Today, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos testified before the House Appropriations subcommittee on the Education Department’s budget request for fiscal year 2020. As a weapon to combat the administration’s request for a $60 million budget increase to the federal Charter Schools Program, the Network for Public Education, a partisan group funded by special interests, released a one-sided “report” with false claims about how federal dollars fund public charter schools.
Many of the “facts” included in the report are not taken from official sources but are instead unverified and extracted from other publications made by anti-charter organizations. Contrary to report findings, there is no data or accompanying analysis to support that one billion federal dollars has been wasted on charter schools. Furthermore, the database that the report alleges to rely on from the U.S. Department of Education does not account for charter school consolidations or conversions to different charter management organizations. Any failing public school wastes tax payer dollars and fails students by providing them with a substandard education.
Since the very beginning, the charter school sector has welcomed local, state, and federal oversight. In fact, this agreement—autonomy in exchange for accountability—is central to the public charter school model. To serve students well, these schools must meet the terms of their charter or be closed. Therefore, to attack charter schools for closing their doors is to fundamentally misunderstand the mission of charter schools to put the needs of students first. The National Alliance’s model charter school law provides states with model policy on charter school closures.
The National Alliance’s senior vice president of advocacy, Amy Wilkins, released the following statement:
“There are five million students across the US who want to attend a charter school but cannot because there isn’t one available to them. These students’ futures are put at risk when false reports are not only published but used as fact in some of our nation’s highest government hearings.
We hope that Congress recognizes this report for what it is: a one-sided, blatantly biased piece that fails to take basic facts into account. Now more than ever it is critical for Congress to support the Charter Schools Program, which provides essential public-school options to millions of families across the U.S. Public charter schools’ achievement outcomes, validated by Stanford CREDO studies, demonstrate the enormous academic impact charter schools have on our nation’s students, especially low-income students and students of color.”