It’s Only Money…

There have been some truly jaw-dropping revelations coming from recent Congressional hearings–but most have been overshadowed by the continuing dramas of Trump’s refusal to produce documents demanded by Congress and Barr’s evident fabrications about the Mueller Report.

This one is particularly maddening, if only because allowing clueless Betsy DeVos to run anything–let alone the Department of Education–is infuriating.

In this article in Common Dreams, Jeff Bryant offers one particular example of DeVos’ overwhelming incapacity:

During a series of recent congressional hearings in Washington, D.C., U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos had to respond to a recent report finding the U.S. Department of Education has been scammed for hundreds of millions of dollars by fraudulent or mismanaged charter schools. Her responses reveal not only her inability to counter legitimate concerns over the spread of charter schools but also the charter school industry’s resistance to honestly address a chronic problem with its schools.

The report, which I co-authored with Network for Public Education Executive Director Carol Burris, found that up to $1 billion awarded by the federal government’s Charter Schools Program (CSP) went to charter schools that never opened or opened for only brief periods before being shut down for mismanagement, poor performance, lack of enrollment, and fraud. Our calculation was that a least a third of the $4.1 billion spent by the CSP was wasted.

Members of Congress repeatedly referred to these findings when questioning the secretary’s management of charter school grants and her proposal to increase funding for the program to $500 million annually. In response, DeVos first attempted to deny the problem, saying, “You are always going to have schools that don’t make it.”

When her “some schools won’t make it” excuse didn’t seem to convince those doing the questioning, DeVos insisted that the country needs “more charter schools, not less.” And when she was unable to explain her department’s obvious inability to properly monitor the charter grant program, she attacked the authors of the report, claiming that they had a “political agenda.” (She was also unable to provide any evidence that their conclusions were inaccurate.)

Following the hearing at which the monetary losses were explored, the Network for Public Education wrote an open letter to DeVos, in which they pointed out that 250 charter schools in DeVos home state of Michigan had received grant money between 2006 and 2014, and that 109 of those–or 42%–had either closed or never opened, wasting more than $20 million dollars. Despite this abysmal result,  DeVos’ DOE gave Michigan $47,222,222 in 2018 for the express purpose of starting up or expanding charters.

It isn’t only Michigan.

In Ohio, of the roughly 290 charter schools that received federal grants from the CSP during the same time period, 117 schools, 40 percent, also never opened or are now closed. The amount of waste to taxpayers totals $35,926,693.

In Louisiana, 51 of the 110 charter schools, 46 percent, that received funding through the CSP failed.

In California, of the more than 780 charter schools that received grant funds, 297 schools, 38 percent, closed or never opened, resulting in $103,467,332 in wasted education funds.

In Florida, of the some 500 schools getting federal grants, 184 schools, 36 percent, never opened or closed, representing a loss of $34,781,736 in lost federal tax dollars.

It is only fair to point out that this is not evidence that charter schools are all substandard or fraudulent. There are plenty of perfectly good charters, just as there are (propaganda to the contrary) plenty of perfectly good public schools. The data tends to show that overall, charters (which are public schools) perform pretty much the way traditional public schools perform.

Private schools that accept vouchers are another matter.

What this situation does unequivocally demonstrate is that, under Betsy DeVos, the Department of Education has abandoned oversight, thanks largely to her cozy relationship with for-profit “educators” and her fixation on privatizing  public education.

Under DeVos, DOE is wasting billions of dollars that could be used to actually improve public education.

Her protector and fellow ideologue, Mike Pence, must be so proud…..

 

16 thoughts on “It’s Only Money…

  1. You’d think the Secretary of Education would know the difference in usage between “less” and “fewer”. You’d also think she’d know those numbers and have a better response than, “shit happens”.

  2. Resign, Betsy. Go home. We can’t afford you, nor can we entrust you with the education of our young. Go back to Amway and/or retire, and tell your brother to give up his privatization of wars and clandestine meetings with Russians on remote islands on behalf of Trump. Goodbye!

  3. This isn’t a bug, it’s a feature. DeVos and her buddies profit handsomely from “charter school” scams looting the public treasury.

  4. What do you expect of the Scamway queen, sister of the founder of Psychopaths for Hire? Grifters, all of them.

  5. Over it; I am with you 100% today. In this situation “it’s only money” for the DeVos and Prince element; millions of dollars represents only pocket change. “Damn education; full speed ahead” on emptying public education tax funds.

  6. Obviously, money was unable to buy her a good education or a even a brain.

    This actually smacks of the current scandal of wealthy people paying to get their kids into elite universities, knowing that they couldn’t possibly get into any college or university on their own merit.

    Betsy Devos is the poster child for benefiting from parents’ money. Her donations with inherited money is how she bought her cabinet position.

  7. Yesterday, Gerald wrote about far-right leaders, “…could destroy NATO and literally invite Putin to a new round of annexations to the west of his present borders.”

    Let’s not be reactionary like the far-right we claim to react so today. The West (USA & UK) used NATO to expand their borders or annex countries to Eastern edges of Russia despite Senior Bush’s promise of, “Not one inch east of this wall…”.

    How many military bases do we have now along Russia’s border? We’ve been the aggressor and hid behind NATO.

    Like NATO, “Charter Schools” are a fraud. The rules, laws, and policies written for charters were two steal money, segregate schools and pleasure the religious schools. Oh, and inflict damage against the teacher’s union.

    I’d say they were very successful at their mission. And because of poor leadership (intentional) at the teachers’ unions, they’ve done very little to rally the masses. The unions must expand and go beyond their membership. Telling non-union workers with shit benefits to pay more for teachers so they can receive higher pay and secure retirement is a flawed strategy. It’s built a quiet animosity toward teachers and their unions.

    I’m convinced that this flawed leadership is intentional.

    ALL WORKERS must be UNITED or lose to Capitalists. What would happen to the USA if fast food workers struck for a week in solidarity with ALL workers? Retail workers? Social workers?

    The USA is a great country which thinks SMALL.

  8. What happened? In some classrooms the children are learning, at least, the difference between “your” and “you’re”, “gone” and “went”.

  9. Let me just quote that great American, Forrest Gump: “Stupid is as stupid does.”

  10. Betsy DeVos is a pirate. Her whole Prince family are pirates. They steal from the poor AND the rich to give to the already rich. This is typical of Republican graft and corruption. To her, what she does – or doesn’t do – is NORMAL. She was raised to be a grifter. Betsy DeVos is the perfect hire for Donald Trump, the king of grifters. Charter schools have ALWAYS been a scam. Vouchers have ALWAYS been a grift.

    Once again, Republicans show what they’re made of (bullshit) and who their constituents are (the rich trying to get richer). They must all go.

  11. I would agree with Todd’s Statement:
    “Like NATO, “Charter Schools” are a fraud. The rules, laws, and policies written for charters were two steal money, segregate schools and pleasure the religious schools. Oh, and inflict damage against the teacher’s union.”

    The so-called “Party of the People” – The Democratic Party has went along with the Steroid Capitalists of Charter and Theocratic Voucher Schools. It is difficult to find any light between the Republican Party and the Corporate Wing of the Democratic Party, when it comes to Wall Street.

    DeVos, has taken this Charter and Voucher Schools to new level.

  12. Betsy Devos is incapable of knowing a good charter school from a bad one OR of learning from past errors. She’s also robbing good charter schools so that her fellow privatizers can feed more voraciously at the public trough without accountability or consequence.

    All her adult life she’s passed out her money to get her way politically. Now she’s passing out OUR money. PLEASE send her back to Michigan.

  13. At our best with every step forward, we take one back in Government action but witnessing the serious simultaneous failures of our entire democratic system is disheartening, to say the least.

    It isn’t just education.

  14. And just how is it that capitalism (most charter schools are intended to show a profit) is supposed to contribute to successful education outcomes? For over 200 years the U.S. education system was largely publicly funded and relatively successful. Capitalism’s greatness lies in its recognition that most people are driven by greed. It’s weakness lies in believing that anything public money can accomplish, private money can do better. That’s not a thought, but an ideology.

    Betsy DeVos is accomplishing precisely what her boss directed – find ways to turn public money over to private enterprises after vetting their loyalty. Her ignorance is not an impediment, but an asset in serving this president. She shows her personal loyalty by re-assuring her boss that he is not as stupid as he feels. She must be one of the few people Trump genuinely feels superior to in conversation.

    By tallying only the charter school funds that succeed on some level and ignoring the failures, DeVos has invented a phony accounting system that, to some people, make it appear that she is not entirely clueless. But anyone who examines the facts know better.

  15. In a cabinet rife with incompetence and corruption Betsy still manages to stand out as the Queen. She is capable of only one thought and that is that wealth is now a qualification for full citizenship here and those without it just don’t deserve our government. “We the people” is a dead concept in her simple mind. She is recreating a medieval aristocracy of lords and ladies and serfs who serve them and how much education does it take to be a serf?

    Trump and his entire cabinet will be the laughing stock of the world for a long, long time but Betsy will be the finest example.

  16. past journalists have also,questuoned this,a long with EPI.org. robert reich and others. we still need to have those accountable,accountable,instead of bush beating,shoe dragging on going BS. try,and convict. dereliction of duty should be s key note in any congressional actions, either in congress,or its investigations..and we are tired of the lying. we neeb a appropriate meeting,in public, whereas the ones who devise a plan to spend money,that goes elsewhere,and why in the age of information,and such info isnt readily available when needed???? a public, questioning,of those involved,in a town hall setting with the tax payer, presiding. any attempt to take up time, by those questioned, should be held in contempt. answer the damn question,under oath. is this to far to ask? we need accountability NOW. mcconnells mob needs a sit down and ask where they intend to take social security and health insurence of any type, and tell the Americans, where and what their plan is,and how much… is this too much? being news people and commitee types seem to get thier way,questioning the pundits,, its time we the people, got our way…democracy, or nothing. gloves off, Bernie, gloves off bud… best wishes.

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