Archives for category: Vouchers

Alan Singer writes here of Trump’s proposal to let federal funds follow students to the school (or the computer) of their choice, which would put a knife into public education, which has been a central institution in American democracy.

He writes:

Donald Trump has never had much use for public schools, or for that matter, his own children when they were younger. As a boy The Donald attended the private (and expensive) Kew-Forest School in Queens, New York. Because of “behavior problems” there, he completed secondary school at the New York Military Academy, a private (and expensive) boarding school. Sons Eric and Donald Trump Jr. were shipped out to attend and live at the private (and expensive) Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, while daughter Ivanka went to the private (and expensive) Chapin School in New York City and then the Choate Rosemary Hall boarding school in Wallingford, Connecticut. At Hill the tuition for 2015-2016 school year was $54,570. Choate is currently a relative bargain at $48,890 a year. Tiffany Trump escaped with her mother, Trump’s middle wife, to Calabasas, California, where she attended the private Viewpoint School. The youngest Trumpster, Barron, age 10, still lives at home and attends the private (and expensive, annual tuition is over $45,000) Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School on the Upper West Side in Manhattan.

All of this makes The Donald as much an expert on public education as he is on the military, foreign policy, or life on the economic margins. But that isn’t stopping Trump from promoting his education plan, one designed to destroy public education in the United States. The basic Trump proposal is to divert $20 billion in federal grants from public school districts to charter, private, parochial, and online schools, effectively bleeding public school systems to death.

Trump calls his school plan choice, as if ordinary Americans will ever be able to choose the kind of schools he chose for his kids. He demands that Americans trust him and boasts they should give him a chance because he will be a great president. The thing is, we already know Trump’s school plan is a recipe for disaster.

He says, “Trust me.” Why should we? Like the students who were defrauded at Trump University? No, thanks!

Merryl Tisch stepped down as chair of the New York State Board of Regents at the end of her term in the spring of this year.

She recently gave an interview where she expressed her support for nonpublic education. Her view was similar to the plan put forward later by Donald Trump: The public should pay for religious and private schools. The story appeared originally in, which is behind a paywall.

Tisch calls for increased charter, parochial school affordability

By KESHIA CLUKEY 09/07/16 02:57 PM EDT Updated 09/07/16 03:25 PM EDT

Former state Board of Regents chancellor Merryl Tisch touted the need for school choice and increased access to charter and parochial schools on Wednesday, even in the form of an education tax credit.

Tisch told John Gambling on “AM 970 THE ANSWER” that politics often impede good practice, saying there needs to be a “more affordable” option. “[L]et choice be charter choice, be parochial choice, give families the opportunity to move their children forward, give them the opportunity to have a real ability to access high quality education for their children, and these communities will rise up,” she said.

Tisch, who championed the roll out of the Common Core learning standards, stepped down after 20 years on the board when her term ended in March.

She said Wednesday there is a need for healthy competition for public schools, and described the success some of the well-funded charter school networks are having in terms of student results. “The charter schools in New York City are outpacing the educational gains from around the state,” she said.

However, spots at charter and parochial schools can be difficult to get, charter seats being determined through a lottery system and parochial spots being a matter of affordability. Tisch told a story about a mother she met who had twins, and only one of them was able to get a spot in the charter school. A report from the New York City Charter School Center released Tuesday found that nearly 45,000 city students are on charter school wait lists.

“This notion that we deny choice when the choice is so stark between performance and non-performance to me is criminal,” Tisch said.

She mentioned current tax credit legislation as a possible option. That legislation would provide a credit for donations made to public and nonprofit schools and scholarship funds. The measure, however, has failed to make it through the teachers’ union-aligned, Democratic-lead state Assembly.

Both Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Republican-lead Senate have pushed for the credit, though their versions vary, with the Senate’s, for example, including donations made to charter schools.

Regardless of the type of school, Tisch said schools need to be made affordable so parents, especially those in struggling communities, can chose what is best for their children.

“To deliberately go out of your way to force a family to send a child to a school which, more often than not, has failed not only that child, but also the parents of that child, and to just continue to allow it to go on like this to me is a real crime,” Tisch said.

Listen to the full interview here:

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misstated what the tax credit legislation under consideration would do. It would provide a credit for donations to public and nonprofit schools, as well as scholarship funds.

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As readers know, I met Hillary Clinton at a fund-raiser on August 28. It was not the in-depth meeting I had hoped for, but it was better than nothing.

I endorsed Hillary after she secured the Democratic nomination. I assured you that I would support the winner of the Democratic nomination. I consider Trump to be an ignorant buffoon and a danger to our nation and the world. I wrote an even stronger endorsement in July.

As I watch this bizarre campaign unfold, I feel even stronger about the importance of stopping Donald Trump. His admiration for Putin, who murders journalists, stifles a free press, harasses homosexuals, invades another nation, and is re-establishing a dictatorship–makes me feel that what Trump admires in leadership is a disrespect for human rights, a commanding style that censors opposition: in short, dictatorship. Nothing in Trump’s background is reassuring. He should return to reality television to rant and boast.

So, I reiterate, on every issue that matters, I’m with her. Given Trump’s desire to turn $20 billion of federal spending into support for school choice, I now am certain that she will be far better than he on education, even if she doesn’t stand up to fight all forms of privatization

Valerie Strauss invited me to elaborate on my brief meeting with Hillary, which I did here.

As the response from the campaign makes clear, she is walking a fine line between major donors who support charters and the teachers’ unions, which know that the charter movement is meant to demolish them (90% or more of the nation’s charters are non-union).

As I have said to readers on many occasions in the comments, I don’t know what Hillary will do on education, although after Trump revealed his full-throated support for school choice, I am sure that Trump will be a wrecking ball for public education. She said that she would stop federal funding for for-profit charter schools, and that would be a big step forward.

But on every other issue, from climate change to gun control to civil rights to Supteme Court appointments to international relations, I support her enthusiastically and without reservation.

Donald Trump, whose own children went to private schools that cost about $50,000 a year (or more), has swallowed the far-right Republican doctrine that public schools are “government schools,” and thus somehow less than legitimate.

Donald Trump laid out a $20 billion initiative to bust up a federal “education monopoly,” accusing Democrats of having “trapped” black and Hispanic children in “failing government schools.”

In a speech in Cleveland, and on his website, Trump vowed to support school choice and merit pay for teachers.

“Our campaign represents the long-awaited chance to break with the bitter failures of the past and to embrace a new and strong American future,” Trump said, the Washington Examiner reports.

“There’s no failed policy more in need of change than our government-run education monopoly and you know that’s exactly what it is.”

The Democratic Party has “trapped millions of African-American and Hispanic youth in failing government schools that deny them the opportunity to join the ladder of American success,” he told the crowd, according to the Examiner.

Obviously no one has ever told him that every high-performing nation in the world has a strong public school system, not a choice system of charters and vouchers.

If this guy is elected, you can kiss public schools goodbye.

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.