Archives for the month of: September, 2022

Jeremy Mohler is communications director for the nonpartisan organization “In the Public Interest,” which fights the privatization of public goods and services. This article draws a link between policies of privatization and the rise of rightwing populism

He writes:

It’s one sentence in a 1,244-word article, but it made me pause and think deeply.

The article is a guest essay in the New York Times about the rise of Sweden’s far-right political party, which was created out of a neo-Nazi group and resembles the increasingly Trumpian Republican Party with its hatred of immigrants, journalists, and others.

The sentence: “Once one of the most economically equal countries in the world, Sweden has seen the privatization of hospitals, schools and care homes, leading to a notable rise in inequality and a sense of profound loss.”

That makes me wonder: How much has privatization contributed to soaring far-right populism, white nationalism, and fascism in the U.S.?

In Sweden, argues journalist and author Elisabeth Asbrink, high levels of political and economic inequality leaves people looking for answers to why they’re suffering and who is to blame—and far right leaders are happy to provide them.

“It was better in the good old days, [those leaders] say, and people believe them,” Asbrink writes. “Back to red cottages and apple trees, to law and order, to women being women and men being men.”

Sound familiar?

As we have documented, the privatization of public schools, water, and other public goods increases inequality. Government contractors create new fees for things like delinquent tax payments and probation. They lower wages and benefits for workers. Privatization also has helped shred crucial parts of the social safety net, like Medicaid.

Scholars have argued along these lines for some time now. “Neoliberalism creates a failed democracy,” says cultural critic Henry A. Giroux, “and in doing so, opens up the fascists’ use of fear and terror to transform a state of exception into a state of emergency.”

But I think it’s important to highlight the role of privatization—something embraced by both parties for the past 40 or so years.

A Democratic candidate for governor of Pennsylvania, Josh Shapiro, recently endorsed private school vouchers, which would take public money from the state’s lowest funded public schools and give it to private schools.

Like privately operated charter schools, private school vouchers might help some students, but they leave most of the others behind in public schools starving for resources.

Conservatives have long pushed for such privatization schemes, and Democrats have too often joined them. Meanwhile, America’s far too many underfunded schools continue to suffer—with policies like charter schools and vouchers only making things worse.

And we wonder why “Make America Great Again” resonates with so many people.

Jerry Zahorchak, a former Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Education, explains why the Republicans’ voucher bill would harm students and public schools and deepen inequity.

He writes:

Imagine a school district with $4,000 less to spend per student than its wealthier neighbors with many students who lack supports to reach grade-level. How would you help?

Most people would guarantee that this school district had funds to hire enough teachers and aides to give students who are behind supports. Indeed, nearly two-thirds of Pennsylvania parents in a recent PSBA (Pennsylvania School Boards Association) poll agreed that struggling schools need more resources.

Legislative leaders are instead considering taking taxpayer money away from some of the state’s lowest funded schools and sending it private schools, no strings attached.

The bill, HB 2169, passed the State House in May and could be considered by the state Senate at any time this session. Under the bill, students who live in the attendance zone of public schools with test scores in the bottom 15% statewide would be eligible to receive the average per-student state funding for public schools – around $7,000 per year – as a voucher that can be used for any qualified educational expense, including private school tuition. Funding would come directly from their local school district, and would cost struggling school districts around $140 million annually (PSBA).

Rather than giving students in underfunded schools resources, they would use taxpayer money to fuel the private market. Families would be on their own, forgetting that we all have a stake in making sure that each child learns to cooperate with neighbors of every stripe and become self-supporting, knowledgeable citizens.

Proponents claim these “lifeline scholarships” will help families access quality education they wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford. The real story is not so simple.

Supporters never mention that districts with high academic performance are able to spend around $4,600 more per student on average than low-performing districts. These resource gaps – which will be worse with HB 2169 – closely track local wealth. When we adjust for the fact that poor school districts serve more students in poverty and other students who need more support, the gap between wealthy and poor school districts is more than $7,000 per student.

The fantasy that the private market will provide a better deal for students at a cheaper price falls apart under scrutiny.

