In one of his made-for-reality-TV moves, Trump highlighted a Philadelphia girl whose future he claimed had been damaged by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s veto of an education privatization bill, and announced that she would now be given a voucher for use in private education. In refusing to expand that program, Wolf noted that it “lacks proper accountability and oversight, and little is known about the educational outcomes of students participating in the program due to a reporting loophole in the current law.” In contrast to the lack of “fairness and accountability” in the privatization program, Wolf said, “We have an accountable public education system in place that is underfunded. I have and I will continue to fight to fully fund Pennsylvania’s public schools.” But that’s not what Trump and Betsy DeVos, his education secretary, want.
Voucher programs give families money to send their kids to private schools that in many cases don’t perform as well as public schools—or that, as Wolf pointed out, operate without accountability or oversight such that we simply don’t know how they perform, even as 18 states pour public money into them.
“They do not answer to a locally elected school board. They do not have to follow laws protecting students with disabilities. They do not have to follow the same stringent reporting and hiring requirements as public schools,” said Heather DuBois Bourenane of the Wisconsin Public Education Network, describing her state’s voucher schools. “They can use curriculum that is religious, unvetted and unscientific. They can—and frequently do—‘counsel out’ students who do not meet expectations, distorting the data on their performance and creating unfunded cost burdens for local public schools. This is unethical and we know it is wrong.”
Yes, and it’s what Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos want to turn the entire U.S. educational system into.
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