Friday, November 25, 2016

Quash the education monopoly

I said I probably wasn’t going to comment on every cabinet pick of the nasty guy’s new administration. But I want to comment on this one, not because it affects me personally, but because I see the damage already perpetuated locally. This horrible pick is Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education.

DeVos has been plenty active in Michigan pushing her charter school and school voucher programs. She hasn’t gotten far with vouchers (yet, but not for lack of effort). She has gotten quite a ways with charters. And in Michigan charters have a big problem – state law says nothing about their quality. A for-profit charter school can open and nothing will be done if the emphasis is on profit and not school. The proliferation of charters is a reason why the remnants of the Detroit Public Schools are in such a mess. DeVos made sure there are a lot of charter schools in Michigan. I don’t know how much she had to do with making sure there was no oversight. For-profit charter companies may have managed that on their own.

Charter schools exist because of the stupid GOP idea that education needs competition (and a way for someone to make a profit). Vouchers make the problem worse by making sure the money follows the student, which sucks money out of public schools and creates a death-spiral as students then leave those public schools. In addition, for-profit companies cut pay and seniority of teachers while preventing them from forming unions. Schools are one of those things that should not be privatized.

Melissa McEwen of ShareBlue adds a bit more. Charters and vouchers:
* Entrench the funding disparities between rich and poor school districts.
* Promote resegregation of schools, supporting white supremacy.
* Make refusing disabled students possible, as well as immigrants and the not-as-smart.

All a part of the nasty guy’s desire to “quash the ‘education monopoly.’”

In other horrible education news… Seven students in the Detroit Public Schools are suing the state because they believe they are getting a substandard education. They want the courts to rule that literacy is a fundamental constitutional right. A school system incapable of delivering access to literacy violates the civil rights of low-income students.

The latest reason for the DPS mess is the financial bailout that was intentionally underfunded. But DPS has been underfunded and a financial mess for at least two decades.

So, the lawsuit, in hopes of getting the state to adequately fund the schools. Gov. Rick Snyder is specifically named in the suit. His response: Students “have no fundamental right to literacy.”

I long ago figured out that while the GOP says education of everyone is a high priority their actions say otherwise. Unless the student is white and already not poor the GOP does not want them educated. When minorities are educated they just might challenge white supremacy.

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