Archives for category: Education Industry

Yesterday, both houses of the Virginia Legislature rejected Education Savings Accounts, aka Education Scam Accounts.

The Virginia Mercury reported:

All four bills put forward by Republicans this year to let parents use state education funding to cover the costs of educational opportunities outside the public school system failed to make it through this year’s General Assembly.

One bill carried by Sen. Amanda Chase, R-Chesterfield, died in the Democrat-controlled Senate. Two others carried by Dels. Phillip Scott, R-Spotsylvania, and Marie March, R-Floyd, failed in Republican-controlled House Education subcommittees

The most promising, House Bill 1508 from Del. Glenn Davis, R-Virginia Beach, initially cleared the House Education Committee, which Davis chairs, but ran into trouble later in the legislative process.

That bill, which gained the support of numerous Republicans including Lt.-Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears, would have created the Virginia Education Success Account Program, a proposal that would allow parents to set up a savings account funded with state dollars that could be used to cover educational expenses outside public schools in Virginia. Funds could be used for costs like tuition, deposits, fees and textbooks at a private elementary or secondary school in Virginia.

Last month, Davis estimated that an average of $6,303.25 could have been available per student. The program would only have applied to students previously enrolled in public school or who were starting kindergarten or attending first grade for the first time….

Davis said when the bill reached the House Appropriations Committee Friday, he was one vote short of what he needed to pass the legislation and agreed to send it back to the Education Committee in hopes of fast-tracking it through the approvals it still needed. He told the Mercury he considered adding a delayed enactment clause to the proposal to skirt concerns about the current budget cycle but said the committee was “one day short” of exercising that option.

But that bill died in committee.

Democrats opposed all of these measures, because they would take funding away from public schools.

Oklahoma State Superintendent Ryan Walters seems to have absorbed all his talking points from ALEC, the rightwing bill mill or he may just be trying to duplicate whatever Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is doing. All the talking points are there about critical race theory, “diversity, equity, and inclusion,” the “science of reading,” the fear of students turning transgender or being recognized as such, the readiness to censor anything that mentions sexuality or gender, and of course, vouchers for home schoolers and religious schools.

Superintendent Walters adds another item to his “reform” agenda: pay for performance, which has been tried for a century and never worked anywhere. It is hard to find an educational program that has been more thoroughly discredited, especially in the past dozen years. Performance these days equals test scores, and the teachers in the most affluent schools always come out in top, while those who teach the most vulnerable children are always on the bottom. No need to reinvent that broken wheel. Even Republican legislators know instinctively that “performance,” defined as test scores favors those in the whitest, most advantaged schools.

John Thompson, historian and former teacher, writes:

Last week, rightwing Oklahoma Secretary of Education Ryan Walters tried to “Shove ‘Choice’ Down the Throats of Unwilling Schools and Parents,” but he received serious pushback by influential Republicans for ignoring legislative norms in budget-making. This week, Walters’ revealed more of his plans to divide and conquer public schools, while ramping up the stakes for educators who don’t comply with ambiguous and weird mandates. The response by numerous Republicans, however, seems to indicate that a bipartisan effort against Walters’ and Gov. Kevin Stitt’s extremism is growing.

Walters started the Board of Education meeting, where his budget was presented with a prayer, which included a “reference to his school choice goals.” He then condemned “a loud and vocal crowd, a minority for sure, that say that all that is needed to fix the problems in education is to toss more money and to leave everything alone.” Walters then promised:

“There will be school choice. We will ensure that indoctrination and CRT (critical race theory) are eliminated in our state. We will also make sure that our kids are safe. There will be no boys in the girls bathrooms. There will be no pornography in our schools. We will make sure all of our vendors and the schools are focused on education and not diversity, equity and inclusion.”

Then, Walters met with rural superintendents in Atoka, the home of the Republican Speaker of the House Charles McCall, who has opposed voucher expansion. Walters explained that his “incentive pay plan that would reward a select few highly rated teachers in each school with up to $10,000 on top of their salaries.”

Walters then complained that:

“Tulsa has done so poor that if you took Tulsa Public Schools out of what we’re doing, we’re in the top half nationally. If you take Tulsa and OKC out, we’re in the top 15.”

