Instead of parents and teachers, we’ll have “consumers” and “products!” This is one dismal outlook for public schools. Unless you support the dismantling of public education, you won’t be celebrating DeVos’s appointment to secretary of education.
Plus, there are no regulations or track records for charter schools and they can crop up and disappear as fast. The voucher system will siphon students from public schools and, therefore, their funding. Charter schools may be advertised as “better” but what happened in Detroit says otherwise (see below for excerpts of the article).
“Even for proponents of choice like Excellent Schools Detroit, according to their own measurements, choice is not on its own promoting improvements,” said Thomas Pedroni, an associate professor at Wayne State University’s School of Education. The premise of school choice is that competition raises all sectors, but in Detroit, and many other cities around the country, that just hasn’t happened. “What competition ends up producing is not a choice of failing versus good schools but a bunch of similarly mediocre schools.”
Competition doesn’t always lead to better schools if you don’t have a standard in place. Who wants to put in more effort if it’s just “good enough” while you can tout it as being better than the other?
Charters’ biggest champions in Michigan were members of the business community and a cadre of billionaires with ties to the religious right.
Isn’t this already a red flag?
As charters attracted families with promises of smaller class sizes, increased technology, and minimized bureaucracy, Detroit’s traditional public schools lost students and hemorrhaged funds. Because the short-term costs of losing a student were far greater than the average cost of educating one, this set the public school district on a path toward insolvency. Last year, for example, there were more than 100,000 school-age students living in the city; fewer than 47,000 of them attended the public schools. Take the estimated per-pupil funding figure of $7,500 per kid, and that’s nearly $400 million in revenue missing from the district.
So, where does support for public schools come in?
Through the Great Lakes Education Project, the DeVos family has played a major role in ensuring the education marketplace remains unregulated. In 2011, they successfully advocated to lift the charter school cap and killed a provision that would have stopped failing schools from replicating. A review last year found “an unreasonably high” 23 charter schools on the state’s list of lowest-performing schools and questioned why after two decades of the charter experiment “student outcomes are still just ‘comparable’ to traditional public schools.”
Why aren’t they better than public schools in the end?
“The perverse thing about the charter movement, and they’ve been very self-conscious in their political tactics, is to exploit the desperation of parents in inner cities,” he continued. “Everyone knows we don’t have the silver bullet for how to provide effective public education. But rather than treating that as a collective obligation for us to figure out, there is the privatization of the public school system. Trying to run a traditional model, where schools are a public good and require a certain amount of public support and public resources, in parallel with a charter system is a death by a thousand cuts. It’s a way that will guarantee the destruction of the traditional public schools but not place anything effective as an alternative.”
This reminds me of Cruz’s argument of “access” to medical professionals while Sander points out that “access” doesn’t matter if you can’t afford it. In this case, schools will be the same.
[DeVos] feels strongly about “parents having an opportunity for child care for their children.”
“But it’s not a question of opportunity,” Sanders fired back, raising his voice. “It’s a question of being able to afford it!”
Maybe this is the goal of the GOP, defund education, dismantle the department of education, and strive to have a new generation of poor voters who will follow religious political figures (Devos is not a fan of separating Church and State affairs including schools) rather than critically think (e.g., education is only for those that can afford it!).