If the Senate does approve Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education this week, President Trump’s $20 billion plan to advance school choice will be headed by a major reform advocate.
With a history devoid of public school experience, DeVos is expected to push “the aggressive expansion of public charter schools, virtual online schools, private school voucher programs, education savings accounts and other innovative approaches,” according to Steve Gunn Jan. 27 in EAGnews.org.
Those supporting the expansion of public private schools and school choice believe it will offer increased access to higher quality education for low-income students. In the New York Post on Jan. 17, Rich Lowry said it’s all about “giving educational hope to poor kids.”
But those opposed, which includes some charter school elites, see vouchers and school choice as a way to decrease the standards of education and increase the number of for-profit institutions, Gunn writes.
While Lowry cites facts of private schools outperforming public schools, evidence shows that since DeVos’s push for a free-market style of school choice in her home state of Michigan, the state has experienced decreased reading levels and a tendency to value profit over education.
In her New York Times article from June 28, 2016, Kate Zernike tells how the surplus of private schools in Detroit lowered the city’s quality of education. Without government regulations, schools have no one hold them accountable. DeVos’s policies could lower education standards, according to Gunn.
Instead of pulling funds from public institutions to send students to charter schools, that money could be used to reshape public schools and increase their quality. To offer students complete vouchers, the federal budget would need to be supplemented by $110 billion from the states; without that extra funding, some students still will not be able to afford the cost of private school, thus using class to re-instate school segregation.
In addition, over 50 million of our nation’s students attend public schools, while about 5 million attend private schools. Attempting to transition students into supposedly “better” private schools will take much more effort than fixing the problem where they already are. With public school reforms, the government would truly be improving education for all.