So, the Tulsa World reported that Walters said:

“He would be open to pushing for Tulsa Public Schools to be broken up into smaller schools because of academic results there he says are dismal and parents who complain they are locked in because they can’t afford private school tuition and suburban schools bursting at the seams.”

At the same time, Walters’ allies are revealing more options for punishing educators who don’t comply with confusing mandates. While Walters seems to be backing off from his suggestion that all federal education funds be rejected, Sen. David Bullard filed a bill to “develop a ten-year plan to phase out the acceptance and use of federal funds for the support of K-12 education.” Sen. Shane Jett would “add seven more prohibited topics to House Bill 1775, which bans eight race and gender concepts from K-12 schools.” Jett and Rep. Terry O’Donnell seek to ban “teaching about sexual orientation and gender identity to elementary-age children,” And Jett “would outlaw any school policies that respect or promote ‘self-asserted sex-based identity narratives,’” as well as hosting “drag queen story time.”

Moreover, Sen. Cody Rogers “would prohibit school employees from calling students by names or pronouns that differ from the students’ birth certificates, unless having received written consent from the child’s parent.” Rep. Danny Williams would completely ban sex education from public schools.

Then, it was learned, Walters fired the Oklahoma State Department of Education’s Assistant general counsel Lori Murphy. The veteran attorney was “known for her support of transgender people and objections to the state’s rulemaking on classroom race and gender discussions.”

And the Tulsa World reported, the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education responded to Walters’ “urgent request” to audit spending on diversity, equity and inclusion, or DEI, programs. The Regents, “scrambled hundreds of employees to compile a 10-year review of its spending history on and current materials used for … DEI programs.” They found that DEI spending was “a third of 1%” of the budget.

But, on the eve of submitting his budget to the legislature, Walters, as well as his ally Gov. Stitt, faced more bad news. As the Oklahoman reports, Attorney General Gentner Drummond, who defeated Stitt’s appointee, John O’Conner, announced an “investigation into misspent education funds” which “hung over the state Capitol on Wednesday.” As an investigation by Oklahoma Watch and The Frontier found, Connors’ lawsuit led “some critics to question whether the lawsuit was an honest attempt to recoup the funds.” Consequently, The Oklahoman reported, “some high-ranking lawmakers appeared hesitant to heed funding requests from Oklahoma’s new state superintendent because of his alleged part in the controversy.” The reason was it was “a mix of Walters’s and Gov. Kevin Stitt’s staff, not a state agency [that] was overseeing the program.”

The Republican Chair of the House Appropriations and Budget subcommittee for Education, Mark McBride, said (and Speaker Charles McCall confirmed) he had been authorized to investigate the lawsuit, and was wrong in not doing so. But now, as Nondoc reports, A.G. Drummond said he “would pursue accountability for state officials, potentially including Walters owing to his prior role as director of an organization tasked with dispersing the funds.” (for what it’s worth McCall, a likely candidate for governor, attended the budget presentation.)

The Tulsa World added that Stitt had blamed the parent company of ClassWallet for the “unflattering audit of federal pandemic relief funds under Stitt’s control.” But, the audit was critical of how the Stitt administration spent $31 million to provide pandemic relief for students’ educational needs.”

Nondoc further explained that Walters’ presentation to the committee “took the opportunity with some of the lawmakers’ questions to expound on campaign rhetoric, including addressing questions regarding his ‘liberal indoctrination’ comments and past declarations to get federal funding out of Oklahoma public education.” And, his two-point plan, funding “science of reading” and pay-for-performance, drew plenty of criticism.

Republican Rhonda Baker, chair of the Common Education Committee, told Walters, “We have, as a legislative body, voted on the science of reading.” She added, “We’ve been very supportive of that, and we have made sure that there has been funding for that, so none of that is new. What is challenging, though, … is that we are not keeping teachers.”

