Archives for category: Home Schooling

Readers of this blog have followed the advance of privatization of public school funding for nearly a decade. We know the big foundations and individuals that support privatization. We have followed their activities and watched as all of their strategies have failed to match their promises. The great puzzle, to me, is the indifference of the mainstream media. While they cover political scandals of every variety, they are just not interested in the sustained campaign to divert public money to schools there privately managed,to religious schools, to other private schools, and even to homeschooling. The media rightly criticized Betsy DeVos’s crusade for school choice, but as soon as she left office, they lost interest in the issue. Meanwhile, red states are rushing to open more charter schools and fund more vouchers.

Maurice Cunningham explored this issue in a recent post on the blog of the MassPoliticsProfs. He chastises the Boston Globe, but the same complaint could be directed to most mainstream media.

He begins:

Suppose WalMart swept into Boston and spent millions to acquire Market Basket. The town would go ballistic. It would be covered every day in every media outlet, front page of the Boston Globe. But the Walton Family Foundation of Arkansas—the exact same heartless* mercenaries—spends millions of dollars to take over public schools and it gets ignored. Why is that?

He discusses “Hidden Politics” and “the Politics of Pretending.” He has written frequently about astroturf groups and how they present themselves to a gullible media as authentic spokesmen for parents or for some other groups.

That’s the PR facade, he says. What really matters is: who is funding these groups? Why doesn’t the media care?

I always thought that if out-of-state billionaires could be proven to have entered the state using local fronts to change Massachusetts education policy that would be a great, great, great story. I’ve been proven wrong again, and again, and again. I still think it’s a great story, it’s just a great story that only gets told at a small political science blog. Why is that?

Why is that?

Since today is New Hampshire Day on the blog, I am reposting this article.

Since the 2020 election, Republicans have controlled both houses of the New Hampshire. The governor is Chris Sununu, a very conservative Republican and son of John Sununu, who was chief of staff to George H.W. Bush. In other words, New Hampshire is controlled by very conservative Republicans, even though the state has two Democratic Senators.

Sununu appointed a home schooler, Frank Edelblut, as his Commissioner of Education. His chief credential seems to be his contempt for public schooling.

Edelblut just made a new hire. He chose one of Betsy DeVos’s team to be New Hampshire’s Director of Learner Support. Her name is McKenzie Snow, and she is a voucher advocate like her old boss and her new boss. She was in charge of pushing vouchers while at the U.S. Department of Education. She was a consultant to Trump’s controversial “1776 Commission,” which attempted to promote a conservative version of history, minimizing racism and other shameful episodes in our history.

Although she will be in charge of “learner support,” she apparently was never a teacher.

New Hampshire NPR reports:

If confirmed, McKenzie Snow will direct the Division of Learner Support, overseeing student assessments, technical assistance for schools, student wellness, student support, adult education, and career and technical education.

Prior to working at the U.S. Department of Education for two and a half years, Snow analyzed and advocated for school choice reform as a policy director at ExcelinEd, a non-profit founded by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and directed by former House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor.

She also worked on educational issues at the conservative Charles Koch Foundation and Charles Koch Foundation Institutes, according to her LinkedIn account.

During her tenure at the U.S. Department of Education and ExcelinEd, Snow championed Education Savings Accounts (ESA’s), which give taxpayer dollars to parents to spend on approved educational programs of their choice, including private school and home school.

Snow’s confirmation is expected at the Executive Council meeting this Wednesday.

Betsy DeVos made the goal of school choice clear: Shift public dollars away from public schools and transfer them to privately managed charter schools, online schools, for-profit schools, home schools, and vouchers for religious schools. She never supported public schools. Her actions emboldened her followers in Red States to make a full frontal attack on public education. Please share this information on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. Alert your friends and colleagues. The attack on public education rolls on, despite the overwhelming evidence that charter schools do not get better results than public schools unless they cherrypick their students, and voucher schools get worse results, while most avoid accountability and transparency.

