Archives for category: School Choice

I am delighted to invite you to join a webinar where the eminent Duke historian Nancy MacLean and I will discuss “Public Education in Chains,” on February 3 at 3 pm EST.

To register, open the link and sign up.

The event is sponsored by Public Funds Public Schools and the Network for Public Education.

Dr. MacLean is author of the brilliant book Democracy in Chains, which documents the Koch brothers’ relentless efforts to privatize government functions.

Politico reports that Republicans view the pandemic and school closures as an opportunity to promote school closures. This should appeal to the 30% of the population who are unvaccinated and oppose mask mandates and other public health measures. These are probably the same parents who want to block teaching about racism and want parents to decide what their children should be taught (think creationism).

‘A WINNING POLITICAL ISSUE’ — The nation watched as Glenn Youngkin won the Virginia governor’s race last November by tapping into parental outrage over school closures and using the rallying cry “Parents Matter.”

— Now, as the highly contagious Omicron variant complicates the spring school semester and the 2022 midterms ramp up, GOP strategists say it is an opportune time to also propel one of their education priorities: school choice.

— “Parents being able to have a greater role in where and how their children are educated is a winning political issue, and we intend to promote it as much as possible in the coming year,” said South Carolina GOP Chair Drew McKissick, adding that bills to advance school choice initiatives, like education savings accounts, are ready to go this legislative session.

— “We look at education as being the civil rights issue of our time,” he said. McKissick also pointed out that school choice will be a key issue for Sen. Tim Scott, who’s in the middle of a re-election campaign. Scott, in an address to rebut Biden’s first address to Congress, said the pandemic-spurred public school closures created the “clearest case I’ve seen for school choice in our lifetime.”

If education “is the civil rights issue of our time” in South Carolina, why does the state refuse to fund its public schools adequately and equitably?

After the inspiring teachers’ strike in 2019, which closed every public school in the state, the billionaire Governor Jim Justice of West Virginia promised to veto any charter school legislation. He lied. The legislation passed, and the Governor signed it.

The state established a state charter board, which proceeded to award seven charters, mostly to a for-profit charter corporation that manages low-performing charters in Ohio.

But a county judge stopped the clock by issuing an injunction to halt the new charter schools.

A Kanawha County judge has temporarily blocked five public charter schools from opening in West Virginia.

Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey granted a preliminary injunction Monday sought by parents and education union members.

They filed a lawsuit against Gov. Jim Justice and leaders of the state Senate and House.

In the suit, the plaintiffs claim residents should be able to weigh in on any charter school established in their county.

They are challenging the authority of the Professional Charter Schools Board, a group that has its members appointed by the governor.

Last month, the board approved charter schools in Morgantown, Nitro and in Jefferson County, along with two online charter schools.

The judge outlined her logic in granting the temporary injunction.

“The plain language of Article 10, Section 12 of our state constitution provides that no independent school district or organization shall hereafter be created except with the consent of the school district or districts, out of which the same is created, expressed by a majority of the voters voting on the question,” Bailey said.

One of the arguments in the lawsuit was that the transfer of the student – and the tax money that goes with that student – is the same thing as creating an independent school district, and there is a specific prohibition against that in the state constitution – unless there is a public vote.

The two parents bringing suit are members of the American Federation of Teachers union.

“It is unconstitutional to create a new school system within our current school system and that’s what this bill seems to do,” AFT-WV President Fred Albert said.

After some county school boards voted no to approving a charter school in their areas, lawmakers created the Professional Charter Schools Board, which could OK charter schools without a county school board’s approval.

State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said the injunction is wrong because acts of the Legislature are presumed to be constitutional and because the parents should have sued the charter school board not the governor and legislators. He said he will seek relief from the state Supreme Court.

The people of Chile are expunging the last traces of the brutal dictator Augusto Pinochet. They elected Gabriel Boric, a 35-year-old member of the Chilean Congress and a former student activist, as President of Chile. The election was expected to be close but Boric won by a 56-44% margin.

Boric was engaged in national protests over the past decade against inequality. A decade ago, he led protests against Chile’s privatized education system. He will be the youngest person ever elected to the Presidency of Chile. His election is a decisive rejection of the policies of the dictator Pinochet. His rival defended Pinochet and ran on a law-and-order platform and a pledge to cut taxes and social spending.