Moreover, Democrat Rep. Andy Fugate said Walters performance pay plan would backfire by drawing teachers away from high-challenge schools and finding schools where “it’s easiest to teach.” Similarly, McBride said:

“Merit pay, I’m OK with it if you work in the oil field or some industry, but in education I just don’t see it working. … If you’ve got a classroom of troubled youth, how do you compare that to the classroom over here where the teacher’s got all the A and B students? It’s just almost impossible to me to evaluate that.”

I’ve heard mixed appraisals as to whether Walters really believes his own words. Regardless, as his ideology-driven claims become more extreme, it seems more likely that there will be more bipartisan pushback against Walters, Stitt, and MAGA true-believers. And, who knows, maybe it will open the door to Republican Adam Pugh’s bill, based on discussions with hundreds of superintendents and education leaders and over a thousand educators, that “would spend $241 million on teacher pay raises, guarantee 12 weeks of maternity leave for teachers and offer $15 million in scholarships to future educators who pledge to work in high-poverty schools,” while bestowing respect on teachers.

Dave Dewitt, editor-in-chief of the Ohio Capital Journal, wrote a blistering critique of the state’s political leadership, who place the interests of the private sector above the common good of the public.

Many Ohioans pay taxes for schools but don’t have school-age children. Their taxes are meant to fund quality public schools because having educated citizens is a public good. Sending their money to unaccountable for-profit, private, and religious schools is a terrible abuse.

Compelling taxpayers to support private interests at the expense of public ones is not only unethical, but unconstitutional when those private interests intertwine with religion. American taxpayers should never be forced to fund the efforts of religious institutions of any kind. Not one red cent.

The very first clause in the First Amendment of our Bill of Rights is couched firmly in that defining principle. The entire basis for making “no law respecting an establishment of religion” the first clause was “Father of the Constitution” James Madison’s takedown of anti-Constitution Patrick Henry’s proposal to send taxpayer money to support religious institutions.

Nevertheless, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has put forward a budget proposal to expand school voucher subsidies that would send money to private, for-profit, and religious ventures. Prominent Ohio Republican Statehouse leaders appear to be on board.

From Cleveland.com’s Laura Hancock:

“Families are eligible for EdChoice scholarships by either living in the boundaries of a low-performing school or by household income. Currently, a family of four can qualify for state money if the household income is at or below $69,375, or 250% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. The limit would increase to 400% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, which would be $111,000 for a family of four, under DeWine’s proposal. …”

EdChoice vouchers are distributed as checks given to private schools to help cover a student’s tuition. The scholarship amount is currently $5,500 for students in grades k-8 and $7,500 for grades 9-12. Republicans who control the legislature expanded vouchers in 2012, 2020, and 2021.

So vouchers are already available to low-income households and in low-performing districts, which means the only reason to increase the voucher threshold to 400% is for a massive sweetheart giveaway to private interests.

DeWine’s budget also would increase per-student building funding for all charter schools from $500 to $1,000 per student — a 100% bump — and provide an extra $3,000 for each economically disadvantaged student, or a student who qualifies for free or reduced lunch — up from $1,750 currently.

DeWine, Hancock notes, did not propose any extra per-student money for traditional public education.

Sadly, American public education was marked as a $500 billion a year opportunity for private profiteering some time ago, and Ohio has been leading the way.

 Getty Images.

Over the past several decades, Ohio’s seen one boondoggle after another.

Ohio taxpayers were ripped off by hundreds of millions of dollars, and nearly 12,000 Ohio schoolchildren and their families left in the lurch, when the ECOT schemedreamed up on a Waffle House napkincrashed and burned in 2018.

Another for-profit charter school operator called White Hat Management drained $67 million a year away from Ohio public schools before low test scores and soaring high school dropout rates led to a lawsuit from school boards and its eventual demise.

Dayton Daily News’ Josh Sweigart has uncovered a smattering of cases the past decade, including nepotistic hiring, undocumented purchasing, and charter school board members overpaying themselves.

Meanwhile, Ohio Capital Journal’s Zurie Pope revealed in reporting this past summer that the proposed “Backpack Bill” legislation last General Assembly to send public education money to private schools by the head was written with help from religious lobbying group the Center for Christian Virtue (CCV) and a think tank that promotes charter schools.

