The U.S. Education Department (EdDep) is willing to settle for charter school block grants as a way of countering risks of losing funding for charter schools.
In last week’s Congressional hearing that discussed the White House’s proposed budget for the said department, the requested funding for charter schools was noticeably different. This year’s proposed budget for charter schools is in stark contrast to the requests made in the last three year.
Previous years’ budget recommendations included substantial increases of up to $440 million for the charter schools favored by the Trump administration.
The Education Secretary asserted that the driving force for requesting the roll of federal funding for charter schools into block grants, is the need to better align charter grants with the federal education laws as stipulated under the “Every Student Succeeds Act. “ Said law according to Ms. DeVos provides states and local school districts that will receive charter school grants in blocks, will have more flexibility in granting charter school funding.
Still, despite such claims, there are major concerns that Ms. DeVos has to clearly explain and justify, before she can garner the approval of the House Budget Appropriations Committee.
Requesting for a Block Grant Does Not Make Requesting for Charter School Appropriations a Breeze
Connecticut Democrat Representative. Rosa DeLauro and current Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, insists that
“We as members of the Appropriations Committee, had appropriated serious money, which last year alone amounted to more than $400 million.” “It is our duty to conduct oversight, especially now that the Office of Inspector General (OIG) raised issues about the need to examine findings concerning mismanaged charter school closures, after receiving federal funds without adequate oversight and guidance from Education Department officials.”
Most of the members of the ruling House Democratic Party would rather not grant funding to charter schools at all. This is in light of the many allegations of fraud and mishandling of federal funding granted to private charter school operators, for which DepEd Secretary Betsy Devos has been confronted repeatedly by Congress.
Based on a study conducted by the Network for Public Education (NPE’s), it was discovered that more that $1 billion in federal funds have been disbursed to schools that never opened at all, or opened but quickly closed as soon as fundings were received. When asked by members of Congress, Ms. Devos denied the allegations; dismissing NPE’s findings as political agenda aimed at discrediting charter schools.
Not satisfied with Secretary DeVos’ claims that the NPE findings are mere political agenda, House Democrats on the budget committee are unconvinced that the Department of Education should be provided with federal funding to support charter schools in whatever form.