Even as Rahm Emanuel says he has no money for schools, none at all, the cupboard is bare….. He somehow managed to find $55 million to build a private basketball stadium. Now, this is a mayor with priorities!
Even as Rahm Emanuel says he has no money for schools, none at all, the cupboard is bare….. He somehow managed to find $55 million to build a private basketball stadium. Now, this is a mayor with priorities!
A few years ago, a study released by the American Enterprise Institute concluded that teachers are overpaid.
Not so, writes CNN contributor LZ Granderson. In this wonderful article, he shows the every day courage of teachers–most recently demonstrated when a devastating tornado hit an elementary school in Moore, Oklahoma, and last December when teachers in Newtown, Connecticut, died shielding their students.
Here is the AP story about the Oklahoma tornado, showing how quickly teachers protected their children.
When the think tank desk jockeys have long been forgotten, we will still remember our teachers.
The Forward Institute of Wisconsin released a new study of education policy in the state.
This is a statement made by the Institute’s Chair, Scott Wittkopf:
Wisconsin has always been a leader in K-12 public education because we have long valued the right of every child to receive a quality public education. The fundamental nature of our values is reflected in the State Constitution, which guarantees all children equal access to educational opportunity in our public schools. That constitutional right is now being systematically eroded and defunded. The research presented in this report shows that current fiscal policy and education funding are depriving our poorest students access to a sound public education. Public schools are not failing our children, Wisconsin legislators and policymakers are failing the public schools that serve our children.
Our comprehensive report documents in detail that the resources being afforded schools and students of poverty are insufficient, and facing further reduction. Moreover, the resources being diverted from schools of poverty into non-traditional alternative education programs are producing questionable results with little to no accountability for the state funding they receive.
The following seven points highlight critical findings of our study:
1. The number of students in poverty has nearly doubled since 1997, increasing from 24% of all students to 42% (Reference Poster Figure 1). At the same time, inflation-adjusted state funding of public education has fallen to its lowest level in over 17 years. On average, schools with higher poverty enrollment levels have experienced per-pupil funding cuts over 2 times the cuts in the most affluent districts.
2. Analyzing state testing data revealed a paradox within economically disadvantaged (ED) students scoring proficient or advanced. As ED enrollment increased, the percentage of ED students scoring proficient or advanced also increased. Our analysis discovered that as more children dropped into ED due to economic circumstances, they brought their typically higher test scores into the ED group. This has resulted in the false perception that poorer students’ test proficiency rates have been rising. Further, as ED enrollment approaches 50%, we are seeing a plateau and beginning of a downward trend in ED scores. A student who begins in poverty does not have previously higher scores to bring into a cohort, as we observed over the past decade. Therefore, we can expect to see a growing achievement gap between ED and non-ED test scores in the coming decade.
3. If the Walker proposal to increase voucher school funding is adopted, over $2,000 more will go to a K-8 voucher student than a public school student. A voucher high school student will receive nearly $3000 more in state aid than a public school student (Reference Poster Figure #2). When controlling for inflation, K-8 voucher schools will have seen a $400 increase, and voucher high schools a $1000 increase in per student funding from the 1999 school year. In comparison, public schools will have seen a $1000 per student decrease from the 1999 level. The economic disparities in state funding between voucher and public schools are important in the education funding debate. As we will demonstrate, there is evidence that voucher schools have no positive effect on student graduation/attainment levels or test scores. This raises the question, is there sufficient evidence to support the claim of voucher advocates that voucher schools afford a better educational opportunity to students? Based on the data, we conclude the evidence does not support this claim.
4. The new School Report Card scores released by the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) have a strong correlation to the level of poverty in any given school and school district (reference poster figure #3). Nearly half of the school-to-school difference in Report Card Scores can be explained by the difference in poverty level from school to school. When compared to other factors at the school district level such as teacher experience, racial demographics, and per pupil revenue limits, poverty still accounts for 44% of the school district difference in Report Card scores. This fact makes any use of the DPI School Report Cards for significant funding or incentive decisions poor public policy.
5. The Walker budget proposes to expand voucher schools into districts where School Report Card scores “fail to meet expectations.” This proposal will assure that more schools and school districts of high poverty will lose resources. As we have shown, School Report Card scores are directly correlated to level of poverty, and districts with underperforming schools are therefore districts with schools of higher poverty. Funding to operate the voucher school expansion will come directly out of those public schools of highest poverty.