Promotion for the so-called “Backpack Bill” law featured CCV President Aaron Baer speaking at a press conference for it, and documents obtained by OCJ also revealed behind-the-scenes advice and promotion by outside groups like Heritage Action and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

ALEC even held a luncheon for lawmakers at the Statehouse promoted as a “Backpack Bill Briefing.”

All of this has come amid a decades-long right-wing assault on public education itself, only becoming more venomous and destructive in recent years.

But by wide margins, parents express satisfaction with their kids’ schools, and educational outcomes over the past 50 years in America have only steadily improved. From Education Next:

Contrary to what you may have heard, average student achievement has been increasing for half a century. Across 7 million tests taken by U.S. students born between 1954 and 2007, math scores have grown by 95 percent of a standard deviation, or nearly four years’ worth of learning. Reading scores have grown by 20 percent of a standard deviation during that time, nearly one year’s worth of learning.

The narrative of “failing public schools” has been manufactured by corrupt private school bloodsuckers looking to wet their beaks in the public school money pot.

Aside from its false pretenses, it undercuts funding and saps the ability of public schools to address real problems.

The biggest achievement gap in American education is directly tied to poverty. Exacerbating this situation is the fact that Ohio has had unconstitutional property tax-based school funding for 25 years. Wealthy districts do great, while low-income districts suffer mightily.

We have ample empirical evidence to prove that the way to address the poverty achievement gap is by robustly funding public schools to institute best practices: early childhood education; a well-rounded school experience including culture, sports, and the arts; extra-curricular activities that give students a sense of purpose; community-minded and community-building schools; cooperative learning.

But initiatives like these are the very things money-strapped districts are forced to cut first, alongside practical necessities like busing or the teachers themselves.

DeWine’s proposed budget does include money for things such as early childhood education, and he has already awarded significant grants for it, which is commendable.

But he seems to want to balance this politically with a massive giveaway of public dollars to private school interests and the religious zealots aligned with CCV, which is unacceptable.

Many Ohio taxpayers — even those who don’t have children or whose children are no longer school-age — are happy to help fund public schools.

We understand that quality public schools increase property values and make our communities attractive places to live, which helps them thrive.

We want our communities and our public schools to thrive.

What most Ohio taxpayers do not want is our public schools to continue to suffer as money and resources are siphoned away from them to prop up private, for-profit, and religious interests.

But when it comes to funding those interests, or fully and fairly funding Ohio’s public schools, Republican Statehouse leaders have continually legislated for the private interests.

The vultures have poll-tested their messaging, so they love to talk about “school choice,” “parents’ rights,” and “funding the students, not the system.”

This is a smooth evasion that attempts to elide the fact that the question isn’t about whether parents have a choice where to send their kids for schooling; everybody already does.

What these interests are asking for are endless direct state subsidies to their private enterprises and religious institutions.

And that’s what DeWine and these lawmakers stand prepared to keep giving them, on our dime and at the expense of our public schools.

Every Ohio public school faces a yearly audit, but no such requirement exists for private schools receiving public vouchers. Why not? If public money is continually funneled into these schools, why are they not subjected to the same auditing standards as public schools to make sure that money is actually going toward appropriate education of students?In an analysis of one proposed bill, the nonpartisan Legislative Services Commission found that two-thirds of kids getting vouchers in Ohio’s expansion program have never been in public schools.

So that means that these kids aren’t being “rescued” from public schools; they were never going to public schools in the first place. This is pure state subsidy of private school tuition. As the LSC puts it, these are “existing nonpublic school students that represent a new state responsibility.”

Do the private schools lead to greater academic success?

A Cincinnati Enquirer analysis of nearly 2.5 million test scores from schools in more than 150 Ohio cities during the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years found that in 88% of the cities, the public district achieved better state testing results than the private schools.

Given all this, what assurances are Ohioans being given that our money will not be misused as it has been in the past? If this money is coming out of public school funding, what guarantees do we have that our public schools will be fully funded under the new Fair Funding plan?