Private schools often reject students that public schools rightfully must educate: students who are behind grade-level, have behavioral challenges, are learning English and more. There’s no guarantee to make private schools accommodate students with disabilities, unlike public schools where federal laws guarantee students with disabilities the right to a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). Private schools can reject students simply because they don’t “fit the culture” or can’t pay the entire cost of tuition. Because many of these students need services that cost more, there is an incentive to say no.

Please open the link and read the rest of his article.

The voucher bill was narrowly passed by the Republican-led House and also the State Semate Education committee.

For some inexplicable reason, it was endorsed by Josh Shapiro, the Democratic candidate for Governor.

New York City has long had a significant means of sorting and labeling students. When Michael Bloomberg became mayor, he expanded the number of selective middle schools. It’s not clear whether he was trying to lure white parents to stay in the city or whether he was a dyed-in-the-wool believer in test-based meritocracy.

Whatever the case, New York City has large numbers of selective middle schools. The New York City Bar Association, through its Civil Rights and Education and Law committees, issued a call to eliminate selective admissions in middle schools.

For what it’s worth, when I attended public schools in Houston, Texas, many years ago, there were no selective schools. I attended my neighborhood elementary school, junior high school, and high school.

Things have changed. For better or worse?

Contact: Eric Friedman

efriedman@nycbar.org

Eli Cohen

Eecohen@nycbar.org


PERMANENTLY ELIMINATE COMPETITIVE ADMISSIONS TO NEW YORK CITY MIDDLE-SCHOOLS

Chancellor Banks and the New York City Department of Education Should Not Reinstate Screens

New York, September 19, 2022 – The New York City Bar Association (City Bar), through its Civil Rights and Education and the Law Committees,[1] renews its calls for the New York City Department of Education (DOE) to eliminate competitive admissions to the City’s public middle schools. We are concerned by reports that DOE is considering reinstating the screens for middle school students and we urge that this practice not be restored.

 

The City Bar first called for the elimination of competitive admissions for the City’s public elementary and middle schools during the de Blasio Administration, arguing that the policy unnecessarily segregates our students, schools and educational programs, leaving some students without the opportunity for enriched learning that all of our children deserve.[2] In support of those conclusions, our letters noted that:

 

 

  • Measures of young children’s ability and behavior through competitive admission screening and testing are unreliable and racially biased.

 

  • Competitive admissions for very young children are pedagogically unsound because research demonstrates that all children derive educational and social benefits from diverse classrooms with students of differing races, economic backgrounds and learning abilities.

 

  • The practice of excluding the majority of certain socioeconomic and racial groups of young children from a large percentage of public institutions, through the use of middle school screens was inequitable, conducive to racial hierarchy and inconsistent with our democratic ideals.[3]

 

It would be deeply problematic to reinstate middle school screens and allow public schools and programs within schools that opt for that process to effectively close their doors to the majority of students. Student-assignment methods for middle school should take into account the characteristics of individual students only for the purpose of achieving balanced and equitable access for all students – not for the disproportionate exclusion of historically disadvantaged groups.

 

For all the reasons outlined in our previous letters, and as was most recently argued in the New York Appleseed’s September 16 letter,[4] the City Bar calls on Schools Chancellor David Banks and DOE to permanently end the use of middle school screens.

 

[1] The Civil Rights Committee addresses issues affecting the civil rights of New Yorkers, especially the rights of marginalized communities. The Education and the Law Committee addresses K-12 and higher education, and legal and policy education issues affecting the city, state, and nation. Both Committees’ memberships include attorneys from state and local government agencies, law firms, not-for-profit organizations, and law-school faculty. Education and the Law members also include K-12 educators and education consultants. Committee members are acting in their respective individual capacities as members of the City Bar, not in their professional or academic roles.

2 “Eliminate Competitive Admissions to NYC Public Elementary & Middle Schools,” New York City Bar Association, May 1, 2019, https://www.nycbar.org/member-and-career-services/committees/reports-listing/reports/detail/eliminate-competitive-admissions-to-nyc-public-elementary-and-middle-schools; see also “Letter in Support of Eliminating Competitive Admissions in NYC’s Public Elementary and Middle Schools,” New York City Bar Association, Nov. 1, 2019, https://www.nycbar.org/member-and-career-services/committees/reports-listing/reports/detail/letter-in-support-of-eliminating-competitive-admissions-in-nycs-public-elementary-and-middle-schools.

