Search results for: "National Education policy center"


The National Education Policy Center asks whether the tide has turned against vouchers.

i would argue in response to their question that there was never a tide favoring vouchers except among politicians who took campaign contributions from voucher supporters or who ideologically hate everything public.

No public referendum on vouchers has ever endorsed them. The latest was in Arizona in 2018, where two-thirds of voters opposed vouchers while re-electing a rightwing governor funded by the Koch machine.

Vouchers lost in Florida in 2012, despite the support of Jeb Bush, and despite the fact that the referendum was deceptively called a vote on “religious liberty.”

Vouchers lost in deep red Utah in 2007, overwhelmingly.

Indiana has the nation’s most expansive voucher program, but only 3.5% of kidsebrolled and most had never attended public schools. They were religious families looking for public. Only for their religious education.

NEPC sees other reasons toquestion the appeal or feasibility of vouchers.


“Late last year in Montana, the State Supreme Court struck down the state’s three-year-old neovoucher program, ruling against the constitutionality of tax-credit-funded voucher law because it funded private, religious education.

”In November in Arizona, voters rejected the proposed expansion of Empowerment Scholar- ship Accounts, state tax dollars that parents can use for home schooling, private schooling and other educational expenses. An audit by the state’s attorney general subsequently found that parents had misspent or attempted to misspend the funds on such expenses as cosmet- ics, non-educational music albums, and entry into a seasonal haunted house.

“A couple years before that, the Supreme Court in Nevada concluded that the state’s “Educa- tion Savings Account” voucher plan violated the Nevada constitution because of a funding mechanism that drew money away from public schools.

”In Colorado, in 2017, a slate of school board candidates funded by the American Federation of Teachers ousted a set of Koch-backed opponents who introduced a pilot school voucher program in a conservative Denver suburb.

“And at the national level, the Republican-backed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 may have the (almost certainly unintended) consequence of substantially reducing federal tax benefits for wealthy donors to neovoucher programs. Internal Revenue Service guidance on the matter is expected any day now, according to Carl Davis, a tax policy expert who is the research di- rector at the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.”


Academic research has converged on a consensus: Kids who take vouchers get lower test scores.

Vouchers are on life support but they hang around because state courts packed with rightwing judges decided to ignore the plain language of their state constitutions.

They aren’t dead. But they drain money from public schools where there are certified teachers and where kids are not indoctrinated to Bible Belt theories.





In this post from the National Education Policy Center, you can see a long list of recent articles about the “reading wars,” which was spurred by a broadcast and article by Emily Hanford, complaining that students can’t read because teachers fail to teach phonics, which she says, is based on science.

When I saw Hanford’s article in the New York Times, making that claim, I reacted with a big “Ho hum, here we go again.” I wrote about the reading wars in my book “Left Back” in 2000. I thought that Jeanne Chall’s classic “Learning to Read: The Great Debate” (1967) had settled the matter. Yet here we are in 2018, Long after Rudolf Flesch’s “Why Johnny Can’t Read,” debating the same issues that gripped education researchers 70 years ago.

NEPC posts an interview with Elizabeth Moje, dean of the University of Michigan Education School, that has one stellar feature. Whenever she is asked to examine a claim about what “most teachers” are doing, she stops the conversation to say that no she ne knows what “most teachers” are doing.

I appreciate her care.

We have known for a long time that phonics must be a part of early instruction in reading. We also know that phonics only is not sufficient.

At a time when awareness is breaking through that our schools are underfunded, we have serious teacher shortages due to low pay, and class sizes in the Neediest districts are ballooning, let’s not get distracted by a phony war.

The National Education Policy Center released a report showing how school choice facilitates discrimination that is prohibited in public schools. There should be a basic principle for all publicly-funded schools, whether they are public schools, charter schools, or voucher schools: Where public money goes, public accountability must follow. Public money should not tolerate bigotry against students or staff of any kind.

When Publicly Funded Schools Exclude Segments of the Public

Key Takeaway: Policy brief analyzes discriminatory practices and possible legal protections in an era of education privatization.