 COLUMBUS, OH — JANUARY 31: Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) takes questions from the press following State of the State Address, Jan. 31, 2023, in the Warren G. Harding Briefing Room at the Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Graham Stokes for Ohio Capital Journal. Republish photo only with original story.)

Ohio Senate Republicans led by President Matt Huffman have made clear they want the full “Backpack Bill” pushed by the CCV. That would be the biggest win possible for the private interests. As this DeWine proposal is brought and negotiated between the House and Senate, it looks likely to become, essentially, “Backpack Bill Light.”

I’m not holding my breath for full, fair public school funding. Legislators repeatedly steamroll DeWine and there’s no reason to think they won’t on this. There’s only one pot. It’s meant for high-quality public schools. But they always turn their backs on our public schools in favor of the private interests.

I come from a family of educators: My mom, a longtime teacher and junior high school principal; my sister, a primary school special education teacher; my grandmother, a high school teacher; my other grandmother, a school librarian; my grandfather, a school teacher and later the dean of a Kent State University branch.

I grew up surrounded by public educators, both at school and at home. I grew up generally believing that we as a society agreed about the importance and value of public education.

It came as a great shock to me when I entered adulthood that there are incredibly well-funded private interests working every day to undermine and rob our public schools.

Then I started seeing one for-profit school scam after another in Ohio, and realized that our state government was actively stoking the grift.

When I ask the public educators I know for their thoughts, many tell me there’s a definite role for traditional charters and private schools for the maybe 10% of students best off at them, but it’s unconscionable to rob the other 90% of public school students and prioritize the 10%.

That seems reasonable.

Traditional charter and private schools have a place, but they must face just as much scrutiny and accountability and auditing as our public schools if they are to receive our money.

And propping up private schools should never, ever come at the expense of our already woefully unsupported public schools.

We need to dedicate ourselves to a positive vision of the wonderful beacons our public schools can be when we invest in them, when we support them, when we encourage them to be creative, and when we give them the resources and opportunity to thrive.

Public education is not failing. Ohio politicians are failing to prioritize and invest in public education.

Congressman Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) released the following statement about the College Board’s decision to remove segments of the African American Studies AP course to placate Florida Governor Ron DeSantis:

NEWS: Rep. Bowman Statement on the College Board’s 

Decision to Revise Its AP African American Studies Curriculum

NEW YORK, NY – The College Board recently revised its Advanced Placement course in African American studies eliminating some of the most important aspects of American history. 

 

Rep. Bowman released the following statement in response: 

 

“The College Board’s decision to surrender to the political pressure of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and water down AP African American Studies has serious national implications,” said Congressman Jamaal Bowman Ed.D (NY-16). “To remove some of the most rigorous and historically significant Black history and scholarship from millions of students across the country is a crime against education and democracy. Truthful public education is the single best investment we can make as a country to build prosperous, healthy and equitable societies however, the College Board has shown us yet again that their interest is in sustaining and increasing profits and not in providing an ethical, insightful, and comprehensive curriculum that meets the needs of all students.”

 

“African American studies is critical to ensuring all students feel seen in their educational experiences, and is fundamental to our ability to address ongoing injustices and improve our society for all people. Because of the College Board’s decision to acquiesce to fear, students all over the country will now not have access to African American literature from prolific authors that have shaped American life. To deliberately strip our children of the opportunity to build a better future for the next generation is a recipe for disaster for this country and the world. African American history is American history. Removing any part of African American history in any curriculum removes a critical lifeline of America.”

 

The Network for Public Education posted this article about the billionaires behind the voucher legislation that recently passed. None of the billionaires live in Idaho.

New post on Network for Public Education.

Kelcie Moseley-Morris: Records show powerful, wealthy funders outside Idaho back school choice campaign

Reporting for the Idaho Capital Sun, Kelcie Moseley-Morris explains how Idaho’s big voucher push is the product of carpetbagger astroturf. What has been presented as a grassroots movement is fueled by other players.

The national special interests groups who have poured millions of dollars into efforts to make education savings account programs a reality in states like Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, Wisconsin and New Hampshire are the same donors who spent hundreds of thousands of dollars during Idaho’s midterm election to ensure school choice-friendly legislators occupied as many seats as possible in the Idaho Legislature, records show.

