Charter school leaders met in Washington last week to discuss the rise of charter schools. The new Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, is a huge proponent of charter schools. Funding is set to increase over the coming years, and charter school leaders from around the country are scrambling to come up with a viable plan.
Dozens of leaders convened in the nation’s capital to negotiate the avalanche of new public funds set to rain down during the Trump administration’s first term. The meeting took place behind closed doors and involved many complicated issues, such as following federal public education mandates while technically remaining private schools.
Many democrats see the recent rise of charter schools as an end run around mandates, but it doesn’t look like this is what’s playing out on the hill. Technically, a charter school is a publicly-funded school established in the community by teachers and parents. Community leaders also come together in order to create a charter school that operates under the terms of an official charter yet takes its cues from a local or national government authority.
Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, and others in the school-choice camp claim that enlarging the scope of educational opportunities is almost intrinsically a good thing. School choice includes tax credits and school vouchers in addition to the recent resurgence in popularity and funding going to charter schools.
Trump’s recent budget gives one billion dollars of new funds to these kinds of school-choice endeavors. At the same time, the new budget cuts nearly ten billion dollars from traditional public education in addition to social services affiliated with school districts, such as school-lunch programs.
Charter school advocates who met in Washington are – in spite of the rise in recent funding for charter schools – wondering how to reconcile their support of charter schools with aspects of Trump’s agenda they might disagree with. Jonah Edelman and other public school advocates made their voices heard too.