3 Please note that we do not include in these recommendations programs or schools in which facility with a certain language or demonstrated capability in the Arts is a prerequisite.

4 Letter to Chancellor David C. Banks, NYC. Dept. of Education, “Call to Permanently End Middle-School Screens,” NY Appleseed, Sept. 16, 2022, https://www.nyappleseed.org/wp-content/uploads/LetterToChancellorBanks_-End-MS-Screens-Permanently_Sept22.pdf.

 

About the Association

The mission of the New York City Bar Association, which was founded in 1870 and has over 23,000 members, is to equip and mobilize a diverse legal profession to practice with excellence, promote reform of the law, and uphold the rule of law and access to justice in support of a fair society and the public interest in our community, our nation, and throughout the world. www.nycbar.org



[1] The Civil Rights Committee addresses issues affecting the civil rights of New Yorkers, especially the rights of marginalized communities. The Education and the Law Committee addresses K-12 and higher education, and legal and policy education issues affecting the city, state, and nation. Both Committees’ memberships include attorneys from state and local government agencies, law firms, not-for-profit organizations, and law-school faculty. Education and the Law members also include K-12 educators and education consultants. Committee members are acting in their respective individual capacities as members of the City Bar, not in their professional or academic roles.

[2] “Eliminate Competitive Admissions to NYC Public Elementary & Middle Schools,” New York City Bar Association, May 1, 2019, https://www.nycbar.org/member-and-career-services/committees/reports-listing/reports/detail/eliminate-competitive-admissions-to-nyc-public-elementary-and-middle-schools; see also “Letter in Support of Eliminating Competitive Admissions in NYC’s Public Elementary and Middle Schools,” New York City Bar Association, Nov. 1, 2019, https://www.nycbar.org/member-and-career-services/committees/reports-listing/reports/detail/letter-in-support-of-eliminating-competitive-admissions-in-nycs-public-elementary-and-middle-schools.

[3] Please note that we do not include in these recommendations programs or schools in which facility with a certain language or demonstrated capability in the Arts is a prerequisite.

[4] Letter to Chancellor David C. Banks, NYC. Dept. of Education, “Call to Permanently End Middle-School Screens,” NY Appleseed, Sept. 16, 2022, https://www.nyappleseed.org/wp-content/uploads/LetterToChancellorBanks_-End-MS-Screens-Permanently_Sept22.pdf.

_._,_._,_

Bill Phillis has spent years battling for the principle that public funds should go only to public schools. Rightwingers in the state have passed laws allowing charters, Cybercharters, and vouchers. Their appetite for public funds in insatiable. The charter lobby wrote the charter law. As Bill Phillis often reminds us, the funding of privately managed charters schools, private schools and religious schools directly contradicts the state constitution. But the school choice lobby ignores the state constitution. They think it doesn’t mean what it says.

Article VI, section 2:

The General Assembly shall make such provisions, by taxation, or otherwise, as, with the income arising from the school trust fund, will secure a thorough and efficient system of common schools throughout the state; but no religious or other sect, or sects, shall ever have any exclusive right to, or control of, any part of the school funds of this state.

Bill Phillis believes the state constitution means what it says.

He writes:

Education Savings Account (ESA), an Egregious Anti-Public School Scheme, Has Already Begun on a Small Scale in Ohio. The Privatization Crowd is Lobbying to Expand It.

The state’s two-year budget bill (HB110) provides for a $500 education savings account for certain K-12 students. Privatization gimmicks start small then grow into a tax-eating glutton. Privatizers are pushing for Ohio’s new education savings account to become a high dollar entitlement to students for education things such as laptops, tutoring, supplemental educational materials, or whatever. Whereas EdChoice vouchers can only be used at a private school, ESA’s can be used for whatever. Hence ESA’s fund parent-chosen education, not necessarily a private school. ESA’s are essentially public funds distributed to parents to purchase some kind of education for their children.

How is this scheme funded and how will the expanded version be funded? Right out of the K-12 public education budget line-items! Will it reduce funds for school districts? You bet!