The Red State governors want to fund failure, instead of adequately and equitably funding their most important responsibility: the public schools.

In this article, Carol Burris–with research assistance of Anthony Cody and Marla Kilfoyle–of the Network for Public Education reports on the action in the states to advance privatization of public funds.

It is school choice week. Across the country, conservative state legislators are sponsoring “school choice” bills that would divert public funds to charter schools, online schools, and/or private and religious schools and homeschools.  

The 2020 election resulted in gains for Libertarian Republicans in statehouses who are now aggressively pushing school voucher bills, whether they be through the use of devices such as “Education Opportunity Accounts,” tax credits, or direct subsidies from state tax dollars. These bills would have a devastating impact on the funds available to support public schools struggling through the pandemic.   

But of course, that is the point. Make no mistake. Those proposing these bills are hostile to both the idea and the ideals of district-run public schools.

In addition to new voucher programs, state legislators are also promoting the expansion of charter schools, the imposition of capricious regulations on public schools, and the undermining of their democratic governance.

In Iowa, the Governor has proposed a law that would allow the state board, as well as districts, to authorize charter schools, thus placing charters in school districts that do not want them. A bill under consideration in Missouri would authorize a dramatic expansion of charter schools and make it simple for a small minority of voters to initiate a recall of elected school board members. Kansas legislators are pushing to allow public funds to flow to private schools with little public oversight, and New Hampshire legislators are again pushing a universal voucher program. 

Here is a summary of some of the bills that have been introduced.

Arizona 

Over three years, Senate Bill 1041 would increase the amount the state spends on corporate School Tuition Organization vouchers, from $5 million to $20 million. In 2017, tax dollars diverted into deductible voucher “donations” exceeded a billion dollars, providing “donors” with a dollar for dollar tax credits. Senate Bill 1452 expands the state’s ESA voucher. 

In a move hostile toward public schools,  Senate Bill 1058  requires schools to compile and publish a list of every resource used in classrooms the previous year — including online videos, articles, and websites. The purpose of this burdensome requirement is to allow parents to opt their child out if they do not agree with the instructional content. In what is clearly a show of hostility to district public schools, the bill does not apply to private schools, including those whose students receive vouchers, and charter schools have more relaxed rules. 

Florida 

Florida SB 48 aims to merge and expand the multiple voucher programs that already exist into two programs. According to the Tampa Bay Times, “the 158-page proposal would merge the state’s five key school choice programs and make them all state-funded. It would also convert the scholarships into more flexible education savings accounts by merging the state-funded Family Empowerment Scholarship program, an ESA program, with the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program, and the Hope Scholarship Program. Also, it would merge the McKay Scholarship Program for Students with Disabilities with the Gardiner Scholarship Program under a new name–the McKay-Gardiner Scholarship Program.”

Make no mistake–these are not scholarships in the traditional sense–provided when a needy student receives tuition-help because she has attained high grades. These “scholarships” are all disguised vouchers to private and religious schools, resulting in taxpayers paying for private school education. If passed, this bill would also reduce the frequency of audits to detect fraud from every year to once every three years, increase the yearly growth rate of voucher programs, and via ESAs, expand the use of public funds. 

Georgia 

House Bill 60 is a neo-voucher that would allow students who withdraw from a local public school to take state funding with them to use as a scholarship to a private school. In Georgia, about 50% of school funding comes from the state. This would have a devastating effect on school districts who would likely lose far more than they would save by an individual student’s withdrawal. One of the eligibility criteria for this ESA voucher is that a student’s school not be 100% open for in-person instruction, thus targeting schools whose elected leaders have made decisions about the safety of their school communities.  As with many of these proposals, the pandemic is being exploited to advance a privatization agenda.

