Search results for: "choice"

Vouchers are a big issue in Texas. Governor Greg Abbott recently announced he would promote them. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick—the Rush Limbaugh of Texas—is a voucher fanatic. Senator Ted Cruz said that school choice is the most important issue of our time.

But vouchers have died every time they are introduced in the legislature. Legislators from rural communities stand firm against vouchers. Jay Leeson explained why in the Dallas Morning News.

He wrote:

Vouchers are unpopular in places where public schools are the lifeblood of community.

With Gov. Greg Abbott’s announcement that he’ll pursue “school choice” in the upcoming Legislature, there’s political math to be done.

The governor’s proposal is pencil whipping his previously reliable rural voting base, presuming that rural communities will stick with him as he looks past the November match-up against Beto O’Rourke, and moves to the next problem of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a probable 2024 presidential foe. But in rushing to check off another box on the national GOP purity exam, questionable work has been submitted.

Out where rural public schools constellate expansive Lone Star landscape, out where the real Texas economic miracle of food, fuel, and fiber is produced, there’s pencil scratching being done.

Rural folks know school choice will come at their expense. Almost like the same-old bait (moral convictions) and switch (economic interests) over and over. It’s been that way for more than 30 years, since the GOP came to power promising term limits and local control — and how has that gone?

We’ve voted for plenty of slippery-as-slop-jar scenarios, like numerous federal officials who vote against subsidies for the state’s $25 billion annual agriculture industry. In 2018, cotton had fallen out of a federal funding program to help producers break even, and it was Abbott who single-handedly stalled restoration from Austin. We’ve closed 26 hospitals since 2010. Now just 163 hospitals provide care for 85% of the state’s geography, many with limited services. We’ve incrementally upped local property taxes to fill state budget holes over three decades. And Abbott’s routing of state infrastructure, including pivotal rural telecommunications by his commissioned appointees, could make Santa Anna blush.

But the missing variable in the slippery school choice proposal is the importance of public schools to respective rural communities — and the pillars of community within those schools. I know because I attended them.

Gid Adkisson, a gargantuan man, long in kindness as he was physique, was a retired school superintendent in Abernathy (population 2,904, about 25 miles north of Lubbock) with a bad lifelong cotton farming habit. He’d head out from his homestead to the high school for Gid Night Lights to voluntarily tutor us in algebra on Mondays and Thursdays, so we could play under the Friday Night Lights.

Children, even deviant teenagers like I was, know goodness when they see it. When I first think of Gid, I don’t picture him physically; I think of his heart. The physical trait I most remember is the big dent on his forehead that shone in the lights of Ms. Hardin’s classroom.

Bettie Hardin was a petite, put-together woman — pristine white perm, horn-rimmed glasses, mock turtleneck. She played the Methodist piano every Sunday morning with the same precision she expected from our math during the week.

Sports were our world. And Ms. Hardin could end that world with the swipe of a red pen.

But Gid came to the rescue, helping us understand it all. The first time I figured out ratio and proportion equations, Gid was right there, two huge knuckles on the desk behind me, affirming and encouraging me as my mind translated through pencil what Hardin and he had worked so hard to cultivate. When the problem was solved, the huge knuckles rose above the suspenders past the dent and to the lights, “Good, golly. You got it.”

I don’t today use an acquired high school skill — from on or off the field — more frequently than that equation.

Sitting in Wayne Riley’s 6th Grade Sunday School with half a dozen others was the first time I ever first-hand witnessed a grown man weep; we’d know him later as Coach Riley, our varsity basketball coach.

When my grandmother passed, I was destroyed and my band teacher Harold Bufe took a knee and consoled me about the loss of my world and his longtime friend.

When Gid died, many of us learned what we didn’t know all along: he’d been rescuing people for a long time. He led the 317th Regiment, 80th Infantry Division up Utah Beach where dented-head man earned, but later refused, a Purple Heart. Too many missing human variables under his command for him to accept such an award.

