Even charter school professionals loathe Betsy DeVos
This was not supposed to happen – Donald and his crack team of geniuses never saw this coming.
The opposition has come from some expected sources: well-funded progressive groups, teachers’ unions and the Democratic Party itself, as well as from grass-roots local parents’ and teachers’ organizations.
But as clamorous as these protests have become, Ms. DeVos is also imperiled by a lack of support from constituencies that a Republican nominee might normally count on.
As a philanthropist and an advocate, she has fought not only for the expansion of the charter school sector — a bipartisan cause — but also for school vouchers, which can allow students to carry taxpayer dollars to private schools, for-profit schools, religious schools and online schools.
Nationwide, most charter schools, including those in the best-known networks, like the KIPP schools, are nonprofit. But the opposite is true in Ms. DeVos’s home state, Michigan, where she has wielded great influence over education policy and beat back efforts to increase oversight of charter schools in Detroit.
Research suggests that traditional public schools and nonprofit charter schools generally outperform for-profit charters and private schools that accept vouchers, and some organizations representing nonprofit charter schools have come out against Ms. DeVos. The Massachusetts Charter Public School Association wrote a letter to Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat, last month saying that it was “deeply concerned that efforts to grow school choice without a rigorous accountability system will reduce the quality of charter schools across the country.”
On Wednesday, the philanthropist Eli Broad, a leading funder of nonprofit charter schools, wrote to Senators Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican majority leader, and Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic minority leader, opposing Ms. DeVos’s confirmation.
“Before Mrs. DeVos’s hearing, I had serious concerns about her support for unregulated charter schools and vouchers as well as the potential conflicts of interest she might bring to the job,” Mr. Broad wrote, possibly alluding to investments she has made in education-related companies. “Her testimony not only reinforced my concerns but also added to them.”
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