Home > Uncategorized > It Just Keeps Getting Worse: More Vouchers; Less Money: More Guns….

It Just Keeps Getting Worse: More Vouchers; Less Money: More Guns….

May 5, 2017

The last two days of news have been terrible for public education.

I read in Politico’s feed that Betsy DeVos is visiting a parochial school in Washington DC. They managed to write it up factually as follows… with my emphasis added:

DEVOS TO VISIT PRIVATE CHRISTIAN SCHOOL IN D.C. THIS MORNING: The Trump administration’s campaign to promote D.C.’s voucher program continues this morning as Education Secretary Betsy DeVos visits Cornerstone, a private school that says on its website it provides a “Christ-centered” education. President Donald Trump on Wednesday touted the program at an event with DeVos and Vice President Mike Pence.Trump said it makes an “extraordinary difference” to students in the nation’s capital, though a recent study found that it had a negative impact on children’s reading and math scores.

They could have described President’s Trump statement as an intentional lie, but it is hard to know whether it WAS a lie… because the President seems oblivious to research on schools.

But today’s Politico feed reported on yet another development on the voucher front:

The Trump administration has quietly reversed an Obama-era policy of denying vouchers to low-income D.C. students who already attend private schools, Morning Education has learned. “We can now provide awards to those students, going into effect next school year,” said Rachel Sotsky, executive director of the nonprofit Serving Our Children, which administers D.C.’s Opportunity Scholarship Program – the nation’s only federally funded voucher program. Private school students have already been applying, although in “pretty small” numbers, Sotsky said. The change is cemented by the fiscal 2017 spending deal just passed by Congress, which flat funds the program at $45 million – and specifically includes language barring the secretary from preventing students from participating based on the type of school they used to attend. That same language was included in previous attempts to reauthorize the program.

What this means is that students whose parents have been paying for sectarian schools will now be reimbursed with a pool of funds that used to be allocated only to non-sectarian public schools. In case this nuance was missed, Politico offers this reaction from the Obama administration when the same provision was proposed in earlier budgets:

“Instead of using federal resources to support a handful of students in private schools, the federal government should focus its attention and available resources on improving the quality of public schools for all students.”

They concluded the section with this: The Trump administration’s reversal is emblematic of its commitment to expand school choice whenever possible.

The latest version of the American Health Care Act, the GOP’s effort to repeal and replace “Obamacare” has a provision that, according to an Education Week post would result in a “projected loss of $880 billion in federal Medicaid dollars (that) will compel states to ration health care for children“. As a letter from a group of education organizations explained to legislators,

Under the per-capita caps included in the AHCA, health care will be rationed and schools will be forced to compete with other critical health care providers—hospitals, physicians, and clinics—that serve Medicaid-eligible children. School-based health services are mandated on the states and those mandates do not cease simply because Medicaid funds are capped by the AHCA. As with many other unfunded mandates, capping Medicaid merely shifts the financial burden of providing services to the states.

Politico also had disappointing news for those who do not believe concealed carry is a good idea on college campuses: 

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has signed a bill that allows concealed weapons permit holders to carry guns on Georgia’s campuses. Last year, Deal vetoed a similar bill. But Deal said he supported this one because it prohibits guns in “sensitive places” on campuses like preschools, faculty offices and sports venues. Deal said “unfortunately” in parts of Georgia “the path to higher education travels through dangerous territory,” but the measure can help protect students going to and from campuses. “At the present time, assailants can, and do, target these students knowing full well that their victims are not permitted to carry protection, even those who are weapons-carry license holders, because they are either going to or coming from a campus where no weapons are allowed,” Deal said.

I do not know why the Governor was not challenged to cite any instances where “…assailants can, and do, target these students knowing full well that their victims are not permitted to carry protection”… but facts seldom carry the day when it comes to legislation involving guns, and as the article noted further on, “Georgia joins nine other states that have provisions allowing the carrying of concealed weapons on public campuses.

So… to recap the week:  

  • More Vouchers, even though research shows vouchers do not improve learning as measured by test scores
  • Less Money, even though school districts serving affluent families seem to think more spending results in better schools
  • More Concealed Weapons, because more guns are ipso facto a good thing.

I don’t think this is a recipe to improve opportunities for all children… but maybe I’m missing something.

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