Nikhil Goyal is a prodigy who wrote his first book when he was
only a teenager in public high school. Happily, he uses his considerable skills
as a researcherto analyze the Trump
“billionaire wrecking crew”that is planning to tear down our
nation’s public schools.
Trump, a self-described billionaire, wants billionaire heiress Betsy DeVos to
take over the Department of Education. These two ultra-rich people have never
attended public schools. Nor have they sent their kids to them. Yet they will
likely accelerate the bipartisan dismantling of public education as we know it.
foundations, billionaires and Wall Street hedge fund managers have funneled
billions of dollars either directly into the education system or the political
process to influence policy. These groups are often staunch advocates of
pro-market policies such as charter schools and school vouchers, which allows
parents to send their kids to private schools using public money.
been described as “the four-star general of the voucher movement”…
the past two decades, as members of the ultra-wealthy rightwing DeVos family,
Betsy and her husband, Dick, have been discreetly using their immense fortune
to underwrite many of the major local and state crusades to privatize public
helped pass Michigan’s first charter school law, pushed a failed Michigan
school voucher referendum, helped get hundreds of pro-voucher and charter
candidates for public office elected, proliferated charters, weakened teachers
unions by advocating for right-to-work legislation in Michigan and warded off a
proposed Detroit charter oversight commission in a state where 80% are run for
profit with minimal accountability.
There are several flaws with vouchers. Their logic is based on
empowering the individual over the state, rather than making systemic changes
to funding, curriculum, assessment and teaching to achieve a high-quality,
humane and equitable public system for all. Vouchers also siphon funds away
from a cash-starved public system.
more, studies have shown that school choice experiments in Chile and Sweden
exacerbated existing inequalities.
If we are to improve educational outcomes
for all children, decades of research show that we must address the miserable
social and economic conditions that profoundly affect schools: poverty,
homelessness, inadequate healthcare, unsafe drinking water, food insecurity and
Reformers such as DeVos are not keen on the state redistributing
their wealth to cure those ills…
problem with this is that many charters are deeply segregated, push out
low-performing and misbehaving students, and have been accused of “financial
fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement” totaling more than $200m in a single
Moreover, the Obama administration preserved and expanded
Washington DC’s private school voucher program, which was originally launched
by former president George W Bush.
will find many allies across the aisle in Washington, from Senator Cory Booker
(who served on the board of the Alliance for School Choice, of which she was
chairman) to the Center for American Progress to Democrats for Education
At least she is forthright about gutting public education, as she wrote
in an editorial urging to abolish and replace Detroit’s public schools with a
free-market system, whereas Democrats hide behind the guise of “civil rights”
and “educational opportunity”.
the Obama years sowed the seeds for DeVos to finish the task. Without
well-organized resistance, it will happen.