Archives for category: Vouchers

Michael Hansen of the Brookings Institution lists the five questions he thinks that the candidates should be asked about education. They are not the questions I would ask. (Hansen, by the way, has defended VAM, pooh-poohed parent concerns about overtesting, and defended the effectiveness of Teach for America.)

They are not bad questions (what kind of person would you choose for Secretary of Education? how can Title I be improved? Have the Obama administration policies for higher education helped students? Which federal education programs would you expand, which would you shrink? How much would you increase funding for education research?). I actually would like to see these questions asked, since I am willing to bet that Donald Trump has no idea what Title I is, what No Child Behind was, what the Obama administration policies in higher education are, or which federal education programs are worth expanding or eliminating. He is for charters. He is against Common Core. Other than that, there is no indication that he knows anything about education issues.

Here are questions I would ask:

1. Do you think the federal government should continue to support the privatization of public education? Does the federal government have a role in strengthening and protecting public schools that have democratic governance?

2. Would you expand or shrink the funds now dedicated to privately managed charter schools?

3. What is your view of vouchers that allow public dollars to be spent in religious schools?

4. How would you define the federal role in education?

5. What do you see as the federal role in increasing equitable resources among districts and schools?

6. Would you be willing to persuade Congress to reduce the burden of standardized testing? Specifically, how would you change the federal law to ease the federal pressure to test students annually, a practice unknown in high-performing countries?

7. Do you think that every child should be instructed by a professionally prepared and certified teacher? How can the federal government verify that states are hiring fully qualified teachers?

I am sure you have many more good questions. Please suggest them.

Julian Vasquez Heilig notes that the electorate this year will be more diverse than ever.

Supporters of charter schools claim that Donald Trump’s selection of Mike Pence as his running mate will help him with black and Hispanic voters, because (they think) minorities love charters, like Trump.

But Heilig writes that Pence has a terrible record on education as governor of Indiana.

Heilig was one of the expert consultants for the state-by-state report on public education.

He writes:

As a member of the governing board of the Network for Public Education, a group that works to preserve and improve public schools across the nation, I personally had the opportunity to review Indiana’s education policies and data under Pence’s leadership. The results were not positive.

We examined stability in the teaching force, the use of high-stakes testing, class sizes, school integration, recognition of poverty, as well as the state’s use of charters, vouchers and other forms of privatization. On our Network for Public Education State Report Card, we gave Indiana an F for support of public education.

Pence has done virtually nothing on education to reverse course since receiving our failing grade. Thus, the idea that Pence will empower Trump to attract African American and Latino voters seems quite farfetched.

Pence has been a strong and consistent supporter of privatization in Indiana.

Michael Barber and Joel Klein have written a report for the World Economic Forum about how to achieve greatness in education. Their report is titled “Unleashing Greatness: Nine Plays to Spark Innovation in Education.”

Michael Barber is the chief education advisor for Pearson. Joel Klein is the ex-chancellor of the New York City public schools, former CEO of Rupert Murdoch’s Amplify (which lost $500 million and was sold off by Murdoch), and current chief policy and strategy officer to Oscar Health Insurance, which recently announced a radical downsizing.

The old ways no longer work, they say. What is needed for the future is “whole system reform,” which has happened or is happening (they say) in Madrid, Punjab, London, and New York City. Presumably, Barber takes credit for London and Klein takes credit for New York City. (I note, however, as a resident of New York City, that the schools continue to struggle with many problems, and no one refers to the “New York a City miracle” these days.)

Fortunately, Professor Stephen Dinham of the University of Melbourne in Australia took on the job of analyzing the Barber-Klein formula for greatness.

He sees the report as an illustration of what Pasi Sahlberg called the “Global Education Reform Movement” or GERM.

He writes:

“The terms ‘playbook’ and ‘unleash’ are loaded and instructive. A playbook, in sports, provides a list of strategies or moves for players and teams to follow. These are essentially step-by-step formulae intended to achieve success. In the case of this report, there are nine. Oh that education – and interrelated services such as health, employment and public infrastructure – could be reduced to such a simplistic list. The term unleash implies releasing from restriction and confinement, in this case, opening up education to ‘choice’ and the ‘free’ market. As I have noted, typically, ‘Choice, competition, privatization and the free market are [seen as] the answers to almost any question about education. (Dinham, 2015a: 3).