An Army General, Pinochet seized control of the government by a coup d’etat. He imposed a reign of terror, and thousands of his opponents were murdered, imprisoned, tortured, or disappeared. Pinochet called on Milton Friedman and the libertarian “Chicago Boys” to rewrite Chile’s Constitution. They baked the primacy of the free market and neoliberalism into the new Constitution. Pinochet’s regime cut social benefits, privatized social security and many government functions, reduced benefits, and introduced vouchers and for-profit schools. The economy grew, but so did inequality. Pinochet ruled from 1973-1990.

Protests against the nation’s privatized and deeply unequal education system rocked the nation a decade ago. Many Chileans were barely subsisting because of cuts to social security. More protests broke out in 2019 against the country’s entrenched inequality and corruption. Boric was active in all those protests.

Last year, Chileans expressed their demand for change by voting for a rewrite of the national constitution, the one written by the “Chicago Boys” and implemented by Pinochet.

The BBC reported:

Once the most stable economy in Latin America, Chile has one of the world’s largest income gaps, with 1% of the population owning 25% of the country’s wealth, according to the United Nations.

Mr Boric has promised to address this inequality by expanding social rights and reforming Chile’s pension and healthcare systems, as well as reducing the work week from 45 to 40 hours, and boosting green investment.

“We know there continues to be justice for the rich, and justice for the poor, and we no longer will permit that the poor keep paying the price of Chile’s inequality,” he said.

The president-elect also promised to block a controversial proposed mining project which he said would destroy communities and the national environment.

Chile’s currency, the peso, plunged to a record low against the US dollar after Mr Boric’s victory. Stock markets fell by 10%, with mining stocks performing particularly badly.

Investors are worried stability and profits will suffer as a result of higher taxes and tighter government regulation of business.

In a profile of Gabriel Boric, the BBC described his message:

When Mr Boric won the candidacy of his leftist bloc to run for president, he made a bold pledge. “If Chile was the cradle of neoliberalism, it will also be its grave,” he said. “Do not be afraid of the youth changing this country.”

And so he ran on a platform promising radical reforms to the free-market economic model imposed by former dictator Gen Augusto Pinochet. One that, he says, is the root of the country’s deep inequality, imbalances that came to the surface during protests in 2019 that triggered an official redraft of the constitution.

After a polarising campaign, Mr Boric defeated far-right rival José Antonio Kast in the second round of the presidential election by a surprising large margin, ushering in a new chapter in the country’s political history.

“We are a generation that emerged in public life demanding our rights be respected as rights and not treated like consumer goods or a business,” Mr Boric said in his victory speech to thousands of supporters, most of them young people…

Mr Boric, who says he is an avid reader of poetry and history, describes himself as a moderate socialist. He has abandoned the long hair of his activist days, and jackets now often cover his tattoos on both arms.

He has also softened some of his views while keeping his promises to overhaul the pension system, expand social services including universal health insurance, increase taxes for big companies and wealthy individuals, and create a greener economy.

His resounding win in the run-off vote of the presidential election, after trailing Mr Kast in the first round, came after he secured support beyond his base in the capital, Santiago, and attracted voters in rural areas. A supporter of same-sex marriage and abortion rights, he was also backed by huge numbers of women.

In his victory speech, when he was joined by his girlfriend, he promised to be a “president for all Chileans”, saying: “Today hope trumped fear”.

An educator in Missouri who is known to me wrote the following:

They drive us crazy.

The Governor is in favor of anything that allows people to do whatever they want when they want – even if it breaks a law or is uncivil. That has been the case for decades – except now things they all said only at dinner tables and the back rooms are expressed boldly in public… l

He and his allies have created and validated this “no one is going to tell me what to do” culture. And it is spreading regardless of politics. If you don’t get caught – it’s ok.

Even the legislature that cares less about civility and respect – including holding a hearing on CRT with only white invitees.

The latest is a child bringing a gun to school paired with the Michigan case. Blame the parents everyone says. Well – in Missouri, there is no law (they tried) requiring that guns be locked up in homes.

Then there’s masks! Eric Schmitt, the attorney general, sued every school district with a mandate and Republican judges supported it. The governor hid a scientific report that illustrated masks do save lives and severe illness. And the list goes on and on.

Not only has it taken authority from local districts to enact a mandate, he issued “cease and desist” orders to districts with mandates AND he is tweeting and encouraging parents to sue their districts. With all of the anti-mandate stuff, to encourage parents to sue their local government is actually treasonous as well as worthy of a hot line call.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote an editorial excoriating Schmitt. The editors titled it: “How Many Missouri Lives Will Eric Schmitt Endanger to Win a Senate Seat?”