NEPC Publication:

William J. Mathis: (802) 383-0058, Julie F. Mead: (608) 263-3405,

In Indiana, a private religious school receiving over $6.5 million in public funds via the state’s voucher program placed an LGBT counselor on leave because she had married her same-sex partner.

In Milwaukee, where students with disabilities constitute 12-20% of public school enrollments, they constitute only 2% of enrollments in private schools participating in the city’s voucher program. Similarly, charter schools enroll a lower percentage of students with disabilities (particularly more severe disabilities) when compared to traditional public schools. In response to these and other issues of access and discrimination, some defenders of these schools have argued that the schools have broken no laws—and they are often
correct. How can this be?

To answer that question, professors Julie F. Mead of the University of Wisconsin and Suzanne E. Eckes of Indiana University authored a policy brief, titled How School Privatization Opens the Door for Discrimination, which analyzes discrimination in an era of education privatization.

The brief’s review of relevant laws reveals that voucher and charter school programs open the
door to discrimination because of three phenomena.

First, federal law defines discrimination differently in public and private spaces.

Second, state legislatures have largely neglected issues of discrimination while constructing voucher laws; charter laws are better, but they fail to comprehensively address these issues.

Third, because private and charter schools are free to determine what programs to offer, they can attract some populations while excluding others.

After briefly examining the history of discrimination in schools, the brief analyzes each of these
three enabling factors and then outlines recent developments.

Finally, based on its analyses, the brief offers the following recommendations to help address the issue of publicly funded programs currently failing to serve all segments of the public:

1. Congress should amend federal anti-discrimination laws to clarify that states supporting charter schools and states directly or indirectly channeling public funds to private schools must ensure that those programs operate in non-discriminatory ways.

2. Federal agencies should explore whether governmental benefits should be withheld from private schools failing to meet non-discrimination standards.

3. State legislatures should include explicit anti-discrimination language in their state voucher laws to ensure that participating private schools do not discriminate against students and staff on the basis of race, color, sex, race, class, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, ethnicity, national origin, or primary language.

4. State legislatures should adopt or amend charter school laws to ensure that policies and practices are reviewed throughout the process of approval and renewal. Schools failing to attract and retain reasonably heterogeneous student populations should be directed to address the problem and should be considered for non-renewal if the problem is not corrected.

Find How School Privatization Opens the Door for Discrimination, by Julie F. Mead and Suzanne E. Eckes, at:

This policy brief was made possible in part by the support of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice (

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education, produces and disseminates high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. Visit us at:

The National Education Policy Center published a review of a recent report about school finance, written by Rutgers Professor Bruce Baker, an expert in school finance. In the upside-down report, the states that spend the least and have the most charter schools get high rankings.

BOULDER, CO (November 27, 2018) –The Reason Foundation recently published a policy brief that offers an alternative ranking of states’ education systems. The brief, which was based on a working paper from the Department of Finance and Managerial Economics at the University of Texas at Dallas, purports to offer needed adjustments and nuance, but makes its own serious mistakes, according to a new review.

Rutgers professor Bruce D. Baker reviewed Everything You Know About State Education Rankings Is Wrong and the underlying working paper, Fixing the Currently Biased State K-12 Education Rankings. He found the analyses provided did little or nothing to advance the conversation about the effectiveness of state education systems.

The twin reports begin with the presumption that high average test scores combined with lower school spending should be the basis for state rankings, which are reasonable premises, depending upon how the analyses are approached. But the reports then head off the rails, Professor Baker explains.

Offering a ‘corrected’ representation of student outcomes and a crude analysis asserting that spending has no relation to those outcomes, the reports declare states such as New Jersey and Vermont to be poor-performing, highly inefficient systems by comparison to many states. The reports then estimate a regression model and assert that the higher performing states are those with (a) weaker teachers’ unions and (b) more children in charter schools.

However, Baker’s review details how the reports’ so-called corrections involved unreasonable and illogical assumptions and adjustments. For example, the reports re-weight racial and ethnic subgroups so that they inappropriately place equal weight in states like Vermont or Wyoming on students comprising 1 to 2% of the population as the other 98 to 99%. Other problems concern a decision to ignore economic status entirely and a poorly executed adjustment for cost of living.