“Let’s now consider the latest simplistic recipe designed to address the ‘manufactured crisis’ in education (Berliner & Biddle, 1995; Berliner & Glass, 2015), a crisis that is in danger of becoming reality if we ignore the evidence and follow such ideologically and financially underpinned and driven prescriptions (Dinham, 2016).

“The authors’ ‘plays’ are:

“Provide a compelling vision for the future

Set ambitious goals to force innovation

Create choice and competition

Pick many winners

Benchmark and track progress

Evaluate and share the success of new innovations

Combine greater accountability and autonomy

Invest in and empower agents of change

Reward successes (and productive failures).

“Detail on ‘how’ to achieve the above is lacking, although brief case studies where these have purportedly been successful are provided (e.g, New York, Chile). A common theme is the belief mentioned previously that deregulation, competition and choice will deliver an overall lift in educational performance. The evidence is however, either weak (e.g., on greater school autonomy) or contradictory (e.g., vouchers, charter schools, free schools, chains or academies) (Dinham, 2015a).”

Read both the report and the critique. Funny the authors don’t look at Chile and Sweden, two nations that took the path they recommend, with disastrous results.

A judge in Colorado tossed out the voucher program enacted in Doulas County.

The Associated Press reports:

“A Denver District Judge has ordered Douglas County schools to suspend a program that allowed parents to use vouchers at private schools.

“The Denver Post reported that Denver District Judge Michael Martinez on Wednesday ruled that Douglas County’s School Choice Grant Program is not substantially different from its predecessor the Choice Scholarship Program, which was struck down by the Colorado Supreme Court as unconstitutional last year.

“After the high court ruled that Douglas County’s voucher program violated the state constitution’s ban on using public funds for religious schools, the district in March introduced a new program that would allow taxpayer money to help cover non-religious private schools.

“Martinez ruled that the new program was too similar to the previous program.”

Last year, Nevada adopted one of the most radical voucher plans in the nation. Of course, the vouchers are not called “vouchers,” but “education savings accounts.” But the principle is the same. Families will get a tax break worth more than $5,000 if they withdraw their child from public school and enroll them in a private or religious school. There are no limits on who may use these vouchers. In other states, vouchers are available only to those who are low-income or those who are enrolled in schools where test scores are low. In Nevada, anyone can use public money to go where they choose.

Here is a description of the debate.

Nevada is a state that has strong constitutional protections for public schools, but the governor and the legislature have decided that the state constitution doesn’t mean what it says.

One judge said the plan was unconstitutional in January.

One judge upheld the voucher program in May.

Here is what the state constitution says.


Article 11 of the Nevada constitution declares:

Sec: 9.  Sectarian instruction prohibited in common schools and university.  No sectarian instruction shall be imparted or tolerated in any school or University that may be established under this Constitution.

Section Ten.  No public money to be used for sectarian purposes.  No public funds of any kind or character whatever, State, County or Municipal, shall be used for sectarian purpose.
[Added in 1880. Proposed and passed by the 1877 legislature; agreed to and passed by the 1879 legislature; and approved and ratified by the people at the 1880 general election. See: Statutes of Nevada 1877, p. 221; Statutes of Nevada 1879, p. 149.]

You be the judge.

Do you see any ambiguity here? Do you see a constitutional clause that is permissive? Is the phrase “No public money to be used for sectarian purposes” ambiguous?

This Indiana teacher wants you to know what Governor Mike Pence did to the public schools on his home state. He didn’t do it alone. He had the help of Republicans who control the legislature, and he built on the anti-public school record of his predecessor Mitch Daniels.

The New York Times reviewed Pence’s record on education, noting his support for charters and vouchers and his efforts to undermine State Superintendent Gloria Ritz, who received more votes than Pence in 2012. All the sources the Times quoted are conservatives.

But the Indiana teacher, who is self-described as a conservative, calls out Pence for his ongoing attacks on the teaching profession.