Public education gave us a tutor who defeated Hitler, coaches who earned our respect, and band teachers who helped us outside the notes. And Ms. Hardin who played Amazing Grace as the soundtrack.

My story isn’t uncommon, which is the point.

We’ll vote against ourselves on a myriad of issues, but not our schools.

Add to it all, rural folks know a little grammar as well.

“Choice” is a political synonym for “consolidation” and “consolidation” is another way of saying “closing” our communities — and our organists, Purple Hearts, and Sunday school teachers.

The political math for Abbott and statewide Republicans is they desperately need rural Texas votes to overcome deficits in the likes of Dallas, Tarrant, Travis, and Harris Counties. Their campaign commercials running longer loops every four years are evidence.

And while Oltons, Borgers, Ballingers, Floydadas, Abernathys, and the 85% of Texas geography won’t become Beto O’Rourke Country anytime soon, if ever, these places might just not vote.

Pull the lever, do your duty, get the sticker, but leave the gubernatorial box left open.

The collective rural Republican state representative silence on the governor’s initiative is already telling. Silence from electeds who backed Abbott’s $118 million for pre-K public education funding in 2015, only to have Abbott abdicate in subsequent far-right primary challenges.

Mr. O’Rourke may well come for some of our guns, but that’s highly unlikely with a legislative and judicial GOP stronghold.

But Abbott’s open threat is against the lifeblood of our communities: our schools. And he’s making it with a three-branch majority.

That’s Abbott’s math now. And Gid’s currently unavailable to tutor.

Jay Leeson is a freelance writer and artist in Lubbock. He wrote and illustrated this for The Dallas Morning News.

Denis Smith retired from the Ohio Department of Education, where he worked in the charter school office and saw fraud after fraud. Ohio’s charter schools (which the state calls “community schools,” which they are not) are unusually low-performing; a large number are failing schools.

Smith wrote about the scandalous selection of the new state superintendent in the Ohio Capital Journal.

Smith writes:

At its May meeting, the State Board of Education voted to employ Steve Dackin as Ohio’s new Superintendent of Public Instruction. But the hiring of the veteran school administrator has raised some concerns that require further reflection.

The state board’s decision occurred in the middle of National Charter Schools Week and prompted questions about the processes used in the appointment and the search that led up to the board’s action.  

To those familiar with the behavior of some charter school boards, where the members are usually hand-picked by the school’s operating company and where tales of conflicts of interest and self-dealing are legion, the state board’s action will need to be more closely examined lest it acquire the same reputation of so many conflicted charter school boards.

In covering the search process and appointment of a new state superintendent of schools, the Cleveland Plain Dealer summarized the situation succinctly:

“Steve Dackin was vice president of the State Board of Education and led the search for a vacant superintendent position before resigning and applying for the job three days later. The deadline to apply was the following day.”

You don’t have to read that Plain Dealer paragraph again to realize there was something wrong in the practices of a state board that allowed a board member to conduct the search for a superintendent, resign so that he could apply at the deadline for the position, add his resume to those already received from other candidates, and then months later be hired for the very position he oversaw as vice president of the board and head of the search committee that was charged with filling the position.

If a public board is concerned about optics, its actions might demonstrate that in addition to suffering from myopia, it’s also tone deaf as shown by its hiring of the new state superintendent.

Catherine Turcer, who directs Common Cause Ohio, an organization which promotes “transparency and accountability in government,” also examined the process that led up to Dackin’s candidacy and had concerns.

“The thing that’s important about this is that we have as much transparency as possible so that we can understand what happened and whether he was attempting to get himself the job inappropriately,” she said. “Right now, we have a lot of questions and things look odd. It’s not enough to do the pro forma, ‘I put my resignation in before I applied.’ You dotted one ‘i’ but what about all the ‘t’s?’ she told the Plain Dealer.