Indiana  

 House Bill 1005 would greatly expand the state’s voucher program by allowing families with incomes up to $145,000 a year to participate. That amount is near twice the median income of families in the state and provides taxpayer assistance to families who can already comfortably afford to send their child to a private school. According to an estimate from the Legislative Services Agency, it could increase the number of students receiving state stipends by about 40% in 2021-22.

Some 12,000 students already attending such schools would be eligible for state funding–costing taxpayers $100 million in the first year alone. In addition, the bill would add a new “Education Savings Accounts,” which would be made available to parents with students with special needs. 

 Iowa 

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has proposed SSB 1065, (now known as SF 159) which is being fast-tracked through the state Senate.  This “school choice” bill would:

  • Provide up to $5,200 per student in “state scholarships” for parents to use for private school tuition or homeschooling expenses. 
  • Greatly expand charter schools in the state by allowing applicants to start a charter school by going straight to the state board, bypassing the school district.
  • Allow students to transfer out of their local public schools with a voluntary or court-ordered diversity plan

According to Senator Pam Jochum, this bill is being fast-tracked because, “Obviously, the faster they move it, the less chance there is for push back from the public that’s not happy with this kind of a change because it will take about $54 million and shift it from public education to private.”

Kansas:

House Bill 2068 and Senate Bill 61 are allegedly designed to expand school vouchers in the state via a tax credit program. They are, at their core, an attempt to create a taxpayer-funded invitation to discriminate. 

According to the Kansas School Boards Association, these bills would allow private schools that discriminate in admissions based on achievement, religion, gender, disability, or sexual preference to participate in the tax-credit program. They would neither be required to be accredited nor report student results. 

“Scholarships” created by these tax dollars could be as generous as $8,000.

Kentucky 

House Bill 149 would create a new “Education Opportunity Account” program that would allow participants to divert their tax dollars into accounts to be used as voucher funds for private or parochial school tuition.   

Missouri 

There is only one intent of Senate Bill 55–to destroy public education in Missouri. It was pushed through the Senate Education Committee last week. This mega bill began as two Senate bills to create vouchers and expand charters. They were then loaded onto SSB 55 at the last minute, which included provisions hostile to public education that have never even had a public hearing. According to the Missouri School Boards Association, the bill now includes:

  • School Board Member Recall: Requires an election to recall a school board member if a petition is submitted signed by at least 25% of the number of voters in the last school board election. It would also restrict members of the state board of education to one term.
  • Education Scholarship Account/Vouchers: Creates up to $100 million in tax credits for donations to an organization that gives out scholarships for students to attend a home school or private school – including for-profit virtual schools.
  • Charter School Expansion: Authorizes charter schools to be opened in an additional 61 school districtslocated in Jackson, Jefferson, St. Charles, and St. Louis counties or in cities of 30,000 or more and allows charters opened in provisionally and unaccredited districts to remain open even after the school district regains accreditation.
  • Direct Access to Virtual Charter Schools: Allows students enrolling in MOCAP (The Missouri CourseAccess and Virtual School Program) full time to apply directly to the vendor, thus pushing the resident school district and professional educators out of the process.

New Hampshire

House Bill 20 would create a universal voucher program entitled “Education Freedom Accounts,” which would take state dollars from monies allocated to support public schools and give them directly to parents to use for private school tuition, homeschooling costs, and other education-related expenses. The per-student amount would range from $3,786 and $8,458 based on eligibility and costs.  

Conclusion

During her 2019 appearance at the Education Writers Association, former Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos attempted to re-define the very definition of what public education is. 

“Let’s stop and rethink the definition of public education,” she said. “Today, it’s often defined as one type of school, funded by taxpayers, controlled by government. But if every student is part of ‘the public,’ then every way and every place a student learns is ultimately of benefit to ‘the public.’ That should be the new definition of public education.” 

According to DeVos’s definition, public education, as we know, it is “government education”, while the term public education is used as a substitute for the word “learning.” Take your child to a museum—by DeVos’s reasoning, that is “public education.” Teach them how to ride a horse, or how to storm Congress to air your grievance—according to this definition that would be “public education” as well. 

