private school vouchers and unaccountable for-profit charters.
Her efforts have been laser-focused on undermining our public schools and, in doing so, have harmed students. She wants to spend tax dollars on private school tuition, and she pulled the strings that freed for-profit corporate charter schools to run rampant in our state.
In no way do these failed schemes support opportunity for all students. Instead, they syphon public tax dollars from traditional neighborhood schools to fund for-profit charters and private schools – thereby speeding up privatization of our public education system.
That’s especially worrisome here in Michigan, where we’ve experienced destructive DeVos policies firsthand.
Michigan spends $1 billion a year of public money on charter schools. These schools don’t disclose their financial dealings and are completely unaccountable to the public. These schools have not improved student learning and have done nothing to help our most vulnerable students by closing glaring opportunity gaps.
And we have Betsy DeVos to thank for this.
Last year’s investigation of Michigan’s charter school system by the Detroit Free Press found wasteful spending, double dipping, contract steering, overall poor academic performance and no state standards for how to deal with it all.
Voucher schemes haven’t proved any better. Vouchers have failed to bridge the achievement gap in any of the 30 states where they have been tried, while continuing Cook: Protect public schools, cherish public education: