A recently released annual update from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools included a surprising fact: a mere 329 charter schools opened across the country in the 2016-2017 school year. In no year since the Alliance began tracking new charter openings has the total number of new schools been so low.
The newly confirmed education secretary Betsy DeVos has been a very controversial nominee. Many have raised serious concerns about her experience and views. Given the intensity of the debate, it will take time before education reformers who opposed her can contemplate working with her. But it will eventually need to happen.
It’s hard to know for sure from just one hearing, but DeVos has said that she:
In some of the cities known as ground zero for noisy fights about charter schools, quiet partnerships are underway between district and charter leaders. In New York City and Newark, district educators are meeting with their charter school counterparts to share successful teaching strategies. In Chicago, charter and district leaders have worked out ways to use the same performance standards and to share facilities. In Philadelphia, charter schools are actively engaged with the district to turn around low-performing schools in specific neighborhoods.
Donald Trump’s voters in rural areas and small towns made a point: they were left behind while a lot of the country made economic progress and they want that to change.
It doesn’t matter whether you consider these voters adorable or deplorable. They have expressed a grievance in the most democratic of ways—through their votes. It’s well founded and legitimate, and we must now figure out an effective response.
Polarization was the theme of 2016, and we’d be kidding ourselves to think that will be much different in 2017. Still, there has rarely been more need for new ideas that people can begin to come together around, especially in education. Here are six to start us off. What are yours?
With Donald Trump’s recent nomination of Betsy DeVos for secretary of education, people in the education world have picked sides faster than in a Super Bowl office pool. A common subject of debate, raised by Doug Harris in a New York Times op-ed, is the education track record in Ms. DeVos’s home state of Michigan. Ms. DeVos is an unabashed supporter of school choice, including the expansion of for-profit charter schools and vouchers.
In the ongoing debate about federal and state roles in K–12 public education, states got a leg up with the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). It renounces the strong regulatory role that the federal government had come to play, in favor of a return to state control.