This is not just rhetoric—it is at the heart of the right-wing Libertarian philosophy that believes that parents should be fully in charge of where and what children learn. The bills that are being pushed in statehouses across America represent that philosophy.

Persuading Americans to buy into such a radical concept took years of work. Joseph P. Overton, an electrical engineer, was senior vice president of the right-wing Mackinac Center for Public Policy in the 1990s until he died in 2003. The Mackinac Center is located in Michigan, Betsy DeVos’s home state. Overton is most known for creating the Overton Window—a means by which to analyze and rebrand extreme policies to make them more acceptable to the public. According to Overton, only those policies identified as “in the window” are politically possible. Therefore, if one wishes to make the unacceptable or unthinkable acceptable, the solution is to shift the window.   

According to Mackinac, the example Overton often used to illustrate the window’s movement is the changed public perception of school choice. In the 1980s, advocating for charter schools was politically dangerous. As charters became more acceptable, so did school choice, which in turn allowed conservative politicians to advocate for homeschooling, private school tax credits, and charter expansion. 

And here we are today. What was once unthinkable–the dismantling of our nation’s public schools–is now a real possibility. 

It is up to those who believe in the promise of public education to join together, recognize these legislative attempts for what they are, and defeat them before it is too late. If we do not act, there may be choices, but democratically governed public schools will not be one of them.

Governor Kim Reynolds has proposed legislation to take money away from Ohio public schools and divert it to privately managed schools, vouchers for religious schools, charter schools, and home schooling. She is following in the footsteps of Betsy DeVos, who spent four years trying to eradicate public schools.

If you live in Iowa, contact your legislator and Governor Reynolds! Speak up for your public schools! Resist the privatization of public funds!

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds proposed SSB 1065, (now known as SF 159) which is being fast-tracked through the state Senate.  The vote may be today. This “school choice” bill would:

  • Provide up to $5,200 per student in “state scholarships” for parents to use for private school tuition or homeschooling expenses. 
  • Greatly expand charter schools in the state by allowing applicants to start a charter school by going straight to the state board, bypassing the school district.  No longer would districts be the only decider for charter schools. 

If you love your public schools, you need to drop what you are doing and get to work!

1. Call your state senators NOW and ask them to support public schools by OPPOSING Senate File 159, SSB 1065. Or say, “I oppose the school choice voucher/charter bill.” You can find your Senator and their phone number by going here. Click on their name for their phone number.

2Click here and send an email in opposition to SSB 1065/SF 159  NOW.

3. Share this link with friends and family who live in the state

https://actionnetwork.org/letters/save-iowa-public-schools-oppose/

Don’t wait. Act now. 

Carol Burris

Executive Director

Network for Public Education

The House Republican conference just indulged in a sick joke: It assigned Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene to the House Education and Labor Committee. Rep. Greene has identified with the bizarre QAnon conspiracy theorists who believe that Democrats and large sectors of the federal government are controlled by a Satanic ring of pedophiles. She has endorsed the vile claim that the massacres at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012, and at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in 2018, were staged or “false flag” operations, intended to build political support for gun control.

Andrew Ujifusa of Education Week reports:

A Washington Post story on Jan. 22 highlighted how, in response to a 2018 comment on Facebook that recent school shootings weren’t real, now-U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene said, “That’s all true.” She expressed a similar sentiment about the 2018 shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Facebook in a separate comment that year that the social-media site later removed. 

Several advocacy groups that support robust gun-control measures, including March For Our Lives-Parkland, Moms Demand Action, and Everytown for Gun Safety have called on Greene to resign in light of those comments, the Post reported. 

Greene also has made national headlines for months due to her support for QAnon, the name used for a range of conspiracy theories that have been termed a domestic terrorist threat by the FBI.

