Charter school advocates were overjoyed by the level of focus given to the provision of more educational choices by the Trump administration. Both President Trump and the Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos showed a lot of commitment to the objective. This comes at a time when the number of charter schools is rising steadily. Almost 3,000 charter schools are reportedly enrolling up to 3 million students across the country.
However, the endorsement of charter schools by DeVos and Trump is creating friction between traditional allies. In addition, it is threatening to undermine the bipartisan support received by the schools for many decades.
The president of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, Nina Rees has raised concerns about the Trump administration’s policies saying they have put the community on the spot. The frank comments came ahead of the National Alliance’s annual conference in Washington, D.C.
As discussed in an article from EdSource, Ms. Rees further stated that the problem arises from the proposed $168 million increase in funding for the Charter Schools Program. The boost augments the current level of $333 million while reducing funding for other education programs. The majority of funds in the charter program coffers are used to assist new schools start operating.
According to reports, Trump is also proposing an additional $1 billion to the Title 1 program. The facility is designed for low-income students. It enables parents to enroll their children to any public school they prefer, including charter schools.
The downside to these proposals is that federal education programs will be faced with massive funding cuts. Trump’s budget will take away up to $9.2 billion from the current level of $68 billion from the K-12 program. Nina Rees likened the proposed budget reductions to watering a plant in a dark room. She says the other education programs play a vital role in the system by helping students.
She also touched on other contentious policies proposed by the current administration. Rees berated the harsh immigration enforcement policies, which are affecting a significant number of students enrolled in charter schools. The issue has attracted condemnation from teachers, students, school leaders and parents.
One of her biggest concerns entails the decades-long bipartisan coalition. She feels that friction created by the budget cuts could fracture the coalition. Democratic supporters are expected to find it difficult supporting Trump’s proposed increase in funding for charter schools. The idea of accepting these proposals at the expense of vital education programs is simply not practical.
Rees says the democratic supporters are opposed to various other policies proposed by the Trump administration. They are not willing to be associated with administration’s widely criticized agenda.
Meanwhile, she says Republicans may be willing to undermine federal education programs with the aim to reduce federal control of education. Also, they are likely to promote tuition subsidies for religious and private schools, which are opposed by the majority of Democrats. On the other hand, she noted that charter advocates can accept Trump proposed funding increase. However, this does not mean they endorse the president’s entire agenda, which is a bit of a mixed bag.
Rees said ignoring the impact of a big increase would be irresponsible, particularly at the federal level. She said doing so is akin to putting the interest of political activists and adults ahead of the needs of education programs.