The appointment of a new state superintendent during National Charter Schools Week drew praise from the state charter school lobby, including kind words from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, an organization that promotes these publicly funded, privately operated, underregulated entities and, like the schools it promotes, is conflicted in its purposes. That makes Fordham a comfortable and perfect fit in the midst of charter world.

The conflict that is Fordham was described last year in the Ohio Capital Journal. Fordham serves simultaneously as a charter school authorizer, promoter, and so-called “think tank,” crafting studies that unsurprisingly promote public school privatization, which it calls school choice. But with all of its “think tank” research, apparently Fordham hasn’t studied one of the major design flaws in charter schools. 

That flaw doesn’t allow the democratic election of board members by qualified voters in a community. Instead, in many instances we have seen self-dealing by hand-picked board members, conflicts-of-interest by operators, and all of the ethical issues that surround organizations that are not fully transparent in their operations. 

The most classic example of this was seen several years ago, where the chairman of a charter school board was also a part-owner of the company which owned the building where the school was located. The school made an overpayment of $478,000 to the company without any board approval. A number of individuals associated with the charter school were indicted, including the school founder, his wife and brother, the board chairman and school treasurer.

Which brings us back to the recent action of the State Board of Education in choosing a new state superintendent.

Because of a history of scandal in the state charter school industry, where more than $1 billion in public funds alone went to ECOT in the largest online charter school scandal in the country, and where the wreckage of more than 300 closed Ohio charters have further depleted the state treasury due to lax oversight caused by few controls, the State Board of Education itself should not be acting like a challenged and conflicted charter school board with few rules, policies, or any sense of institutional memory. 

Moreover, the enthusiasm for Dackin’s appointment expressed by the charter school industry and the Fordham Institute should also raise even more concerns.

As someone who has experience in providing oversight of charter schools as well as service on non-profit boards, it is my view that the processes used in the Dackin appointment are troublesome. For example, some boards have policies that require at least a one-year separation by a board member before applying for employment with the organization. Such a board policy protects an organization and lessens the possibility of a conflict or self-dealing situation by any member. 

And what about the State Board of Education? Why isn’t there policy which prohibits the employment of a former board member for an extended period of time after separation from the board? For that matter, are there any state boards that have a “time-out” policy before a board or advisory committee member seeks employment?

The Ohio Ethics Commission and its three-page review of the situation before the state board’s hiring of the new superintendent was, to put it mildly, inadequate for the circumstances in the Dackin situation. The appearance of a conflict of interest or any ethical question related to actions that employ past board members recently separated from a public board should be a serious issue.

There is no doubt that the State Board of Education can do better at policy formulation and practice. So too can the Ohio Ethics Commission, which should start a discussion about strengthening its guidelines to go beyond minimalist interpretations of statute and offer more robust models to boards and public agencies that promote greater transparency and accountability. 

After all, a state public board by its actions should not mimic charter school boards that love to receive public money but hate regulation.

Scholar Christopher Lubienski at Indiana University reviewed a report from the Hoover Institution offering strategies for making choice equitable. His review was published by the National Education Policy Center.

The Hoover Institution (where I was a Fellow until 2009) is very pro-school choice. (It’s also a wonderful repository for materials about war and peace, the Russian Revolution, and international politics). Many educators, regardless of their views, have given their papers to the Hoover archives, including me.

The report reviewed by Lubienski was written by Paul Peterson, who is an enthusiastic proponent of school choice.

The official overview says:

A report from the Hoover Institution seeks to offer evidence-based guidance for policymakers in shaping more equitable outcomes from school choice programs. This review examines the report’s claims, its representation of the research, and its use of research in forming those recommendations. The review finds that although the report is useful as a snapshot of the current status of choice programs in the United States, its use of research is often problematic. Some of the research is misrepresented, many claims are made without citations to evidence, and some of the recommendations bear no connection to the evidence provided in the report. As such, the report is, as intended, a political guidebook for conservative policymakers that fails to offer evidence-based guidance on making choice more equitable.

