THE CHARTER SCHOOL DEBATE

Betsy DeVos, the Secretary of Education under the current administration, has been a huge proponent of "school choice" and voucher programs. Unfortunately for children with special needs, these programs frequently shunt money away from public schools to religious and private schools. While public schools are required to make accommodations to educate ALL children, including those with special needs who may take more resources to educate, private and religious schools have no such mandate. That means as voucher programs grow, public schools have increasingly fewer resources to educate children with high needs while voucher schools are able to "cherry pick" their students. This administration is attempting to gut public schools with the excuse that some schools are failing and that those children should have a right to chose what school they attend. However, what they should be doing is fully funding public schools with guidance and resources directed toward failing schools so they can better serve their communities.
     Charter and voucher programs are not the answer for our kids and everyone loses out if we continue this path toward privatization. The Network for Public Education has several interesting fact sheets that answer the questions: Do charter schools get better academic results? Do charter schools save money? Do they hurt public schools, etc? Read the full fact sheets at their website. The National Education Association has an opinion piece entitled School Vouchers’ Dismal Record of Failure Comes Into Focus, which discusses why these programs are bad for students.