In Indiana, small, rural schools are shutting down because funding has been cut, families are moving out of district, and whole communities are losing jobs where school corporations are the largest employers.

Inner-city schools, like Indianapolis Public Schools, are urban nightmares as charter schools take away public school funding, yet only meet the needs of a fraction of the population.

Cities like Indy, Detroit, and Chicago are the poster-children for big government in education. The corporate rich and politicians get the money, and the urban poor, of which have a racial bias, receive a sub-standard education.

This is what Pence brings to the Republican Party ticket if he follows the path he’s paved in Indiana. If you don’t think education effects all parts of society, then education has benefitted you. If you know what the school-to prison pipeline is, then I don’t need to explain anymore.

Gene V. Glass here reproduces the Republican platform on education. The Republican platform supports school choice, the public display of the Ten Commandments, merit pay, two-parent families, and a Constitutional amendment to keep government from interfering with parental rights over children. (I am reminded of the day in 2012 when Mitt Romney went into an all-black school in Philadelphia and spoke out about the virtues of two-parent families; the principal told him that few of the children had two parents, which left open the question of what educators are supposed to do in the face of reality.)

The Republican platform supports home-schooling, career and technical education, private or parochial schools, magnet schools, charter schools, online learning, early-college high schools, and vouchers. It does not mention support for public schools, except as a place where students should be permitted to pray. The platform also believes that military service is a better credential for teaching than any study or practice in a professional education program.

The platform does not acknowledge the growing body of evidence that vouchers and charters do not provide superior educations to poor children.

We support the public display of the Ten Commandments as a reflection of our history and our country’s Judeo-Christian heritage and further affirm the rights of religious students to engage in voluntary prayer at public school events and to have equal access to school facilities. We assert the First Amendment right of freedom of association for religious, private, service, and youth organizations to set their own membership standards.

Children raised in a two-parent household tend to be physically and emotionally healthier, more likely to do well in school, less likely to use drugs and alcohol, engage in crime or become pregnant outside of marriage. We oppose policies and laws that create a financial incentive for or encourage cohabitation.

We call for removal of structural impediments which progressives throw in the path of poor people: Over-regulation of start-up enterprises, excessive licensing requirements, needless restrictions on formation of schools and day-care centers serving neighborhood families, and restrictions on providing public services in fields like transport and sanitation that close the opportunity door to all but a favored few. We will continue our fight for school choice until all parents can find good, safe schools for their children.

Education: A Chance for Every Child

Education is much more than schooling. It is the whole range of activities by which families and communities transmit to a younger generation, not just knowledge and skills, but ethical and behavioral norms and traditions. It is the handing over of a cultural identity. That is why American education has, for the last several decades, been the focus of constant controversy, as centralizing forces from outside the family and community have sought to remake education in order to remake America. They have done immense damage. The federal government should not be a partner in that effort, as the Constitution gives it no role in education. At the heart of the American Experiment lies the greatest political expression of human dignity: The self- evident truth that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

Parents are a child’s first and foremost educators, and have primary responsibility for the education of their children. Parents have a right to direct their children’s education, care, and upbringing. We support a constitutional amendment to protect that right from interference by states, the federal government, or international bodies such as the United Nations. We reject a one- size-fits-all approach to education and support a broad range of choices for parents and children at the state and local level. We likewise repeat our long- standing opposition to the imposition of national standards and assessments, encourage the parents and educators who are implementing alternatives to Common Core, and congratulate the states which have successfully repealed it. Their education reform movement calls for choice-based, parent-driven accountability at every stage of schooling. It affirms higher expectations for all students and rejects the crippling bigotry of low expectations. It recognizes the wisdom of local control of our schools and it wisely sees consumer rights in education — choice — as the most important driving force for renewing education. It rejects excessive testing and “teaching to the test” and supports the need for strong assessments to serve as a tool so teachers can tailor teaching to meet student needs. Maintaining American preeminence requires a world-class system of education in which all students can reach their potential.

We applaud America’s great teachers, who should be protected against frivolous lawsuits and should be able to take reasonable actions to maintain discipline and order in the classroom. Administrators need flexibility to innovate and to hold accountable all those responsible for student performance. A good understanding of the Bible being indispensable for the development of an educated citizenry, we encourage state legislatures to offer the Bible in a literature curriculum as an elective in America’s high school districts.

