Archives for category: Segregation

Conservatives won a smashing victory in their efforts to smash public schools and gut teachers unions. The Republican-dominated in the legislature passed a bill for universal vouchers, with no income limitations. After this bill passes the upper house and is signed by Governor DeSantis, every student in the state will be eligible for a voucher for any school.

Students in voucher schools do not take state tests. voucher schools are norms required to have credentialed staff. Voucher schools get public money but they are free from accountability and transparency required of public schools.

Typically, in every state that offers vouchers, 75-80% are claimed by students already enrolled in private schools. This legislation is a subsidy for affluent families.

The Republican-controlled House on Friday passed a measure that would make every Florida student eligible for taxpayer-backed school vouchers, as Democrats and other critics slammed the expansion as a “coupon for millionaires.”

House members voted 83-27 along almost straight party lines to pass the bill. The Senate could consider a similar bill (SB 202) as early as next week. The proposals have sailed through the Legislature, and Gov. Ron DeSantis has pledged that he would sign a vouchers expansion.

Opposition to the House bill centered, in part, on eliminating income-eligibility requirements that are part of current voucher programs. Families would be eligible to receive vouchers under the bill if “the student is a resident of this state and is eligible to enroll in kindergarten through grade 12 in a public school in this state.”

Rep. Marie Woodson, D-Hollywood, echoed many other opponents Friday when she criticized the possibility that wealthy families would receive vouchers.

“This bill is an $8,000 gift card to the millionaires and billionaires who are being gifted with a state-sponsored coupon for something they can already afford,” Woodson said.

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The Arkansas Legislature, controlled by Republicans, passed Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders “education” bill, dubbed LEARNS, which authorizes vouchers. The first two hearings were held during school hours. The bill sailed through the legislature. The third hearing, where students were able to attend, was limited to a six-page amendment.

The students wanted to oppose the bill, but State Senator Jane English tried to shut them down, interrupting them, cutting them off.

Students found clever ways to work around her brusque treatment but their objections were ignored.

“I’m sorry, you just don’t get to talk on the bill,” English told the students. “If you want to talk on this amendment, specifically things that are in this amendment, you’re free to do that, but you cannot speak on the bill….”

“I’d like to speak on the amendments, and how they do not go far enough to tear down and decimate this bill,” said student Ethan Walker, over repeated interruptions by English. “These petty little wording rearrangements don’t do anything to address how bad this bill actually is….”

Another student, sophomore Rhone Kuta, worked around English’s objections by referencing a specific line on a specific page, as the Republican chair repeatedly interrupted him.

“Where it deletes ‘and’ and substitutes ‘or,’ the reasons I believe this amendment is bad is, this should actually say we are deleting the voucher program on section 63 because the voucher program absolutely reallocates resources from the working class Americans and Arkansans and reallocates it to the upper class,” Kuta said.

The students showed themselves to be far more intelligent than their elected officials. They were treated shamefully. The bill was a fair accompli.

If you do only one thing today at my request, please watch the video in the Alternet post, where you will see an adult bullying high school students.

Steve teaches in Polk County, Florida. He left a comment about where to find a wealth of choices: in public school. Choice advocates claim that public schools are one-size-fits-all. Nothing could be further from the truth. Charter schools and voucher schools are one-size-fits-all. They may exclude students they don’t want, for any reason. They may have a religious core that appeals to one-size. Home-schooling? You can’t get any more one-size-fits-all than learning at home. If you want indoctrination, go to a religious school; if you want education, go to a public school.

Do you want choices? Go to a public school!

Steve writes:

You want choice? Here, in the seventh largest school district in the state, you can choose AP, college-dual enrollment, Cambridge, ACCEL or International Baccalaureate for academics.

You can enter a career academy for aeronautics, health fields, architecture, criminal justice, education, culinary, graphics, CAD/CAM, engineering, legal studies, design, veterinary science, finance, biotechnology, construction. and others.

There are outstanding fine arts programs, with graduates going on to Broadway, television, and the tourism entertainment industry.

Play sports? The state lets you transfer to any school you want. You could join the state champion football team or state champion girls basketball team.

Want something hands on, such as, diesel mechanic, HVAC, auto repair, IT, or welding? Two public vo-tech high schools offer those programs.

All this choice is available in the public system.

