The nation’s public schools have long been struggling with financial strains and the looming threat of bankruptcy, and they’ve been plagued by an epidemic of bullying.
But this year, they’ve gotten a new face in chief in Betsy DeVos.
The Education Secretary is a former CEO of the nation’s largest charter school operator, EdOr, which is one of the top 10 charter schools in the country, and one of a handful of school operators that can be counted on to meet her strict standards for accountability and quality.
She has vowed to “dramatically expand charter schools across America” and has taken a hard line against private schools.
She has also been aggressive about dismantling the Common Core State Standards, which the states use to evaluate student performance.
But the school system has been rocked by a rash of bullying and violence that has pushed some schools to close and others to move to new locations.
As a result, more than 20 schools have closed or closed their doors in 2017 alone, and dozens more have left their campuses altogether.
According to the Education Department, the schools in question were shuttered because of the “high risk of continued harassment and/or violence.”
In recent weeks, a series of high-profile school closures have drawn criticism from students, parents, teachers and lawmakers.
On Friday, the New York Times reported that the school in Philadelphia where former President Donald Trump used to teach for three years had been shuttered.
That school was part of a program in which charter schools were given a choice of either leaving the city or moving to New York.
“There was an emotional moment in my family when I saw what had happened to a student in the Philadelphia district and felt like there was a lack of accountability in how they were being run,” said Rachel, a former student who spoke to the Times.
“They have been told to take their business elsewhere,” she said, referring to the charter school.
“There’s an enormous amount of distrust in charter schools.
It’s hard for them to be trusted.”
The students at the Philadelphia school said they felt the closure was a way of getting rid of them.
“They are the most loyal students I’ve ever met,” Rachel said.
“They are a bunch of very sweet kids who are going to do anything to make you feel good.”
Many of the students who spoke with the Times said that they felt disrespected by the decision to close the school.
“It was not my choice, I’m not going to make decisions based on my personal feelings,” one student told the newspaper.
Another student said she was “disgusted” by the move.
“The way they treated the students was awful,” she told the paper.
“It was really horrible.”
A fifth student said the decision was the result of “political correctness” in the public schools.
“You know, they’re not supposed to be there, so why should I even be here?” the student said.
More than 30 schools across the country have been targeted by teachers and students alike who say they were fired or disciplined for their involvement in the protests.
The students at Philadelphia’s EdOr school say they felt that teachers were fired because of their union affiliation.
On Saturday, students at EdOr protested the closures, while students from schools across Pennsylvania held a rally and marched through the streets of the city to protest the closures.
At the school on Saturday, a group of protesters sang the national anthem in solidarity with the students.
“I’m here to show that we’re not going anywhere,” said student Hannah.
“We’re not leaving.
We’re going to stay here until we get out of this hell hole we’re in.”
The Education Department is not the only agency to be investigating school closures.
On Tuesday, the Department of Education’s inspector general announced that the Trump administration has opened a new investigation into the closures of dozens of schools, including EdOr.