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Posts Tagged ‘privatization’

Tennessee Should Fund Mental Health Expansion Through County Health Departments

April 24, 2021 Leave a comment

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In the mid-1990s when I was Superintendent in Maryland the State mandated that each school have a certified nurse. After running some numbers in the district I led it was clear that we would have to use every “new dollar” we would reasonably expect to pay for this initiative since we had nurses assigned to only 10% of our schools and no one on our staff to supervise or support them. Moreover if we paid the nurses on the teacher pay scale we would be paying more than the local hospitals by far. The solution that was best for all, I believed, was to have the county health department hire them, and partner with schools to recruit, support and evaluate them. In that way we would not disrupt the local hospital’s workforce, provide opportunities for many nurses to get work hours that matched their children’s school hours, and fulfill a state mandate and. need without compromising our budget. This idea worked for all concerned.

This personal experience was brought to mind when I read about the Governor of Tennessee’s ideas about providing universal mental health services in schools which he viewed as being offered through the systems or the states. His funding gambit, creating a trust fund, might have promise as well if he could get the billionaires who support charter schools to direct their donations to the foundation for mental health.

NY Times Editors Excoriate Profiteers Preying on Veterans. When Will They editorialize Against PreK-12 Profiteers?

March 31, 2021 Comments off

Today’s NYTimes features an editorial titled “How to Stop Schools That Prey on Veterans“. The editorial expresses support for undoing everything the Trump-DeVos era did to deregulate profiteering at the expense of Veterans:

That means reversing, as quickly as possible, Trump-era rules that benefited the for-profit college industry at the expense of the public. Beyond that, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Education need to wield their existing authority to cut off federal funds to predatory schools.

But, as noted in a comment I left, why stop your critique at the post-secondary education? Why should ANY “for profit” institution receive government funds for pre-K-12 public education? Schools are a public good, not a commodity to be marketed like a refrigerator or automobile. As noted often in this blog, the NYTimes editors consistently champion the idea of “choice” as a panacea for “low performing” schools that are starved of resources… and they inevitably include predatory for-profit schools among the acceptable “choices” parents are encouraged to consider. K-12 schools that leave children in the lurch are at least as bad as the predatory for-profit colleges that leave veterans in the lurch. From the perspective of Donald Trump, Betsy DeVos, and the GOP, PreK-12 schools should be viewed as a commodity to be marketed to parent-consumers. And from their perspective, the unregulated marketplace will sort out the bad from the good. As for the parent-consumer? Caveat emptor!

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GA Has a Solution to the Shortage of Certified Special Education Teachers: Allow the Children to Register in Charter Schools if Parents Waive Their Rights. Expect More States to Follow Suit.

March 29, 2021 Comments off

Maureen Downey wrote at op ed piece for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution describing the concerns two Mercer College professors expressed regarding a piece of pending legislation in Georgia that would enable parents of special needs and 504 students to avail themselves of a scholarship program the State offers to parents enrolling in private schools under one condition: that they forfeit their special education and/or 504 rights. The professors elaborate on why that is a bad idea: 

This means that families would forgo their child’s right to being educated in the least restrictive environment, or the right to an IEP specific to their child’s needs and abilities. Beyond the major known components of IDEA are other rights that would be waived including: (a) the right to the stay-put provision in reference to as education placement issues, (b) extended school year services, (c) transition planning services, (d) the right to receive and education until the age of 22 if the student has not accumulated enough credits for graduation by their senior school year, and (d) all of the parent rights outlined in IDEA…

…(and) In essence, parents wouldn’t just be waiving their child’s rights to be educated under the protection of IDEA, they also would be waiving their own rights to fight for their child against inappropriate class placement, unfair and culturally biased assessment practices, discriminate discipline practices, and access for their child to an education program that includes teaching and training in skills beyond just academics.

Earlier in the article the two professors, Robbie J. Marsh, assistant professor of special education and Robert Helfenbein, associate dean for research and faculty affairs in the Tift College of Education at Mercer University, suggest two reasons parents of special needs students are considering leaving public schools: the lack of resources to help their children due to the persistent underfunding by the federal government and due to shortages in special education teachers. They write: 

48 states are now reporting shortages of special education teachers. This means that many students with disabilities are considered fortunate if they have access to a licensed special education teacher as either their regular teacher or teacher of record. This is only one of many issues schools are experiencing in attempting to better serve students with disabilities, so the idea of leaving the public schools and looking toward greener pastures in private schools can be very enticing…

IF the Georgia legislature wanted to help the children with special needs and their parents, instead of passing a law requiring them to waive their children’s entitlement to a free and appropriate education they would use the money they have earmarked to underwrite private (and in many cases for profit) schools to provide PUBLIC schools with the resources those children and parents are legally entitled to. Why use taxpayer dollars to underwrite schools who compel parents to sacrifice the education their children are legally entitled to while underfunding the public schools that should support them? Some states will do anything to make the system fail… even if it means special needs children and their parents have to pay the price. Georgia is the first state to try this gambit… it won’t be the last. 

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