Another way to describe the interaction between choice and equity: Choice, almost by definition, exacerbates inequities.

Myah Ward of Politico Nightly interviewed Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine about the depressing fact that one million Americans have died due to COVID. It’s fair to say that he was outraged by the many thousands of unnecessary deaths, encouraged by Republican politicians and by hostility to science. One man, not mentioned here, could have persuaded his followers to get vaccinated and boosted, as he did. Donald Trump. But while he rightly took credit for the rapid development of vaccines, but did nothing to discourage the anti-vaxxers.

1 million deaths. Did you ever think we’d get here?

For me, the big reckoning was the fact that we’ve not really come to a real national dialogue about what happened after May 1, 2021. That was the day the White House announced that there are so many Covid vaccines that any American who wants to get vaccinated can get vaccinated. Yet we lost another 200,000-300,000 Americans after that date. Those who were defiant to vaccines were overwhelmingly in red states, and the redder the county as measured by Trump voters in the 2020 election, the higher the vaccine refusal and the greater the loss of life.

It wasn’t by accident. It was a deliberate effort by members of the House Freedom Caucus, in the House, some U.S. senators, amplified nightly on Fox News.

I don’t even call it misinformation or disinformation anymore. I call it anti-science aggression, to convince millions of Americans not to take a Covid vaccine. And at least 200,000 Americans between May 1 and the end of 2021 died needlessly from Covid because of it. And everyone’s afraid to talk about it because it’s very unpleasant to have to point out that these deaths occurred along such a strict partisan divide. Even the White House won’t talk about it in that way.

So, with an exhausted public, how would you re-engage Americans at this point? Is it by having these “unpleasant” conversations?

You can understand the first wave of deaths in New York in the spring of 2020. You can even start to understand the second wave of deaths in the summer of 2020, in Texas, in the southern U.S. when we’re just trying to understand it. But then as you move forward, you have to start to come to terms with the fact that a majority of the deaths were probably preventable. And certainly just about all of the deaths after May 1 were preventable. And I think that needs to be front and center. That these are not accidental deaths. The people who lost their lives and died after May 1 were themselves victims of anti-science aggression. If you look at the big-picture threats to the U.S. that we spend billions of dollars every year to combat, like global terrorism, nuclear proliferation, or cyberattacks. Anti-science aggression kills more Americans than all those things combined by far. And yet we don’t recognize it as such. That’s critically important to point that out.

Alongside Americans being “done” with the pandemic, there’s also the concern about Covid funding running out if Congress doesn’t act. How important is this money in your view?

We have to recognize that the mRNA boosters are not holding up as well as we’d like. We’re going to have to probably go — unless we come up with a better technology, which I think we should, but that’s a different matter — we’re gonna need to ask the American people to get boosted yet again. And we’re gonna have to provide those vaccines.

And we’re going to need an ongoing amount of Paxlovid, for instance. I mean, why am I talking to you right now? I’m talking to you right now because I’m the beneficiary of Paxlovid, which I’m on right now, and I’m the beneficiary of having my second booster. And even though it’s not ideal to ask Americans to continue to boost, it’s still going to be essential.

The White House is warning we could see 100 million infections this fall. How do you see this fall and winter unfolding?

I know that’s what the White House is doing, but I don’t quite understand the logic of jumping to fall and winter. We still have two big peaks that are hitting us before fall and winter. We have this current BA.2.12.1, which is now about to become the dominant variant. It’s so transmissible, all you need to do is give a dirty look to that subvariant and you become infected. It’s up there with measles. So that’s issue No. 1. And issue No. 2 is we’ve had a terrible wave of Covid-19 both for the last two summers in Texas in the southern United States. I’m expecting that again. Even before the fall, we’re going to have another wave over the summer from variant TBD, to be determined.

The two most outspoken conservatives in Texas—Senator Ted Cruz and Governor Greg Abbott—are at odds in two races for the state legislature. Abbott is supporting the Republican incumbents. Cruz is supporting their challengers in the Republican primary.

