Carol Burris, a veteran educator and now executive director of the Network for Public Education, has conducted extensive research into the federal Charter Schools Program (CSP), which resulted in a report called Asleep at the Wheel. That report documented the waste of about $1 billion in federal funds spent on charters that either never opened or that opened and then closed in short order. At the time the CSP was created by the Clinton administration, there were fewer than 100 charters; the new program was supposed to help start-up charters. However, since Betsy DeVos became Secretary of Education, she has used the CSP as her personal slush fund, lavishing million on established corporate charter chains–especially IDEA and KIPP.

In this post, which appeared on Valerie Strauss’s Answer Sheet blog at the Washington Post, Burris describes the outraged reaction of the charter advocacy groups to Elizabeth Warren’s plan to end the federal CSP. She details that each of the major charter groups has received many millions of dollars from the federal government, in addition to the support they have received from billionaires, foundations, and Wall Street. They are angry that their federal money might be cut off.

Strauss invited charter advocates to respond, and she includes their responses in the post. They want the money, they all said, because it is all about the kids.


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  1. SomeDAM Poet says:

    The Center for Education Reform obviously does not get irony

    “Yesterday she [Warren] released a plan filled with failed policies of the past that puts narrow special interests over parents’ rights and student’s opportunities to succeed.”
    They also don’t understand redundancy. It’s redundant to say “failed policies of the past”. Is there such a thing as a failed policy of the future?

  2. “A report that detailed up to $1 billion in wasted federal funds on bad charter schools may have underestimated the problem.”

    Warren is on the right track. How about stopping the waste of money in charter fraud and put money into Medicare for All? I can hear screams of ‘socialism’ and destruction of our democracy if everyone has health insurance.

    The GOP is considering another tax cut. The deficit has risen fast enough.

    Elizabeth Warren Releases Plan to Pay for ‘Medicare for All’
    Nov. 1, 2019

    Ms. Warren would impose huge tax increases on businesses and billionaires to provide free health coverage for all Americans, but she says she would not raise taxes on the middle class.

    Under Ms. Warren’s plan, employer-sponsored health insurance — which more than half of Americans now receive — would be eliminated and replaced by free government health coverage for all Americans, a fundamental shift from a market-driven system that has defined health care in the United States for decades but produced vast inequities in quality, service and cost.

    Ms. Warren would pay for the $20.5 trillion in new federal spending through a mix of sources, including by requiring employers to pay trillions of dollars to the government, replacing much of what they currently spend to provide health coverage to workers. She would create a tax on financial transactions like stock trades, change how investment gains are taxed for the top 1 percent of households and ramp up her signature wealth tax proposal to be steeper on billionaires. She is also counting on savings from cuts to military spending…

    • Warren:

      …In 2007, my research found that the number one reason families were going broke was health care — and three quarters of those who declared bankruptcy after an illness were people who already had health insurance.

      Between 2013 and 2016, the number one reason families went broke was still because of health care — even though 91.2% of Americans had health insurance in 2016.

      It’s clear: Families are getting crushed by health costs. But you know who’s doing great? Private health insurance companies — they’re sucking billions of dollars in profits out of the system.

      Under Medicare for All, we’ll rein in the corruption, waste, inefficiency, and corporate profiteering in our health care system.

      And we can pay for it without any new taxes for middle-class families. Existing federal and state spending on health care stays about the same. Business spending on health care stays about the same — payments just go to Medicare instead of private insurers. And yeah, big corporations, Wall Street, and the top 1% pay their fair share.

      Everyone’s covered, it’s fully paid for, and independent economists have verified that it’s doable. This is how we end the stranglehold of health care costs on American families and provide one of the greatest federal expansions of middle-class wealth in history.

  3. Joe Jersey says:

    This country has been captured by the noxious, toxic and hideous ideology of the far right wing/libertarian/tea party privatizers and public school haters. To them, public schools are socialism and statism. In their twisted view, it’s so much better to run schools based on free market principles in which a few can become filthy rich off of the education of the children. They will not be happy until they have destroyed all public schools which they sneeringly refer to as government schools.
    Universal health care? Are you joking, that would be communism/socialism, can’t have that in the USA. In the meantime, all the other wealthy free democratic countries have universal health care at lower cost and with cheaper medications.
    The only way out is to vote Democratic in 2020, even Biden is better than Trump (though I hope Bernie or Warren come out on top).

