Archives for category: Privatization

Stephen Dyer was in the Ohio legislature when the state’s Edchoice voucher program started as a small initiative. Since then, it has grown, despite research showing that it provides no education benefit to students while taking money away from public schools.

In this post, he announces the launch of a program to educate the public about how vouchers harm their public schools. Every dollar allotted to a voucher school is a dollar less for public schools.

As districts face huge budget cuts in the coming school years, it behooves them to defend every dollar they can so their students have all they need to succeed. That’s why the folks at Real Choice Ohio, which fought for years to help districts cope with charter school losses to great success, have started a series of workshops to help districts educate and inform parents nd their communities about the dangers of the EdChoice vouchers to their kids and other kids’ futures.

The first pillar of these conferences deals with the overall problem facing districts and the kids theiy serve. I am helping to lead this pillar, complete with Power Point presentations and I will be moderating an all-star panel on the EdChoice and voucher problem next week.

Open the post to learn how to sign up.

The advocacy group called Public Funds a Public Schools gathered a useful archive of research studies of vouchers.

The studies were conducted by nonpartisan academic and federal researchers.

The findings are broadly congruent.

Voucher schools are academically inferior to public schools.

Voucher schools divert funding from public schools, which enroll most children.

Voucher programs lack accountability.

The absence of oversight promotes fraud and corruption.

Voucher programs do not help students with disabilities.

Voucher schools are allowed to discriminate against certain groups of students and families.

Voucher programs exacerbate segregation.

Voucher programs don’t work, don’t improve education, and have multiple negative effects.

Community organizer Jitu Brown and I will be in conversation on Wednesday June 3 at 7:30 pm EST.

Please sign up and join us.

Jitu Brown is the leader of Journey for Justice, a civil rights organization with chapters in 25 cities.

We will talk about the murder of George Floyd, about racism in America today, about the legacy of Rahm Emanuel in Chicago, about Jitu’s fight to prevent the closing of the Walter H. Dyett High School in Chicago, and much more.

Jane R. Wettach of Duke Law School has written a study of North Carolina’s voucher program. It is expensive, having cost the state thus far nearly $160 million. It diverts money from the public schools. Most of the voucher schools are religious schools. Voucher schools do not participate in the state’s accountability program so the academic progress—or lack thereof—cannot be assessed.

Some of the author’s conclusions:

The overarching assessment of the initial review of the voucher program from our previous report remains true: The North Carolina voucher program is well designed to promote parental choice, especially for parents who prefer religious education for their children. It is poorly designed, however, to promote better academic outcomes for children and is unlikely to do so over time.

 The public has no information on whether the students with vouchers have made academic progress or have fallen behind. No data about the academic achievement of voucher students are available to the public, not even the data that are identified as a public record in the law. The State Education Assistance Authority (SEAA), which administers the program, concluded that the reporting of tests scores in aggregated form, as required by the legislature, produces no meaningful information. Therefore, the SEAA has discontinued requiring schools to produce the data and it no longer publishes any reports on test scores.

 The number of children receiving vouchers has increased ten-fold since it began: from approximately 1,200 in the first year to 12,300 in 2019-20. Although the program has attracted additional students each year, the rate of growth has been less than the General Assembly anticipated and not all of the appropriation has been spent.

The program is designed to 3xpsnd but it seems likely that most of the available slots will not be used.

92% of vouchers are used in religious schools.

This is a program designed to have no accountability for results of any kind:

Other potential accountability measures for North Carolina private schools receiving vouchers do not exist. Unlike private schools in most states with similar voucher programs, North Carolina private schools accepting voucher money need not be accredited, adhere to state curricular or graduation standards, employ licensed teachers, or administer state End-of-Grade tests.

The program is nothing more than a pass-through of public money to parents who want their children to have a religious schooling, without regard to quality.

The amount of the voucher is small, about $4,200, not enough for a high-quality education, but just right for an inferior religious school without certified teachers. This is what the NC General Assembly wants.

Thomas Ultican, retired teacher of advanced math and physics, has been analyzing the depredations of the privatization movement, which dares to call itself a “reform” movement, thus debasing the plain meaning of reform.

In this post, he digs into the machinations of the billionaire privatizers and their plans to buy and privatize the public schools of Oakland, California. Their tentacles reach far, and they have paid for seats on the school board as well as a panoply of organizations, who have a common purpose.

They don’t care that they have failed and failed and failed to improve the education of the children of Oakland. Their goal is power, and they have always been able to pay people to do their bidding.

