Home > Uncategorized > Scathing Indictment of Betsy DeVos’s Cuts to Special Olympics Overlooks Even More Irresponsible Budget Line

Scathing Indictment of Betsy DeVos’s Cuts to Special Olympics Overlooks Even More Irresponsible Budget Line

April 2, 2019

Much ink was written over the past week about Betsy DeVos’ misguided recommendation to cut funding for the Special Olympics. She characterized it as a tough choice she “had to make”, a choice that was so reprehensible even President Trump was taken aback. His solution was to restore the money needed for that particular $18,000,000 cut. But at the same time, both the President and the Secretary of Education made no reference to the ADDITIONAL $60,000,000 earmarked for charter schools.

But Jeff Bryant and the Network for Public Education did their best to flag the additional funding requested and, most importantly, the dysfunctional schools who would benefit. In his blog post, “New Report Reveals How Charter Schools Have Scammed the US Government for up to $1,000,000,000— yes…. that’s BILLIONS of dollars, not MILLIONS of dollars. And how, exactly did the carters do this? By gaming loose regulations and revising laws in several states making it possible for charter schools to skim off millions and millions of dollars with no accountability to State Departments of Education or taxpayers. Here’s how Jeff Bryant summarizes the newest budget request and the lost dollars:

President Trump’s 2020 budget blueprint proposes increasing funding for the charter grant program by 13.6 percent, from $440 to $500 million, and education secretary Betsy DeVos praised this increase as a step forward for “education freedom.” But the report finds that increasing federal funds for this program would mostly continue to perpetuate academic fraud.

Of the schools awarded grants directly from the department between 2009 and 2016, nearly one in four either never opened or shut their doors. The federal program’s own analysis from 2006 to 2014 of its direct and state pass-through funded programs found that nearly one out of three awardees were not currently in operation by the end of 2015.

Since then, the federal program has continued to award charters with grant money, increasing the total amount awarded to over $4 billion. Should the department’s own 2015 study finding hold, that one in three of the schools awarded grants had closed, never opened, or were not yet opened, the likely amount of money scammed by bogus charter operators tops $1 billion. In California alone, the state with the most charter schools, the failure rate for federal grant-awarded charters was 39 percent. Of the 306 schools that received CSP money but are not open, 75 are “ghost” schools – that is, they received money but never began.

Bryant offers a host of examples of scams, but used many column inches to describe “an anatomy of a scam” in Delaware that was astonishing in its breadth and sheer audacity. He concludes his post with this:

There is only one way to deal with this blatant grift program for the charter school industry.

First, Congress must reject President Trump’s budget proposal for increasing funding for the charter school grant program. Then Congress must end funding for new charter grants coming from this program and demand thorough audits of previous grant awards and steps to ensure grant awards still under term are being responsibly carried out and that misspent money is returned.

And Congress also needs to consider the unintended consequences to districts caused by the unchecked expansion of charters. Resources are depleted for the students left behind, and public schools become more segregated and serve needier populations.

These are all good recommendations… but… as i am sure Mr. Bryant realizes, the federal government has handed off responsibility for accountability to states… and as long as states like Delaware are OK with the lack of accountability for charter schools they will continue to grift….

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