How would this same type of funding scheme be used to fund Ohio’s physical infrastructure? Suppose, for example, each citizen would receive a proportionate amount of highway funds to purchase right of ways, aggregates, bituminous materials, etc., at their choosing? What chaos! The same applies to the social infrastructure. Without the public common school, the common good is diminished to a chaotic level.

A controversial Afrocentric charter school for Black students was approved by the Denver school boardhttps://www.denverpost.com/2022/09/23/5280-freedom-schoool-denver-dps-charter/, after initially rejecting the proposal. The board worried that the charter would not attract enough students to be viable. Other charters in Denver have closed because of declining enrollment. If you read the comments that follow the article, the main theme of writers is shock that the Denver school board would open a racially segregated school.

The Denver Post reported:

After the state ordered Denver Public Schools to reconsider a charter school centering Black students and culture, the school board Thursday approved the school to open next fall.

But the approval comes with conditions, including that 5280 Freedom School must fill all of its open seats in its first year. The school plans to open with 52 students in kindergarten and first grade, and add grades each year up to fifth grade.

Denver schools are funded per pupil, and other new charter schools have had to delay opening because they didn’t enroll enough students. Existing charter schools have closed because their enrollment declined, and the district is considering closing some of its own schools due to low student counts.

The school board initially rejected the 5280 Freedom School for fear it would struggle to attract enough students to be financially viable….Last month, the State Board of Education ordered Denver to reconsider its decision. State Board members said it was unfair to assume that 5280 Freedom School would face the same challenges as other charters.

Arizona voters blocked vouchers in 2018 by a 2-1 margin. The Koch-DeVos machine came back with an even bigger voucher proposal this year. Save Our Schols Arizona, a grassroots group of volunteers once more gathered signatures to compel a state referendum to block vouchers. The billionaires hate democracy and will try to stop the referendum.

The Arizona Republic reported:

A school voucher program scheduled to become law Saturday is on hold after public-school advocates gathered enough citizen signatures to temporarily block the controversial program.

On Friday, the Save Our Schools movement submitted 141,714 signatures to the Arizona secretary of state as volunteers concluded a drive to refer the voucher program to the 2024 ballot for voters to decide.

The law, authorized by the GOP majority in the Legislature and signed by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, would be the first universal voucher program in the nation, using taxpayer dollars for private education efforts.

It would expand the state’s Empowerment Scholarship Account program to every Arizona schoolchild, providing an estimated $7,000 of taxpayer money per child for a range of educational services, from private school tuition to tutors to support for parents who opt to teach their children at home…

Raquel Mamani, an educator and parent, celebrated the petition drive, saying it puts on hold “the anti-public education, anti-parent, anti-student agenda forced into our state by extremists.”

Volunteers gathered signatures from all 15 counties in 80 days, a sign of widespread support, said Nicky Indicavitch, outreach director for Save Our Schools Arizona.

“Arizonans want top quality, fully funded public schools in every neighborhood,” she said.

This is the second time in five years public-school proponents have taken to the streets to block voucher expansion. In 2017, a similar referendum drive sent an expansion of the ESA program to ballot, where voters in 2018 rejected it by a margin of nearly 2 to 1.

Friday’s filing had echoes of the 2017 effort, but both supporters and opponents of the ESA program expect a more robust, heavily funded fight this time around.

The American Federation for Children [the DeVos organization] has signaled its support for the expanded program, and a “decline to sign” movement that tried to discourage people from signing the referendum petitions said it has proof of illegal signature efforts…

After the universal expansion passed in June, the state started taking preliminary applications. Data released last month showed 6,500 families had applied in just two weeks. Of those families, about 75% indicated they did not have a child previously in public school.

Those early findings solidified opposition from public-school advocates, who argued that the numbers showed the beneficiaries were likely people already paying private tuition and looking to cash in on a hefty state subsidy.

The Guardian reported today that an investigative team from the United Nations documented numerous war crimes committed by Russian forces in Ukraine. Putin announced that he is calling one million men to active duty, and thousands of men are attempting to flee Russia before they are forced into combat. (It is illegal in Russia to call the invasion of Ukraine a “war.”) Protests have erupted in Russian cities, and more than 1,000 protestors have been arrested. Russia is conducting sham referenda in conquered Ukrainian territories, which will enable them to treat their conquests as Russian soil. Putin has said that any attack on Russia will allow him to use nuclear weapons in defense. This is a dangerous moment, to say the least.

