Presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren has unveiled a controversial education plan that promotes government-run schools over charter and private schools.
The $800 billion proposal supports the NAACP’s suggestions to ban for-profit charter schools, hold nonprofit charter schools to the same transparency and accountability standards as traditional public schools, and grant individual school districts (not states) the power to regulate and reject charter schools.
Warren also wants to quadruple Title 1 funding (currently at $15 billion), which goes to high-poverty schools, solve the problem of ‘chronic absenteeism’ without punishing parents or students, and send the IRS to find out if any nonprofit charters are serving for-profit interests.
“We have a responsibility to provide great neighborhood schools for every student,” reads the proposal. “We should stop the diversion of public dollars from traditional public schools through vouchers or tuition tax credits…We should fight back against the privatization, corporatization, and profiteering in our nation’s schools.
The proposal was celebrated by teachers’ unions (which have been on strike over pay, support staff, class size, and competition from charter schools), but widely criticized by parents.
According to a study published this month at the Annenberg Institute at Brown University, private and charter schools outperform public schools in virtually every metric – including satisfaction with teachers, discipline, academic standards, and student enjoyment.
The report, which supports findings from other studies on the same subject, took into account more than 200 variables including parent education, household income, and family engagement. The advantages of private and charter schools remained consistent despite grade performance and school choice.
Furthermore, the lottery system typically used by private schools was associated with an 18% increase in student satisfaction.
“The thing that’s stunning about this is she is sort of portraying herself in so many of her other policies as taking on a David and Goliath fight, standing against all the big forces that control the little guys,” says Amy Wilkins of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. “And with this she did a total flip and is lining herself up with the biggest donor to the Democratic Party – teachers unions – and kicking poor kids to the curb.”
What is a charter school?
Charter schools are educational alternatives to public schools created by corporations under the guidance of a local school district or university. Because they are independently operated, charter schools are not forced to follow the regulations imposed on traditional public schools and thus offer more flexibility for students.
In exchange, charter schools expect higher performance from students.
Charters schools are held accountable for the academic results and other promises outlined in their charters. If a charter school does not meet those goals, it may be closed. In situations where there are more students seeking to attend a charter school than the school has seats available, a lottery system is used to determine enrollment.
Author’s Note: Charter schools have worked wonders for parents and students throughout the United States. Take Broward County, FL, where, according to officials and teachers who work there, the availability of charter schools has resulted in the closure of very poor schools and the reorganization of others. The result is a better system overall, with better opportunities for students and parents.
Warren’s ‘no child left behind’ mentality also means that no children have the opportunity to get ahead and some children get a poor education. Forcing all schools and all students into the same learning environment is not the answer to education.