Ultican writes:

Community based schools run under the authority of an elected school board have served as the foundation for American democracy for two centuries. Feckless billionaires operating from hubris or theological commitment or a desire to avoid taxes or a pursuit of more wealth are sundering those foundations.

Will activists of good will be able to throw off the yoke of billionaire financed tyranny and defend their public schools in Oakland?

The Network for Public Education is gathering data on charter schools that applied for and received federal funding as small businesses. Most prefer not to admit what they have done, but diligent citizens can request copies of the minutes of their board meetings.

NPE’s Marla Kilfoyle has been diligently collecting the names and the amounts that charter schools have received from the SBA PPP loans. It has not been easy because charters do not want to admit they are taking these funds.

Will you lend Marla a hand? Check the board minutes of your local charter schools during April and May and see if the charter Board approved applying for and accepting PPP funds. If you find any, send the name of the school, amount and a link to the board minutes.

Just click on her email address to generate an email:
marlakilfoyle@networkforpubliceducation.org.

Under its CEO Tom Torkelsen, the charter chain IDEA experienced explosive growth, dramatic success in winning nearly $200 million in federal funds from Betsy DeVos and the federal Charter Schools Program, but multiple scandals involving lavish spending on personal perks, like a lease on a private jet, first-class travel, and box seats at sporting events.

Torkelsen announced his resignation in April, and the board has agreed to give him severance pay of $900,000. Just like a public school superintendent, right?

Stephen Dyer, who served in the Ohio legislature and is an expert in school finance, writes here that vouchers hurt poor kids and explains why. It is important to bear in mind that no state offers vouchers large enough to pay for a high-quality private school. Most voucher students attend low-quality religious schools. When anyone claims that vouchers enable poor kids to have the same choices as rich kids, they are lying.

He begins:

As has been recently reported in the Columbus Dispatch and other places, a group of public education advocates is looking to sue the state over the EdChoice voucher system — an argument I’ve been making for years.

But in the article, pro-voucher forces make a curious argument — that those seeking to undo the harm voucher do to primarily poor and special need kids are actually trying to hurt those kids.

“It’s an all-time low for government school activists to try to rip low-income and special-needs students out of their schools right now,” said Aaron Baer, president of Citizens for Community Values.

“It’s clear that this special-interest group cares less about what’s best for kids, and more about their own narrow social agenda. Ohio’s EdChoice program is a lifeline to tens of thousands of families. It allows underprivileged and underserved children the opportunity to find an education that best meets their needs.”

First of all, it’s not “government school”; it’s “public school”, which means our school. None other than Thomas Jefferson described it this way in the Land Ordiannce of 1785. “Public school” were Jefferson’s words.

But I digress.

Here’s the problem. Yes. It’s true that poor and special needs students get vouchers and attend private schools using them. However, in order for that to happen, poor and special needs students in the public schools who don’t take the voucher are left with fewer resources for their educations because the vouchers exist.

This is why, for example, as a state legislator I always voted against the special needs voucher that eventually became the Jon Peterson Voucher program. Because it set aside 1/3 of the money the state spent on special needs students to serve 3 percent of the special needs kids. So the voucher program would leave 97 percent of special needs students with only 2/3 of the money they needed.

Let’s look at Parma with its 47% economically disadvanatged and nearly 2/3 minority populations.

Prior to losing voucher money and students, kids in Parma were slated to receive $13,663 per pupil in state and local funding for their educations. However, once all the vouchers were removed from the district, along with the students, kids in Parma only got $13,426. That’s a $236 per pupil loss in total aid, which means there wasn’t enough locally raised revenue to make up for the revenue these kids lost to the state’s voucher programs.

So while some poor and special needs students certainly got vouchers, far more poor and special needs students in Parma got $236 less than they needed because of the vouchers.

In fact, in nearly 3 of 4 Ohio school districts, every poor and special needs student got less overall funding because of the voucher…

So vouchers either directly harm poor and special needs students by cutting their overall education fudning, or force poorer communities to tax themselves at higher rates to make up for the loss of state aid from the state’s voucher programs — in clear violation of the Ohio Supreme Court’s four rulings.

Oh yeah, and in 8 of 10 Ohio school districts where private voucher providers reside, the school district outperforms the private option by an average of 27 percentage points. When privates outperform districts, it’s in 2 of 10 cases and by only 9 percentage points.

A few days ago, Carol Burris and Marla Kilfoyle of the Network for Public Education wrote an article in Valerie Strauss’s “Answer Sheet” about the charter schools that are claiming federal funds designated for small businesses, thwarting the intention of the legislators. Public schools are not eligible for the PPP relief funds, but—presto chango—the money-hungry charters decided they are not public schools after all, they are really small businesses. Next week, they will again claim to be public schools, not small businesses.