So, the issue isn’t choice at all. This is about what vouchers have always been about since the days of massive resistance in Virginia.


David DeMatthews of the University of Texas and David S. Knight of the University of Washington wrote this article, which appeared in The Hill, a D.C. site. It’s by now well-established that students who take vouchers suffer academically; that vouchers will sudsidize the students already enrolled in private and religious schools; and that states will pay huge sums to underwrite affluent families. The Texas Observer, for example, estimated that if the 309,000 students currently in private schools get vouchers, the state’s public schools will lose $3 billion in the first year alone. What is more, voucher schools are free to discriminate on any basis, and they are exempt from any accountability.

They write:

School vouchers are a taxpayer swindle that fails to raise achievement while eroding public schools and the principle of equal protection under the law outlined in the U.S. Constitution. If more states adopt school voucher systems, most parents will find their top choice — a neighborhood public school — largely defunded and unable to recruit and retain high-quality teachers due to a transfer of funds into unregulated private schools.

Americans from all backgrounds have fought to gain access to public schools, including freed slaves, immigrants and people with disabilities. These struggles have led to a free universal public education system that propels each child into our democracy, communities and economy. Public schools also serve as community hubs where neighborhoods gather to vote, watch sports, participate in townhalls, among many other public events.

Vouchers jeopardize all of this because they transfer money from public schools to individual parents through grants, savings accounts or scholarships to pay private school tuition. It is a system where self-interest replaces the common good, culminating in separate education systems for children living on the same street in the same community.

Voucher supporters say parents know what is best for their children, but that is not necessarily the case. As education researchers, we know that voucher systems have led to significant declines in student achievement for voucher users in Louisiana, Indiana, New York City and Washington, D.C., especially for low-income students. In a study on the effects of the Louisiana Scholarship Program — a large voucher program established in 2008 and expanded in 2012 — researchers found that students participating in the voucher program were significantly behind their peers in reading and mathematics after four years.

There should also be concern that despite these well-documented failures, billionaires such as Betsy DeVos of Michigan and Charles Koch of Kansas use their fortunes to reportedly subvert state elections from thousands of miles away. This is not about parent choice or student achievement. It is political. null

Sadly, some state policymakers adopt equally hypocritical policy positions as they support vouchers. For example, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has become a vocal voucher supporter, yet he’s also a supporter of high-stakes accountability. Texas battled in court for years to take control of the Houston Independent School District due to low performance. So, on one hand, the state is supporting accountability for public school performance, and on the other hand, there is support for vouchers — a policy where taxpayer dollars are transferred to private schools that do not follow state accountability standards and where the state has virtually no oversight.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is also a voucher supporter. In 2022, DeSantis signed legislation dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill that banned classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity — yet, his state’s voucher program has no oversight over private school curricula. This means a private school receiving taxpayer dollars can teach about sexual orientation and gender identity without any legal recourse from the state.

In Arizona, former Gov. Doug Ducey (R) supported voucher legislation based on his belief that it would “offer all families the option to choose the school setting that works best for them.” Nevertheless, Arizona’s voucher system has been overwhelmingly used by wealthy families that were already sending their children to private schools before voucher legislation. Few low-income families could afford private school tuition and transportation with the voucher — a predictable policy shortcoming.

To make matters worse, current and pending voucher legislation could even reportedly fund racist curricula. Recently, a Nazi homeschooling group in Ohio stated they were creating “Nazi-approved homeschool material.” Under Ohio state law and many current and proposed voucher laws, states would be left powerless to intervene if a private school adopted such a curriculum.

Vouchers just do not make sense, and we should recognize that vouchers offer a false choice. What parent wants the choice to defund public education while transferring taxpayer money to unaccountable private schools that do not improve student achievement but can deny admission, discriminate against children and develop ineffective or harmful curriculum without any recourse?

David DeMatthews is an associate professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy at The University of Texas at Austin.

David S. Knight is an associate professor of education finance and policy at the University of Washington.

Dr. Helen F. Ladd is one of the most eminent economists of education, possibly the most eminent. She has written important studies that document the importance of poverty in the lives of children and its impact on their educational outcomes. She has written critically about No Child Left Behind. And she has written international studies of school choice with her husband Edward Fiske, a veteran journalist.