Rigid tenure systems should be replaced with a merit-based approach in order to attract the best talent to the classroom. All personnel who interact with school children should pass background checks and be held to the highest standards of personal conduct.

Academic Excellence for All

Maintaining American preeminence requires a world-class system of education in which all students can reach their potential. Republicans are leading the effort to create it. Since 1965, the federal government, through more than 100 programs in the Department of Education, has spent $2 trillion on elementary and secondary education with little substantial improvement in academic achievement or high school graduation rates. The United States spends an average of more than $12,000 per pupil per year in public schools, for a total of more than $620 billion. That represents more than 4 percent of GDP devoted to K-12 education in 2011-2012. Of that amount, federal spending amounted to more than $57 billion. Clearly, if money were the solution, our schools would be problem-free. More money alone does not necessarily equal better performance. After years of trial and error, we know the policies and methods that have actually made a difference in student advancement: Choice in education; building on the basics; STEM subjects and phonics; career and technical education; ending social promotions; merit pay for good teachers; classroom discipline; parental involvement; and strong leadership by principals, superintendents, and locally elected school boards. Because technology has become an essential tool of learning, it must be a key element in our efforts to provide every child equal access and opportunity. We strongly encourage instruction in American history and civics by using the original documents of our founding fathers.

Choice in Education

We support options for learning, including home-schooling, career and technical education, private or parochial schools, magnet schools, charter schools, online learning, and early-college high schools. We especially support the innovative financing mechanisms that make options available to all children: education savings accounts (ESAs), vouchers, and tuition tax credits. Empowering families to access the learning environments that will best help their children to realize their full potential is one of the greatest civil rights challenges of our time. A young person’s ability to succeed in school must be based on his or her God-given talent and motivation, not an address, ZIP code, or economic status. We propose that the bulk of federal money through Title I for low-income children and through IDEA for children with special needs should follow the child to whatever school the family thinks will work best for them.

In sum, on the one hand enormous amounts of money are being spent for K-12 public education with overall results that do not justify that spending level. On the other hand, the common experience of families, teachers, and administrators forms the basis of what does work in education. In Congress and in the states, Republicans are bridging the gap between those two realities. Congressional Republicans are leading the way forward with major reform legislation advancing the concept of block grants and repealing numerous federal regulations which have interfered with state and local control of public schools. Their Workplace Innovation and Opportunity Act — modernizing workforce programs, repealing mandates, and advancing employment for persons with disabilities — is now law. Their legislation to require transparency in unfunded mandates imposed upon our schools is advancing. Their D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program should be expanded as a model for the rest of the country. We deplore the efforts of Congressional Democrats and the current President to eliminate this successful program for disadvantaged students in order to placate the leaders of the teachers’ unions.

To ensure that all students have access to the mainstream of American life, we support the English First approach and oppose divisive programs that limit students’ ability to advance in American society. We renew our call for replacing “family planning” programs for teens with sexual risk avoidance education that sets abstinence until marriage as the responsible and respected standard of behavior. That approach — the only one always effective against premarital pregnancy and sexually-transmitted disease — empowers teens to achieve optimal health outcomes. We oppose school-based clinics that provide referral or counseling for abortion and contraception and believe that federal funds should not be used in mandatory or universal mental health, psychiatric, or socio-emotional screening programs. The federal government has pushed states to collect and share vast amounts of personal student and family data, including the collection of social and emotional data. Much of this data is collected without parental consent or notice. This is wholly incompatible with the American Experiment and our inalienable rights.

We urge state education officials to promote the hiring of qualified veterans as teachers in our public schools. Their proven abilities and life experiences will make them more successful instructors and role models for students than would any teaching certification.

The Thomas B. Fordham Institute, one of the nation’s leading advocates for school choice, commissioned a study of Ohio’s voucher program. To what must have been their surprise and disappointment, the study concluded that students in voucher schools perform worse than students in public schools.

I was a founding member of the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation–now the Fordham Institute–and I will affirm that TBF told unpleasant truths, even to its own disadvantage and the disadvantage of its causes. I left the board in 2009, after I fell away from choice, competition, and accountability as answers to the needs of America’s students.