The two grinches of the right are diverging because of one issue: school choice. Texas is already overrun with charter schools (mostly low-performing), but the legislature has opposed vouchers for private and religious schools for years.

“Sen. Cruz believes that school choice is the most important domestic issue in the country,” Cruz spokesperson Steve Guest said in a statement. “He doesn’t hesitate to endorse and support candidates in primaries that will fight for school choice across Texas.”

Some might think that climate change or the high cost of prescription drugs or high rates of child poverty was “the most important domestic issue in the country,” but not Senator Cruz.

His own children are enrolled at the elite St. John’s School in Houston, where tuition is about $30,000 annually. If Texas were to endorse vouchers, you can be sure that they wouldn’t be large enough for any student to attend St. John’s.

The broad concept of school choice is popular among Texas Republicans. In the March primary, 88% of voters approved of a ballot proposition that asked voters whether they agreed with the statement, “Texas parents and guardians should have the right to select schools, whether public or private, for their children, and the funding should follow the student.”

But the issue divides Republican lawmakers when it comes to school voucher programs, which would let parents use public money for private school education. Rural Republicans are often the most outspoken opponents, voicing concerns that such initiatives would hurt the public schools that are the lifeblood of their tightly knit communities.

The Texas House has long been a firewall against voucher proposals. During the last regular legislative session, the chamber voted 115-29 on a budget amendment to ban school vouchers, with a majority of Republicans siding with Democrats.

Our friends, Pastors for Texas Children, has led the fight against school choice, knowing that the vast majority of students in Texas are enrolled in underfunded public schools. PTC believes in separation of church and state, and they support public schools.

Frank Adamson, an assistant professor of educational leadership and policy studies at California State University in Sacramento, wrote this paper for UNESCO.

He asks: Who wins? who chooses?

State responsibility in the United States

This third issue, state responsibility, starts with the acknowledgement that the pursuit of market-based approaches in the United States has exacerbated inequity and segregation in many contexts. A different course for public education provision could include investing in full-service community schools. According to J4J Alliance, these schools would have engaging, culturally relevant and challenging curriculum, educator roles in professional development and assessment design and use, and wrap around supports such as health and other care for students needing those services. Overall, the U.S. case provides an important and instructive example that other countries should examine before scaling up similar education approaches.

This brings us to a final international point about policy, politics, and influence. While the GEM Report does call attention to the myriad actors and political acrimony that divides opinion on the role of markets and governments in education, the report does not go far enough in naming the power asymmetries in terms of finance and access of different constituencies (e.g., technology companies and venture capital funds having orders of magnitude more resources and policy influence than civil society). To that end, I would add a third question to the report – Who chooses? Who loses? And who benefits? – to interrogate how non-state actors derive profit from the education sector and to help us remember that students should remain the recipients of our education expenditures and resources.

And, of course, who benefits?

Whenever the school choice lobby in Arizona submits a new bill, you can be sure it will help charter schools, not public schools. As the legislative session winds down, a bill has been introduced to change the state’s funding formula. Charter schools would benefit, but many public schools, especially rural schools, would lose..

Mary Jo Pitzl writes in the Arizona Republic:

A major overhaul of school funding in the name of equitable treatment for all students is making a late debut at the Legislature, drawing complaints that it’s a hasty effort to make significant policy changes that affect half of the state’s $14 billion budget.

The 101-page plan will get its first public airing next week, a week after most committee hearings have wrapped up for the year.

At its core, the bill would increase the base amount of money the state provides for public K-12 schools, while eliminating a number of funding programs that benefit only school districts.

All charter schools, which are public schools, would benefit from the increase, while district-run schools would see a mix of winners and losers, according to an analysis from the Legislature’s budget office. Early estimates are 121 school districts would lose money, primarily in rural Arizona.