I sponsor an annual lecture series on education at Wellesley College, my alma mater, and was delighted when Sunny Ladd, as she is known, accepted my invitation to be the first post-pandemic lecturer. She prepared this paper, which has been published by the National Education Policy Center.

She maintains that charter schools disrupt sound educational policy making.

This an overview of her important paper:

As publicly funded schools of choice operated by private entities, charter schools differ from traditional public schools in that they have more operational autonomy, their teachers are not public employees, and they are operated by nonprofit or for-profit private entities under renewable contracts. The main sense in which they are public is that they are funded by taxpayer dollars. This policy memo describes how charter schools disrupt four core goals of education policy: establishing coherent systems of schools, attending to child poverty and disadvantage, limiting racial segregation and isolation, and ensuring that public funds are spent wisely. The author recommends that policies be designed both to limit the expansion of charters and to reduce the extent to which they disrupt the making of good education policy.

Open the link and read it in full.

New York City has a large number of schools with competitive admissions. Some, like the Bronx High School of Science and Stuyvesant High School, are protected by state law because their graduates are successful and vocal and oppose any loosening of the entrance requirements they met. Many additional screened schools were added during the administration of Mayor Bloomberg, perhaps hoping to hold onto the relatively small number of white students in the public schools. Asian American families strongly defend test-based admissions policies, and their children are over-represented at the most selective schools.

Mayor Adams, who controls the city’s public schools, announced a restoration of screened admissions.

The New York Times reported:

New York City’s selective middle schools can once again use grades to choose which students to admit, the school chancellor, David C. Banks, announced on Thursday, rolling back a pandemic-era moratorium that had opened the doors of some of the city’s most elite schools to more low-income students.

Selective high schools will also be able to prioritize top-performing students.

The sweeping move will end the random lottery for middle schools, a major shift after the previous administration ended the use of grades and test scores two years ago. At the city’s competitive high schools, where changes widened the pool of eligible applicants, priority for seats will be limited to top students whose grades are an A average.

The question of whether to base admissions on student performance prompted intense debate this fall. Many Asian American families were particularly vocal in arguing that the lotteries excluded their children from opportunities they had worked hard for. But Black and Latino students are significantly underrepresented at selective schools, and some parents had hoped the previous admissions changes would become permanent to boost racial integration in a system that has been labeled one of the most segregated in the nation.

“It’s critically important that if you’re working hard and making good grades, you should not be thrown into a lottery with just everybody,” Mr. Banks said, noting that the changes were based on family feedback.

It is surprising that a city with an African-American Mayor, who controls the city school system, and an African-American schools Chancellor, would revive screened admissions for the city’s middle schools and high schools. Some high schools have competitive admissions that are mandated by the state legislature. Most admission screens, however, are a matter of policy. They exist because of decisions by the Mayor and the Chancellor.

Just in from the New York Civil Liberties Union:

NYCLU Statement on Screening in NYC Schools

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 30, 2022

MEDIA CONTACT: Mohamed Taguine, 212-607-3372,

NEW YORK – New York City’s school chancellor David C. Banks announced on Thursday the City’s selective middle and high schools can once again use grades to choose which students to admit. In response, the New York Civil Liberties Union issued the following statement from Education Policy Center’s director Johanna Miller:

“Screening props up a separate and unequal school system and feeds the notion that only some students deserve a great education. Allowing middle and high school screens is a step backward that will increase the exclusion of Black, Latinx and lower-income students from our city’s best educational opportunities.

“In the most segregated school system in the country, we will never make progress without intentional measures. Instead of using precious education dollars to discriminate, we urge this administration to center racial equity, advance inclusion, and help our students heal and grow together.”


Jerry Zahorchak, a former Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Education, explains why the Republicans’ voucher bill would harm students and public schools and deepen inequity.

He writes:

Imagine a school district with $4,000 less to spend per student than its wealthier neighbors with many students who lack supports to reach grade-level. How would you help?

Most people would guarantee that this school district had funds to hire enough teachers and aides to give students who are behind supports. Indeed, nearly two-thirds of Pennsylvania parents in a recent PSBA (Pennsylvania School Boards Association) poll agreed that struggling schools need more resources.

Legislative leaders are instead considering taking taxpayer money away from some of the state’s lowest funded schools and sending it private schools, no strings attached.