The American Federation for Children and the State Policy Network are two of those groups that are coordinated and funded by millionaires and billionaires dedicated to conservative policy positions across the U.S. — and now in Idaho. Sen. Tammy Nichols, R-Middleton, introduced an education savings account bill Tuesday for parents to use per-pupil funding from state funds at the institution of their choice.

The Federation is focused on school choice, while State Policy Network’s affiliates also demonstrate opposition to unions, a reduction in public services, opposition to climate change efforts and advocate for school choice.

The State Policy Network’s donors are largely not known to the public, but investigations have determined donors include foundations run by David and Charles Koch and large corporations such as Microsoft, Verizon, GlaxoSmithKline and Kraft Foods.

[One of the players is one of the DeVos family’s favorite charities.]

During the 2022 primary election in Idaho, a group called the American Federation for Children Action Fund gave $200,100 to an entity called the Idaho Federation for Children. It gave the entity another $140,500 in contributions between September and Dec. 28.

It is unclear how much the entity is connected to Idaho. It is not registered as an entity with the Idaho Secretary of State, and campaign finance records do not indicate any Idaho individuals or companies have donated to the PAC. Records show the Idaho Federation for Children’s street address is the same as the American Federation for Children’s offices in Washington, D.C., although the “state” section of the address says “ID” rather than D.C.

The group’s chairman as listed on Idaho’s campaign finance portal is Tommy Schultz, CEO of the D.C.-based organization.

[The piece also quotes Charles Siler, a former conservative operative who became disenchanted with the anti-public school workings. He places this advocacy in a larger context.]

Siler said his job often involved meeting with legislators to persuade them to support a certain policy ideal, which included welfare reform, efforts to fight subsidies for public transportation and ballot access restrictions, along with education programs.

Siler said the policies are aimed at disrupting the political power of regular people.

“It’s all funded by people who have a world view that’s really in opposition to any kind of collective action to resolve inequities in our society,” Siler said. “It’s all about undermining and destroying collective power, because it’s the only opposition that wealthy people actually face.”

Read the full piece here. 

You can view the post at this link : https://networkforpubliceducation.org/blog-content/kelcie-moseley-morris-records-show-powerful-wealthy-funders-outside-idaho-back-school-choice-campaign/

Paul Vallas is running for mayor of Chicago again. Mercedes Schneider warns the voters of the Windy City to beware.

When Vallas ran before, he garnered only 5% of the vote. But this time, he is a contender. Vallas has a long record in education. He has imposed privatization wherever he went, or in the case of New Orleans, happily advanced the privatization agenda.

She begins her post:

In January 2018, I posted about Paul Vallas, who was at the time dropping hints about becoming Chicago’s next mayor. Vallas ran and lost, winning only 5.4 percent of the vote in the February 2019 general election.

Four years later, in January 2023, Vallas is considered a real possibility (see also hereand here) for at least landing in a mayoral-race runoff following Chicago’s February 28, 2023, general election.

Vallas as mayor would be bad news for Chicago. Full stop. On January 24, 2023, the Chicago Tribune posted this benign candidate bio for Vallas, but don’t be fooled, Chicago. Vallas is anything but benign.

Chicago voters need to be informed about what they would be getting should Vallas become mayor. Therefore, I am reposting some of the Vallas history I posted four years ago, in 2018.

Vallas is terrible with budgets and with fulfilling promises, but through it all, he has managed to serve and protect his own interests.

Please open the link and read her summary of Vallas’ career.

Christopher Lubienski is Professor of Education Policy and director of the Center for Evaluation and Policy Analysis at Indiana University. Among his publications is The Public School Advantage: Why Public Schools Outperform Private Schools. In this article, which appeared in The Tennessean, he points out that vouchers are unpopular as well as ineffective. So unpopular are they that they are usually sold another another name, like “education scholarships.”

He writes:

Recently, a panel of judges dismissed lawsuits against Tennessee’s private school voucher program passed by the General Assembly back in 2019. A month before that decision, the West Virginia Supreme Court ruled in favor of its legislature’s efforts to implement a universal voucher program. These types of legal victories may seem like good news for parents’ rights, but they are also a reminder that the school choice movement is missing a key source of support: the voters.

