Archives for category: Vouchers

Many readers were upset to learn that Randi Weingarten was speaking at the Teach for America 25th reunion at the Convention Center in Washington, D.C., last weekend.

 

Randi appeared on a panel with Howard Fuller, who advocates for charters and vouchers. Fuller founded the BAEO, the Black Alliance for Educational Options. He goes around the country promoting school choice to black leaders and communities. Many years ago, he was the superintendent in Milwaukee. When he became a choice advocate, he was funded by the rightwing Bradley Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, and others.

 

Randi points out in her article that vouchers have been a failure in Milwaukee, but she wasn’t there to debate Fuller. She explains here why she decided to appear at the TFA event.

 

My purpose was not to debate Fuller; it was to have a conversation about a path forward, to end the ridiculous debate in reform circles that poverty and greater economic issues don’t matter, and to debunk the notion that individual teachers can do it all.

 

I caught some flack on Twitter and Facebook for even attending a TFA event. The AFT and TFA disagree on a number of fundamental issues regarding education. I believe that teacher preparation should reflect the complexity and importance of this work, and that a crash course simply doesn’t cut it — it’s not fair to corps members or their students. Further, I think that TFA’s model of inadequately prepared teachers and high turnover deprofessionalizes teaching by design. And it’s dead wrong when districts use austerity as the excuse to hire TFA recruits as replacements for experienced teachers.

 

Read on.


In Indiana, Republican legislators want to expand the voucher program so more students can attend religious schools paid for by taxpayers. Glenda Ritz opposes the expansion.

 

“Ritz is referring, in part, to an idea in Senate Bill 334, authored by Sen. Carlin Yoder, R-Middlebury, that would allow schools to accept voucher students for the spring semester as late as Jan. 15 — four months after the current Sept. 1 deadline.
“The bill would eliminate provisions in state law that limit students to just one voucher per school year and would do away with current rules requiring students who leave a private school before the year ends to pay back the rest of that year’s tuition. House Education Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis, said he plans to hear the bill, a signal it could have support among House lawmakers.
“At a Senate Education Committee hearing on the bill last month, Yoder said he proposed the bill, which passed the Senate last week 40-9, for programs similar to ones at The Crossing, a network of private religious alternative schools that serve about 2,500 Indiana students.
“The network includes 28 accredited private Christian schools spread throughout Indiana that cater specifically to students who struggled at other schools, were expelled or dropped out.”
“Yoder’s bill, however, would apply to any eligible student who wants to transfer to an eligible private school, not just those who are struggling and want to switch to a school in The Crossing network.”

 

Ritz may not be able to stop the legislative raid on funds that the state constitution reserves only for public schools.

 

Steven Singer, teacher and blogger in Pennsylvania, sums up the top ten reasons to reject school choice. Since National School Choice Week occurred just recently, Singer thought it was an appropriate time to explain what’s wrong with school choice.

 

  1. Voucher programs seldom provide full tuition, so parents must make up the difference. Wealthy parents and middle-income parents can do that, but not poor parents.
  2. Schools of choice don’t have to accept anyone who applies. The real choice belongs to the school. It gets to choose the students it wants.
  3. Charter schools are notorious for kicking out students they don’t want.
  4. Vouchers and charters offer less choice than public schools. If you don’t like the way they operate, you can choose to leave.
  5. Charter schools [and voucher schools] do no better and often much worse than public schools.
  6. Charter schools and voucher schools increase segregation.

 

 

To learn about the other four reasons why school choice is a bad choice, open and read the post.

 

 

 

The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette published a stinging editorial against the state’s voucher program, which Republican leaders want to expand.

 

The newspaper is one of the few strong voices supporting public education in a state that was once known for its excellent public schools. Now it has a governor and legislature determined to undermine the public schools, take resources away, punish its teachers, and transfer funds to charter schools and religious schools.

 

Indiana permits for-profit charters, and they are making money at the expense of children and taxpayers.

 

Any number of sleazy, for-profit operators have opened schools in Indiana.

 

The voucher program this year, the editorial estimates, will cost taxpayers about $130 million, which should have gone to community public schools.

 

 

Jeb Bush hasn’t made much headway in the polls but he is hanging in there, the favorite of the GOP establishment and the best-funded.

 

He recently announced his plan for reforming American education, and it is a paean to school choice. He just doesn’t like public education, period.

 

Peter Greene has performed a public service for us by reviewing Jeb’s proposals. He does so in part 1 and part 2.

 

i will give you some pithy excerpts and encourage you to read the whole thing by yourself.

 

This is from part 1:

 

“For all the conservative love for choice and freedom, it never seems to include the choice and freedom to do things that conservatives believe are Very Wrong, or to say, “We will pick our own choices to choose from, thanks.” That’s in part because the very idea of school choice is fundamentally flawed.

 

“First, nobody wants choice. Rich kids don’t have an advantage because they have choice– they have an advantage because they have access to an excellent education. People want a good school. That’s it. If someone gets a restaurant meal that is undercooked and cold, they don’t say, “Bring me a dozen mediocre meals to chose from.” They want what they want, done right.

 

“Second, choice is not “budget neutral.” When facing a tight budget, no school district says, “No need to shut down any buildings. It wouldn’t save us any money.” You can’t operate several sets of schools (with several sets of administrators) for the cost of one. Anybody who tries to set up a choice system without a plan to fully fund it is smoking something.

 

“Third, choice as currently conceived, disenfranchises a huge part of the electorate and cuts social responsibility out of the picture. If you don’t have a child, you don’t have a say in how tax dollars are spent. Choicer “it’s the family’s choice” rhetoric only goes so far– nobody is seriously suggesting that vouchers be literal vouchers that students can use to go to school, buy a car, or take a vacation in Europe. Choice never seems to include “I choose no school at all.” Choicers haven’t suggested doing away with compulsory education, but they can’t admit that it’s because the students have a level of responsibility to the country that’s paying for their education, because that would mean admitting that families are not the only stakeholders in education, which would conflict with the “the money belongs to the family” theory.

 

“But even if we get past those, we arrive again at the conservative conundrum– if you allow freedom and choice, you have to accept that people may choose things you don’t like, including NOT having a bunch of choices. Conservatives– and Bush is no exception here– keep calling for a system of imposed choice, which is a big screaming oxymoron.”

 

This is from part 2:

 

Bush wants more money for more charter schools, although he reminds us that money is not the answer.

 

Greene goes through the various proposals and here is the bottom line:

 

“Bush is being direct and clear– he would like to get rid of traditional public education. He thinks schools still work like they did two generations ago (there is no excuse for this belief). And he likes blended learning and competency based education, which means he is destined to meet the same people who hammered him over Common Core, only they’ll be carrying different signs.

 

“Also, remember– it’s important to give parents and students a choice, as long as they choose the choices that Bush chooses for them. Under Bush, you can have lots of choices– except for a traditional public school.”

 

 

 

Veteran educator Marion Brady has written a concise guide to the privatization movement.

 

He begins with an overview of the talking points and tactics of the privatizers:

 

“The pitch

 

“Talking Points: (a) Standardized testing proves America’s schools are poor. (b) Other countries are eating our lunch. (c) Teachers deserve most of the blame. (d) The lazy ones need to be forced out by performance evaluations. (e) The dumb ones need scripts to read or “canned standards” telling them exactly what to teach. (f) The experienced ones are too set in their ways to change and should be replaced by fresh Five-Week-Wonders from Teach for America. (Bonus: Replacing experienced teachers saves a ton of money.) (g) Public (“government”) schools are a step down the slippery slope to socialism.

 

“Tactics

 

“Education establishment resistance to privatization is inevitable, so (a) avoid it as long as possible by blurring the lines between “public” and “private.” (b) Push school choice, vouchers, tax write-offs, tax credits, school-business partnerships, profit-driven charter chains. (c) When resistance comes, crank up fear with the, “They’re eating our lunch!” message. (d) Contribute generously to all potential resisters—academic publications, professional organizations, unions, and school support groups such as PTA. (e) Create fake “think tanks,” give them impressive names, and have them do “research” supporting privatization. (f) Encourage investment in teacher-replacer technology—internet access, iPads, virtual schooling, MOOCS, etc. (e) Pressure state legislators to make life easier for profit-seeking charter chains by taking approval decisions away from local boards and giving them to easier-to-lobby state-level bureaucrats. (g) Elect the “right” people at all levels of government. (When they’re campaigning, have them keep their privatizing agenda quiet.)”

 

The key weapon in the privatization campaign is standardized tests. Privatizers use tests to “prove” that public schools are failing.

 

Here is a great line:

 

“If challenged, test fans often quote the late Dr. W. Edward Deming, the world-famous quality guru who showed Japanese companies how to build better stuff than anybody else. In his book, “The New Economics,” Deming wrote, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”

 

“Here’s the whole sentence as he wrote it: “It is wrong to suppose that if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it — a costly myth.”

 

And here’s the clincher:

 

“Notwithstanding their serious problems, America’s public schools were once the envy of the world. Now, educators around that world shake their heads in disbelief (or maybe cheer?) as we spend billions of dollars to standardize what once made America great—un-standardized thought.”

 

 

 

 

 

The Foundation for Excellence in Education, founded by Jeb Bush, but now run by Condoleeza Rice, called for an immediate reversal of the Nevada decision halting the state’s voucher program. They said it would cause “irreparable harm” to the less than 1% of the state’s students who signed  up for vouchers.

 

 

ExcelinEd Calls for Immediate Reversal of Nevada Education Savings Account Program Injunction

 

Tallahassee, Fla. – Today, Carson City District Court Judge James Wilson granted a preliminary injunction that orders the State Treasurer to stop implementing Nevada’s new education savings accounts pending further court deliberations.

 

 

Patricia Levesque, CEO of the Foundation for Excellence in Education (ExcelinEd), released the following statement.

 

 

“Today’s action by a Nevada District Judge to block the groundbreaking new Education Savings Accounts program will harm Nevada families and their ability provide a great education for their children. Every child deserves access to the education that will empower them to succeed. And parents should be able to choose the best education option for their children. Today’s action will cause irreparable harm, disruption and uncertainty for Nevada families and the 4,100 children who were counting on these accounts for their education. ExcelinEd calls for the immediate overturning of this Judge’s harmful action.”

 
###

 

Statement from @ExcelinEd calls for immediate reversal of injunction in Nevada. Read here:http://bit.ly/1mSCzZr #NVed #NVleg
Today, Nevada judge granted injunction to stop implementing ESAs. @ExcelinEd calls for immediate reversal http://bit.ly/1mSCzZr #nved

Yesterday, a district judge in Nevada ruled that state’s “education savings accounts” (aka vouchers) to be unconstitutional. Here is an analysis of the opinion by some of the legal team for the parents who sued the state.

 
Here is the link. It contains a link to the decision itself.

 

COURT DECLARES NEVADA VOUCHER LAW VIOLATES STATE CONSTITUTION

PUBLIC SCHOOL PARENTS WIN INJUNCTION TO STOP IRREPARABLE HARM

 
January 11, 2016

 

 

Judge James Wilson of the First Judicial District Court of Nevada (Carson City) held in Lopez v. Schwartzthat the state’s school voucher law (SB 302) enacted last summer by the Legislature violates two provisions of the Nevada Constitution. Judge Wilson issued a preliminary injunction to prevent the State from implementing the law.

 
The case challenging the voucher law was filed by parents of Nevada public school children from across the state. They argued that the program would divert scarce funding from public schools, triggering cuts to essential programs and services for their children and all other children attending Nevada’s public schools. 

 
The Court explained that the Nevada Constitution requires the Legislature to appropriate funds for the operation of the public schools, which “must only be used to fund the operation of the public schools.” [Nevada Constitution, Article 11, Sections 6.1 and 6.2.] However, the Court continued, under the voucher law, if implemented, “some amount of general funds appropriated to fund…the public schools will be diverted to fund” the vouchers for private school tuition and other uses. 

 
Judge Wilson further found that the parents “have [proven] that SB 302 violates Article 11, Sections 6.1 and 6.2, and that irreparable harm will result if an injunction is not entered. Therefore an injunction will issue to enjoin Treasurer Schwartz,” who is charged with implementing the law, from doing so.

 
“This is a clear victory for the 460,000 children attending Nevada’s public schools,” said David G. Sciarra, ELC Executive Director and member of the legal team representing the plaintiffs. “We’re pleased that Judge Wilson found that the Legislature cannot take funding designated for the operation of the public schools and transfer that funding to private schools and other private education expenses.”
The Court will next schedule a trial on the merits. 

 
The pro bono counsel representing the parents in their lawsuit include Education Law Center in Newark and Las Vegas; Wolf, Rifkin, Shapiro, Schulman & Rabkin LLP based in Nevada; and, Munger, Tolles & Olson in Los Angeles.

 
The Attorney General is representing the State of Nevada and defending State Treasurer Dan Schwartz. 

 

Also- this is from Educate Nevada Now

 

 

JUDGE WILSON RULES IN FAVOR OF NEVADA PARENTS

Grants Preliminary Injunction To Block

Unconstitutional Private School Voucher Law

 

 

LAS VEGAS, NV (Jan. 11, 2016) – Today, Judge James Wilson in the First Judicial District Court in Carson City issued an order halting implementation of Nevada’s unlimited voucher program. The ruling is a clear victory for the children attending public schools all across the state.

 
Educate Nevada Now (ENN), powered by The Rogers Foundation, stands fully behind these parents’ efforts to safeguard Nevada’s public schools.

 
Judge Wilson’s ruling grants a preliminary injunction to halt implementation of Senate Bill 302 (SB302), a private school voucher law that would have otherwise diverted funds from public schools beginning as early as February. 

 
“Not only the plaintiffs won today,” said Sylvia Lazos, ENN’s Policy Director. “Judge Wilson’s ruling is a victory for all 460,000 public school children in Nevada, their parents, teachers, administrators and school board members. We are thrilled with the decision and look forward to continuing dialogue focused on improving our state’s education systems.”

 
Today’s decision upholds the important legal principle that the Nevada Constitution protects the educational rights of all children. It also affirms the Constitutional requirement that public school funding, once earmarked by the Legislature, can only be dedicated to supporting public education and nothing else.

 

 

The legal team representing Nevada parents in this case are working pro bono. The team consists of: Tamerlin J. Godley, Laura Mathe, Samuel Boyd and Thomas Clancy of Munger, Tolles & Olson, LLP; Don Springmeyer, Justin Jones and Bradley Schrager of Wolf, Rifkin, Shapiro, Schulman & Rabkin, LLP; and David Sciarra and Amanda Morgan of the nonprofit Education Law Center, a partner of ENN and The Rogers Foundation.

 
For more information, visit http://www.educatenevadanow.com or follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 
About Educate Nevada Now

 

Educate Nevada Now, powered by The Rogers Foundation, is a multi-year campaign aimed at securing school finance reform and improving education outcomes and opportunities for all of Nevada’s public school children. The campaign raises awareness about the need for school funding reform, engages parents, students, and community and statewide stakeholders in the effort, conducts critical research, proposes policies to address funding and resource deficiencies, and ensures the effective and efficient use of resources in schools and districts. A centerpiece of the Educate Nevada Now strategy is to break legislative gridlock and move the focus to the rights of children. For more information, visit http://www.educatenevadanow.com.

 
About The Rogers Foundation

 
The Rogers Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based in Las Vegas, Nevada. Founded in 2013 by James E. and Beverly Rogers, The Rogers Foundation awards scholarships to individual students in Southern Nevada and grants to educational institutions, artists and organizations that support the arts in Southern Nevada. For more information, visit http://www.therogers.foundation.

# # # 

Media Contact:

Jeff Wagner Agency

Ryan Marquardt

ryanm@jeffwagneragency.com

309-531-7464

Michelle Loosbrock

michelle@jeffwagneragency.com

702.287.4130

In the first evaluation of the Louisiana voucher program, the results are negative for the students involved. It is an evaluation of only the first year, so perhaps things will get better in the future. But given the low quality of many of the voucher schools, that doesn’t seem likely. The best private and sectarian schools accept few or no voucher students. Many of those that accept vouchers are struggling to survive.

 

Here is the take-away:

 

This comparison reveals that LSP participation substantially reduces academic achievement. Attendance at an LSP-eligible private school lowers math scores by 0.4 standard deviations and increases the likelihood of a failing score by 50 percent. Voucher effects for reading, science and social studies are also negative and large.

 

 

 

Atila Abdulkadiroglu, Parag A. Pathak, Christopher R. Walters

 
NBER Working Paper No. 21839
Issued in December 2015

We evaluate the Louisiana Scholarship Program (LSP), a prominent school voucher plan. The LSP provides public funds for disadvantaged students at low-performing Louisiana public schools to attend private schools of their choice. LSP vouchers are allocated by random lottery at schools with more eligible applicants than available seats. We estimate causal effects of voucher receipt by comparing outcomes for lottery winners and losers in the first year after the program expanded statewide. This comparison reveals that LSP participation substantially reduces academic achievement. Attendance at an LSP-eligible private school lowers math scores by 0.4 standard deviations and increases the likelihood of a failing score by 50 percent. Voucher effects for reading, science and social studies are also negative and large. The negative impacts of vouchers are consistent across income groups, geographic areas, and private school characteristics, and are larger for younger children. These effects are not explained by the quality of fallback public schools for LSP applicants: students lotteried out of the program attend public schools with scores below the Louisiana average. Survey data show that LSP-eligible private schools experience rapid enrollment declines prior to entering the program, indicating that the LSP may attract private schools struggling to maintain enrollment. These results suggest caution in the design of voucher systems aimed at expanding school choice for disadvantaged students.

At least two lawsuits have been filed to stop Nevada’s sweeping “education savings account” legislation, which would allow parents to use public funds to enroll their children in private or religious schools or for home schooling. Today, District Judge James E. Wilson, Jr., ruled in one of those cases. He issued a preliminary injunction against the law, in that it does irreparable harm to the parents who sued by diverting public funds from public schools.

 

I will post more tomorrow on this decision.

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