The United Nations has said its investigators have concluded that Russia committed war crimes in Ukraine, including bombings of civilian areas, numerous executions, torture and horrific sexual violence.

The UN has made the investigation of human rights violations in the war a priority and in May its top human rights body mandated a team of experts to begin work in the country.

Since then, UN investigators, have risked their lives to collect evidence of crimes perpetrated against civilians, including in areas still threatened by enemy forces or laid with mines.

The team of three independent experts on Friday presented their first oral update to the UN human rights council, after it launched initial investigations looking at the areas of Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Sumy regions, adding that it would broaden its inquiries.

Speaking a day before the seven-month anniversary of Russia’s invasion of its neighbour, Erik Mose, the head of the investigation team, told thecouncil that, based on the evidence gathered by the Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine, “it has concluded that war crimes have been committed in Ukraine”.

The team of investigators visited 27 towns and settlements, as well as graves and detention and torture centres; interviewed more than 150 victims and witnesses; and met with advocacy groups and government officials.

Mose said the team had been especially “struck by the large number of executions in the areas that we visited”, and the frequent “visible signs of executions on bodies, such as hands tied behind backs, gunshot wounds to the head, and slit throats”.

He added it was investigating such deaths in 16 towns and settlements, and had received credible allegations regarding many more cases that it would seek to document. The investigators had also received “consistent accounts of ill-treatment and torture, which were carried out during unlawful confinement”, the council was told.

In the settlements of Bucha, Hostomel and Borodianka, occupied for about a month by Russian troops, Ukrainian investigators found dozens of mass graves where the bodies of civilians, tortured and murdered, had been buried.

Since the Russians withdrew from the area, a group of young volunteers worked tirelessly to exhume the bodies and send them to forensic doctors who have been collecting evidence of crimes perpetrated by Russian troops.

Some of the victims had told the investigators they were transferred to Russia and held for weeks in prisons. Others had “disappeared” after such transfers. “Interlocutors described beatings, electric shocks and forced nudity, as well as other types of violations in such detention facilities,” Mose said.

Mose said the team had also “processed two incidents of ill-treatment against Russian Federation soldiers by Ukrainian forces”, adding that “while few in numbers, such cases continue to be the subject of our attention”.

He said investigators had also documented cases of sexual and gender-based violence, in some cases establishing that Russian soldiers were the perpetrators.

“There are examples of cases where relatives were forced to witness the crimes,” he said. “In the cases we have investigated, the age of victims of sexual and gendered-based violence ranged from four to 82 years.”

The commission had documented a wide range of crimes against children, Mose added, including children who were “raped, tortured, and unlawfully confined”.

Dana Milbank knows that the Republican Party is morphing into an authoritarian stance, but they prefer not to called fascists. No, he says, their brand of authoritarianism goes back about two thousand years.

He writes:

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears: They have come to resurrect Caesar.


MAGA Republican leaders take umbrage at being accused of “semi-fascism,” which is understandable: Twentieth-century dictators such as Mussolini and the German guy with the mustache gave fascism a bad name. But the MAGA crowd isn’t disavowing totalitarianism, per se. It’s just their taste in authoritarian figures skews toward the classics. They’re old-school — 1st century B.C. old. “Hail, Caesar” goes down so much easier than “Heil Hitler.”


J.D. Vance, the Republican Senate nominee in Ohio, is one resident of this newly platted Caesarian section, as a recent profile in the Cleveland Plain Dealer showed. It referred to a year-old interview Vance gave on a far-right podcast in which he spoke approvingly of Curtis Yarvin, a self-proclaimed monarchist who argues for an American Julius Caesar to take power.

“We are in a late republican period,” Vance said, referencing the era preceding Caesar’s dictatorship. “If we’re going to push back against it, we’re going to have to get pretty wild, and pretty far out there, and go in directions that a lot of conservatives right now are uncomfortable with.”
The podcast’s host, Jack Murphy, endorsed this sentiment, discussing possible “extra-constitutional” remedies to be taken “if we want to re-found the country.” (He told Vance he thought voting an “ineffectual” way to “rip out this leadership class.”)