School choice is continuing to expand across the United States. New Hampshire implemented a statewide voucher program in 2021, and this year Arizona legislators also adopted a universal voucher program.

But these successes often come in spite of overwhelming voter opposition to school choice programs. Arizona lawmakers had passed a similar measure in 2018, only to see the initiative soundly rejected by a 2-to-1 margin at the ballot box. This time around, policymakers successfully undercut an effort to put their initiative back before the electorate.

In Michigan, school choice advocates appeared to have ignored a deadline to place their proposal for a voucher program on the ballot. Since such measures had been overwhelmingly rejected by Michigan voters twice before, voucher proponents instead exploited a quirk in state law that allowed them to put the issue directly before the GOP-run legislature while preempting any veto from the Democratic governor. (Unfortunately for their plan, Michigan voters then flipped the legislature to Democratic control.)

This voter-avoidance strategy is clear with school choice programs across the U.S. According to the pro-voucher organization EdChoice.org, the U.S. has over 75 publicly funded private school choice programs, including vouchers and education savings accounts, as well as another 45 charter school programs. But all of these programs have been implemented by legislators, not the electorate. Following these legislative actions, judges, not voters, can get their say.

In fact, voters have been allowed to weigh in on school choice programs only nine times since 2000, and they almost always reject them, often by overwhelming margins. Only twice did school choice programs pass through the ballot box. In 2012 Georgia voters empowered their legislature with the ability to create charter schools. That same year, although they had clearly rejected it twice before, Washington voters passed a charter school referendum by the slimmest of margins following financial support from Bill Gates and associates for the measure.

This reflects an interesting conflict. Parents seem to like choice programs. Perhaps that’s not surprising, since people are often happy to receive public subsidies. But when asked, voters consistently and overwhelmingly reject these programs.

Policymakers and choice advocates have largely come down on the side of parent rights in endorsing school choice. Since this puts them in opposition to voters, they largely avoid the electorate on the issue.

But policymakers would do well to remember that this is not just a question of who controls education decision-making. After all, they are entrusted with the wise use of taxpayers’ dollars. And recent research is repeatedly showing that the voters may be on to something: that vouchers are not a good investment. Although publicly funded vouchers may be propping up some private schools that might otherwise go out of business, they are not really helping the people they purport to help. In fact, despite parent satisfaction, study after study shows that students using vouchers are falling behind where they would have been if they had remained in public schools. Thus, policymakers might think twice about defying voters on initiatives that actually cause harm to children.

It’s a curious approach for a movement that claims to be working for the grass roots.

You can view the post at this link : https://networkforpubliceducation.org/blog-content/christopher-lubienski-the-school-choice-movement-has-a-voter-problem/

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt wants voters to believe that his push for vouchers comes from the “grassroots.” Not true. The last time vouchers came to a vote in the legislature, they were defeated by Republicans, especially rural Republicans who understand the importance of their public school.

Ben Felder of The Oklahoman got copies of internal correspondence and learned that the voucher campaign is funded by the Walton Family Foundation and organizations created by Charles Koch.

Is Governor Stitt believes that the people of Iklahoma want vouchers, why doesn’t he put it to a vote? Why let out-of-state billionaires defund the already underfunded public schools of Oklahoma. Take it to the people! Let them decide!

Joshua Q. Nelson wrote a story for FOX News, saying that I was a hypocrite for sending my sons to private schools (more than 50 years ago) and ignoring the fact that I turned against school choice publicly in 2010. His source was Corey DeAngelis, who works for Betsy DeVos. He has attacked me so often on Twitter that I blocked him.

A little bit of research would have shown that I supported school choice from the late 1980s (when charters first emerged) until 2008 (when I started writing a book about my disavowal of conservative education ideology—charters, vouchers, standardized testing, merit pay, and high-stakes accountability).

My change of mind and heart was well covered, not only in The New York Times, but in The Wall Street Journal and other publications). And the book became a national bestseller.