In response to questions from Education Week about Rep. Greene’s education priorities and concerns about her past comments on school shootings, spokesman Nick Dyer did not address her comments on the shootings.

“Congresswoman Greene is excited to join the House Education and Labor Committee. Rep. Greene is ready to get to work to reopen every school in America, expand school choice, protect homeschooling, champion religious freedom for student and teachers, and prevent men and boys from unfairly competing with women and girls in sports,” Dyer said in an email.

Earlier this month, Greene announced her support for legislation that would require schools to prevent “biological males” from competing in women’s sports, in order to demonstrate compliance with federal Title IX law...

A relatively large share of the Republicans slated to join the committee are freshmen. In fact, out of 24 total GOP members due to join the committee, 11 just started their first terms in Congress; go here for the list of new members about to join the panel. (Republicans announced new appointments to the committee on Monday, but technically they won’t be official until the GOP conference and full House approves them.)

Another prominent GOP freshman on the list is Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., who spoke at Trump’s Jan. 6 rally in front of the White House shortly before a mob attacked the U.S. Capitol as lawmakers were voting to certify the presidential election results.

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt accepted the resignation of Melissa Crabtree, whom he appointed four days earlier. Crabtree is a home-schooling parent who has vociferously opposed any mask mandate. She was selected to replace Kurt Bollenbach, also appointed by Stitt, who wanted to claw back millions from a for-profit virtual charter and who believed that students should wear masks in school. Bollenbach was too sane and reasonable for Governor Stitt.

Gov. Kevin Stitt’s new appointee to the state Board of Education spent months sharing debunked COVID-19 medical advice, conspiracy theories and anti-vaccine content before hiding the posts from public view shortly after news of her new position became public Friday.

According to The Oklahoman:

Enid resident Melissa Crabtree was named to the education board after Stitt abruptly removed board member Kurt Bollenbach, who the governor appointed in 2019.

Crabtree is a vocal anti-mask advocate who earlier this year founded a group called Enid Freedom Fighters, which had helped for months to block a mask mandate in the city and is now leading an effort to recall elected officials who supported the move. Enid’s mask mandate passed Tuesday on a third attempt, according to an Enid News & Eagle story.

Stitt’s pick was condemned Friday by Democrats in the Legislature who criticized Crabtree’s views on masks and her lack of public education experience.

Information reviewed by Oklahoma Watch also shows that Crabtree frequently took to Facebook to share other controversial opinions, unsubstantiated medical advice and misinformation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic that has killed at least 1,860 Oklahomans.

The posts were either deleted or hidden from public view just before noon Friday, but Oklahoma Watch was able to review and capture screenshots of several postings before that occurred.

This includes a post from last month where Crabtree, who frequently posts on the supposed benefits of essential oils, claimed to her more than 400 followers that zinc could “stop Covid from duplicating” and “will help a body not freak out at an illness…”

In another post from July, Crabtree told her followers to seek out a viral video where a doctor falsely touted hydroxychloroquine as a COVID cure. Multiple claims in that video have been debunked by fact-checkers.

Crabtree went on to write that Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, has “known that hydroxychloroquine worked for 15 years” and, without providing any evidence to back up her claims, that “they are purposely distorting the studies and letting people die.”

Crabtree also posted multiple times endorsing the controversial strategy of achieving herd immunity without the use of widespread vaccinations. This includes a post from last week where she wrote that “once viruses are here, the way we get herd immunity is by people building immunity to the virus” and that she’d “rather have (the virus) than get the vaccine.

Apparently even Governor Stitt was embarrassed by his selection. And now he is looking for a new member of the State Board. Hopefully it will be someone who cares about the health and safety of students and teachers, and someone willing to call out grifters and frauds.

Jack Schneider is a historian of education. In this post, which he wrote at my request, he analyzes the new push for homeschooling. In the midst of the global pandemic, with millions of children quarantined at home, its not surprising that parents are compelled to be teachers. But how many parents will want to homeschool when real schools are one day available again?

