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‘Attacking the Very Foundations’ of Church-State Separation, SCOTUS Delivers ‘Seismic Shock’ Ruling on Religious Schools

July 2, 2020 Leave a comment

As most followers of education policy realize, on Monday the Supreme ruled in favor of parochial school parents seeking public funds to underwrite their children’s tuitions. The Montana parents were denied funds set aside in a so called “scholarship program” that is designed to shield affluent taxpayers from paying taxes by allowing them to donate to a state scholarship funds that parents can access to attend the school of their choice. As noted in previous posts, these kinds of laws were crafted by ALEC and adopted in states across the country as a means of instituting backdoor vouchers… and they were successfully passed in many states across the country including my home state of New Hampshire. The laws’ intention’s sound very high minded: they offer a means for philanthropic minded individuals to donate to a tax-deductible scholarship fund that affords a way for disenchanted parents to afford to send their child to a private school that meets the unique needs of their child. The effect, though, is insidious. The funds siphoned off to the scholarships are lost revenue to the state and when the pool is substantially large the legislature can use them to offset the funding THEY should be raising for public education. Worse, not only can the PRIVATE schools can teach religion on the public’s dime, they can exclude children with special needs and their sexual identity. Oh… and not that long ago they could use race as a the basis for discrimination.

Assuming the GOP remains in control of the majority of State legislatures I expect the door to be pushed wide open in the coming legislative sessions as they pass new and improved scholarship legislation pre-written by USDOE and ALEC. Of everything challenging the existence of public education, this decision is among the scariest because even after the COVID 19 challenges are a bad memory this will still be in place and more and more states will have a mechanism in place to provide more “choice” for parents— and who could possibly oppose more “choice”?

Source: ‘Attacking the Very Foundations’ of Church-State Separation, SCOTUS Delivers ‘Seismic Shock’ Ruling on Religious Schools

Categories: Uncategorized

UFT Shoots Itself and NYPost Gladly Points it Out… BUT Cherry Picks “Science”

July 2, 2020 Leave a comment

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Unsurprisingly the NYPost has managed to get the narrative of school reopening back to familiar ground: the union is bad, the administration is incompetent, and children and taxpayers suffer. And, as is often the case in complicated issues like the reopening of schools, the Post has cherry-picked a report to prove its point. In this case the Post is using the union’s cry to “let science decide” when and how schools should reopen as the basis for calling them out for hypocrisy. Why? Because as noted in an earlier blog the American Pediatric Society has declared the reopening of schools to be an urgent need… and the members of that group are clearly “science”! But, as noted in my recent post, the APS recommendations for reopening are costly and, for the most part, impractical. If the union was smart they would agree to reopen IF AND ONLY IF all the conditions set forth by the APS were met. That would end their “hypocrisy” and force the POST to either advocate for the funds needed to meet the APS standards or find another way to get the narrative back to the well trod path they want to walk down.

NYTimes AGAIN Wants to Keep 1920s Model in Place at a High Cost

July 1, 2020 Leave a comment

The NYTimes op ed writers are intent on maintaining the status quo in public schools even if the costs are dauntingly high. Today’s editorial page features an article by epidemiologist Jennifer Nuzzo and pediatrician Joshua Sharfstein suggesting that the government should prioritize the reopening of schools over the reopening of bars, gyms and health clubs. That I agree on! But then the two doctors offer a list of actions that should be funded, action that will result in astronomical short term costs with no long term pay-off and no changes whatsoever the the current age-based grade leveling that is the basis for schooling today. Oh, and as you read the ideas the doctors list it should be readily evident that the ideas are wildly impractical as well given the facilities available, the technology available, the staffing available, the buses and vans available, and the supply of bus drivers. Among the costly and impractical ideas the doctors promote are:

  • finding other buildings and space where they could expand (classroom space)” by renting tents, leasing space in other buildings,
  • Checking students and staff for symptoms daily (which will require more staff)
  • Requiring frequent hand washing or the use hand sanitizer
  • Mandating the wearing of masks “for all who can wear them“, and providing “…extra masks…for students and staff members who do not bring their own.
  • Establishing in-school bubbles, “…small groups of students who will learn, eat lunch and have recess together” a creative solution that will result in the need for more space (see first bullet) AND more staff
  • Preparing for a rapid closure by “…using curriculums that can be rapidly adapted for online instruction” and, presumably, having the resources available to make this remote learning available to ALL students
  • Allow “families in households with much older relatives or people with health problems” to opt out of in school instruction and continue with remote education… oh… and presumably provide the necessary internet access and computers should those families require it.
  • Assign “older staff members or those with chronic medical conditions who want to be kept out of physical contact with students” to teach online classes for those students who remain at home, presuming, of course, that those older staff members WANT to offer remote instruction and are CAPABLE of offering it effectively… and there is a perfect match between the “older staff members” and the “opt out” students.
  • Instead of crowding students onto buses, “...consider car pools and van rides for children in their bubbles”, which would be done by increasing “…the number of buses in service and employing staggered start times to transport fewer children at once.” This assumes that bus and van purchases can be made quickly and qualified drivers are readily available…

The doctors DO realize that these ideas, there practicality notwithstanding, WILL cost money:

Each of these steps requires resources now. Congress has provided hundreds of billions of dollars of relief for small businesses, but early funding for schools has largely been spent on meals and laptops for remote learning. States should provide funding to school districts in advance of pending legislation in Congress that would provide $915 billion to state and local budgets.

We have a nation that is led by someone who questions medical advice, sees mandatory steps like wearing masks as an infringement on liberty, and doesn’t want to spend any money to “bail out” states and a Senate that appears willing to support him at every turn. Sorry, docs, I don’t think your ideas are going to get much traction… but opening bars, spas, and casinos?