Vance, who said he had been “radicalized” by the actions of “malevolent and evil” political opponents, described what “wild” actions he had in mind at another point in the podcast. He wants to “seize the institutions of the left” and purge political opponents with “de-Nazification, de-Ba’athification.”

Vance suggested that former president Donald Trump, once elected in 2024, should fire all civil servants and replace them with “our people,” defy court orders blocking such an illegal action, and then “do what Viktor Orban has done,” referring to the Hungarian dictator’s bans on certain topics from school curricula. Vance justified such “outside-the-box” authoritarian actions by reasoning that the United States is “far gone” and not “a real constitutional republic” anymore.
Hail, Caesar!


Vance is far from the only emperor-curious MAGA leader. Former Trump White House adviser Peter Navarro called Mike Pence a “traitor to the American Caesar of Trump” because the former vice president refused to help overturn the 2020 election. Another former Trump adviser, Michael Anton, hosted a Claremont Institute podcast with Yarvin about the desirability of an “American Caesar.”


Meanwhile, various tactics that would qualify as “extra-constitutional” have been proliferating on the MAGA right.


This week, Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee confirmed during the lame-duck Republican Congress after the 2020 election, turned the bedrock American principle of equal justice on its head. Cannon, granting Trump’s request for a “special master” to shield the government documents hoarded at his residence, said Trump’s need for protection from “stigma” was “in a league of its own” because of his “former position as president.” A judge granting extraordinary legal powers to the man who appointed her to spare him “reputational harm”? Hail, Caesar!

Last week, the House Jan. 6 committee wrote to Trump ally Newt Gingrich, outlining how the former House speaker encouraged Trump TV ads promoting false election-fraud claims, and how he suggested a “call-to-action” to intimidate election officials. “The goal is to arouse the country’s anger,” Gingrich wrote to Trump advisers, at a time when election officials desperately feared violence. Hail, Caesar!


Some MAGA Republicans have a novel solution to resolve pesky constitutional restraints: Rewrite the Constitution. As Carl Hulse reports in the New York Times, Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-Tex.) introduced legislation seeking to compel Congress to call a constitutional convention — the first since the framers wrote it — to overhaul the United States’ founding document. The effort likely isn’t going anywhere, but it shows the contempt MAGA Republicans have for the constitutional order. Hail, Caesar!


Others in the MAGA movement simply reinterpret the Constitution to their own liking. County law-enforcement officials self-styling as “constitutional sheriffs” have assigned themselves power to decide what the law is, according to their own politics. One such sheriff in Michigan sought warrants in July to seize vote-counting machines to try to validate Trump’s false claims of voter fraud, Reuters reported last week. Armed lawmen going rogue to undermine elections? Hail, Caesar!


A few weeks from now, the Supreme Court will open its new term, in which it will decide whether to use a North Carolina case to allow state legislatures to redraw election maps — and potentially to overturn the outcome of elections and to disregard state constitutions — without any review by state courts. The high court blessing a radical legal theory that mocks the will of the voters? For MAGA Republicans, all roads lead to Roman imperialism.


Hail, Caesar!

Steve Nelson is a retired educator. He was headmaster of The Calhoun School in New York City. He writes here about the reactions to the decline of NAEP scores since the onset of the pandemic.

He writes:

“The beatings will continue until morale improves” is a rather familiar quip of unknown origin.  Two recent news stories remind of just how apt the saying remains.

The first was an astonishing New York Times report on the reinstitution of paddling as a disciplinary tool in a Missouri school district. Surprisingly, paddling children in school remains legal in 19 states, although the practice is not widespread. Paddling children is barbaric, humiliating and utterly ineffective. Corporal punishment makes children more aggressive and disruptive. The Missouri abusers attempt to mitigate their own cruelty by saying they only whack kids whose parents give permission. It takes little imagination to understand why a child of such parents would have difficulty in school and draw more negative attention.

Few readers will disagree with my condemnation of beating childen. I suspect the rest of this post will be more controversial.

The educational world was aghast at the news this week of the “alarming” results from the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). NAEP is the supposed gold standard of measurement, also called the nation’s report card. The 2022 tests of reading and math were conducted to assess pandemic “learning loss” and produced the data that researchers anticipated. Reading scores were down 5 points and math scores down 7 points compared to 2020 levels.

