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The Charter School Movement Is Imploding. What Comes Next May Be Worse

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For too long,” Trump declared in his State of the Union address on February 4, “countless American children have been trapped in failing government schools.”

Trump, to shore up his point, introduced two guests in the audience: Stephanie Davis, a black single mom from Philadelphia, and her fourth-grade daughter, Janiyah, who the President said was on a waitlist in Pennsylvania's voucher program. Trump then revealed that one of these voucher had magically “become available” for Janiyah.

It turns out that none of this was quite true.

First, federal officials—Trump, included—do not have the power to issue a school voucher for a child in Pennsylvania or any other state. Janiyah was only able to skip a waiting list more than 40,000 applicants for a voucher because of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who promised to personally fund her tuition for an indefinite number of years.

Second, Trump called Janiyah’s school a “government school”—the term privatization advocates use when they refer to public schools. But, as The Philadelphia Inquirer reported, she wasn’t enrolled in a public school. She was attending a charter school, which are often privately managed and, though run on public funds, not truly public.

And finally, Trump blamed Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf for thwarting the girl’s admission into a private, voucher-supported school. He claimed that Wolf recently vetoed a bill to expand the state’s voucher program, but that’s not the whole picture.

While Wolf did veto an expansion bill, he also passed a budget that expanded the voucher program and provided larger tax breaks for low-income families who are eligible to apply.

Trump, in his State of Union speech, also proposed a $5 billion Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act, something Education Secretary Betsy DeVos supports and Republican lawmakers first introduced.

The proposed legislation would allow states to give tax credits to individuals and corporations for the cost parents incur when they choose to send their kids to private schools or opt for homeschooling.

Similar tax-credit programs were already set up in eighteen states, as a workaround to provisions in state constitutions that forbid........

© Common Dreams