Delegate Scott Lingamfelter is pushing for school privatization schemes that aim to help a small group of people profit off kids’ education in a movement that conservatives call “school choice.” But what Lingamfelter and his conservative buddies mean by that phrase is a push to divert money from public schools to pay for a small group of kids to attend private ones.
Lingamfelter’s agenda drains money from the public education system—where schools are free and the doors of opportunity are open for every child—by channeling funds to private schools. It would also do away with the opportunity for ALL to succeed by helping SOME succeed by privatizing our schools while many schools struggle to make do with fewer resources.
For Lingamfelter, school privatization isn’t about letting parents decide where their kids go to school. It’s about using OUR taxpayer money to pay for the privatization of OUR public education system—taking our schools and how they are run out of our hands while we fund them with our taxpayer dollars.
That’s why Lingamfelter voted for and sponsored an array of legislation that violates a cornerstone of Virginia’s Constitution: a free and public K-12 education system that is open to ALL children. He also wants to get rid of the Department of Education (more on that later).
Virginia often boasts of its “world class education system” and ranks #10 for the best states for education nationwide. I grew up in Prince William County and I’m a product of the county’s public schools. I had amazing teachers and I loved learning. As an adult, I’m grateful that I received a free education at schools that didn’t discriminate against people based upon their race, class, religion or gender. Our schools were integrated; diversity was valued; and I was taught at a young age to respect all of my classmates, regardless of their backgrounds.
So, why would Lingamfelter want to undermine Virginia’s public education system?
Lingamfelter Gets Money From The DeVos Family To Promote Their Privatization Agenda in Virginia
Maybe it’s because he received campaign contributions from organizations like All Children Matter, which was founded by the family of Trump’s Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, the most unqualified person for the job. When DeVos ran All Children Matter, the organization was fined for violating election law by pumping hundreds of thousands of dollars into Ohio political campaigns that promoted school voucher programs. Those programs allow parents to siphon money away from public schools to pay private school tuition.
Lingamfelter was also lauded by other groups like the Virginia Coalition for Public School Options, a proponent of school privatization initiatives, for his efforts in privatizing our education system, mainly in his promotion of charter schools (publicly-funded but privately-run schools). Virginia currently has eight charter schools, but the state has declined to open more because that would entail using taxpayer funds to promote schools over which local (public) school boards have no oversight.
Voting for Virginia Charter Schools Until the Cows Come Home
This year, Lingamfelter voted for HB 2342, which allowed local governments to join together to form regional charter schools, a bill that was opposed by the Virginia Association of Counties because it removed authority away from local school boards.
Last year, Lingamfelter voted for HB 3, a bill that provided for a referendum on a constitutional amendment giving the Board of Education the authority to establish charter schools in the Commonwealth without the consent of the local school district. It’s a good idea to keep control of schools in local hands because local school districts have the flexibility to adapt to reflect current issues within the district.
The National Education Association says that charter schools are a bad idea because they funnel money to for-profit institutions, suck money away from traditional public schools, and take away accountability because they aren’t responsible to public school oversight.
Lingamfelter also supported HB 1605 in 2017 and HB 389 in 2016, both of which created Parental Choice Education Savings Accounts. These types of accounts are the latest craze for school privatization advocates because they allow parents to take state education money allotted for their children and use it to pay for things like home-schooling or private school tuition.
What Kind of Crazy Pants Wants to Eliminate the Department of Education??
Lingamfelter even supports getting rid of the Federal Department of Education—an awful idea. Think Progress has laid out some reasons as to why eliminating the DOE is a bad idea:
- When state education departments break federal civil rights laws, no one would be able to call them out on it.
- No one would be there to monitor inequalities between low-income and wealthy school districts.
- There would be no way to hold school districts accountable for the federal tax dollars they receive.
- Gender discrimination would be rampant because Title IX rules wouldn’t be enforced.
In an op-ed published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Lingamfelter said that education is a local matter. But if organizations like the Virginia Association of Counties are against charter schools, you can’t get more local opposition than that.
Protect Virginia’s Public Schools on November 7
Make sure that taxpayer money continues to fund public education by voting on November 7!