Regressing multiple, highly related, interdependent measures against a specious outcome measure leads to even more suspect findings and, Baker concludes, would only mislead policymakers.
Find the review, by Bruce D. Baker, at:

Find Everything You Know About State Education Rankings Is Wrong, written by Stan J. Liebowitz and Matthew L. Kelly and published by the Reason Foundation, at:

Find Fixing the Currently Biased State K-12 Education Rankings, written by Stan J. Liebowitz and Matthew L. Kelly and published by the Department of Finance and Managerial Economics at the University of Texas at Dallas at:

The National Education Policy Center reviews Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s record on education issues.

Based on his past decisions, he can be expected to oppose affirmative action policies, to oppose the wall of separation between church and state, to favor public support for religious schools, to endorse religious prayers in public schools, and to oppose any limits of the sale of assault weapons or any other kinds of guns.

Elections have consequences.

For those who said there was no difference between Clinton and Trump, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch are examples of the difference.

The National Education Policy Center recently issued a bulletin about the negative results of virtual charter schools. To see all the links embedded, open the NEPC report. Betsy DeVos wants more of these fraudulent “schools” to open.

It is no secret. The news media is full of reports about problems with cyber schools. Some recent examples include:

In January 2018, the nation’s largest virtual school, Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT), closed. There was a subsequent failure to determine what happened to 2,300 of 11,400 students. The school shut down after the state of Ohio found that ECOT had overstated its enrollment by more than 9,000 students, resulting in a $60 million overpayment.

The Akron Digital Academy quietly closed last month because it could not repay the state the $2.8 million it owed for failing to correctly track enrollment. Akron Public Schools dropped its sponsorship of the school in 2013 due to problems such as poor student performance.

The state of New Mexico is in the process of shutting down the state’s largest virtual school, also for poor academic performance.

An Education Week resource, updated through 2017, includes hundreds of news stories, state audits, and reports about online schools, many highly negative, dating back to the early 2000s.

Some of the best and most updated information about these schools is provided in the NEPC’s Sixth Annual Report on Virtual Education, titled Full-Time Virtual and Blended Schools: Enrollment, Student Characteristics, and Performance. The report provides a census of the nation’s full-time virtual schools as well as institutions that blend online learning with face-to-face instruction. The report also includes student demographics, state performance ratings and, where available, analyses of school performance measures.

Michigan public radio station WKAR mentioned the NEPC report in a piece about another study that found that a quarter of the 101,000 Michigan students enrolled in online classes did not pass a single one. In an interview with the outlet, Gary Miron, author of the Virtual Education report, said: “We need a moratorium right now; we have to stop. No more growth for the schools; no more schools. The schools that are performing extremely poorly, we have to take sound steps to dismantle them.”

Ed tech-focused EdScoop devoted an article to the NEPC report’s findings, noting that: “While the average ratio in the nation’s public schools is 16 students per teacher, virtual schools reported having close to three times as many, and blended schools clocked in with twice as many.” In a piece about a rural school district that partnered with for-profit virtual education company K12 Inc., NBC News quoted the report’s finding that district-operated online schools tend to perform better than charter school versions. Yet the latter continue to dominate the sector. And despite the highly publicized problems with virtual schools, the sector continues to thrive.

“It’s rather remarkable that virtual schools continue to grow even while study after study confirms that these schools are failing,” Miron told NEPC. “Students are clearly being negatively impacted when they attend these schools, and revenues devoted to public school systems are being siphoned off to the private companies that dominate this sector.”
Why is this happening?

Based on interviews with more than a dozen policymakers, advocates, and researchers, a 2016 Education Week report concluded: The reasons are often a mix of weak state regulations, the millions of dollars spent on lobbying, and the support of well-connected allies.

The National Council on Teacher Quality is a conservative group created to make professional teacher education look bad. I was on the board of the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation when it was started. It floundered a while, then got a $5 Million Grant from then-Secretary of Education Rod Paige to get its act together. It has done that. Now it is Gates-funded and is a darling of reformers, who yearn to replace the teaching profession with TFA temps and screen time.