“As Missouri’s attorney general, Eric Schmitt’s job on paper is primarily to defend the state’s interests in legal matters. But to watch how he has approached that job in recent months, Missourians would think his main duty is to stamp out medically valid pandemic safety policies wherever they might sprout. Whether it’s a school board member trying to protect students, a city leader trying to protect the local citizenry, or a medical patient whose life could be put at risk by an unvaccinated health care worker, Schmitt has sided against them in court, using Missourians’ tax dollars to do it.null

“Schmitt says he is standing up to big-government intrusion by Washington regarding vaccine mandates — but then he turns around and wields the power of the state to overrule local leaders and school officials on mask mandates, imposing his own judgment (and his own political interests) in place of both local decision-making and medical science. There is nothing conservative about this litigious campaign of anti-science demagoguery. Schmitt is pandering to the irrational right, pure and simple, in his attempt to win next year’s Republican U.S. Senate primary.

Schmitt reached a new low last week, directly appealing to parents to report to his office any school districts that enforce mask policies, which he unilaterally decrees to be in violation of a court order. This extralegal stunt — reminiscent of the tactics of dictatorial strongmen who pit their citizens as informants against one another — ignores the fact that it’s not at all clear that the court’s order applies to mask policies imposed by elected school boards.”

Missourians will die because of Schmitt’s unreasonable opposition to public health measures.

Minneapolis-based journalist Sarah Lahm writes about Minnesota as a pioneer in the school choice movement, but the state is now awash in choice and disruption. She sees hope in the growing community school movement, which fosters bonds between schools and families instead of competition among schools for scarce resources.

She writes:

In Minnesota, the Saint Paul Public Schools district has been left gasping for air as school choice schemes continue to wreak havoc on the district’s enrollment numbers and, subsequently, its finances.

This district is one of the largest and most diverse in the state, if not the nation, with approximately 35,000 students representing a wide array of racial and ethnic backgrounds. Two-thirds of the district’s students live in poverty, according to federal income guidelines, and almost 300 students in the district are listed as being homeless.

As a result of more school choice, in 2017, 14,000 school-age children living in the city were not enrolled in the Saint Paul Public Schools district. Instead, they either attended a charter school in or near the city or chose to open-enroll into a neighboring school district.

Just two years later, in 2019, the exodus of families had risen to more than 16,000. Today, more than one-third of all students living in Saint Paul do not attend Saint Paul Public Schools, leaving the district in a constant state of contraction.

The district’s lagging enrollment numbers can be attributed to shrinking birthrates and “a rise in school choice options,” according to a recent article by Star Tribune reporter Anthony Lonetree.

As a consequence of shrinking enrollments, district officials recently outlined a reorganization proposal that calls for the closure of eight schools by the fall of 2022 “under a consolidation plan,” in an attempt to offload expensive infrastructure costs and improve academic options for students.

Charter school options abound in and around Saint Paul, and many represent the worst effects that come with applying unregulated, market-based reforms to public education.

There’s the handful of white flight charter schools within the city limits, for example, that have long waiting lists and offer exclusive programming options, such as Great River School (a Montessori school), Nova Classical Academy, and the Twin Cities German Immersion School. On the flip side of this are racially and economically isolated Saint Paul charter schools such as Hmong College Prep Academy, where according to state data 98 percent of the students enrolled are Asian and nearly 80 percent live in poverty, according to federal income guidelines.

Hmong College Prep Academy has been in the news recently, thanks to a scandal that was dubbed a “hedge fund fiasco” by the Pioneer Press. The school is run by a husband-and-wife administrative team who invested $5 million of taxpayer money in a hedge fund, hoping it would provide a return that would help pay for the school’s expansion plans. Instead, the hedge fund investment apparently lost $4.3 million, leading to calls for the school’s superintendent, Christianna Hang, to be fired—something school officials refused to do. Hang finally submitted her resignation in late October.

In short, the market-based approach to education reform that Minnesota helped pioneer has caused a great deal of disruption, segregation and chaos. In a Hunger Games-type setting, districts and charter schools have been forced to compete for students with white, middle and upper class students and families largely coming out on top.

The end result, critics allege, is an increasingly segregated public education landscape across the state, with no widespread boost in student outcomes to show for it.

Thirty years after Minnesota’s charter school and open enrollment laws ushered in a mostly unregulated era of school choice, many states—including Minnesota—and federal officials may be turning their attention to the reform model offered by full-service community schools.

