An original editorial post for Highfaluter.co
Charter Schools have long been praised for offering innovative approaches to public schools. For instance, if a student is interested in art, they can apply to a charter school specializing in the subject. Against the backdrop of a crumbling public school system and teacher standardization, charter schools have swiftly won the hearts of many U.S. families, especially those with limited access to competitive public schools. However, not all students who apply to a charter school get in. Thousands of children are wait-listed in Betsy DeVos’s state, for example, where the system she staunchly supports is failing.
Critics have argued that their funding takes away from public schools in suffering districts. Charter schools are government-funded but operate as private entities, using taxpayer dollars without reporting how or where their money is spent, and fewer sanctions allow for risky business practices. Many have faced criminal charges, such as embezzlement, fraud, and theft. In Pennsylvania, families that apply to charter schools are encouraged to research their choices thoroughly. On the opposite end of the spectrum, some New York State schools have lots of transparency and are non-profit, which actually makes them a solid option for children in low-income households.
Because of a lax application process, these institutions have sprung up all over the nation and have been associated with just as many scandals. One school in Pennsylvania was caught using their funds to build a school in Ohio. Another school in Florida was running an illegal Bar at night. Many are funded by private businesses like the Waltons or the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This gives critics another reason to pause—they don’t want to turn the charter school platform into a ‘business prototype.’
This 2014 article, by the Washington Post, showcases charter schools’ setbacks.
Some schools are so flawed or failing that they’ve had to shut down in the middle of the day. Lastly, more and more statistics show that charter schools segregate communities and don’t cater to developmentally challenged children. This UCLA study has some telling statistics.
Background on Betsy DeVos:
Betsy’s platform is all about giving parents a choice in their children’s education. She is a supporter of voucher programs in which parents are awarded some money to enroll in a charter school. But this has created lots of tension in her home state, with over 400,000 children on a waitlist. There are many Charter schools in more affluent parts of Michigan to choose from, but it’s the opposite in poor neighborhoods. Charter schools in her state statistically do worse than public schools. One of the main critiques, being, that there are many charter schools, but not many good ones.
Read this investigative article published on Mother Jones to find out more about her viewpoints, family, background, and donations.
Here’s the low down on DeVos:
Betsy comes from an enormous amount of wealth. She married Amway, founder, worth 9.5 billion dollars, and her brother is Erik Prince of Blackwater infamy.
In her Senate hearing, DeVos revealed a tremendous lack of knowledge and preparation in stating she has zero experience working with student loans or even in a school.
She and her husband have been known to say things like this:
Our desire is to confront the culture in ways that will continue to advance God’s Kingdom.
Although she might not have a staunch agenda, her preference is staunchly right—donating a lot of money to privatized religious schools.
So why can’t charter and public schools get along? Actually, in some states, they do. They are set up on the same campus–a charter school within a public school.
If people invested more money in public education, there wouldn’t be a need to give parents choices, and everyone could get a chance at a good education within their community.
Finally, to say or think or hope Mrs. DeVos’ nomination is draining a swamp of any size is a gross overstatement. The swamp ‘runneth overdose’ when Betsy came in