This is a study that does TBF proud, even though it disproves its foundational belief in school choice.

Here are the key findings:

There are now some 18,000 students receiving publicly funded vouchers in Ohio.

The voucher students are overwhelmingly low-income and minority, but somewhat higher-achieving and less economically disadvantaged than students who were eligible for vouchers but chose not to use them.

The public school students improved their performance, and the study attributes their improvement to the voucher program that they did not enroll in.

The effects: “The students who used vouchers to attend private schools fared worse on state exams compared to their closely matched peers remaining in public schools. Only voucher students assigned to relatively high-performing EdChoice eligible public schools could be credibly studied.”

The study was led by Dr. David Figlio of Northwestern University.

This study adds to the mountain of evidence that public schools in Ohio outperform the charter sector and the voucher sector. Does anyone think that policymakers and legislators in Ohio will do anything to support their much-maligned public schools?

The New York Daily News reports that the wealthy PAC that wants more charter schools has targeted four legislators for defeat because they defend public schools and oppose privatization.

A Super PAC pushing for enactment of a controversial education tax credit to benefit private and parochial schools is targeting Bronx Democratic state Sen. Gustavo Rivera and three Assembly Democratic incumbents in the upcoming Sept.13 primaries, records show.

The PAC, New Yorkers for Independent Action, has already reported spending nearly $256,000 of the $2.78 million it has raised since January on polling and campaign literature in the districts currently represented by Rivera and Assembly members Phil Ramos (D-Suffolk County), Pamela Harris (D-Brooklyn), and Latrice Walker (D-Brooklyn).

The PAC reported it is supporting Councilman Fernando Cabrera against Rivera, Giovanni Mata against Ramos, former Assembly aide Kate Cucco against Harris, and City Councilwoman Darlene Mealey against Walker.

New Yorkers for Independent Action’s treasurer is Thomas Carroll, who is president of Invest In Education Foundation, an education reform group.

Tom Carroll started the Brighter Choice charter chain in Albany with the goal of replacing all public schools. Several of his schools closed because of academic deficiencies.

A pro-public education group called Educate Nevada Now issued the following statement: 
 

Dear Friends:

 

“On July 29, 2016, we will proudly support a group of parents who stepped forward on behalf of Nevada’s 460,000 public school students. These parents said, “No!” to vouchers for private education, and so did a Nevada judge. On July 29, Nevada Supreme Court Justices will hear why the state’s voucher program is unconstitutional and illegal.

 

“Nevada’s Education Savings Account (ESA) voucher program would siphon off critically needed funds from Nevada’s public schools – as much as $30 million a year! That money would be available to any Nevada family to pay for private education, even if that family already has the means to pay and currently affords private education for their children.

 

“Our public schools are already suffering from underfunding. Some schools don’t have enough money to fix air conditioning units or have working lockers. Others don’t have enough teachers or can’t afford the necessary programs for our growing population of English language learners.

 

“If the voucher program is implemented, vital school programs and services will be cut. More teaching positions will be cut. Class sizes will balloon.

 

“Your tax dollars contribute to Nevada’s public schools, and our state constitution mandates that those dollars go to public education FIRST—before roads, infrastructure, prisons, or any other state expense. Your tax money will be taken away from the public schools and instead used for private education expenses that could range from private schools to private tutors, from textbooks to transportation and more.

 

“There are many reasons why the voucher program doesn’t make sense for Nevada. Please visit our website to learn more about the unconstitutional and illegal nature of the program, and what it means for Nevada’s hardworking families and children: http://www.educatenevadanow.com.

 

“Nevada’s future depends on public schools that provide a quality education to every child. And the public money that Nevada’s taxpayers provide to our state should be used for those public schools – not for private purposes.

 

“Please join us in our fight to ensure that the voucher program is never implemented. Let’s work together to support our children, our public schools and the future of our state.

 

“Sincerely,
“Educate Nevada Now ”

Our mailing address is: 

Educate Nevada Now powered by The Rogers Foundation

701 S. 9th StreetLas Vegas, NV 89101

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