6. Milwaukee voucher program students underperform Milwaukee Public School (MPS) students on statewide tests, with a lower percentage of students scoring proficient or advanced. In the Milwaukee voucher program (based on two years’ (2010-2012) data) over 20 children graduate for every child testing proficient in 10th grade reading. The statewide ratio is about 1:1. The MPS ratio is about 2:1. In mathematics, the statewide ratio is about 1:1, MPS ratio is about 3:1, and the voucher student ratio is over 50:1.That means over 20 voucher students graduate for every voucher student proficient in 10th grade reading, and over 50 voucher students graduate for every voucher student proficient in 10th grade mathematics. This translates into a much higher cost in state aid for a voucher student to become proficient or advanced than an MPS or high poverty statewide student to become proficient or advanced (reference poster figure #4). This provides a stark illustration of the high cost to taxpayers for low student proficiency in the voucher program, and raises a significant question of educational adequacy for voucher schools, as the expectation should be for a high school graduate to be proficient in reading and math.
7. As a result of recent budget decisions resulting in education austerity, there is strong evidence that the current public education funding and delivery system in Wisconsin is unconstitutional. When compared to their more affluent peers, students of poverty are not receiving an adequate public education as defined by State Supreme Court precedent, statutes, and the State Constitution. Further, the system has created two distinct classes of students, those of poverty and non-poverty. Both groups have predictable outcomes based on level of poverty. Recent budgeting decisions are exacerbating this dichotomy.
Based on our conclusions, we present the following 5 policy recommendations:
1. Fair Funding – The Legislature should approve, and the Governor should sign, Dr. Tony Evers’ “Fair Funding” formula into law. This would be a first step toward addressing the increasing needs of rural and urban districts most affected by poverty.
2. Address Issues of Poverty and Education – The two greatest challenges to ensuring a prosperous and vibrant Wisconsin for future generations are poverty and education. The Governor should join with non-partisan, bi-partisan, broad-based constituent groups to appoint a “Blue Ribbon Commission.” This commission should be charged with a one-year mission to develop a statewide plan bringing parents and communities (rural and urban) impacted by poverty together for the purpose of implementing an intervention plan to address poverty and education issues. There are already successful models in communities that address the external poverty issues that have negative effects on education. Achievement gaps are largely attributable to factors outside of school walls. If Wisconsin is to substantially narrow these gaps, education policy must incorporate health and nutrition supports and after-school enrichment to address barriers to learning that are driven by child poverty.
3. Voucher Program Sunset – The twenty-year Milwaukee and one-year Racine private school voucher experiment should be sunsetted by the Legislature in 2024. The voucher experiment can show no positive voucher school effects on student outcomes and attainment, beyond what already can be attributed to the voucher schools’ select student demographic and parental factors. Taxpayers should not be forced to fund a second statewide school district, nor an expensive entitlement program, when the public schools are not failing. It is, in fact, the state of Wisconsin that is failing public schools and the children they serve. Dividing resources between two statewide school districts exacerbates this growing problem in the face of increasing poverty rates.
4. Charter Schools – Charter schools eligible for state aid should be allowed only under the auspices and as an instrumentality of an existing public school district to ensure public accountability in fiscal, academic, staff, and student functions.
5. School Report Cards – School Report Cards issued by DPI should be used as part of the big picture to measure overall school and student performance along with other standards and measures, balancing “input” (educational access, quality, services, resources, etc.) and “output” (student results). It should be acknowledged that the use of School Report Cards exclusively for reward, incentive, funding, penalty, or other fiscal consequence is improper, poor public policy, and would further erode access to educational opportunity.
This report demonstrates in detail that the resources being afforded schools and students of poverty are insufficient, and indeed are facing further reduction. Moreover, the resources being diverted from schools of poverty into non-traditional alternative education programs are producing questionable results with little to no accountability for the funding they receive. The failure of Wisconsin policy makers to acknowledge and address these issues is creating a generation of economically disadvantaged students that will lag far behind their more fortunate peers.
Public schools are not failing Wisconsin’s students, the state of Wisconsin is failing the public schools which serve these students.
The full report can be accessed here:
The full data will be posted within two days on our “Research” page.
On May 27, the legislature ends its session. Supporters of public education are keeping fingers crossed that no damaging measures pass in the next two weeks.
The head of the Senate Committee on Education, Dan Patrick, loves vouchers and most anything except public schools. The head of the House Committee on Public Education, Jimmie Don Aycock, is a Republican who believes in public schools.
Meanwhile various lobbying groups are fending off or advancing their own views.
Raise Your Hand Texas generally supports public schools and is opposed to vouchers.
Texans for Education Reform is strong for online charters and charters in general.
Texas parents and teachers are fortunate to have a wealthy Texan who supports public schools, name of Charles Butt.
Mr. Butt made his fortune in the grocery business and he has a keen sense of civic duty.
The sides are not clear-cut. Mike Feinberg of KIPP is a member of the board of Raise Your Hand Texas, which is anti-voucher.
Texans for Education Reform mouths the usual deform platitudes about how they are “for” something (privatization) and their opponents are just against.
Meanwhile, parents are eager to see the legislature restore some of the $5.4 billion they cut from the public schools two years ago–before they discovered the state had a surplus.
Rebecca Poyourow, parent activist, wrote a terrific op-ed calling on Governor Corbett to stop the cuts that are devastating the schools.
In 2011-12, the governor cut $1 billion from the schools, and the cuts hurry Philadelphia the most. Class sizes soared, parents chipped in to replace staff, after-school programs were eliminated, even basic supplies had to given to the school.
While parents and teachers are pinching pennies, the state-appointed school reform commission continues throwing away money, she says. “We know that our actions, while laudable, will amount to very little if our schools are persistently and pervasively underfunded. We also know that our efforts to support our kids’ schools are undermined every time the School District and the School Reform Commission make spending decisions that squander what resources Philadelphia does have on charter expansion ($139 million last year), a questionable new cyber charter venture ($15 million proposed), and new contracts with testing companies ($11 million), as well as other contracts and programs that add little benefit to our children’s education.”
In little Buena Vista, Michigan, the schools have been decimated by budget cuts and declining enrollments. Faced with the threat of bankruptcy, the teachers offered to work for free. The district laid them all off and is closing the schools.
Who says that Americans don’t care about education? Maybe Governor Snyder will send in an emergency manager to give the children to a for-profit charter chain that will rehire the teachers and cut their pay and benefits.
The schools close officially on Tuesday, which is Teacher Appreciation Day.
You think it can’t happen here?
You think your state is immune?
Read about the war on public education in Texas and think again.
Some part of this radical agenda is being promoted in almost every state.
This comment was written by Bonnie Lesley of “Texas Kids Can’t Wait”:
“I worry a lot whether public schools will continue to exist in some states. Our organization, Texas Kids Cant Wait, has felt overwhelmed at times this legislative session about the sheer number of privatization bills, all either sponsored by Sen. Dan Patrick or by someone close to him. We have been battling a big charter (what is in reality the gateway drug to privatization) expansion bill, a parent-trigger bill, opportunity scholarships, taxpayer savings grants, achievement district, “FamiliesFirstSchools”, home-rule districts, vouchers for kids with disabilities, online course expansion, numerous bills to close public schools and turn them over to private charter companies, and on and on. A friend said it is as if they threw a whole bowl full of spaghetti at the wall, believing something would stick.
Every one of the ALEC bills we have seen introduced in other states has been introduced in Texas this year.
The privatizers have also held hostage the very popular bills such as HB 5 to reduce testing significantly unless their privatization bills advanced, and advance they have. So lots of folks are playing poker with kids’s lives and futures.
What keeps many of us fighting 20 hours a day and digging into our own pockets to fund the work is our understanding that these bills are not the end game. We’ve read the web sites, beginning with Milton Freidman’s epistle on the Cato Institute’s website, that lay out the insidious plan we are seeing played out. We have also read Naomi Klein’s brilliant book, Shock Doctrine.
First, impose ridiculous standards and assessments on every school.
Second, create cut points on the assessments to guarantee high rates of failure. (I was in the room when it was done in the State of Delaware, protesting all the way, but losing).
Third, implement draconian accountability systems designed to close as many schools as possible. Then W took the plan national with NCLB.
Fourth, use the accountability system to undermine the credibility and trust that almost everyone gave to public schools. increase the difficulty of reaching goals annually.
Fifth, de-professionalize educators with alternative certification, merit pay, evaluations tied to test scores, scripted curriculum, attacks on professional organizations, phony research that tries to make the case that credentials and experience don’t matter, etc.
Sixth, start privatization with public funded charters with a promise that they will be laboratories of innovation. Many of us fell for that falsehood. Apply pressure each legislative session to implement more and more of them. Then Arne Duncan did so on steroids.
Seventh, use Madison Avenue messaging to name bills to further trick people into acceptance, if not support, of every conceivable voucher scheme. The big push now as states implement Freidman austerity budgets to create a crisis is to portray vouchers as a cheaper way to “save” schools. The bills that would force local boards to sell off publicly owned facilities for $1 each is also part of the overall scheme not only to destroy our schools, but also to make it fiscally impossible for us to recover them if we ever again elect a sane government. Too, districts had to make cuts in their budgets in precisely the areas that research says matter most: quality teachers, preschool, small classes, interventions for struggling students, and rigorous expectations and curriculum. See our report: http://www.equitycenter.org. Click on book, Money STILL Matters in bottom right corner.
