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Posts Tagged ‘vouchers’

For the Umpteenth Time a Study Proves That Family Income Determines Academic Success

August 28, 2018 Comments off

For the umpteenth time a team of researchers examined academic performance and came to the completely predictable and unsurprising conclusion that family income matters more than anything when it comes to succeeding in school. WBUR’s Robin Young, in an interview with  Robert Pianta, dean of the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia and one of the authors of a recent study conducted by the university. The conclusion of the study appeared in the sidebar:

“It was the family factors that carried the day in determining the children’s performance in high school. It wasn’t the school that they went to.”

So in the end, the issue of attending a private or a public school doesn’t matter according to researchers. But, as noted in a post earlier this morning, that will not matter to the GOP faithful, for they believe that in the open marketplace where vouchers are issued parents will be free to choose their schools and EVERYONE will benefit. For the “reformers” who ultimately share the GOP’s faith in market forces, this won’t matter either.

As noted in several posts, this finding that family income matters most when predicting academic success is decades old. When Pennsylvania first administered a statewide assessment in the early 1970s they reached the same conclusion. We ignored the implications of the finding then, and 40+ years later I am confident it will be ignored again.

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Kavanaugh’s Court Likely to Rule in Favor of Vouchers for Parochial Schools… Reaping What NCLB, RTTT, and “Reformers” Sowed

August 22, 2018 Comments off

Blogger Gaius Publius, who writes for several websites is who is frequently featured in Naked Capitalism, wrote a post last week forecasting that should Brett Kavanaugh be confirmed to the Supreme Court that “his” court will ultimately rule that public funds may be used to underwrite sectarian schools. And he convinced that once sectarian schools are funded, it is highly likely that those funds will not be available for ALL religiously affiliated institutions:

The purpose of that flow of funds would not be to ensure that a broad spectrum of religious ideas get funded — imagine the response from conservatives, for example, if a large group of Muslim madrassas were funded by the U.S. government or one of the states. That response would be like the response from whites if a large group of blacks in, say, Alabama exercised their Scalia-minted Second Amendment rights and took open-carry to the streets.

The purpose of that new funding would be to “save the nation” by creating an army of politically active fundamentalist true believers.

I am less certain that Gaius Publius that funds might be limited to Christian institutions given that Indiana, which already has de facto vouchers in place, provides funding for Muslim schools as well as parochial schools. In making his case that the intent of any case brought before the Supreme Court would be to create “…an army of politically active fundamentalist true believers” he seizes on this quote from Betsy DeVos and concludes that is one of the reasons Mr. Kavanaugh should be rejected:

Here’s Ms. DeVos belief about the mission of education: “There are not enough philanthropic dollars in America to fund what is currently the need in education…Our desire is to confront the culture in ways that will continue to advance God’s kingdom.”

DeVos wants to devote government dollars to that mission. And that’s the mission a Kavanaugh Court will enshrine into law. Just one of many reasons confirming Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court would be a generational disaster for a nation already in crisis.

But, as I noted in a comment left on the Naked Capitalism website, we are reaping what the “school reformers” sowed when they decided to use “choice” and “competition” as the mechanism for “improving failing public schools”.  After all, if schools are a commodity like grocery stores and parents are “consumers” who are given the opportunity to “shop”, how can a court deny them the opportunity to shop wherever they wish to make a purchase?

Schools are not commodities… they are a public good. One of public education’s primary goals is to help children develop the skills needed to become informed voters who can help guide the direction of local, state, and federal government and who can live harmoniously with their fellow citizens. Isolating children into tribes based on religion or demographics will undercut that mission.

 

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Campbell Brown, Charter Cheerleader, Now Facebook’s News Arbiter… Expect Only Glowing Articles About School Reform

August 15, 2018 Comments off

As a strong supporter of a free and open press, my worst fears were confirmed this morning the I read Facebook Executive Threatens News Outlets in Private Meeting, a Truthdig article by Jake Johnson. In the article, Mr. Johnson reported that the Facebook executive:

…reportedly warned news publishers that refusal to cooperate with the tech behemoth’s efforts to “revitalize journalism” will leave media outlets dying “like in a hospice.”

And who was that Facebook Executive None other than Campbell Brown, a TV “journalist” turned, according to Wikipedia, into an “… education reform and school choice activist, and now, head of global news partnerships at Facebook. While Facebook executives “vehemently” deny the reports what transpired at the meeting, at least five journalists validated the comments.

