US Charter Advocates Mount Opposition to DeVos Private School Agenda

20:26  30 march  2017
20:26  30 march  2017 Source:   usnews.com

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— Charter schools added 240,000 new students last school year, an increase of 7 percent over the previous year, according to data from 42 states tabulated by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools . That jump represents one of the largest enrollment spikes in terms of raw numbers in the sector’s 30-year history, the NAPCS said. — So, does parents’ renewed interest in charters mean the movement could regain some of its clout, following progressive presidential candidates’ disavowals of them and the pro- charter Trump administration’s ouster? Not necessarily, charter advocates say.

DeVos ’ agenda rebuked. Lawmakers last month left out of their massive spending package several initiatives that DeVos championed or put forward in the Education Department’s budget proposal, including a billion grant program to promote school choice. The spending bill can be viewed as a rebuke to DeVos ’ agenda , said Aaron Pallas, professor of education and sociology at Columbia University’s Teachers College. “A lot of that could be interpreted as an indication of a lack of confidence that Congress has in her, as well as the fact that education has a very broad complex of stakeholders.

Denver Public Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg speaks during a news conference, at the Denver Public Schools downtown campus, in Denver, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017.: Denver Public Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg rebuffed Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' Wednesday remarks about the city’s lack of private school choice options. © (Thomas Peipert/AP) Denver Public Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg rebuffed Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' Wednesday remarks about the city’s lack of private school choice options.

Charter school advocates are increasingly pushing back against Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ private school choice agenda.

The latest comes from Denver school Superintendent Tom Boasberg, who rebuffed remarks made by the secretary Wednesday about the city’s lack of private school choice options.

“We do not support private school vouchers,” Boasberg said in a statement. “We believe that public dollars should be used for public schools that are open to all kids, whether they are district-run or charter.”

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Broad’s opposition to DeVos , President Donald Trump’s nominee to be U.S. secretary of education, underscores the complexity of the politics of the charter school movement, and is revealing further fault lines in it. As reported by EdSource, the Massachusetts Charter Public School Association has Broad’s broadside against DeVos is especially notable as he has been the target of ongoing criticism by the state’s teachers unions regarding a plan devised by his foundation, the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, and other charter school advocates that envisioned a massive expansion of charter

Murray has expressed vigorous opposition to DeVos . At the same time, some teachers mounted their own, silent protest inside their classrooms. Teachers across the country sometimes wear red to school to show support for public education. But on Monday, amid the lead-up to the DeVos vote, some wore black. The push to get to teachers to wear black was started by a nonprofit group called the Badass Teachers Association, a nationwide network of teachers that works to promote policies supporting traditional public education.

Denver ranked No. 1 in the Brooking Institute’s 2016 Education Choice and Competition Index, earning points for being an open-school district, meaning students are not zoned to a specific school based on where they live and can enroll in any school they choose, traditional public or charter. It also scored points for its easily accessible web site that explains to parents how the enrollment process works.

Denver does not operate a private school voucher program or a scholarship tax credit program that allows students to use public dollars to cover tuition at private schools. DeVos, who was the keynote speaker at the Brookings event to unveil the annual choice index, argued that because private school choice options are not part of the city’s education portfolio, its students are getting shortchanged.

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WASHINGTON — Public charter schools — caught between growing Democratic disenchantment and a Trump administration shift toward private schools — are preparing for political battle, as the long-protected education sector finds itself on the verge of abandonment. Presidential budgets usually hold little weight, especially when the House is held by the opposition party. But for charter schools , the Trump administration’s shift in emphasis toward private school support comes at a precarious time — Democratic lawmakers have targeted the same federal charter fund.

Charter Advocates Mount Opposition to DeVos Private School Agenda . Dozens of charter school supporters have condemned the push for private school funding in Trump's fiscal 2018 budget blueprint. DeVos ' Lips Sealed on School Choice Program. The new education secretary indicates the Trump administration's plan for a new program emphasizing private schools is still being worked out.

“The benefits of making options accessible are canceled out when you don’t have a full menu of options,” she said. “Choice without accessibility doesn’t matter – just like accessibility without choice doesn’t matter. Neither scenario ultimately benefits students.”

Boasberg countered: “A core principle in Denver and one of the main reasons we rank No. 1 nationally in school choice is that we ensure equitable systems of enrollment among district-run and charter schools, where all schools play by the same enrollment rules and all schools are subject to the same rigorous accountability system. We do not support choice without accountability.”

Indeed, accountability is driving a wedge between charter school advocates who can get behind the free-market approach to private school choice and those who cannot – and those who cannot have been increasingly public about their concerns.

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“Secretary DeVos has a strong education freedom agenda , which means she believes every student should have the right to choose the educational pathway that best fits their unique needs,” Morabito wrote. “She is agnostic when it comes to the type of school — charter , traditional, private , online, and so On her signature issue, DeVos ’s rhetoric and advocacy on school choice has been something of a double-edged sword. The staunchest advocates appreciate the administration’s work, particularly in using the bully pulpit to promote choice programs, said Lindsey Burke, director of the Center for

“Poorer ( private schools ) like Catholic schools need it more. DeVos is thinking about private schools with low tuition who are just getting by.” Finne said that government money should not be given to institutions that don’t need it, but regarding DeVos ’ microgrants, she’s in favor: “Should money be Welner and other public- school supporters say that, while DeVos ’ efforts to boost private , religious and charter schools during the pandemic may pay off for them in the short term, the big issue is not that they’re benefitting at the expense of public schools , but rather that public schools need much more

As Greg Richmond, president and CEO of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, wrote Thursday in Education Week: “This free-market approach to charter schooling embraces the principles of choice and autonomy while gutting accountability, but true supporters of charter schools will not abide by this co-optation of what it means to be a charter school. Those of us who have seen generations of urban school districts mismanage public funds and fail to provide a quality education to children will not support efforts to cast the same plague on charter schools.”

The mounting opposition began after President Trump released his fiscal 2018 budget proposal. The spending plan would cut more than $9 billion from federal education programs, in addition to millions in health care and other social service programs, while pouring an additional $1.4 billion into school choice programs, including $168 million bump for charter schools and a $250 million pitch for a private school choice plan.

Dozens of charter school supporters condemned the budget – despite its boost for the very schools for which they advocate – due to its emphasis on private school choice and its severing of dozens of programs on which the most disadvantaged students rely.

“We realize that expressing concerns about a budget that benefits our schools might seem counterintuitive,” charter school organization CEOs Dacia Toll of Achievement First, Richard Barth of KIPP Foundation and Brett Peiser of Uncommon Schools wrote Tuesday in an op-ed in USA Today. “But we want to join with all those who are fighting to defend public education as an essential pillar of our democracy.”

Taken together, their schools serve more than 220,000 children across 24 states.

“We see charters as an important part of a much broader effort to revitalize public education in America,” they added. “But to make that broader vision work, we need federal support for all schools, for all kids, not just kids in ‘choice’ schools.”

Copyright 2017 U.S. News & World Report

Trump’s Education Department nixes Obama-era grant program for school diversity .
Advocates say the decision symbolizes a lack of interest in school diversity, a charge the administration denies.An Education Department official said the $12 million grant program was discontinued because it would not be a wise use of tax dollars, in part because the money was to be used for planning, not implementation. The decision says nothing about the administration’s interest in diversity, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

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