Home > Uncategorized > Dog Training School, Management School that “Is Not A Cult”, Scads of Private, Religious K-12 Schools Funneled Federal $$$

Dog Training School, Management School that “Is Not A Cult”, Scads of Private, Religious K-12 Schools Funneled Federal $$$

May 16, 2020

It comes as no surprise to anyone who has followed Betsy DeVos and the GOP’s shenanigans in the way they wrote brand executive discretion and no oversight into the stimulus bill to find that she has funneled huge sums of federal money to disreputable for profit schools and established mechanisms for parents to use public funds to “choose” to send their children to parochial schools. It comes as no surprise… but it is still disgraceful and antithetical to the mission of public education which should be the primary mission of the United States Department of Education. Here are some choice “highlights” from Erica Green’s NYTimes article describing DeVos’ decisions:

Ms. DeVos has used $180 million of those dollars to encourage states to create “microgrants” that parents of elementary and secondary school students can use to pay for educational services, including private school tuition. She has directed school districts to share millions of dollars designated for low-income students with wealthy private schools.

And she has nearly depleted the 2.5 percent of higher education funding, about $350 million, set aside for struggling colleges to bolster small colleges — many of them private, religious or on the margins of higher education — regardless of need. The Wright Graduate University for the Realization of Human Potential, a private college in Wisconsin that has a website debunking claims that it is a cult, was allocated about $495,000. All of the colleges could apply for the funds or reject them, and Wright officials said the school did not claim the funds.

Bergin University of Canine Studies in California said its $472,850 allocation was a “godsend.”

“I think we are one of the most important educational institutions out there right now,” said its founder, Bonnie Bergin, who is credited with inventing the service dog.

The article describes guidances written by the USDOE that have the effect of taking money away from high poverty public school districts and channeling them to private and parochial schools. But if such earmarking of funds for poor children is bad, Ms. DeVos’ decision to create “competition” for other funds designed to assist public schools is even worse, as these paragraphs describe:

A competition announced by Ms. DeVos in which states can vie for tens of millions of dollars either to create statewide virtual schools or offer “microgrants” is also drawing fire for mirroring voucher programs that help parents pay for services outside the public school system. The program also stands to benefit virtual education companies that Ms. DeVos has personally invested in.

Representative Robert C. Scott of Virginia, the chairman of the House education committee, said the competition’s point system was weighted in favor of rural areas and voucher-friendly states, rather than those most affected by the coronavirus.

“This program design is indistinguishable from a standard voucher scheme and is the latest attempt by this department to promote privatization initiatives against both the wishes of the American people, and the intent of Congress,”he wrote to Ms. DeVos.

Everyone (including me, I must confess) wants to use the crisis as an opportunity to implement their desired direction for public education. My preferred direction is to provide equitable funding for all children, which would necessarily require more funds for districts serving children raised in poverty. I also prefer a direction that increases the governments oversight of funding and the auditing of school performance using something other than standardized tests. Ms. DeVos, on the other hand, views schools as a commodity that should operate based on the rules of the marketplace.

And here is the bottom line: in electing Donald Trump we have chosen the marketplace over government, Social Darwinism over Safety Nets, politics over science, and plutocracy over democracy. We have a choice facing us again in November. Let’s hope we voters can see the downside of the choices they made in 2016.

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