If Ms. Brown is the arbiter of “news” at Facebook, I expect to read no good news about public schools and lots of reports about “failing public schools”, and “amazing charter schools”. I expect to read lots of reports about unions blocking “innovation” but nothing about the countless charters who have bilked parents and taxpayers while cheating students out of a good education. Given Ms. Brown’s work at The 74 and Mr. Zuckerberg’s forays into reform, why should readers expect anything but bad news about public schools and nothing but good news about empowering parents with the opportunity to choose their schools.

I hope I am wrong… but I trust that someone from the public school advocacy groups will be monitoring the coverage carefully.

 

 

MY ROUGH DRAFT Proposal for New Hampshire’s Democratic Candidates for Governor

August 8, 2018 Comments off

To date the Democratic Party in New Hampshire has chosen to avoid making public education a major issue in their primary campaign, despite the horrific record of the incumbent GOP Governor, Chris Sununu, and the fact that his appointee for Commissioner of Education has repeatedly bashed school boards, teachers, and the public schools while advocating for vouchers. I offer this recommended platform for the Democratic party to consider in its effort to unseat incumbent Governor Chris Sununu. This ROUGH DRAFT of a platform uses a July 5, 2016 post offered by Ohio blogger Jan Ressengeras a template and draws on positions outlined in earlier posts of mine.

Introduction:  The Governor of New Hampshire should advocate for a comprehensive system of public education. One that serves all children, is democratically governed, publicly funded, universally accessible, and accountable to the public.

Close Opportunity Gaps by Increasing Funding to Property Poor Communities: The New Hampshire Constitution calls for the State to provide an adequate education for all children in an effort to ensure that all children receive equal opportunities to learn. A candidate for Governor should pledge to uphold this Constitutional mandate even if doing so would require an increase in funding for public education or an expansion of taxes. As it stands now, despite lawsuits won in court by property poor communities in our state, resources available to provide services for children in their public schools are wildly uneven. While children in affluent school districts have access to advanced curricula, abundant technology, the most experienced teachers, and a rich exposure to art, music and other enrichments and a wide array of co-curricular activities, children in property poor districts lack these opportunities for learning and support that more privileged children merely take for granted.

Tax and budget policies need to reduce disparities between property-rich and property-poor districts, strengthen local school boards, and provide all parents with a greater opportunity to support their children enrolled in school. Families in property poor towns often face challenges that prevent them from devoting the same level of support for their children as families in property-rich communities. Families facing economic challenges would benefit from the careful and intentional development of full-service, wraparound services that bring social and health services—health clinics, dental clinics, mental health clinics, after school programs, Head Start, and parent support programs—right into the school building. Families facing economic challenges need affordable, accessible, quality child care. Families facing economic challenges need a guaranteed living wage and labor policies that protect them by establishing work schedules and ensuring that employers inform their employees in advance of their work hours. Families facing economic challenges need employers to provide medical leave and maternity leave.

Reject Privatization and Vouchers:  Privatization and voucher plans presented as “choice” cannot address the challenges faced by property poor communities. Legislation that promotes enrollments in private schools and provides funding for homeschooling diverts scarce resources from public education, especially in property poor communities where schools are already underfunded. Legislation that promotes vouchers and tuition tax credits which use public funds to pay for students to attend private and parochial schools should be unalterably opposed as should any legislation that supports the creation of charter schools that are not governed by elected local school boards.

Restore Respect for a Profession of Well Trained, Certified Teachers: Our elected officials and State Department leaders must stop scapegoating school teachers. Public school teachers work tirelessly to improve the chances for all students in all schools in the State to advance and often do so in facilities that are outdated and without the resources they need to succeed. Instead of modifying certification standards for teachers to expand the applicant pools, we should increase the compensation for teachers, especially those serving in property-poor districts.

Re-Double the Effort to Replace Standardized Norm-Referenced Tests as the Primary Metric for School Success: New Hampshire was one of a handful of states that sought to limit the use of norm-referenced standardized tests as the sole metric for measuring school success. This effort should be fully supported by the Governor and Commissioner of Education and provided with the funding and manpower required for implementation.

