Supporters of Charter Schools say they offer a pointed and innovative approach to education; for example, if a child loves art, they can apply to a school that is mainly focused on the arts. With a failing public school system and the standardization of teachers, Charter schools are becoming a swift win for many families. Some help disenfranchised families by giving them choices — If you live in an area with bad public schools a charter school could be your best alternative. However, not all children who apply get in. In Betsy Davos’ state, for example, hundreds of thousands of children are waitlisted.
Conversely, critics of Charter Schools say they take funding away from Public Schools in suffering districts. Charter schools are government funded but operate like private entities. They use taxpayer dollars and do not have to report how or where they spend their money. These fewer sanctions allow for some risky business practices. Many charter schools have been caught on charges of embezzlement, fraud, and theft. Families that apply for Charter schools in Pennsylvania are urged to read up and research their choices. However, some schools in New York have lots of transparency and are non-profit, making them great options for children of low-income households.
Because of their lax application process, charter schools have popped up all over the nation and have been associated with a number of 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 business’s like the Walton’s, or the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Which 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 wait list. 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.