Schneider writes:

Never let a good crisis go to waste. As any policy advocate knows, the destabilizing nature of an emergency creates a rare opportunity: sweeping change can happen quickly.

Both parties have a history of exploiting difficulties and disasters. During the Great Recession, for instance, the Obama administration pushed through a series of heavy-handed federal education reforms that might otherwise have met with stiff resistance. But during the COVID-19 pandemic, the most ambitious education proposals have come from Republicans, because the shuttering of schools has played to their advantage.

With state revenues shrinking before our eyes and schools forced online, conservatives have seized the opportunity to push for a number of long-standing pet projects: virtual schooling, spending cuts, union-busting, and privatization. Unthinkable in ordinary times, these ideologically-motivated reforms suddenly seem plausible.
Consider the recent push for homeschooling. The right has long made the case that public education is a waste of taxpayer funds and an offense to individual liberty. “Government schools,” as many conservatives deridingly call them, strip parents of their freedom to educate their children as they please; worse, they do so at an annual cost of nearly a trillion dollars. Homeschooling, by contrast, is defined by limited government oversight and costs taxpayers virtually nothing.

Homeschooling is no great evil. It predates formal schooling and has existed alongside the public education system for roughly two centuries. It also constitutes a small fraction of overall school enrollments in the United States.

Yet it is important to understand current advocacy for homeschooling as what it is: crisis-related opportunism. Homeschooling hasn’t suddenly become better or more appealing than it ever was. Instead, market-oriented conservatives understand that this is the best shot they’ve ever had at dismantling public education (an aim that Jennifer Berkshire and I detail in our book A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door). Homeschooling, for those like Betsy DeVos, is a means to that end.

A recent article in Education Next—a publication created by the conservative Hoover Institution—offers a perfect case in point. It may lead with the classic ideological argument—that homeschooling offers “the freedom to explore education as families see fit, with limited government oversight.” But the real aim of the piece is to persuade readers that our concerns about homeschooling are “overblown.” It’s a play for respectability—ammunition for the policy siege to come.

Yet the evidence on offer is hardly compelling. As we learn, homeschooled children go to museums and libraries somewhat more often than their public school counterparts—largely because they are not at school all day. They are slightly more likely to visit a zoo or aquarium. And they are 17 percentage points more likely to do arts and crafts projects. We are also told, as if we couldn’t have guessed, that homeschooled children are more likely to participate in family activities.

And that’s just about all.

There are some nods to the fact that homeschooling isn’t uniform—that families often band together, employ additional internet-based resources, and sometimes even participate in school-based activities. But on the whole, there is little evidence that homeschooling is a viable large-scale alternative to public education.

To his credit, the study’s author, Daniel Hamlin, doesn’t make that claim. But we need to imagine how such studies will be transformed as they careen across the internet, and as they are weaponized by ideologically-motivated legislators.

We must remember, too, that there is a cost to homeschooling. Most children who are homeschooled probably turn out just fine, though the truth is we don’t actually know—we don’t have the evidence. For many children, however, a shift away from school as we know it would be devastating. Their academic experiences would be more limited and their social experiences much narrower. They would lose out on nutrition and health services, miss opportunities to build interracial and cross-class friendships, and experience far more idiosyncratic forms of citizenship preparation. All of this, as we know from educational research, would most severely affect the least advantaged—those from historically marginalized racial groups and low-income families.

Despite the limited evidentiary base for homeschooling, and the serious concerns we should have, we can be sure that the push for widespread homeschooling will come. The present crisis is simply too good to waste. And given the nature of this emergency, the case for channeling funds directly to families—even if it is at the expense of public school budgets—is an easy one to make.

So, expect to see a sudden influx of research (and research-like products) that tells us to put our concerns aside, to embrace homeschooling for the time being, and to allow policy leaders to blaze a new trail. But read carefully, and remember that any changes implemented now may endure far into the future.