Conclusion:  In order for public schools to succeed in New Hampshire, citizens must provide ongoing oversight, demand legislation that ensures equitable funding, and be willing to accept tax policies that either redistribute funds currently available or expand the funds needed to ensure that all children have the same opportunities as children attending property-rich schools. Justice in public education—the distribution of opportunity for all children and not just for some— can only be achieved systemically and with the full support of the Governor and Commissioner of Education.

 

This Just in: Private School “Success” Is a Mirage Based on Demographics

July 27, 2018 Comments off

Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post is the only reliably accurate education reporter writing for a national newspaper, and her column in yesterday’s newspaper drives home the point that the so-called advantages of attending private schools are a fabrication promoted by those who want to privatize and/or re-segregate public schools. Her opening paragraphs lay out the facts rebutting the commonly held belief that private schools outperform public ones:

Despite evidence showing otherwise, it remains conventional wisdom in many parts of the education world that private schools do a better job of educating students, with superior standardized test scores and outcomes. It is one of the claims that some supporters of school choice make in arguing that the public should pay for private school education.

The only problem? It isn’t true, a new study confirms.

University of Virginia researchers who looked at data from more than 1,000 students found that all of the advantages supposedly conferred by private education evaporate when socio-demographic characteristics are factored in.There was also no evidence found to suggest that low-income children or children enrolled in urban schools benefit more from private school enrollment.

The results confirm what earlier research found but are especially important amid a movement to privatize public education — encouraged by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos — based in part on the faulty assumption that public schools are inferior to private ones.

Ms. Strauss’ column goes on to emphasize that the findings of the UVA study are not an anomaly: they confirm earlier studies. As I read this column and others by Ms. Strauss, I can almost hear her pulling her hair out as she shouts; “What will it take to convince the public that public schools are doing well!”. As noted repeatedly in previous blog posts and by others in the anti-privatization movement, given the money that stands to be made if public schools are privatized and given that the corporate interests of the media coincide with the profiteers seeking to privatize public schools, I don’t expect the story to change until we find ourselves on the precipice of a disaster… a precipice I sense we are approaching with the appointment of Betsy DeVos, the election of her boss, and the support of the GOP.

Deregulation’s Inevitable Conclusion: Test Scores Don’t Matter

July 24, 2018 Comments off

Diane Ravtich wrote a short post yesterday decrying this “analysis” by the Cato Institute’s Cory DeAngelis decrying the use of test scores to measure the effectiveness of test scores. Here’s Ms. Ravitch’s post in it’s entirety:

For years, for decades, we have been told that the answer to low-scoring public schools was School Choice.

That was until we learned that most charters don’t get higher scores than public schools, and voucher schools actually lead to lower scores.

So school choice advocates now claim that test scores don’t matter, at least not for non-public schools. They are still absolutely essential for public schools, and can be used to stigmatize them and close them down.

But for schools of choice, they just are not all that important. They don’t matter. They only matter for public schools.

Given the libertarian perspective on regulations I am unsurprised at the conclusion that test scores are unimportant. Libertarians don’t believe the government should do anything to interfere with “the market” and that consumers are on their own when they make purchasing decisions. Given their compete faith in “the market”, ANY government regulations are an anathema and any effort to hep consumers make a rational decision are “unfair”. Until faith in government is restored we will continue to witness an erosion of standards.

ECOT and NM Funding: “All the news just repeats itself Like some forgotten dream that we’ve both seen…”

July 24, 2018 Comments off

John Prine wrote many great songs, but few match those on his original album and one phrase from a song on that album, “Hello in There” sticks in my mind whenever I read news stories that seem redundant… and nowadays there are more and more of them. The phrase?

And all the news just repeats itself
Like some forgotten dream that we’ve both seen

That phrase came to mind when I read a post from Diane Ravitch that offered a capsule summary from yesterday’s news feed from Politico that described the fall out from the ECOT scandal in Ohio and the recent court decision in New Mexico that found that state’s funding formula to be inequitable. Ms. Ravitch and some of her commenters seem to think (or hope) that these issues might sway OH and NM to vote Democrats into office. I wish that would be true, but unfortunately it seems that most voters accept the notion promoted by the GOP that deregulation and low taxes are needed to stimulate economic growth, a belief buttressed by their overarching claim that “Godless government is the problem”. Until the Democrats find a message that contradicts this agreeable fantasy they will remain out of power in statehouses across the country and public education will remain underfunded and in the thrall of shysters like those who operate low cost virtual schools like ECOT.