Thursday, June 15, 2017

Charter School Founded by DeVos Family Reflects National Tensions - The New York Times

Charter School Founded by DeVos Family Reflects National Tensions - The New York Times:

Charter School Founded by DeVos Family Reflects National Tensions

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Julia Stevenson scurried through the hallway as her school day came to a close, hoping to take advantage of as much daylight as possible to complete one of the last assignments of her high school career.
“I’m flying home today,” Ms. Stevenson, 18, said with a broad smile, explaining that she was hoping for clear skies and a beautiful view of Lake Michigan on the 300-mile round trip from Gerald R. Ford International Airport to her hometown, Traverse City, Mich.
With her pilot’s license in sight, Ms. Stevenson was about to graduate from the West Michigan Aviation Academy, a public charter school here founded by Dick DeVos, the billionaire husband of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
Ms. DeVos has called it an inspiration for her dogged support for school choice, a shining example of what is possible when schools are able to meet students’ unique interests and needs. On Tuesday, she told thousands of charter school advocates that her husband’s school prepared students “to contribute in significant ways to our 21st-century economy.”
But with its deep-pocketed founder, corporate sponsors and remarkable capacity to raise money, the Aviation Academy may be more an example of what education can achieve with seemingly limitless funds than a model for other schools.
Like the neighborhood public schools of Grand Rapids, the academy, on the grounds of Gerald Ford Airport, receives $7,500 per student in state funding. This helps pay for its rigorous science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, curriculum and its faculty, including the four flight instructors on staff.
But it does not pay for the school’s two airplanes; many of its science, engineering and mathematics facilities; or its distinction as the only school in the country that offers flight instruction as part of the curriculum. Students can graduate and fly a plane before they can rent a car or legally have a beer.
How? The DeVoses alone have given more than $4 million to the school. Mr. DeVos donated an airplane from his private collection. Delta Air Lines donated another.
“The concept is good. I just wish a public school would’ve thought of Charter School Founded by DeVos Family Reflects National Tensions - The New York Times:
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