The plan proposes an additional $215 million for the state’s K-12 system in exchange for ending programs that benefit district schools, such as more money for experienced teachers. It also would convert Arizona’s program that rewards schools that score high on the state’s achievement tests into a permanent program that, estimates show, benefit higher-income areas at a much greater rate than school districts with higher poverty rates…

Key education lawmaker not in loop

State Rep. Michelle Udall, R-Mesa, is the author of a strike-everything amendment to Senate Bill 1269 that would create the new funding program. The bill builds on a study released last month by A for Arizona, a nonprofit that is a proponent of school choice and the growing charter-school movement.

“This isn’t suddenly brand new language,” Udall said, who is chairwoman of the House Education Committee. She has worked on the plan since October, she said, although traditional education groups such as the Arizona School Administrators and the Arizona Education Association only learned of it in mid-March.

State Sen. Paul Boyer, Udall’s counterpart at the state Senate, learned of the proposal from a reporter.

“If they were smart, they’d know that one vote makes a difference,” Boyer, R-Glendale, said of the bill’s proponents. That’s a reference to the one-vote margin Republicans hold in both the House and Senate, making every GOP vote vital. Boyer has not been shy about breaking from party ranks, a move which has killed numerous bills due to unified Democratic opposition.

Boyer said he has no idea what the bill says and cautioned against the Legislature moving too quickly. All people have to do is look at the mess lawmakers created earlier this month, he said, when they approved a bill that eliminated the election of political party precinct committee members, setting off a backlash that took a lawsuit to resolve.

Other groups, watching from the outside, said they’re alarmed at the seeming rush to make a change halfway through the legislative session.

“That’s the biggest red flag I have,” said David Lujan president and CEO of the Arizona Children’s Action Alliance. “They are trying to put forward major changes to school funding with very little input.”

An idea long discussed

Matt Simon, vice president of advocacy and government affairs for Great Leaders, Strong Schools, a school-choice organization, said components of the bill were long in the making….

“This isn’t the surprise they’re making it out to be,” Simon said of critics. Besides, it’s past time to update Arizona’s 42-year-old school finance system, which was created before charter schools existed and before Arizona became a leading school-choice state.

Besides, he said, when the “alphabets” (shorthand for groups such as the Arizona School Boards Association, the AEA and others) propose education measures, they cost millions of dollars. By tailoring school funding to the student, rather than a system, Simon said funding can even out over a five-year period as aspects of the bill are phased in…

Reach the reporter at maryjo.pitzl@arizonarepublic.com and follow her on Twitter @maryjpitzl.

The National Education Policy Center reviewed a report about the relationship between school choice and equity. Basically, equity is an afterthought, not a goal.

Rhetorically, school choice advocates regularly claim that these policies advance equity. Yet a new research report of school choice policies in five geographically and demographically diverse states found that equity has been little more than an afterthought in the development and implementation of these policies.

The study is based on interviews conducted with 58 state policymakers and experts in Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, Michigan, and Oregon. The states were selected with an eye to including a diverse set of geographic, demographic, and school choice policy settings.

Authored by NEPC Fellow Katrina Bulkley of Montclair State University in New Jersey, and by Julie A. Marsh and Laura Mulfinger of the University of Southern California, the report, States Can Play a Stronger Role in Promoting Equity and Access in School Choice, was published in December by the National Center for Research on Education Access and Choice (REACH) at Tulane University in Louisiana.

The researchers found that, rather than equity, lawmakers in the five states emphasized factors such as local control, innovation, efficiency, and parental freedom when designing school choice policies.

These policies have a predictable impact. “A very large number of the charter schools in Colorado serve and explicitly are designed to serve middle-class or even upper middle-class students,” a staff person with the Colorado School Boards Association told the authors of the report.

There are more than a handful who are, for all practical purposes, college prep programs for high-income families. And out of the way we’ve written our laws and the way they’re structured, there’s no reason for them not to do that.