Now the NCTQ has made itself the arbiter of “Standards” for teacher education, despite its lack of qualifications. It isssues an annual report for the media, informing them that very very few institutions meet their standards. Some major media take their ratings seriously, never asking who they are and how they have the chutzpah to rate every ed school in the nation, without bothering to visit any campuses. Linda Darling-Hammond described their first report stating that it was like a colllecyion of restaurant reviews based on menus, not on visits and tastings.

The National Education Policy Center reviewed the latest NCTQ report:

BOULDER, CO— The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) recently released its 2018 Teacher Prep Review. The report examines whether U.S. teacher preparation programs are aligned with NCTQ’s standards. This alignment, the report insists, will produce teachers “not only ready to achieve individual successes, but also [ready] to start a broader movement toward increased student learning and proficiency.”

The NCTQ report regularly garners generally credulous coverage from media outlets, including this year from Education Week and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Marilyn Cochran-Smith of Boston College, Elizabeth Stringer Keefe of Lesley University, Wen-Chia Chang of Boston College, and Molly Cummings Carney of Boston College reviewed the report for NEPC. The reviewers are all members of Project TEER (Teacher Education and Education Reform), a group of teacher education scholars and practitioners who have been studying U.S. teacher education in the context of larger reform movements since 2014. Their review found the report to have multiple logical, conceptual, and methodological flaws.

The report determines that most teacher preparation programs are not aligned with the NCTQ standards. Accordingly, it finds “severe structural problems with both graduate and alternative route programs that should make anyone considering them cautious.”

However, the report’s rationale includes widely critiqued assumptions about the nature of teaching, learning, and teacher credentials. Its methodology, which employs a highly questionable documents-only evaluation system, is a maze of inconsistencies, ambiguities, and contradictions. Further, the report ignores accumulating evidence that there is little relationship between the NCTQ’s ratings of a program and its graduates’ later classroom performance.
Finally, the report fails to substantively account for broad shifts in the field of teacher education that are nuanced, hybridized, and dynamic. It also exacerbates the dysfunctional dichotomy between university programs and alternative routes. For years now, researchers and analysts have pointed out that this distinction is not very useful, given that there is as much or more variation within these categories as between them. Ultimately, the report offers little guidance for policymakers, practitioners, or the general public.

Find the review, by Marilyn Cochran-Smith, Elizabeth Stringer Keefe, Wen-Chia Chang, and Molly Cummings Carney, at:

Find 2018 Teacher Prep Review, written by Robert Rickenbrode, Graham Drake, Laura Pomerance, and Kate Walsh and published by the National Council on Teacher Quality, at:


Two researchers review a report recommending the widespread adoption of “no-excuses” methods and find the evidence inconclusive. 

A. Chris Torres of Michigan State University and Joann W. Golann of Vanderbilt University review a report on “Charter Schools and the Achievement Gap.”

They write:

“A recent report, ‘Charter Schools and the Achievement Gap,” finds that, though charter schools on average perform no better than traditional public schools, urban “no-excuses” charter schools—which often use intensive discipline to enforce order—demonstrate promising re- sults. It recommends that these schools and their practices be widely replicated within and outside of the charter school sector. We find three major flaws with this conclusion. First, the report’s recommendations are based solely on the academic success of these schools and fail to address the controversy over their use of harsh disciplinary methods. No-excuses dis- ciplinary practices can contribute to high rates of exclusionary discipline (e.g., suspensions that push students out of school) and may not support a broad definition of student success. Second, the recommendation that schools replicate no-excuses practices begs the question of what exactly should be replicated. It does not confront the lack of research identifying which school practices are effective for improving student achievement. Third, the report does not address many of the underlying factors that would allow no-excuses schools and their practices to successfully replicate, such as additional resources, committed teachers, and students and families willing and able to abide by these schools’ stringent practices. Thus, while the report is nuanced in its review of charter school impacts, it lacks this same care in drawing its conclusions—greatly decreasing the usefulness of the report.”

