Home > Uncategorized > Elizabeth Warren’s Charter Funding Cuts Misrepresented

Elizabeth Warren’s Charter Funding Cuts Misrepresented

November 26, 2019

Unsurprisingly yet maddeningly the mainstream press continues to misrepresent Elizabeth Warren’s proposal to cut federal funding for charter schools, a misrepresentation that is at best unwittingly misleading and at worst intentionally so. A recent article by Carol Burris and Kevin Welner that was reprinted in Valerie Strauss’ Washington Post column explains how the plan has been presented incorrectly:

…The commentary (of those who oppose Warren’s plan) hinges on this claim: that Warren’s “education platform includes eliminating federal funding for charter schools.” In reality, Warren’s plan would greatly increase the federal funding provided to…charter and public schools.

To understand why, consider two other elements of Warren’s education plan. First, she proposes quadrupling Title I funding so that it rises to levels that have long been pledged by Washington politicians but never reached. Secondly, and similarly, she would more than double federal funding for students with special needs served under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) — again aiming for levels long promised but never fulfilled.

Both Mr. Welner and Ms. Burris have done extensive research on the charter schools that benefitted from federal funding and each independently came to the same conclusion: over $1,000,000,000 of the $4,000,000,000+ went to charter schools that never opened and a lion’s share of the money went to charter chains:

The federal Charter Schools Program, which began as a modest experiment in 1995, has turned into a cash cow for a number of organizations that lobby on behalf of charter schools, for real estate developers through its facilities program, and for the huge multimillion dollar charter chains that are constantly seeking to expand.

Warren’s proposal is to stop this waste while also providing greater support to all schools, both public and charter, as they do their best to provide learning opportunities to students in real need.

In short, Ms. Warren seeks to redirect public funds to public institutions and eliminate the middleman: the profiteers who seek to increase revenues by cutting costs and limiting compensation for workers. Such ideas fly in the face of what passes for conventional wisdom– that businesses operate more efficiently than public institutions— in this case “government schools”– and the market place can best sort out winners and losers. Changing THAT paradigm seems to be every bit as difficult as changing the paradigm that students must be batched by age cohorts and tested annually to ensure that they are making progress. Our schools will never improve as long as those paradigms remain in place.

%d bloggers like this: