The Network for Public Education has just released a new report that ranks the states by their commitment to their public schools and their refusal to pass laws enabling privatization of public money.

Where does your state rank?

A NEW REPORT EXPOSES THE WEAK PROTECTIONS FOR TAXPAYERS AND WEAK PROTECTIONS FOR CHILDREN IN STATE CHARTER AND VOUCHER LAWS

America’s public schools, students, and families are under a near-constant attack from political special interests looking to privatize and profit at the expense of our children. The Network for Public Education (NPE) has released its findings in its latest report “Public Schooling in America: Measuring Each States Commitment to Democratically Governed Schools.”

Researchers examined laws and regulations in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to measure how well policymakers protect public funds from exploitative privatization through low-quality virtual and brick-and-mortar charter schools, environments without fully-vetted staff, and profit-centered systems. Most troubling were findings that expose how state laws allow charter and voucher schools to leave students behind, discriminating against the most vulnerable.

Diving into the world of school privatization led the report’s authors to some dark conclusions about the future of schooling in America. Reflecting on the school privatization movement, the report notes:

“It has achieved the full-throated support of the right-wing, which now controls many state legislatures. Conserving public schools and local control is no longer part of a conservative platform: destroying locally controlled public schools via privatized choice is.”

Some of the findings might surprise readers, as states like California lead the nation in charter school fraud.

“The reality is these voucher programs and charter school expansions being promoted in state capitols across the country are almost custom-designed to incentivize, legalize, and reward fraud, often coupled with minimal repercussions for misspending public funding meant for our students,” said Carol Burris, executive director of NPE.

The report notes that “the first step in stopping the privatization movement is to understand it.” To help the public understand the scope of the issue, NPE graded each state based on their willingness to turn public dollars over to privatized systems as well as the robustness of their protections against discrimination, fraud, student endangerment, corruption, transparency, and accountability.

At the top of the list are the schools where a commitment to conserving public schools and local control remains strong. Those states receiving an “A+” grade include Nebraska and North Dakota, where there are no voucher or charter school laws.

The details of what they found may be alarming to those working to hold states accountable to democratically governed schools. For example:

  • 50% of states with voucher programs don’t require any background checks for voucher school staff in at least one voucher program
  • 33 (73%) states don’t require charter students to be taught by certified teachers, or allow so many exceptions that any existing regulations are rendered meaningless
  • 37 states allow entirely online charter schools that have been shown to be years behind public schools in academic progress
  • 5 states have for-profit organizations running 30% or more of charter schools.

At the same time, the report is a celebration of those states like Nebraska and North Dakota that despite strong lobbying efforts continue to defend their public schools. Commenting on the highest-scoring states, NPE President Diane Ravitch said, “NPE salutes the states that have protected and cherished their public schools while fending off the siren call of privatization. They can and should build strong public schools that are open to the public and owned by the public.”

To view the full list of grades for each state and see how yours stands on protecting students and communities from the exploitation of privatization, view the report in its entirety here.

The Network for Public Education (NPE) was founded in 2013 by Diane Ravitch and Anthony Cody. Its mission is to protect, preserve, promote, and strengthen public schools for both current and future generations of students. We share information and research on vital issues that concern the future of public education. For more information, please visit: networkforpubliceducation.org