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Betsy DeVos Gave This Charter Chain $225 Million. It Doesn’t Pass the Smell Test

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Betsy DeVos recently gave $116 million to the IDEA charter chain, mostly to expand in Texas. Previously, she had already given millions to IDEA, altogether this lucky business has received $225 million in federal funds.

In El Paso alone, IDEA will open 20 new charters. That’s bad news for the El Paso public schools, because IDEA is known for pushing out the kids it doesn’t want and sending them back to the public schools, which will have to slash their budgets to adjust to lost enrollment.

Veteran Texas educator Tim Holt says that this IDEA invasion doesn’t pass the smell test. Parents and taxpayers are being fooled. He wrote this before DeVos gave IDEA its latest plum, $116 million.

“In the next few years, IDEA plans to increase from one school today in El Paso to over 20, making them larger than either the Anthony, Canutillo, San Eli, Fabens, or Clint ISD’s in terms of number of campuses. (“IDEA’s big goal is to serve 100,000 students by 2022” in Tejas according to the IDEA website.

“That would make them larger than Ft. Worth or Austin ISDs, which each have about 88,000 students each.) Of course, local districts are concerned because they get funding based on the number of students attending. Less students means less money. Even if it is for a year or so, as parents find out IDEA is not such a good fit for their kids. Less funding means more crowded classes, elimination of popular programs (say adios to that Mariachi band your young Vicente Fernandez wanna-be is in)…

“Public charter schools like IDEA use a combination of taxpayer funds, grants, and large-scale private donations to operate. Like public schools, they are accountable to meeting standards, but unlike public schools, they are businesses, beholden to those with a financial vested interest in their success or failure.

“Did you get that? They use your taxes to fund their business. You are paying for them whether they last a year or a decade. They can, as a business, pick up and leave at any time, shuttering their doors with no notice as many charter schools have done across the nation. Nothing prevents this.

“And like any business that needs to grow to get money, they have to advertise. Check out the slick work of this ad agency on behalf of IDEA.

“Smelly.

“Public schools in Texas have locally elected officials, that are responsible for watching the checkbooks of the districts. Don’t like the way money is being spent? You can vote them out and replace them. Not so with Public Charter Schools like IDEA. The Board of Directors of IDEA schools are mostly made up of well-to-do east Texas business people.

Think your kid is represented at the table? Check out the IDEA Board. Look like people from El Chuco? Yeah, maybe a meeting of the El Chuco Millionaires Club, but other than that, no, they are not your type. Unless you think that Dallas and Houston millionaires are your type.

Stinky.

“IDEA schools have a model of teaching that looks something like this: Curriculum is canned, pre-scripted and designed in such a way that even non-teachers can conduct classes. It is designed solely to focus on the standardized tests, that all students must pass. It is homework-heavy even though study after study has found that a heavy homework load is probably overall detrimental to students learning. Failure on tests mean dismissal from the school.

“Sorry kid, we don’t take no dummies.

“Since it is a scripted curriculum, IDEA can hire non-teacher teachers, ones that do not have any kind of education experience or degree. Think about that: Anyone that can read a script can teach at IDEA. That is perfect for young, inexperienced Teach-for-America rookies, from where IDEA likes to recruit their teaching ranks. Less experience equals less expensive to pay.

“Less pay means the chances that the teacher can deal with “non traditional” or troubled students is low. Want something for your kid that is innovative? Don’t bother enrolling at IDEA. Success is measured by how many pages the teacher can plow through in a week on the way to the test.

“Smells bad…

”Now consider this: On top of the millions in Federal funds that the State has awarded to IDEA, if they achieve their goal of having 100,000 students, that means, that every year, $915,000,000 will NOT be going to Texas’ traditional public schools, your neighborhood school, but into the hands of for-profit businesses that have little to no local accountability.”

Well, it’s a terrific article. Read it all.

And don’t believe those pundits who say that Betsy DeVos is so hemmed in that she can’t do any harm. Her $225 million gift to IDEA will eventually cause Texas public schools to lose nearly $1 billion a year, every year.  Really good for the IDEA bank account.  Terrible for the millions of children in Texas public schools.

That really stinks.

 

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