New GOP House Education Bill Full of Surprises


GOP House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.) visited a charter school recently to publicly announce what amounts to the GOP blueprint for the future of public education in America. And that bill, which was recently approved by the House Committee on Education, contains language that would cut back a great deal on Federal oversight, do away with the common core standards (allowing states to set their own) and give a big boost to charter schools through the use of Title 1 funds.

Also contained is a move to freeze education funding at current sequester levels and do away with No Child Left Behind requirements that all public schools reach specific test levels by 2014 or face federal penalties. What isn’t stated is that this type of legislation is heavily funded and supported by the charter school lobby which is made up of for-profit companies that stand to earn billions if more charter schools are built and more funding is made available.

One of the dirtiest secrets of the whole charter school movement is that when a child is enrolled in a charter school, the public funding goes with that child. However, if that child is thrown out of the school for any reason within a few weeks or months (which happens frequently) and returns to public school, that funding does not flow back to the public school that year. In other words, public funds are being siphoned out of public schools directly into the coffers of the charter school companies.

At a time when public schools are fighting for every penny, laying off teachers, cutting programs, sports and enrichment, executives of private charter school companies are getting rich on our dime. And this new GOP education plan will only accelerate that process. It should be pointed out that in many, if not all, charter schools, teachers need not be certified, are never unionized and make far less than their counterparts in public education. In addition, charter school students routinely test lower than public school students with only a few examples that proponents blithely trot out while ignoring the abject failure of many charter schools. It should also be pointed out that many charter schools do not have libraries staffed by a certified librarian, gyms, labs and other resources that most public schools have. Or had before their funding was cut.

Once again, the GOP is waging war on public education under the guise of giving more power to states and giving more choice to parents and students. Of course, more choice means nothing if the choices are bad.

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