I have said it before and I will say it again. Betsy DeVos is the most effective weapon against corporate reform, because she activates resistance and personifies noblesse oblige.

Former New Orleans charter leader Andre Perry has become a thoughtful critic of charters, and he points out that DeVos has become a major cause of a widespread charter backlash. 

As Perry puts it, Betsy Devos’s support of charter schools “spells disaster for their Democrat backers.” How can charters be, as their billionaire supporters say, “the civil rights issue of our time” when DeVos and every Red State governor supports them?

The fact that she wanted to cut the Special Olympics by $18 million at the same time she proposed to increase charter school funding by $60 million sent a loud message about what matters to her. Choice above all else.

The teacher strikes in many states specifically protested the introduction or expansion of charters because they drain money from public schools. In Los Angeles, striking teachers demanded a moratorium on new charters, and the state is now considering legislation to rein in the voracious industry.

In Milwaukee, a slate backed by the Working Families Party and the teachers’ union swept to victory in a recent election.

The drumbeat of scandal and failure haunts the charter industry, and DeVos’s warm embrace is a flashing danger sign.

Perry notes that charter teachers tend to be less diverse than those in public schools.

The price of “reform,” he writes, is steep:

As a former charter leader in New Orleans myself, I’ve seen black and brown communities have to make trade-offs like losing political control, teaching positions, and funding in the name of educational reform. If people of color don’t realize direct economic, political, and educational benefits, then it’s not real reform. Consequently, we need reforms that empower people, districts, and students on the way to educational progress—and hiring and retaining people of color should be an explicit focus of reform.

Should communities of color be required to lose political control and teaching positions in exchange for charters, which may or may not survive, and may or may not get higher scores than the public schools they replaced?