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Neoliberal Center for American Progress Issues Excellent Advice to Newly Elected Governors

January 11, 2019

I usually reject many of the ideas for public education advanced by the Center for American Progress (CAP) because they tend to reflect the “reform” mode of thinking. But a recently issued set or recommendations for newly elected Democrat governors MIGHT be an indication that their thinking is changing for the better, and MIGHT provide a counter-ALEC framework for Democrat legislators to follow.

Titled “11 Ways New Governors Can Lead on Education Through Executive Actions“, the article by CAP staffers Scott Sargrad, Lisette Partelow, and Jessica Yin outlines some action steps that cold mitigate the direction GOP Governors have moved in the past few years, directions that undercut public education and reinforce the test-and-punish methods advocated by ALEC. Several of the eleven recommendations are related to the creation of task forces or commissions designed to tackle tough issues like school financing, high school re-design, infrastructure funding, and the restoration of teaching as a valued profession. Others look at issues like school safety, discipline, gender equality, and evidence based decision making. One that stood out and offers some glimmer of hope that CAP’s enchantment with charter schools might be over was this one:

7) Initiate an investigation of the for-profit and virtual charter sectors

For-profit online charter schools have made significant inroads in certain states, receiving large sums of state education funding without being held accountable for what are often inferior results.28 In addition to employing questionable business practices that put profits before kids, these schools often have much lower graduation rates than the state average and fail on a number of other academic metrics.29

Governors could request that their attorneys general or an appointed special investigator examine the for-profit and virtual education sectors in their state and produce a report on the sectors’ finances and outcomes, along with other areas of concern. The investigative report should make recommendations to improve the sectors’ transparency, accountability, and requirements in order for such schools to remain open and have their charters renewed. If governors have the authority to do so, they could propose a ban on for-profit, virtual charter schools based on the findings of the investigation. California, for example, enacted such a ban after an investigation led to a multimillion-dollar settlement over false advertising and anti-competitive practices by a large virtual for-profit charter operator.30

I doubt that the Democrat governors of NY and CT will do this, but the fact that CAP is including this while advocating for an examination of funding inequities makes me hopeful that the DNC might be moving away from championing schools like Eva Moskovitz’s Success Academy and providing more funds for public schools that serve economically disadvantaged children. If that is the case, there MAY be a choice in the 2020 presidential election.

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