More than 700,000 students in more than 1,200 New York City schools — including large high schools in all five boroughs — would face higher class sizes, have fewer teachers and lose after-school academic and enrichment programs if President-elect Trump makes good on a campaign promise to pull billions of federal dollars away from public schools to pay for private vouchers, a UFT analysis has found.
UFT President Michael Mulgrew said: “Congressional hearings are scheduled for this week for Betsy DeVos, the administration’s nominee for U.S. Secretary of Education. We need to hear in detail from Ms. DeVos — a fervent advocate of vouchers and charter schools — what the administration’s plan is for Title 1, which is specifically designed to aid poor pupils and which New York City relies on to help serve our neediest students.”
Should the Title 1 money disappear, 1,265 schools would lose funding. Brooklyn’s Fort Hamilton, New Utrecht, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Madison high schools would lose nearly $9 million in total, while Francis Lewis, Hillcrest, Bayside and John Bowne high schools in Queens would lose a total of more than $6 million. Staten Island’s Curtis and New Dorp would lose a total of nearly $3 million, while in the Bronx, Truman and DeWitt Clinton would lose a total of more than $2.5 million.
At the same time, more than 900 elementary and middle schools across the city would be affected, over a dozen of them losing roughly $1 million each.
Mr. Mulgrew added: “If the school system had to make up a $500 million loss of Title 1 funds — money that helps defray the costs of teachers, guidance counselors, aides and administrators — more than these schools would suffer. The damage would spread through the system, raising class sizes even in non-Title 1 schools, threatening academic enrichment programs, guidance, art and music and other services our children depend on.”
The Trump administration is on record supporting choice and voucher programs, but has yet to specify where the administration would find the money to start a national school voucher program. Congressional Republicans, in the name of flexibility, have previously tried to change federal law to allow states to use Title 1 funds for other purposes.
The diversion of public funds from public schools — through charters, vouchers or both — is a pattern already embraced by high-level members of the new administration.
Vice-President-elect Mike Pence strongly backed a voucher program as governor of Indiana. As a major political donor and conservative activist, Betsy DeVos has played a leading role in undermining public education in her home state of Michigan.
A study from the University of Notre Dame found that the Indiana's voucher program was a windfall for private schools, most of which attracted white students — many of them middle-class — but on average the students' performance suffered compared to their peers in public schools.
DeVos is a major contributor to New York City’s Success Academy Charter Schools and a supporter of the charter movement in general. But though 80 percent of the charters in her home state perform worse than traditional public schools, DeVos — a billionaire whose family has also opposed workers' rights, gay marriage and has contributed heavily to a variety of other right-wing causes — has led the way in resisting any attempts to regulate or improve Michigan charter performance.