Congress created the Payroll Protection Plan to aid small businesses that were at risk of bankruptcy because of losing all their revenue. For many of these small businesses, a federal grant of $25,000-$50,000 would enable them to survive the shutdown. Think of the restaurants, toy stores, stationery shops, barber shops, hair dressers, shoe stores, florists, that will never open again. They did not get federal aid. But some greedy charter schools have taken advantage of PPP, collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars even though they have not lost a penny of revenue.

It’s not easy to identify the charter schools that took money that was supposed to go to endangered small businesses. They must know it’s wrong, because they try to hide their windfall.

For taking money that should have gone to small businesses, for pretending to be small businesses, for hypocritically claiming to be public schools while applying for funding as small businesses, I place these charter operators on the blog’s Wall of Shame.

Carol Burris continues to learn about charter schools that applied for and received federal PPP funding, despite their lack of need. She writes about them here:

Americans were outraged when big companies with more than 500 employees cashed in on PPP loans intended to help small businesses. For example, the Washington Post reported that various hotel companies all chaired by Republican donor Monty Bennett submitted more than 100 filings to seek $126 million. By creating individual filings, they were able to get around the 500 employee cap. The hotel chain got $76 million in the end.

Now it appears that the Mastery Charter chain is using the same tactic to cash in on payment protection plan loans (PPP) loans.

Each school in the chain has its own board; however all are under the direction of one CEO, Scott Gordon, who received a 2017 salary in excess of $300,000.

According to the Mastery website, the chain has over 1700 employees. What, then, does the Mastery charter chain do? It has each of its individual schools apply for a PPP loan.

See for yourself by reading their board minutes here and here. Notice each charter school in the chain, with the exception of the Camden school, is having its own board meeting at the same group meeting at the same time. And every one of the schools in the chain is applying for the SBA PPP funding.

Meanwhile, the unemployment system of the state of Pennsylvania is crashing from the flood of claims. And Mastery Charter Schools are still amply funded by federal, state and local tax dollars, as well as receiving public school funding in the CARES Act.

Mastery likes to call itself a public school district. So why is it seeking advantage with PPP loans at the expense of Philadelphia’s small businesses that have no revenue stream at all?

Robert Kuttner is editor of The American Prospect. Here he writes that Biden has asked Rahm Emanuel to advise him. What Kuttner fails to mention is Rahm’s disastrous control of the Chicago public schools. He should be forever stigmatized by his decision to close 50 public schools in a single day. He was continually at war with the Chicago Teachers Union. To know him, if you value public schools, is to loathe him.

Kuttner writes:

MAY 29, 2020

Kuttner on TAP

Say It Ain’t So, Joe: Rahm Emanuel?? Just when you thought that Team Biden couldn’t get any worse than Larry Summers, we now learn courtesy of the Chicago Tribune that Clinton and Obama alum Rahm Emanuel is a Biden adviser.

A quick refresher (or maybe emetic) on Emanuel. He began as a staffer in the Clinton White House where he helped push through NAFTA, then went to Wall Street to make his fortune (he made $16 million in less than three years). From there, he got elected to Congress where he epitomized everything bad about the revolving door.

As head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, he arranged to load up the House Financial Services Committee with Wall Street Democrats who sought the prized seat to raise lots of Wall Street money and protect Wall Street’s financial interests. This made the job of Chairman Barney Frank much harder when Congress was working on what became the Dodd-Frank Act.

Obama, looking for someone who knew Congress, selected Emanuel as his White House chief of staff, where he was a force for lowballing recovery outlays. He tried to talk Obama out of proposing the Affordable Care Act.

After exiting the White House, he got elected mayor of Chicago in 2011, where his approval ratings dropped to 18 percent following the police shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald and the city’s bungled attempt to withhold evidence. Emanuel initially announced for a third term, but pulled out. He then joined the private equity firm Centerview Partners.

Just the guy to advise Biden. Though events are conspiring to push Biden to the left, his default setting is to reach out to the old boys of the Obama years.

Meanwhile, polls show that Elizabeth Warren is the possible running mate most likely to help Biden get elected. The two have been doing a public mating ritual, but the Wall Street Democrats close to Biden will do everything possible to keep her from being named.

If by some miracle Warren is selected, it will be trench warfare, with Wall Street Dems demanding one of their kind for the power posts of Fed Chair, Treasury Secretary, and head of the National Economic Council to balance Warren.

Rahm Emanuel! A good thing that Andrew Mellon is dead and Bernie Madoff is indisposed.