Full-service community schools offer a holistic approach to education that is about much more than students’ standardized test scores or the number of AP classes a school offers. Instead, this model seeks to reposition schools as community resource centers that also provide academic instruction to K-12, or even Pre-K-12, students.

In Minnesota, a handful of districts have adopted this model, often with impressive results.

The state’s longest running full-service community schools implementation is in Brooklyn Center, a very diverse suburb just north of Minneapolis. Since 2009, the city’s public school district has operated under the full-service model, providing such things as counseling and medical and dental services alongside the traditional academic offerings of the school system.

In recent months, Brooklyn Center’s community schools approach has been put to the test, due to both the ongoing pandemic and the unrest that erupted after George Floyd was murdered by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in 2020. In April 2021, as Chauvin’s murder trial was underway a few miles away in downtown Minneapolis, a white Brooklyn Center police officer shot and killed a young Black man named Daunte Wright during a traffic stop.

This layering of trauma upon trauma might have broken the Brooklyn Center community apart, as large protests soon took place outside the city’s police headquarters and caused disruption among residents—many of whom are recent immigrants and refugees. During this turmoil, school district staffers, already familiar with the needs of their community, were able to quickly mobilize resources on behalf of Brooklyn Center students and families thanks to the existing full-service community schools model.

It’s not just urban districts like Brooklyn Center that have benefited from this approach. In rural Deer River, Minnesota—where more than two-thirds of the district’s K-12 students live in poverty, according to federal income guidelines, and 85 Deer River students are listed as being homeless—the school district adopted the full-service model in recent years, thanks to startup grants from state and federal funding sources. Staff in Deer River are reportedly very happy with the full-service model, which allowed them to pivot during the pandemic and provide food, transportation services and other community-specific needs. A local media outlet even noted that the community schools approach enabled school district employees to survey families during the COVID-19 shutdown and provide them with things such as fishing poles and bikes to help them get through this challenging time.

Several other districts across the United States, from Las Cruces, New Mexico, to Durham, North Carolina, have also adopted the full-service community schools approach, which is built around sharing power and uplifting communities rather than closing failing schools and shuttling students out of their neighborhoods through open-enrollment or charter school options.

Community Schools Approach Is on the Rise

Disrupting public education through the proliferation of school choice schemes, including charter schools, has long been the preferred education reform model for politicians and wealthy philanthropists in the United States, and while the charter school industry has been able to score billions in federal funding, the full-service community schools model has instead been relegated to the sidelines.

That’s starting to change.

In February 2021, a coalition of education advocacy groups, including the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, wrote an open letter to congressional leaders asking that more federal dollars be spent on full-service community schools. Most recently, the letter notes, Congress allocated $30 million in funding for such schools nationwide, a number the coalition deemed far too low to meet the “need and demand for this strategy.”

Now, the Biden administration has proposed dramatically bumping this funding up to $443 million, based on the support this model has received from people such as the current U.S. Education Secretary, Miguel Cardona. While giving input to Congress on behalf of Biden’s proposed budget for the Department of Education, Cardona explained that full-service community schools honor the “role of schools as the centers of our communities and neighborhoods” and are designed to help students achieve academically by making sure their needs—for food, counseling, relationships, or a new pair of eyeglasses, and so on—are also being met.

Peter Greene realized that supporters of public education have been lacking the very thing that catches the attention of the public and the media: reports backed by data. Especially reports that rank states as “the worst” and “the best.”

Greene’s Curmudgation Institute constructed rubrics to rate the states and developed the Public Education Hostility Index. He has created a website where he defines his methodogy and goes into detail about the rankings.

The #1 ranking, as the state most hostile to public education, is Florida.

The state least hostile to public education is Massachusetts.

Where does your state rank? Open the link and find out.

Michelle Goldberg is a regular columnist for the New York Times. In this post, she says that Republicans are cynically exploiting parents’ exhaustion with pandemic measures and fears of Criticsl Race Theory to undermine public schools and replace them with school choice: charters and vouchers. Democrats have traditionally been the party of public schools. Now it’s time for them to remember that.

She writes:

Last Wednesday morning, Christopher Rufo, the architect of the right-wing crusade against critical race theory, sent me a message asking if I wanted to talk, I suppose because I was one of the first people to write about his project back in February. He was feeling triumphant.

A year ago, few conservatives outside of academia had heard of critical race theory, a graduate school approach to the study of race and power. Now it’s become a central issue in Republican politics, helping to fuel Glenn Youngkin’s victorious gubernatorial campaign in Virginia.

