President-elect Donald Trump is a HUGE fan of charter schools. His nominee for Secretary of Education, billionaire Betsy DeVos, is even more supportive of the privately owned but publicly funded corporate entities that run charter schools. DeVos has spent hundreds of millions of dollars championing charter schools, public funded vouchers for private and religious education and the inappropriate Common Core standards.
Charter schools are counting on the Trump administration to dramatically accelerate to privatization of public education in the United States.
But even before Trump and DeVos take office, the charter school industry has been enjoying unprecedented growth thanks to Presidents Bush and Obama and their corporate education reform allies like governors Dannel Malloy and Andrew Cuomo.
In a report issued late last year by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, the charter school industry bragged that as of 2014-2015 there were 17 U.S. cities in which charter schools controlled at least 30% of all students.
While there were more than 6,700 charter schools in the country enrolling approximately 3 million students (about 6% of all students), the charter school industry’s saturation rate is much higher in a group of poorer urban areas. While charter school reached was 30% in 17 school districts in the United States, the percent of students attending charter schools was more than 50% in three school districts, New Orleans, Detroit, and Flint, Michigan
According to their report,
“The districts across the country where at least 30 percent of students are enrolled in charter schools are: New Orleans (92 percent); Detroit (53 percent); Flint, MI (53 percent); Washington, D.C. (45 percent); Gary, IN (43 percent); Kansas City, MO (40 percent); Camden, NJ (34 percent); Philadelphia (34 percent); Indianapolis (31 percent); Dayton, OH (31 percent); Cleveland, OH (31 percent); Grand Rapids, MI (31 percent); Victor Valley, CA (31 percent); San Antonio, TX (30 percent); Natomas, CA (30 percent); Newark, NJ (30 percent); and St. Louis (30 percent).
The charter school industry also explained that that,
“Los Angeles has the highest overall number of students enrolled in charter schools, with more than 156,000. During the 2015-16 school year, Los Angeles charter schools enrolled an additional 4,700 students over the previous year. New York City is second with almost 100,000 charter school students last year, nearly double its enrollment five years ago. Between 2010-11 and 2015-16, the number of charter school students in New York City has increased from nearly 39,000, to nearly 94,000 – an increase of more than 54,000 students. Rounding out the top 10 districts in charter school enrollment are: Philadelphia (63,520); Chicago (59,060); Miami-Dade (58,280); Houston (55,710); Detroit (51,240); Broward County, FL (44,320); New Orleans (44,190); and Washington, D.C. (38,910). These top 10 districts serve nearly a quarter of all charter school students in the country.”
And the reported concluded that, “there are six districts in which about 40 percent of the students are enrolled in charter schools; 17 school districts have 30 percent of their students enrolled in charter schools and 44 districts have 20 percent of their students enrolled in charter schools.”
Overall, there are now at least 190 districts that have at 10 percent or more of their students enrolled in charter schools, according to the national association that represents charter schools.
In state after state, district after district, charter schools discriminate against students who require special education services, students who need help learning the English language and students who have disciplinary issues. Yet despite that record of failures, charter schools are collecting billions in taxpayer funds.
Worse, they are now planning for a windfall of riches thanks to Donald Trump and his administration.