Rachel Cohen writes that the pandemic is encouraging many parents to consider home schooling and to pressure Congress to pay them to do it.

I disagree.

Before the pandemic, about 2 million children were home schooled, mostly by parents who were either evangelical Christians or who worried about the diverse culture of the public schools or bullying or low standards.

But parents who work don’t want to home school. Most parents prefer that their children learn from knowledgeable teachers alongside others and engage in the academic, social, and cultural activities at school.

The vast majority of parents are eager for school to resume so they can return to work.

Of course, the anti-public school lobby will take advantage of the pandemic to try to divert funding from public schools to private bank accounts.

The home school organizations have long been wary of federal aid for fear that it will open the door to federal accountability, which they don’t want.

Although the national media occasionally finds a brilliant child who was home schooled, there are few families that can muster the knowledge and experience that are provided by experienced teachers of English, history, science, mathematics, foreign languages, and other studies.

If home schoolers get federal funding, they should be tested to determine if they are adequately prepared. Their children should take the same tests as others in the state. Their homes should be inspected to ensure that they are safe spaces. Where public money goes, accountability should follow. And that’s why most home schoolers don’t want public money.

Our reader Laura Chapman explains what the phrase “the money follows the child” really means. It’s another way of saying that every child should have “a backpack full of cash” strapped on them, to be spent anywhere. Another way to see it is as a jackhammer to destroy our democratically-controlled system of public schools and turn children over to the tender mercies of the free market. The billionaires—the Waltons, Bloomberg, Koch, Gates, Broad, Hastings, Anschutz, Sinquefeld—love the free market. They think it’s best for everyone.

Chapman writes:

The new phrase for money-follows-the-child policies favored by those who want privatized education is this:

We have a “pluralistic system of education.” That phrase is already being used in promote subsidized choice, with everyone eligible for federal funds and expansion of state-level choice programs.

Pluralistic education means that the great American way to educate children will support–
homeschoolers,
free-lance education service providers,
charter schools,
private schools,
religious schools,
traditional public schools,
online instructional delivery,
pay-for-success ventures,
specialty programs for the talented and those in need of therapeutic support (whether in homes, commercial facilities, or brick and mortar schools).
and other possibilities.

In this pluralistic system, market forces and innovative forms of instruction flourish, unimpeded by regulation. Federal subsidies are “fair” when money follows the student.

Proponents claim that all of these flavors of education can and should be subsidized with public funds, eithe in proportion to their market share or their performance on the optional “normative pluralistic standards and curriculum.”

Examples of optional “normative pluralistic standards” are those present in current federal and state legislation, in national campaigns for standards and tests such as those launched to support the “Common Core State Standards,” and the proliferation of rating schemes such as those at GreatSchools.org, US News and World Reports, and EdWeek’s “Chance of Success” reports.

This Pluralism R-US meme is being promoted by EdChoice, the organization once known as the Milton & Rose Friedman Foundation, also Jeb Bush and his Chiefs for Change organization, and scholars.

Key scholars are at the Walton funded University of Arkansas Department of Education Reform; Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes; the University of Washington Bothell’s Center on Reinventing Public Education; Harvard University’s Program on Education Policy and Governance; and Johns Hopkins School of Education Institute for Education Policy.

For a brief look at the rationale for this meme and the policy agenda see
“Pluralism in American School Systems,” https://edpolicy.education.jhu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/PluralismBrief-Jan2018.pdf

For a look at other promotions, see this recent 74 Million.org call for the use of stimulus money for “all types of schools.”

Bradford: $13B in Stimulus Money for K-12 Schools Is a Good Start. But All Types of Schools Will Need More Help From the Feds in Order to Reopen


Maureen Downey of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution interviewed me about my thoughts about what might happen after the nightmare pandemic that has changed our lives. Would more parents decide to homeschool their children? Would distance learning replace the school as we have known it? Would policy makers take a new view of standardized testing?

Here are my answers.