Archive for January, 2020

Misuse of Taxpayers Money by Parents is NOT “An Attack on Children”

January 30, 2020 Comments off

In this report about a snafu by the Arizona State Department of Education, Cronkite News focused on the DOE’s mistakes more than the more substantial issue of the parents’ abuse of taxpayers funds for children.

It seems that the Arizona legislature was so intent on offering unregulated choice to parents that it completely overlooked the possibility that some parents might abuse the money they got or accumulate it in their de facto bank accounts. The response of the choice advocate in the last paragraph, though, took the cake! He characterizes any questions about the parents use of these funds as ” an attack on children.” If a teacher or principal failed to use funds for their intended purpose I don’t imagine taxpayers would be at all happy.

Good News in Massachusetts: A Commitment to Funding Equity Paid Off

January 29, 2020 Comments off

Earlier this month, Bloomberg News reporter Andrea Gabor wrote an article describing the recent implementation of Massachusetts’ financing bill  titled:

School Wars Are Over in Massachusetts. Everybody Won.

The subtitle of the article elaborates on the heading with even MORE good news from this blogger’s perspective:

A bipartisan agreement to boost financing, especially for poor districts,                                                                    marks a retreat from top-down reforms and the spread of charter schools.

From my perspective, the two headlines and the accompanying article underscore the reality that bipartisanship is the only avenue for accomplishing the kinds of funding equity every State constitution aspires to. In her essay, Ms. Gabor describes how a bi-partisan 1993 bill established rigorous standards for all schools and provided hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund an equity formula. It goes on to describe how a tax cut in the early 2000s undercut the funding required to maintain the equity elements of the formula and the Obama stimulus compelled the state to replace it’s holistic standards for ones based almost solely on standardized tests. Once the recent ESSA legislation gave the states some degree of flexibility in setting standards, the Democratic Massachusetts legislature passed a bill the Republican Governor signed that effectively replicated the accountability and funding put in place in 1993. Ms. Gabor concludes her article with this synopsis of the legislation passed last years, with the especially heartening information about the bill highlighted:

After two decades of reforms that focused on expanding standardized tests and charter schools with disappointing results — scores mostly declined on the latest NAEP test — a few states, including Michigan and Rhode Island, are looking to Massachusetts as a model. Unfortunately, they are trying to achieve improvement via tests and state intervention in underperforming districts without the extra funding that made Massachusetts successful.

Ultimately, it is voters who will have to press legislators to spend more on schools and to distribute the money to communities with the fewest resources. Just months before passage of the Massachusetts law, 58 percent of the state’s voters said they were willing to pay higher taxes to reduce education disparities and a majority said they would give up some funding in their own districts if it meant more money for the most disadvantaged communities.

I find it hard to believe that a majority of any state’s voters would be so cold hearted that they would not be willing to share their wealth with those less fortunate. I hope that those running for office in 2020 will address this need in the forthcoming elections at all levels of government.

NY Post Editorial Decries Relativism, Promotes Relgion

January 27, 2020 Comments off

This NY Post op ed article describes the “secret sauce” of Catholic schools… and it isn’t anything that can be replicated in public schools. The author, an administrator who oversees Catholic schools in the Bronx, suggests that the sectarian values enforced in their schools makes them superior to public schools whose values are relativistic. The article supports this assertion by comparing the incarceration rates of its graduates to those of public schools without acknowledging that their admission criteria might skew that data giving a casual reader the sense that relativistic values are inexorably linked to incarceration rates.

The article seems to imply that public funds should be used to support schools that base their curriculum on sectarian values, assuming that all sectarian values are (ahem) as liberal and open as Catholicism. I’ll leave debates on the openness of Catholicism to religious bloggers… but would ask those seeking funding for sectarian schools if Madrasses should be funded and, if not, what the basis for the denial of funding should be?