While public schools across the nation are severely impacted by COVID-19, it is revealed that the Department of Education might be taking this opportunity to expand charter schools and further privatize education, according to the Independent Media Institute.
School districts have reported problems with transitioning to online education, due to issues with internet connection and devices. At the same time, charter operators have carried out marketing campaigns to attract families with “school choice,” branding charter schools as the opportunity for parents and children to opt out of public schools.
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos supported this narrative. In an interview she said, “This is an opportunity to collectively look very seriously at the fact that K-12 education for too long has been very static and very stuck in one method of delivering and making instruction available.”
On March 27, DeVos urged Congress to offer “microgrants” to help “the most disadvantaged students,” a move that National Education Association president Lily Eskelsen Garcia perceived as “being in sync with her longtime advocacy for school vouchers,” according to the report.
DeVos then granted more than $200 million in federal aid to help 13 charter school management companies expand.
Moreover, when Congress and the White House announced $13.5 billion emergency aid to public schools in late March, DeVos demanded the funds to also be distributed to charter schools.
In a letter to governors, Devos emphasized that the grants were to support “schools (including charter schools and non-public schools).”
“Charters claim to be ‘public schools’ when that’s where the money is,” education historian Diane Ravitch said. “But when the money is available for small businesses, they claim to be small businesses.”