Christina Pushaw, a close aide to Ron DeSantis, amplified the story in her Twitter account, as did the notorious Chris Rufo.

Since the story came out, I have received numerous death threats. Yesterday, I got another one, a long and garbled message with religious allusions, which ended by saying “Yes, we will be ‘slaying Goliath.’ You are Goliath.”

I think Joshua Q. Nelson should be aware that he was played by DeAngelis and correct his story.

Meanwhile, I am flattered that Ron DeSantis and Betsy DeVos and their minions read my tweets and perhaps my blog. I would like to recommend that they read my last three books, where I demonstrate the importance of public schools and the hoax of school choice, which originated as the battle cry of segregationists after the Brown decision.

In a diverse society like ours, public schools bring children from different backgrounds together. They are essential for our democracy. They are the best choice.

Of course, parents are free to make private choices but they should not expect taxpayers to pay for their choice to send their child to a private school that discriminates against others.

Meanwhile, here is a reading assignment for Corey DeAngelis, Christina Pushaw, Chris Rufo, Ron DeSantis, and Betsy DeVos:

https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2021/01/14/the-dark-history-of-school-choice/

And three books:

The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education (2010)

Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools (2013)

Slaying Goliath: The Passionate Resistance to Privatization and the Fight to Save America’s Public Schools (2020)

On a personal note: I am 84. I do not fear your threats. I write what I choose. I will not be intimidated.

Congressman Jamaal Bowman is an educator. He was principal of a middle school in The Bronx, New York City, serving high-needs students when he ran for Congress. He was re-elected in 2022. He is a strong voice in Congress for public schools,

He issued a press release calling on New York Governor Kathy Hochul to withdraw her budget proposal to increase the number of charter schools in New York City. He knows the damage this will do to the vast majority of students, who are in public schools.

He said:

For Immediate Release
Date:
February 3, 2023
Contact: wanjira@bowmanforcongress.com


NEWS: Rep. Bowman Statement on Governor Hochul’s Budget Decision to Divert Traditional Public School Resources


NEW YORK, NY – Yesterday, Governor Kathy Hochul released her FY2024 budget, which included a proposal to remove the regional cap on charter schools.

Rep. Bowman released the following statement in response:

“As a life-long educator and former middle school principal in the Bronx for over a decade, I witnessed firsthand the value and impact traditional public schools have on children’s lives and learning,” saidCongressman Jamaal Bowman Ed.D (NY-16). “As much as I want to applaud Governor Hochul’s funding of the Foundation Aid initiative, I am extremely disappointed by her proposal to remove the regional cap on charter schools which will dramatically divert critical resources from traditional public schools. With over 1500 public schools in New York City that serve over 1 million students, this effort will be destructive for the learning of our city’s children, especially for the almost 90% of minority children who are currently enrolled in public schools.”

“Let me be very clear. The core of the Foundation Aid was created to help provide more equitable and sustainable educational opportunities for children in our traditional public schools. Increasing the development of more charter schools is not what the Foundation Aid was designed for. District public schools are foundational to a functioning democracy, while charter schools – especially those run by large networks – often perpetuate the very inequities that prevent us from realizing the potential of our democracy.”

“There is a standard of excellence and equity that makes public schools the most viable option for all our children. The qualification and certification standards for teachers are high, ensuring the highest level of educational opportunities for our children. Students engage with a diverse community that reflects the demographics of this country early in their childhood development stages. Accessibility and affordability ensure that parents, caregivers, and families are partners in their child’s learning. From PTA initiatives and parent-teacher conferences to programs that create a true learning partnership with parents, public schools allow for many avenues where parents can purposefully engage in their child’s education.”

“I call on Governor Hochul to keep the charter school cap exactly where it is –which is much higher than it was initially supposed to be.”

 

About Rep. Jamaal Bowman
Congressman Jamaal Bowman was an educator and advocate for public schools for over 20 years and previously served as principal for the Cornerstone Academy for Social Action (CASA), a public middle school he founded in 2009 in the Baychester neighborhood of The Bronx. Rep. Bowman is a life-long New Yorker who lives in Yonkers with his wife and children.