  4. Jon Awbrey says:

    Capitalism has an end game — it applies across the board on all the fronts we are watching today where corporations and their political minions are raiding and eroding the public sphere.

    The name of the game is CATBOT —
    Corporations Acquiring The Power Of Taxation

    The one thing capitalist envy about democratic government is the power to tax. They can’t get that power directly, just yet, so what they do is purchase politicians to give them the power by proxy.

  5. retired teacher says:

    The charter school movement has morphed into a gigantic barrel of pork that has little to do with educational improvement. The charter lobby behaves as it is entitled to collect our public funds to feather their own nests. Despite their claims of excellence, there remains not a shred of legitimate evidence that shows that privatization is worth all the disruption. In fact, what is mostly shows is a disregard for the democratic rights particularly for children of color. Targeting and funneling minority students into separate and unequal school is no solution for our divided nation. We should not allow our public funds to be used to enhance segregation. Our public schools are part of the public trust, and they require our support and investment in order to do their best work. Privatization has been a harmful distraction that has undermined our public schools and wasted our resources on a failed experiment.

  6. I think there is something in the drinking water in Kentucky. McConnell and support for Trump has to come from somewhere. Surely people aren’t this stupid.
    A new Washington Post-ABC News poll, out this morning, finds that 49 percent of Americans say the president should be impeached and removed from office, while 47 percent say he should not. The split is starkly partisan: 82 percent of Democrats support impeachment; 82 percent of Republicans oppose it. Independents are about evenly divided: 47 percent favor removal, 49 percent oppose it.

    — It’s a very different story in Kentucky. The most recent public poll, conducted by Mason-Dixon, shows that two-thirds of registered voters oppose impeachment. The survey shows Bevin tied with his Democratic challenger, Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear, at 46 percent. Trump’s approval rating is 57 percent. Bevin’s support among Republicans has increased from 67 percent to 77 percent since the previous Mason-Dixon survey. The firm attributes this to the impeachment inquiry, which its pollsters say is having the same rally-around-the-flag effect that Brett Kavanaugh’s contentious confirmation battle last year had before the midterms in other ruby-red states.

    • Linda says:

      McConnell learned tribalism well, in a session at the Neo-liberal Kennedy school of government (harvard)- a session taught by a GOP Kentucky lawyer. Add in the vast wealth paying for Bevin’s run for the state’s governorship which reinforces the GOP messaging on Fox.

  7. Chiara says:

    No one in ed reform had anything to say about the vast majority of the plan, which applies to PUBLIC schools.

    Only the charter piece was analyzed, because all they care about is that part.

    Amazing that they get away with insisting they work in “education”. They work for charter schools and vouchers. They provide absolutely no value to any public school or public school student.

    We are apparently forbidden to have a debate about public education in this country unless it is limited to how we can best support, promote and market charters and private school vouchers. 90% of students and families have simply disappeared, relegated to being dismissed as “government schools” and therefore not worthy of effort or interest.

    It’s complete capture. You can’t pay them to lift a finger on behalf of students in public schools- we know this because we are paying thousands of them in government and they return no value at all to the vast, vast majority of schools that are not charter schools or voucher schools.

  8. Laura H. Chapman says:

    “Senator Warren’s plan to starve charter schools of funding would destroy the dreams of a quality education for the families who need it most. ”
    Stop the whiny BS.

    The charter industry is flush with the wealth of billionaires. It is now threatened with the prospect of not feeding at the public trough?
    Charter schools funded by ten-yacht DeVos are not garanteed to be of high quality. Charter schools choose the families and students they want (and find profitable enough to pay CEO’s up to $500,000).

  9. bkendall527 says:

    Interesting, Thanks for the post.

  10. The Hill is also putting its forces against Warren. I find that whenever I post a thought, I quite often get attacked by someone on the FAR right. Some of the comments are as dirty as Trump’s brain.

    Democrats give Warren’s ‘Medicare for All’ plan the cold shoulder
    Senate Democrats are distancing themselves from Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) “Medicare for All” plan, casting doubt on whether it could pass even if she does win the presidency.

    Warren rolled out her proposal for Medicare for All last week, instantly fanning the flames of a raging debate among the Democratic presidential contenders over the idea.

    But even if Warren wins the presidency and Democrats take back the Senate next year, her proposal would still face long odds of actually being enacted given objections among many senators of her own party.
    Read the full story here

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