“The beatings will continue until scores improve” is the nearly inevitable consequence as education pundits, economists, policy-makers and most parents, wax apoplectic over the “precipitous” drop.

“I was taken aback by the scope and the magnitude of the decline!”

“No more of the arguments, and the back and forth and the vitriol and the finger pointing. Everybody should be treating this like the crisis that it is.”

Pity the children, especially poor children of color for whom the results were somewhat more statistically “significant.” This is a tempest in a teapot and the solution will be far more damaging than the problem.

It is likely to be a reprise of the reaction to A Nation at Risk, a 1983 report that allegedly showed educational achievement in serious decline. It was not true – a statistical phenomenon led to misinterpretation of the data – but the report drove a frenetic response of testing and accountability that continues until today. And here we go again.

Read on to learn Nelson’s response to the doom-and-gloom prescriptions for the nation’s children: longer days, longer weeks, longer years.

Steve Nelson disagrees.

Stephen Dyer, a former state legislator in Ohio, writes a blog that tracks funding and privatization in Ohio. It’s called “10th Period.” He relies on state data to tell the truth about the failure of charters and vouchers. Here is the latest data on charter schools.

Dyer’s summary:

98 Percent of Ohio Charter School Graduates are Less Prepared for Post-Graduate World Than Students in Youngstown City Schools

Dayton is the lowest performing major urban district. Yet 2 out of 3 Ohio charter schools are less prepared than Dayton students

Ohio’s new report card has revealed something extremely troubling about Ohio’s Charter Schools. On a new measure called “Students in the 4-year Graduation Cohort who Completed a Pathway and are Prepared for College or Career Success”, only 9 percent of Ohio’s potential Charter School graduates met those qualifications. More than 36 percent of Ohio’s public school district students met those qualifications.

(Data Note: These data only examine students who could graduate high school, not whetherthey graduated high school. Public School Districts graduated 91.4 percent of their potential 121,968 graduates. Charter Schools only graduated 65 percent of their 4,657 potential graduates — a lower rate than any Ohio Public School District.)

Of the 43 Ohio Charter Schools with enough students to count in this College and Career Readiness measure, 18 schools had zero — that’s right, not a single student —who qualified as college or career ready. That means that 3 out of every 25 Ohio charter school graduates attended a school where not a single potential graduate was considered college or career ready.

But it gets worse.

More than 54 percent of Youngstown City School potential graduates are college or career ready. Only one Ohio Charter School — Dayton Early College Academy — has a higher rate.

That means that 98 percent of potential Ohio Charter School graduates are less prepared for post-high school lives than Youngstown City Schools’ potential graduates. Remember that Youngstown was seen as such a “failed” school district that the state created a new law to take over the district — in large part so more Charter Schools could open there.

Yet that district’s students are more likely to be prepared for post-high school lives than 98 percent of the 4,657 students potential graduating Ohio’s Charter Schools.

But wait. It gets worse.

The lowest-performing major urban school district in Ohio — Dayton — only had 5.7 percent of its students qualify as career or college ready.

Not good.

But before all you pro-charter school/voucher people scream “School Choice, Now!”, an astonishing 2 out of every 3 potential Ohio Charter School graduates attend schools with worse post-graduate preparation measures than Dayton.

Dayton is the home of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and has been a hotbed of charter and voucher activity for 25 years. It’s not like school choice hasn’t been tried in Dayton.

And it ain’t working.

More Ohio students in all schools need to be career and college ready than they currently are. Full stop.

But what’s clear is that the best place for that to happen is in Ohio’s local public schools, not in Ohio Charter Schools.

I’d also like to use some space to bring up the Ohio Virtual Academy (OHVA) — the ECOT-sized online school. OHVA was paid to educate 14,530 students last year — more students than ECOT ever was paid to educate.

Yet they are just as bad as ECOT at preparing their students for the post-graduate world. An astonishing 87 of 1,820 potential OHVA grads were considered college or career ready. That 4.8 percent rate is lower than all but one Ohio school district — New Miami Local in Butler County, which only had 1 of 44 potential graduates considered college or career ready.

There’s more. If you want to follow the terrible results of privatization in Ohio, subscribe to Stephen Dyer’s blog.