Eighth, totally destroy public education with so-called universal vouchers. They have literally already published the handbook. You can find it numerous places on the web.
Ninth, start eliminating the vouchers and charters, little by little.
And, tenth, totally eliminate the costs of education from local, state, and national budgets, thereby providing another huge transfer of wealth through huge tax cuts to the already-billionaire class.
And then only the wealthy will have schools for their kids.
Aw, you may say. They can’t do that! My response is that yes, they most certainly will unless you and I stop it!”
This was written by a parent in Los Angeles, who blogs as the Red Queen in LA:
Disarticulating Public Schools
It was a bad day 30 years ago when some business management-type decided to restructure academic departments to be fiscally self-sustaining, economically independent. In this scenario university libraries, a service-providing unit with no inherent money-generating capacity, would be held to the same standard as, say, microbiology with all its grant-overhead revenue generating potential.
Faddish ideas are hard to stop, even bad ones and so this conundrum has trickled down to our primary and secondary level of schooling too. But the model there remains inherently inappropriate; it can never be made to work. Nevertheless in insisting on the impossible, that such departments “pull their own weight”, the standing of libraries has devolved to that of ‘frivolous luxury’, akin to nail-art salons or a car wash.
This is a really bad paradigm. Libraries may be service-oriented, but the service they provide is fundamental support for the essentially solitary activity of learning. While teachers may broker the ingredients necessary for learning, at the end of the day each and every pupil must do their very own hard work of incorporating new material into their understanding. This requires nurturing the intellectual space of the pupil, to provide the support and safety necessary for that process of learning, the rearranging of one’s existing canon of knowledge into a novel set of explanatory connections.
And this is the true function of a library: it provides an atmosphere where ideas can be suspended long enough to permit rearrangement. Libraries are the petrie dish of intellect and the information stored there provides the agar of learning. But students themselves muster the work necessary to grow understanding.
Until it is clear that a library is the portal of learning, students will be without the means to accomplish their essential, lonely task. Libraries are the common intellectual meeting ground of individualized learners.
Now infuse that scenario with the isolation of the immigrant’s experience. That library becomes the embodiment of the hard task they face bootstrapping knowledge and understanding. That library provides the means for their unbelievably difficult task, just literally and physically in the form of electronic equipment and other tools, but also spiritually in the form of language and information, there for those able to invest their hard work in the effort. That library is the very key to dispelling the immigrant’s disenfranchisement. That library is a dream, sustaining the dream of Dreamers.
When we defund a school’s library, we dismantle the very capacity of the school to conduct its mission. Exterminating librarians defeats the purpose of school itself. When the librarian leaves and the library is starved, we lose our very access to the sustenance of learning and knowledge.
This is a fascinating and rather frightening essay about the quest for a teaching machine.
Philip McRae, the author, looks at the historical search for a machine that would standardize teaching, making it cost-efficient and providing a common curriculum. Then he describes the present-day efforts to aggregate Big Data, discover patterns, and create a platform through which content might be delivered to 100 or 200 students in a class.
Here is the pivotal line:
“At its most innocent it is a renewed attempt at bringing back behaviourism and operant conditioning to make learning more efficient. At its most sinister; it establishes children as measurable commodities to be cataloged and capitalized upon by corporations. It is a movement that could be the last tsunami that systematically privatizes public education systems.”
This just in from Bill Phillis of the Ohio Education and Adequacy coalition.
Bill served as Deputy Commissioner of Education in Ohio and is a stalwart advocate for adequate funding for public schools.
He helped create a community-based organization called Strong Schools, Strong Communities. If you live in Ohio, you should join the movement to save public education.
Bill Phillis writes:
FY2014-FY2015 State Budget Proposal: Amended Substitute House Bill 59 voted out of the House Finance and Appropriations Committee
April 16, 2013
The administration proposed a state budget that would continue the downward financial spiral of school districts. The per pupil base cost was $732 lower than the FY 2009 amount. Administration officials firmly stated that the per pupil amount was not based on adequacy. It was a disaster to most school districts. The House committees heard heart wrenching testimony requesting substantial changes in the budget proposal for public K-12 education.
A substitute bill rearranged the chairs; creating a new set of school district winners and losers and provided $373 million less. The amended version passed today continues the same flawed school funding structure.
Ohio E & A
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