An original editorial post for Highfaluter.co
Supporters of Charter Schools have long praised them for offering innovative approaches to education. For instance, if a student is interested in art, they can attend a school with a strong emphasis on the subject. Against a backdrop of a crumbling public school system and the standardization of teachers, charter schools have swiftly won the hearts of U.S. families, especially ones with limited access to competitive public schools. However, not all children who apply 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 and not reporting where they spend money; and fewer sanctions allow for risky business practices. Unsurprisingly, many of these schools have faced criminal charges, like embezzlement, fraud, and theft. Families that apply for Charter schools in Pennsylvania are even urged to research their choices. However, some schools in New York have lots of transparency and are non-profit, making them excellent options for children of low-income households.
Because of their lax application process, these educational 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 Walton’s, 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 have closed down in the middle of the day, taking everything with them. 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. In more affluent parts of Michigan, there are lots of Charter schools 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, she revealed a tremendous lack of knowledge and preparation. Among other things, she stated 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 just 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 alternative 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