Dumped Chumps Plumped for Trump*

I admit it—I’m out of touch. I’ve been spending most of my time lately in the 1820s, so when I heard the news I thought I had just missed something. When I saw that Trump had proposed cutting federal funding for charter schools, I was totally surprised. Turns out I wasn’t the only one.

Trump and devos

–Did you do the reading? –I did not.

Here’s what we know: Trump’s new proposed budget makes big changes in ed policy. The overall proposal would cut about eight percent in education financing. Most surprising, the cuts include a total elimination of the federal Charter Schools Program. Last year alone, according to Chalkbeat, big charter networks such as KIPP and IDEA scored big grants through that program, $86 million and $116 million, respectively.

That’s not a huge chunk of the federal ed budget, but this switch still seems like a surprising symbolic turnaround. And if hasty straw twitter polling is any measure, it seems as if top ed scholars and pundits also found the proposal surprising.

Will the budget proposal matter? Most likely, it will not survive as proposed. But it marks another dramatic change in the politics of charter schools. As SAGLRROILYBYGTH are painfully aware, one of the big surprises of 2020 has been the dramatic political realignment we’ve seen on the issue of charter schools. Not so long ago, Democratic contenders such as Senator Warren were big fans of charters and even vouchers. Once charters and choice became the signature issue of Queen Betsy, Democrats dropped them. Even St. Obama voiced some urbane skepticism about the ideology of the “reform” movement.

And now this. Charter school advocates found themselves forced to support Trump as the only game in town, only to have that support yanked away.

What does it mean? Maybe DeVos is hoping to open more space for vouchers and other programs. Or maybe—like with their major goof about the kid from Philly—the Trump administration simply hasn’t thought this proposal all the way through. Maybe they just saw a chance to cut the budget and that was enough.

                                                               *So sorry about this headline. I just couldn’t help myself.
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