"Betsy DeVos" by Gage Skidmore / CC BY-SA 2.0

Betsy DeVos’s Plot to Enrich Private Schools Amid the Pandemic

Aug 18, 2020

By Katherine Stewart

How much more does the Trump administration value the children of elite private and religious schools than the children who attend public schools? We can answer the question with some hard numbers. Public school students merit something like $266 apiece in extra pandemic-related funding. Kids attending the right private schools are worth $5,000 each or possibly much more.

That $266, by the way, is an overestimate. It’s what you get when you take the $13.5 billion allocated for K-12 education in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of this past March and divide it up among the nation’s 50.8 million public school students. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos made sure to siphon some of that money for private and religious schools, which she has long favored, although she did receive pushback: On July 22, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), joined by school districts in California, Connecticut, and Colorado, sued DeVos and her department over the policy, calling it “as immoral as it is illegal.”

Daniel A. Domenech, executive director of the School Superintendents Association, described her efforts as “an opportunistic money grab, using the pandemic environment to advance the privatization agenda.” And yet, if we take a closer look, the manipulation of the school-funding portion of the CARES Act was just one piece of the great private-school bailout of 2020.

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