How many parents are eager to subject their children to harsh discipline?


The National Education Policy Center recently released by this important report:

Press Release:
NEPC Publication:
Washington Post Answer Sheet:

Alex Molnar: (480) 797-7261,
Faith Boninger: (480) 390-6736,

NEPC Resources on School Commercialism

BOULDER, CO (April 6, 2018) – In yesterday’s Washington Post Answer Sheet, Alex Molnar and Faith Boninger, Co-Directors of NEPC’s Commercialism in Education Unit, explored the invasive data mining and third-party targeting of users that is inherent in Facebook’s business model and that led NEPC to delete its Facebook account and remove Facebook from the NEPC website.

Molnar and Boninger have studied advertising directed at students in schools for three decades. For the past five years, they have tracked and reported on the evolution of digital marketing and the use of digital platforms in schools. In a series of annual reports, they have repeatedly called for statutory changes and regulations to ensure student privacy, protect data, require transparency, and ensure accountability. In their essay, they explain that the kind of data practices revealed by the Cambridge Analytica scandal are operating in schools and classrooms every day as students’ personal data are scooped up by digital platforms with little oversight or accountability.

Molnar, who is also NEPC’s Publications Director, warns, “Lack of public oversight has permitted the development of a surveillance economy in which corporations relentlessly, invisibly, and very profitably gather information and create profiles on hundreds of millions of people.” He adds that in the absence of public oversight over how digital platforms collect, store, and use data, “there is little or no clear recourse when personal data are used in ways that cause personal and social harm. This is true not only for adults, but also for students whose data are collected through their schools.”

Although Facebook is not alone in collecting data from its users, its business model and particular use of the data stand out. Facebook presents itself as dedicated to bringing people together in a radically transparent world and as serving as a new “public square” where users can express themselves freely. Boninger contrasts this image with reality, where Facebook limits and exploits the false public square it has created: “Rather than letting users engage freely in its environment, Facebook’s algorithms silo users and present them with a distorted reality that is then used by advertisers to influence and manipulate them.” “This is not a ‘mistake,’ she points out. “It is what Facebook is designed to do.”

In high schools, when school groups use Facebook as an organizing tool, students must maintain Facebook accounts in order to participate in school activities. The existence of these accounts allows Facebook to collect data about students every time they visit a page with a “like” button. It also allows Facebook to collect information about users’ friends. Via the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, is using his fortune to promote the adoption of what they call “personalized learning” platforms in schools (i.e., using software to target digitally-provided lesson content based on students’ past responses) that facilitate further collection of massive amounts of educational data from children.

With respect to the Internet, it is often said that if you’re not paying for a product you are the product. That is, if the company is not making money selling a product to you, then they make money selling someone else information about you. Molnar notes, “We’re particularly concerned when this product is children, who are especially susceptible to manipulation because they are still developing. Targeted marketing, facilitated by Facebook, manipulates children and influences their developing worldviews and interests, as well as their understandings of their families, friendships, romantic relationships, environment, society, and selves. These practices are harmful to adults, and when deployed against children they are intolerable.”

Learn more about NEPC research on digital marketing and data gathering in schools at

The following organizations also have resources on data gathering from children and in schools: Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood, Center for Digital Democracy, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Electronic Privacy Information Center, and the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy.

I deactivated my two Facebook accounts last week. I am not alone.

This happened today:

Key Takeaway: Facebook’s benefits are overwhelmed by problems inherent in its business model, its failure to safeguard personal information, and its lack of transparency and accountability.

Find Documents:
Press Release:

Kevin Welner: (303) 492-8370,
Alex Molnar: (480) 797-7261,

Learn More:
NEPC Resources on School Commercialism

BOULDER, CO (March 27, 2018) – The National Education Policy Center (NEPC) will delete its Facebook account on Wednesday March 28. We have already removed social sharing via Facebook from the NEPC website and our other communication tools.