“I’ve unlocked a new terrain in the culture war, and demonstrated a successful strategy,” said Rufo, a documentary filmmaker-turned-conservative activist. With that done, he was getting ready for a new phase of his offensive.

“We are right now preparing a strategy of laying siege to the institutions,” he said. In practice, this means promoting the traditional Republican school choice agenda: private school vouchers, charter schools and home-schooling. “The public schools are waging war against American children and American families,” he said. Families, in turn, should have “a fundamental right to exit.”

Democrats need to take this coming onslaught seriously. The school choice movement is old — it’s often dated back to a 1955 essay by Milton Friedman. But Covid has created fertile ground for a renewed push.

As many have pointed out, the reason education was such an incendiary issue in the Virginia governor’s race likely had less to do with critical race theory than with parent furyover the drawn-out nightmare of online school. Because America’s response to Covid was so politically polarized, school shutdowns were longest in blue states, and Virginia’s was especially severe; only six states had fewer in-person days last year.

“The failure of our leadership to prioritize public education in Virginia is what’s created this firestorm,” said Christy Hudson, one of the founders of the Fairfax County Parents Association, which grew out of a pro-reopening group that formed in the summer of 2020. Critical race theory, she said, “has certainly added flames to that fire,” but “this is 19 months in the making.”

Across the country, the shutdowns have contributed to an exodus from public schools. In Fairfax County, for example, public school enrollment is down by more than 10,000students since before the pandemic, a 5.5 percent decrease. Enrollment in New York City public schools declined by 4.5 percent, about 50,000 students. In California, public school enrollment decreased by 3 percent, or 160,000 students, the largest drop in 20 years. Because school budgets are partly dependent on head counts, these missing students could lead to severe cuts, making public schools even less attractive.

In an environment like this, Republican proposals to subsidize private school tuition are likely to be received gratefully by many parents. It’s a perilous situation for Democrats, the party of public schools. If they want to stanch the bleeding, they should treat the rollout of the children’s Covid vaccine as an opportunity to make public schools feel lively and joyful again.

Public schools may finally be open across the country, but in many districts, things are far from normal. In Fairfax County, an unvaccinated student identified as a “close contact” of someone who tests positive for Covid must quarantine for 14 days, no matter the results of the student’s own Covid tests. At some schools, students have been forbidden to talk during lunch. At my own kids’ school, students must be masked even during outdoor recess.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, wants to see outdoor masking ended as a first step toward unwinding other Covid restrictions. “The C.D.C. has been clear that everyone can unmask outside unless they’re in close contact with each other,” she said. “And I believe that schools should be doing this for recess. And I believe we need to give parents and teachers a road map to what it takes to start undoing the mitigations. It was clear that vaccines for teachers helped us reopen schools. Maybe it’s vaccines for kids helping us get to unmasking of teachers and kids in schools.”

Other post-Covid problems are harder to solve than masks. In Michigan, schools have been forced to close because of staff shortages. “Workers in short-staffed departments are shouldering more work, students have been denied bus rides to get to school, special education students are going without one-to-one aides, classrooms are doubled up and principals are acting as substitutes as pools of candidates dwindle,” reported The Detroit Free Press. This is a complicated problem, but it’s up to the state’s Democratic governor, as well as the Biden administration, to solve it, for their own sake as well as that of their constituents.

Rufo readily admits that school closures prepared the ground for the drive against critical race theory. “You have a multiracial group of parents that felt like the public school bureaucracies were putting their children through a policy regime of chaos, with Covid and shutdowns, and then pumping them full of left-wing racialist ideologies,” he said. He’s right about the first part, even if the second is a fantasy.

Now Democrats have a choice. They can repair the public schools, or watch people like Rufo destroy them.

Bruce Baker, an expert on school finance at Rutgers University, dissects a proposal for vouchers (“education savings accounts”) offered by the Manhattan Institute, a rightwing think tank. Writing for the National Education Policy Center, he concludes that the proposal was poorly thought out and loaded with negative consequences.

He wrote:

The Manhattan Institute’s report promotes Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) by demonstrating that taxpayer expense would fall if the program motivated families to move children from public schools funded by the state to private schools funded primarily by families. However, the report conveniently fails to note a large body of recent, rigorous research demonstrating that similar private school choice, or “voucher,” programs have had significant negative effects on student outcomes. In addition, the report overstates short-term reductions that local districts can achieve, and it sidesteps potential long-term harm to adequate funding for them. Thus, the report provides little or no useful guidance on the broader question of whether an ESA policy is desirable or would be good policy for New York State’s children or taxpayers.

