Charter schools are taking crisis aid meant for small businesses

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Charter schools are taking crisis aid meant for small businesses. On top of the $200 million set aside for large corporate charter school chains by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, on top of the aid for public schools in the recently passed CARES Act, and on top of per-pupil funding that also goes to traditional public schools, many privately operated charter schools across the country are applying for and receiving funding meant for small businesses and nonprofits through the CARES Act’s Paycheck Protection Program.

No comprehensive data exists to date, but charter schools in Idaho, New Orleans, and Washington, D.C., have confirmed receiving money. Organizations like the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and FOCUS, a D.C. charter advocacy organization funded by the pro-privatization Walton Family Foundation, continue to urge charter school leaders to apply for funding.

As Diane Ravitch said last month, “Charters claim to be ‘public schools’ when that’s where the money is. But when the money is available for small businesses, they claim to be small businesses. Public schools aren’t eligible for the federal money. But charter schools are.”

“Your tax dollars may be going to charter schools with major financial, academic problems.” Two Utah charter schools, Freedom Preparatory Academy and Ascent Academy, are drawing heat for getting approval to open new campuses despite looming academic and financial issues. KUTV

Yet another DeVos privatization story. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, using discretion written into the CARES Act, is using millions of dollars to pursue long-sought policy goals that Congress has blocked. The New York Times

“Billionaires are the biggest threat to public schools.” Journalist Sarah Lahm: “The fallout from the coronavirus pandemic is presenting both DeVos and Gates with new ways to divert public dollars to privately managed schools, or perhaps to untested, profit-driven ventures.” The Progressive

Some much-needed optimism. The Independent Media Institute’s Jeff Bryant has chronicled nationwide efforts to establish community schools. “After [the crisis], I think schools will be viewed as essential and that we can just own that truth without having to fight for it,” Mary Parr-Sanchez, president of NEA-New Mexico, tells him. “So then the issue is how do we do it right, and we look to community schools as a model. And we fund them.” Citizen Truth