In the recently released fiscal 2018 budget proposal, President Trump had initiated a lot of cuts from federal educational programs. However, a lot of funding proposals, to the tune of $1.4 billion, has been allotted for the school choice programs. There has also been an allotment of $168 million for charter schools and $250 million for private school choice plan. In spite of the increased funding for the charter schools, the budget was condemned by dozens of charter schools due to the emphasis on private school programs.
Concerns from Charter schools
The charter schools are supporting all those who are fighting to defend the sanctity of public education. They have voiced their concerns against private school vouchers because they believe that public dollars should be used for public schools that are open to all kids. Districts like Denver have earned high regards for their education system because students are not zoned to a specific school based on where they live and can be enrolled in any school of their choice. It is to be noted that Denver does not have private school vouchers that allow students to use public dollars to cover tuition at private schools.
Betsy Devos, the secretary of Education for United States, argued that students are getting shortchanged as private school choice options are not being made a part of the education portfolio. In a counter argument, Denver Public Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg rebuffed that in Denver, they ensured that all schools have the same enrollment rules and all schools are subject to the same rigorous accountability system.
Concerns of the Political Fronts
Many of these concerns have been echoed by both, liberals and the conservatives. Democrats are not supporting the education reform as it is against the principles of a public education system. The Republicans are hesitantly supporting it as they don’t consider it to be an appropriate role for the federal government to intervene in matters of education.
Under the Trump administration, the House and Senate GOP members have introduced a handful of private school choice bills that would create a scholarship tax credit and others that would make portable Title I funding for low-income students and federal funding for students with disabilities. The conservatives have warned that the private school choice program would especially be a big blunder after passing the K-12 education law that largely rolls back the authority of the federal government. The conservatives completely support the reform that makes the tuition fees affordable for all, but they are all against the $250 million private school choice proposal as it could negatively impact the programs currently implemented in more than half the land of the US.
Only 24 states have some type of private school choice program, compared to 44 states and District of Columbia that allow charter schools as a type of public school choice.