While Facebook has many benefits, we feel compelled to disassociate ourselves from the invasive data mining and the third-party targeting of users inherent in its business model. The goal of the NEPC is to provide high-quality information in support of democratic deliberation. Deceitful micro-targeted propaganda is made possible by Facebook data and undermines democracy. Our reading of the evidence and record tells us that neither Facebook nor any other opaque, unregulated, and unaccountable private entity should have control over the private data of billions of people. Whatever services are provided by the Facebook platform are overwhelmed by Facebook’s business model, its lack of transparency, its failure to safeguard the personal information of its users, and its lack of accountability.

NEPC annual reports on Schoolhouse Commercialism have highlighted the intensifying surveillance culture and other dangers to student privacy in the digital age, and Facebook has emerged as a primary culprit. It would be disingenuous for us to use Facebook to promote those reports and other NEPC work.

We don’t pretend that this was an easy step. Communication of research lies at the heart of NEPC’s mission, and social media are a big part of communications—with Facebook positioned as a dominant social media platform. Last month, NEPC’s “Schools of Opportunity” project benefited hugely from a short video that went viral on Facebook, garnering over a million views.

Yet the more we learned about Facebook’s data gathering , and in particular the Cambridge Analytica scandal , the more we couldn’t avoid the conclusion that Facebook’s benefits are far outweighed by its dangers. Facebook is designed in ways that are inherently troubling. As Facebook’s first president warned, “God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains .” He disclosed that Facebook was designed to create a “social validation feedback loop” that we now know does indeed alter brain chemistry by triggering dopamine hits each time a posting is liked. And marketers are taking full advantage .

Consider also this passage from a recent article in The Guardian (internal links included):

That Silicon Valley parents use the money they earn from tech to send their children to tech-free schools is no secret. But such qualms have not stopped the tech companies themselves from continuing to push their products on to other people’s children, both through partnerships with school districts and special apps for children as young as six.

In January 2018, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood sent Mark Zuckerberg a letter , signed by over 100 child advocates, educators, and experts in child development, requesting that Facebook discontinue its Messenger Kids app for children. A growing body of research demonstrates that excessive use of digital devices and social media is harmful to children and teens, making it likely that this new app—designed to encourage greater use of digital devices and social media among children—will undermine children’s healthy development. Facebook continues to promote Messenger Kids.

This problem is much larger than Facebook, but we cannot use that fact to justify inaction. We cannot, in good conscience, continue to lend tacit support to Facebook. NEPC has concluded that encouraging our readers to provide information that will be used by Facebook and its clients to tailor and limit information to which our readers will then be exposed contradicts our defined organizational mission, which is to support democratic deliberation about education policy.

We at NEPC encourage other education organizations to consider whether they too should delete their Facebook accounts, and we call upon policy makers to develop policies that provide strict public oversight of social media platforms.

Schools and Digital Platforms

NEPC’s own publications describe how digital platforms work through schools to pull children into the surveillance economy—an unregulated economy that these platforms have worked to construct and from which they benefit financially. “Students are offered no choice,” explains Faith Boninger, co-author with Alex Molnar of NEPC’s commercialism reports. As one student told Boninger and Molnar, “I can’t delete my Facebook account. My school activities have Facebook groups that I have to access. Maybe I can delete my account when I graduate.”

Molnar, who is NEPC’s Publications Director, warns that “students are tied to Facebook by their school-related activities, and they unwillingly and usually unwittingly provide Facebook with information that is used to limit what they are exposed to on-line and funnel them to worldviews that will reward Facebook’s clients.”

Boninger and Molnar add that their research has shown that digital platforms being promoted for school use are neither well understood by educators nor adequately regulated by existing policy and law. Says Molnar, “the kind of abuses inherent in Facebook’s business model, management structure, and lack of transparency are, without question, also occurring in schools and classrooms every day via social networks and digital platforms.”

Learn more about NEPC research on digital marketing and data gathering in schools at

The following organizations also have resources on data gathering from children and in schools: Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood , Center for Digital Democracy , Electronic Frontier Foundation , Electronic Privacy Information Center , and the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy .

We encourage people to distribute this announcement as widely as possible and to continue to share the work of the National Education Policy Center with others.