Although the researchers found that state choice policies were neither created with equity in mind nor consistently made more equitable over time, they did suggest several steps that policymakers throughout the United States can take in order to make school choice more accessible, and perhaps therefore more equitable.

  • Accountability: Schools of choice—including charter and voucher schools—should be held accountable for, and incentivized in the direction of, providing high-quality options to historically underserved student populations that too often encounter limited or low-quality school options in or near the neighborhoods where they live.
  • Information: The researchers found that information on schools of choice and school choice policies can be difficult to find and understand. This information needs to be widely available and comprehensible.
  • Enrollment: Burdensome enrollment processes can shut out students from historically underserved groups. States should step in to ensure that this is not the case. The researchers positively highlight a policy in Oregon that financially incentivizes schools of choice to enroll students from underserved populations.
  • Teaching: States should promote teacher quality measures for all schools of choice while also acknowledging the need for teachers who understand culturally relevant pedagogy and other measures designed to serve students from underserved populations.
  • Transportation: Families are often required to provide their own transportation to schools of choice. This can effectively shut out lower-income students whose parents lack the means to help them get to and from school.

These recommendations align with some of those offered in the new book, School’s Choice: How Charter Schools Control Access and Shape Enrollment, by Wagma Mommandi and Kevin Welner. Yet addressing accessibility within school choice systems is best thought of necessary but not sufficient for reaching larger education-equity goals, which must be focused on children’s actual experiences in school as well as the health of the overall system of choice schools and neighborhood public schools.NEPC Resources on School Choice ->

The Georgia branch of Betsy DeVos’ American Federation for Children made a mass mailing to voters in Republican districts urging them to fight against the “radical left” agenda of President Biden, Kamala Harris, and Stacey Abrams, which denies school choice.

It backfired.

A national advocacy group promoting school vouchers bombarded conservative Georgia voters with glossy mailers tying Republican state legislators from their districts to Stacey Abrams and other “radical left” figures. It backfired in spectacular fashion.

Just days after the American Federation for Children financed the mailers in at least 16 Republican-controlled legislative districts, House Speaker David Ralston told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the voucher proposal the group sought to pass is dead for the year.

“I am livid. I’ve been around politics for a long time, but this is the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen in my career, and one of the most deceitful,” Ralston said. “These are people we have tried to help over the years, and they turned to attack us very viciously.”

Ralston added: “That voucher legislation will not move at all in the Georgia House of Representatives this year, period.”

The mailers were sent by the Washington-based group to back proposals that would give public school students what it calls “Promise Scholarships,” a state subsidy of about $6,000 a year to help cover private school tuition.

The measures had gained early traction in House committees…

The aggressive strategy was meant to pressure legislators to end a yearslong feud over public funding of private education in Georgia. Instead, the Capitol’s halls buzzed Tuesday with incredulous GOP lawmakers infuriated by the group’s approach.

“It’s very disappointing that this group is targeting lawmakers in the middle of the deliberative process,” said state Rep.

John Oliver explained the Republican hysteria over “critical race theory.” At bottom, as he shows, the GOP goal is to persuade parents to escape “CRT” by abandoning their local public schools and enrolling in charter schools or seeking vouchers. The leading anti-CRT crusader, Chris Rufo, made this linkage explicit, as Oliver demonstrates, as did Betsy DeVos. The big money supporting the anti-CRT campaign is coming from the same people funding school choice. And, as Oliver explains, “school choice” has its roots in the fight to block school desegregation in the 1950s.

The fight against CRT is being used to silence any teaching about racism today. Teachers are supposed to teach slavery and racism as a strange aberration from our founding principles and to pretend that it no longer exists.

But if it really were the terrifying problem that people like Rufo describe, why was there no uprising against it in the past 40 years? Why didn’t George W. Bush speak up about CRT? WhY was Trump silent about it until 2020? Why now? Is it mere coincidence that the anti-CRT madness took off after the murder of George Floyd and the nationwide protests against racism?