The bill, HB 2169, passed the State House in May and could be considered by the state Senate at any time this session. Under the bill, students who live in the attendance zone of public schools with test scores in the bottom 15% statewide would be eligible to receive the average per-student state funding for public schools – around $7,000 per year – as a voucher that can be used for any qualified educational expense, including private school tuition. Funding would come directly from their local school district, and would cost struggling school districts around $140 million annually (PSBA).

Rather than giving students in underfunded schools resources, they would use taxpayer money to fuel the private market. Families would be on their own, forgetting that we all have a stake in making sure that each child learns to cooperate with neighbors of every stripe and become self-supporting, knowledgeable citizens.

Proponents claim these “lifeline scholarships” will help families access quality education they wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford. The real story is not so simple.

Supporters never mention that districts with high academic performance are able to spend around $4,600 more per student on average than low-performing districts. These resource gaps – which will be worse with HB 2169 – closely track local wealth. When we adjust for the fact that poor school districts serve more students in poverty and other students who need more support, the gap between wealthy and poor school districts is more than $7,000 per student.

The fantasy that the private market will provide a better deal for students at a cheaper price falls apart under scrutiny.

Private schools often reject students that public schools rightfully must educate: students who are behind grade-level, have behavioral challenges, are learning English and more. There’s no guarantee to make private schools accommodate students with disabilities, unlike public schools where federal laws guarantee students with disabilities the right to a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). Private schools can reject students simply because they don’t “fit the culture” or can’t pay the entire cost of tuition. Because many of these students need services that cost more, there is an incentive to say no.

Please open the link and read the rest of his article.

The voucher bill was narrowly passed by the Republican-led House and also the State Semate Education committee.

For some inexplicable reason, it was endorsed by Josh Shapiro, the Democratic candidate for Governor.

A controversial Afrocentric charter school for Black students was approved by the Denver school board, after initially rejecting the proposal. The board worried that the charter would not attract enough students to be viable. Other charters in Denver have closed because of declining enrollment. If you read the comments that follow the article, the main theme of writers is shock that the Denver school board would open a racially segregated school.

The Denver Post reported:

After the state ordered Denver Public Schools to reconsider a charter school centering Black students and culture, the school board Thursday approved the school to open next fall.

But the approval comes with conditions, including that 5280 Freedom School must fill all of its open seats in its first year. The school plans to open with 52 students in kindergarten and first grade, and add grades each year up to fifth grade.

Denver schools are funded per pupil, and other new charter schools have had to delay opening because they didn’t enroll enough students. Existing charter schools have closed because their enrollment declined, and the district is considering closing some of its own schools due to low student counts.

The school board initially rejected the 5280 Freedom School for fear it would struggle to attract enough students to be financially viable….Last month, the State Board of Education ordered Denver to reconsider its decision. State Board members said it was unfair to assume that 5280 Freedom School would face the same challenges as other charters.

The subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee in charge of education has paid attention to the scandals and closures that mar the charter industry. It issued the following legislative changes for the federal Charter Schools Program for fiscal 2023:

1. A cut in appropriations from $440 million to $400 million for new charters.

2. Eliminate federal funding to for-profit EMOs (education management organizations).

3. Support the U.S. Department of Education’s proposed regulations to provide accountability and oversight for the charter schools it funds.

4. Endorse ED proposal that new charters seeking federal funding analyze need and community impact.

5. Endorse ED proposal that new charters seeking federal funds demonstrate that they will be integrated, not segregated.

6. Note that 15% of federally funded charters either never opened or closed down before the grant ended, which shows why applicants must demonstrate need for their services.

Charter Schools Grants

The Committee recommends $400,000,000 for Charter School Program (CSP) Grants, which is $40,000,000 below the fiscal year 2022 enacted level and the fiscal year 2022 budget request.

CSP awards grants to SEAs or, if a State’s SEA chooses not to participate, to charter school developers to support the development and initial implementation of public charter schools. State Facilities Incentive Grants and Credit Enhancement for Charter School Facilities awards help charter schools obtain adequate school facilities. These programs work in tandem to support the development and operation of charter schools.