Bill Phillis, retired deputy commissioner of education in Ohio, is a staunch advocate for the state system of common schools, which is guaranteed in the state constitution. He founded the Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy. The question in Ohio, as in many other states, is why Ohio legislators continue to fund failure.

He writes:

STATE REPORT CARD: CHARTER SCHOOLS NOT EVEN A CLOSE SECOND TO REAL PUBLIC SCHOOLS

The original promise of charter and voucher advocates: Charters will out-place school districts.

The data show a different outcome.

There is no data available from private schools to make a comparison.


Scott DiMauro, President of the Ohio Education Association, in a November 3 commentary in the Ohio Capital Journal shared a comparison of charter school report card results with real public schools. The results show that charter school kids are the real losers.


Do state officials care? Apparently not.

State Report Cards Should Be A Wakeup Call For Ohio’s Charter, Voucher Hawks

Scott DiMauro

I remember taking home my report cards when I was in school. I was a pretty good student; my grades always reflected my passion for subjects I loved, and more importantly, provided some real-time feedback on areas where improvement was needed — Time management, for example, was a skill I had to learn over time. During my years as a high school social studies teacher, I strived to give that same kind of useful assessment to my students when I was putting report cards together for them.

The state puts report cards together for school buildings and districts, too. In spirit, at least, they have the same mission, quantitatively assessing where our publicly funded institutions across the state are succeeding and where there is room for growth. And not surprisingly, after a year and a half of serious challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the latest round of state report cards shows there’s some extra room for improvement, with about a 10% drop in Performance Index (PI) scores for Ohio’s traditional public schools from the 2018-2019 school year to the 2020-2021 one. Chronic absenteeism also climbed to 17%, up from 7.5%, during that time.

But, over that same period, charter schools in the state saw a 25% drop in PI scores – a 2.5 times greater loss than traditional public schools. And chronic absenteeism in those institutions soared from 22% up to 45%, meaning nearly half of all charter school students in Ohio missed a big chunk of the last school year.

While the Ohio Education Association applauds the change in state law that removed letter grades from the state report card system, it is clear Ohio’s charter schools are not making the grade. As a teacher, I’d give them a D-minus at best.
This should be seriously alarming to Ohio’s taxpayers, who see their money taken from their local public schools to fund these poorer performing alternatives. The PI drop for KIPP, a charter school in Columbus, was 66% — more than double the decline seen in Columbus City Schools.

The seven biggest PI drops in Ohio charter schools were Breakthrough Schools in the Cleveland area, which are often touted by charter advocates as shining examples of success, with PI scores plummeting 77% to 84%. Charter advocates often complain about comparing all school districts’ performance with charters, but last year, 606 out of 612 public school districts in the state lost scarce resources to charter schools.

Recent test score data on Ohio’s private, mostly religious schools — which receive millions in taxpayer funded vouchers — is not available to make a comparison, since those schools are not subject to any of the same accountability standards as public districts.

Now, if some lawmakers get their way, the situation will get exponentially worse for the 90% of Ohio’s kids who rely on public education. House Bill 290 — known as the “Backpack Bill” — would create so-called “Education Savings Accounts” that are just universal vouchers with even less accountability. Even with these vouchers, most families still couldn’t afford tuition at the private schools in their communities, and for those that do go to the private schools, Ohio taxpayers who foot the bill don’t get much bang for their buck. The Cincinnati Enquirer revealed last year that nearly 90% of all voucher students do worse on state tests than students in traditional public schools in the same zip codes.

The data paint a troubling picture. Vouchers and charters take critical resources and weaken the public schools that serve the vast majority of Ohio’s children while delivering worse educational outcomes for our kids. What’s worse is that now we have a school funding system worth investing in — the Fair School Funding Plan. Failing to fully fund that system while pouring more resources into the worse-performing charter and voucher system is wasting an extraordinary opportunity to once and for all fix the way Ohio funds education for the 90% of students and families who attend Ohio’s public schools.

Ohioans need to tell their lawmakers to oppose House Bill 290 and focus on their constitutional responsibility to fund Ohio’s public schools to ensure a high-quality education for all of Ohio’s kids.

State report cards should be a wakeup call for Ohio’s charter, voucher hawks – Ohio Capital Journal

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