Is an equal education possible with unbalanced funding?

In 1990, a movement of privatizing public education began in Milwaukee with the birth of school vouchers. Under the new 11th U.S. secretary of education, Betsy DeVos along with President Trump, have goals to advance equal opportunities for quality education for all students. DeVos, an advocate of alternatives to public education has pushed the growth of charter schools in Michigan.  The most common form of public subsidy for “school choice” has been the increase of the charter school industry. There are approximately 3.1 million students attending nearly 7,000 charter schools in the United States.

Forced Integration

Cleveland, Miss. in 2016

Integration has not come easily for Mississippi; ironically last year, Cleveland was ordered to desegregate its high schools and middle schools, after 50-years legal struggle over integrating black and white students.  The United States District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi combined the middle and high school programs in the Cleveland School District for the very, first time. Then months after the order,  a black valedictorian, in this district, was “allegedly” forced to share her graduating class’s top honor with a white student who had a lower grade-average. A federal lawsuit currently is underway.

The failure of public education

Critics have argued the nation’s public schools are already underfunded and vouchers and other privatization programs would further cripple the ability of public school’s success. Yet, President Trump has already pledged to use $20 billion in federal funding to school choice policies. The growth of charter schools will likely not slow down because over the past ten years, they have tripled. Oversight has been a concern because of financial issues and traditional public schools affected negatively. In most states, charter schools do not have to follow some of the processes meant to prevent corruption and misuse of spending funds such as putting contracts out for competitive bidding, according to Huffington Post. In most states, they do not have to follow many of the processes meant to prevent corruption and misspending of public dollars, such as putting contracts out for competitive bidding. Traditional schools accept all children but choice options does not accept all students.  Under an Education Savings Account program, parents who withdraw their children from public school are given stipends that are deposited into government-authorized savings accounts. 

Who would the 20 billion support?

In October 2016, the NAACP passed a resolution calling for a moratorium on the growth of charter schools. The civil rights organization has expressed concerns that charter schools promote re-segregation and redirects funding away from traditional public schools with little oversight. Problems with financial misconduct and poor performances are contributing factors. The NAACP called for a moratorium on the expansion of the charter schools at least until such time as:  (1) Charter schools are subject to the same transparency and accountability standards as public schools (2) Public funds are not diverted to charter schools at the expense of the public school system (3) Charter schools cease expelling students that public schools have a duty to educate and (4) Charter schools cease to perpetuate de facto segregation of the highest performing children from those whose aspirations may be high but whose talents are not yet as obvious.

Is history repeating itself?

According to Jeffrey Dorfman (Forbes), school choice programs are reallocated from public schools to other forms of educational spending. It’s even argued that it doesn’t affect public schools negatively if the amount of funding loss per student is less than the marginal cost of educating a student.  In other words, public schools would be left with fewer dollars but more dollars per student. Whatever the case, education is no longer seen as a civic institution, it is being operated more as a privatized business similar to the penal/justice system. Public education was never created to be fair and integration was never supposed to happen; no worries, history has an interesting way of returning.

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