For-profit Entities.—The Department has long recognized the particular risks posed by for-profit education management organi- zations (EMOs). In response to a 2016 audit, the Department con- ceded to the Inspector General, ‘‘ED is well aware of the challenges and risks posed by CMOs and, in particular, EMOs, that enter into contracts to manage the day-to-day operations of charter schools that receive Federal funds. We recognize that the proliferation of charter schools with these relationships has introduced potential risks with respect to conflicts of interest, related-party trans-actions, and fiscal accountability, particularly in regard to the use of federal funds.’’ Since that initial acknowledgement by the Department regarding for-profit EMOs, the Committee has been made aware of concerning instances of criminal fraud, conflicts of interest, and inadequate transparency.

In addition, the Committee is deeply concerned that for-profit charter schools, including those run by for-profit EMOs, deliver concerning outcomes for students. A 2017 report from Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes compared student performance at non-profit charters, for-profit charters, and traditional public schools and found that for-profit charters perform worse in reading, and significantly worse in math, than non-profit charters. In addition, the report found that for-profit charters per- form worse in math than traditional public schools.

That is why the Committee is strongly supportive of the Department’s proposal to prohibit Federal CSP funding from supporting for-profit EMOs through its notice published in the Federal Reg- ister on March 14, 2022 (87 Fed. Reg. 14197). The Committee in- cludes bill language codifying the prohibition to establish this precedent for fiscal year 2023 and for future years. Moving for- ward, the Committee urges the Secretary to work with Congress on efforts to fully phase out the concerning for-profit EMO sector. Such efforts could include reasonable transition periods that allow schools run by for-profit EMOs to shift to independent or nonprofit management. In the interim, the Committee is committed to con- tinuing its oversight of the for-profit EMO sector and ensuring fewer taxpayer dollars enrich for-profit EMO shareholders.

Defunct CSP Grantees.—The Committee is deeply concerned by the Department’s analysis that fifteen percent ofthe charter schools receiving CSP funding since 2001 have never opened or closed before their three-year grant period is complete, rep- resenting an unacceptable waste of at least $174,000,000 in tax- payer funds. Accordingly, the Committee is strongly supportive of the Department’s fiscal year 2022 CSP notice (87 Fed. Reg. 14197) that requires applicants to demonstrate local demand for new schools. The Committee rejects the premise that grant failure and school closure is the cost of doing business in CSP and welcomes reforms that will improve its performance.

GAO Mandate from House Report 116–450.—The Committee con- tinues to be supportive of GAO’s work on the mandate included in House Report 116–450 regarding the Department’s oversight over CSP and whether the program is being implemented effectively among grantees and subgrantees. The Committee is particularly in- terested in theissue of CSP-funded schools that eventually closed or received funds but never opened; the relationships between charter schools supported by CSP grants and charter management or- ganizations; and enrollment patterns at these schools, especially for students with disabilities. Inaddition, the Committee is interested in recommendations on potential legislative changes to the program that would reduce the potential for mismanagement and inef- fective operations.

Oversight from the Office of Inspector General.—The Committee continues to support efforts by the Department’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) to examine grantee administration of Replication and Expansion Grants, including charter management organization grantees. The Committee also supports the OIG’s efforts to evalu- ate whether the Department adequately monitored grantees’ per- formance and uses of funds for CSP competitions.

Students with Disabilities and English Learners.—The Com- mittee encourages the Department to continue including in their evaluation of State CSP grants the extent to which State entities are utilizing the seven percent of funding received under the pro- gram to ensure that charter schools receiving CSP grants are equipped to appropriately serve students with disabilities and, by extension, prepared to become high-quality charter schools. In ad- dition, the Committee urges the Department to ensure subgrantees are equipped to meet the needs of English learners. The Committee directs the Department to provide an update on these efforts in the fiscal year 2024 Congressional Budget Justification.

Charter School Effects on School Segregation.—The Committee is concerned by findings from a 2019 Urban Institute report which concluded that growth in charter school enrollment increases the segregation of Black, Latino, and white students. To address this concern, the Committee urges the Department to give priority to applicants thatplan to use CSP funds to operate or manage char- ter schools intentionally designed to be racially and socioeconomically diverse.

The Committee is strongly supportive of proposed requirements in the Department’s fiscal year 2022 CSP notice (87 Fed. Reg. 14197) that grantees show that they will not exacerbate school seg- regation. Accordingly, the Committee urges the Department to ex- amine the merits of diversity reporting that compares demographic data ofgrantees to that of local districts. The Committee directs the Department to share its assessment of CSP diversity reporting, along with any prospective plans for implementation, in the fiscal year 2024 Congressional Budget Justification.