The Miseducation of Betsy DeVos (Apologies, Lauryn Hill)

Earlier this week, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos referred to opponents of vouchers as “flat Earthers” who have “chilled creativity” in the education system. While jarring, her comments will not come as a surprise to those who followed her confirmation. It was clear then, and remains so now, that Secretary DeVos is a dogged opponent of public education. She has dedicated years and a considerable fortune into working to attack public schools.

Secretary DeVos is entitled to her opinion, but not her own facts. Study after study has shown that voucher programs do not result in improved academic achievement. In fact, students who participate in the programs actually fare worse than their peers.

Voucher programs drain public schools of desperately needed resources and divert them to private and religious schools. Taxpayer dollars are then, often times, used to fund the religious education of students. In addition, students who attend private and religious schools through vouchers are deprived of critical civil rights protections that would otherwise be afforded to them in the public system, including students with disabilities.

In fact, students with disabilities are often systematically excluded from voucher programs. For example, a report from the U.S. Department of Education (the agency DeVos now heads) on the voucher program in Washington, D.C., found that the main reason why students didn’t use a voucher offered to them was that they were unable to find a participating school with appropriate services for their learning or physical disability or other special needs.

Despite all of this, the Trump administration budget proposal that was unveiled on Tuesday includes a request for a new $250 million dollar voucher program. This request comes at the same time as the administration is proposing jaw-dropping cuts in education funding.

Additionally, the Trump/DeVos budget proposal includes $1 billion in “portable” grant funding under Title I, meaning that the money follows individual children rather than being dedicated to high-poverty districts and schools. This allows states to redirect funds away from low-income schools towards schools with a large percentage of wealthier students.

The law says that separate but equal is never equal and recognizes the need to ensure state compliance with federal civil rights laws and to create equal opportunity for low-income students. There is an essential role for the federal government to play in working to eliminate discriminatory barriers, including the discrimination, segregation, and criminalization of students of color at schools. Adding insult to significant injury, Secretary DeVos either fails to recognize this need or is indifferent to it. Neither option is acceptable.

While there has been very little “swamp draining” since the start of the Trump administration, this budget proposal and similar efforts coming from the Department of Education make clear that the intention of Secretary DeVos is to drain as many resources as possible away from our public schools and the students who need them the most.

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Noreen

All schools should have to pay taxes if they are receiving subsidies from the government!

Robin

Noreen, they are paid through tax dollars. Your idea lacks logic, it is counter productive. Tax, the dollars from taxes?

Anonymous

#trumplogic

Anonymous

What a profoundly stupid thing to say. Let's give schools money, so they can pay the money back to the people who gave it to them!

Anonymous

Wow. Just wow. Most insanely idiotic comment I've seen, probably ever, congratulations!

Andy

There are many for profit schools that get government subsidies but don't have to pay taxes for some reason or another. I assume the original post is referring to these schools. I feel that a for profit school shouldn't get any subsidies unless it adhere's to incredibly strict guidlines

What

So in a state like Texas where school districts are funded by property owner taxes should pay taxes? Isn't that double taxation? I'm assuming you mean schools that receive aid like food subsidies or grants. But that would also be wrong, taxing a struggling school district like McAllen or Rio Grand Valley just takes food out of the mouths of children. I bet the poor people in south Texas wish their kids could go to St. "whoever" private school. So they created "charter schools" which has been a bigger failure than regular public school.

Public schools are the daytime dumping ground for working parents. What used to be idealized as a robust American education system is now publicly funded daycare. Unless your family can afford to pay for private school, your kid receives the very basic of educations; if you can even call it education.

School lunch programs are the worst, kids throw away 80% of the fruit and vegetables provided on their plate. Make them accountable for waste in all forms!

Melissa Westbrook

Churches should pay taxes first.

Kelly

Robin- I think Noreen meant that the Religious Schools should not be tax exempt.It's becoming big business to them and it's high time all religious groups start paying their fair share.

Anonymous

So you want to implement a tax "tax"? Let me guess...

You were educated in a charter school, weren't you? Ye gods, you are one stupid broad.

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