Monday, April 3, 2023

In Case You Missed It – April 3, 2023

Here are links to last week's articles receiving the most attention on NEIFPE's social media accounts. Keep up with what's going on, what's being discussed, and what's happening with public education.

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"This year alone, 29 state legislatures are considering bills to either create or expand existing voucher programs. This is on top of the 72 voucher and tax credit programs in 33 states already subsidizing private and homeschooling, costing billions every year. Voucher programs are proliferating even though research shows that, on average, vouchers negatively affect achievement—the declines are worse than pandemic learning loss. In fact, vouchers have caused 'some of the largest academic drops ever measured in the research record.'" -- Randi Weingarten


In step: For Indiana GOP, public schoolchildren are – almost – the highest priority

Just one more reason to support local newspapers.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Dear children in traditional public schools,

We Republican legislators care about you, the 93% of all students in the state who attend public schools. We want you to think we are doing our best to provide a public education (not necessarily a great education) and to keep you safe (from the things we feel are most dangerous to you).

As a result, we plan to provide more money to education than ever before. However, we have just a couple of caveats to explain regarding our commitment to you.

Regarding the quality of education you get, we cannot guarantee anything. In fact, we no longer feel responsible for the quality of education in our state. Instead, we feel that parents should go out and find a school that satisfies your needs. We are strong believers in the idea of school choice.

But we should warn you that not all schools, outside of your local public school, may choose you. Private voucher schools do not have a strong record for accepting disadvantaged students of poverty. They are very picky as to your ability, religion, behavior and lifestyle.

Who knew?

On the other hand, we believe in those voucher schools and promise to provide more than 30% of all new education funding to those very wealthy families who earn up to $220,000 per year as rich people are entitled to state welfare, too, you know.

Originally, those voucher schools were supposed to “rescue” disadvantaged students of color from faltering public schools, but, oh well, nobody’s perfect.


Who Is Putting Up the Big Money Behind Vouchers?

Who's pushing vouchers? If you said, "Betsy DeVos," give yourself a gold star.

From Diane Ravitch
Inside Philanthropy reported on the major funding behind the push for vouchers.

Vouchers are not popular.

There have been nearly two dozen state referenda about vouchers. Vouchers have always lost, usually by large margins.

State legislatures have ignored the voice of the people and passed voucher legislation despite the public vote against them. Vouchers were rejected in Utah in 2007. Vouchers were rejected in Florida in 2012. Vouchers were rejected in Arizona in 2018. Yet the legislators in these states passed sweeping voucher laws, benefitting home schoolers and students already attending private schools.


There is a lot of money behind the voucher “movement.” The only thing moving in this “movement” is millions of dollars from rightwing billionaires into the pockets of Republican politicians.

All the usual rightwing suspects are pumping big money into the push for vouchers. Betsy DeVos, Charles Koch, the Bradley Foundation.


Indiana budget should increase funding for public schools — not vouchers — Democrats say

Republicans in the Indiana General Assembly obviously favor private schools. This year's budget is no different. The largest increases go to privatization while the vast majority of Indiana's kids who attend public schools get less.

From the Indiana Capital Chronicle
Democratic state lawmakers continue to decry education funding “inequities” in the state’s draft budget and are now mounting pressure on their Republican counterparts to “fully fund” Indiana’s traditional K-12 public schools in the next spending plan.

House Republicans tout that nearly half of their budget proposal, 48%, goes to K-12 education, which will get a “historic” boost of nearly $2 billion over its current appropriation.

But members of the minority caucus argue that one-third of that new funding will go to the Choice Scholarship program — which allows families to receive vouchers to attend private schools. And another chunk would come off the top to cover textbooks.


Randi Weingarten: In Defense of Public Education

Public schools accept everyone.

From Diane Ravitch
...Those of us involved in public schools work hard to strengthen them to be the best they can be. But only public schools have as their mission providing opportunity for all students. And by virtually any measure—conversations, polls, studies and elections—parents and the public overwhelmingly like public schools, value them, need them, support them—and countless Americans love them.

Public schools are more than physical structures. They are the manifestation of our civic values and ideals: The ideal that education is so important for individuals and for society that a free education must be available to all. That all young people should have opportunities to prepare for life, college, career and citizenship. That, in a pluralistic society such as the United States, people with different beliefs and backgrounds must learn to bridge differences. And that, as the founders believed, an educated citizenry is essential to protect our democracy from demagogues.

Thomas Jefferson argued general education was necessary to “enable every man to judge for himself what will secure or endanger his freedom.” Franklin D. Roosevelt said: “The real safeguard of democracy … is education.” And Martin Luther King Jr., in accepting the United Federation of Teachers’ John Dewey Award, made clear, “Education is the road to equality and citizenship.”

When kids go to school together, they become part of a community; their families become part of a community. That community comes together at school concerts, basketball games and science fairs, and for shelter and comfort, when people are displaced by natural disasters or, far too often, at vigils for victims of gun violence. In good times and bad, public schools are cornerstones of community, of our democracy, our economy and our nation.

But some people want that cornerstone to crumble—and they’re wielding the sledgehammers.


Sara Stevenson: Trust Librarians to Review Books, Not Vendors

From Diane Ravitch
Every once in a while, a bill comes along that creates a big-government, complicated solution to a problem that can be resolved at the local level. Such is the case with Texas House Bill 900: Restricting Explicit and Adult-Designated Educational Resources (READER) Act.

As a former public school librarian in Austin, I have serious questions about this bill. By no later than Sept. 1, 2023, each book vendor selling library books must submit a list of every book it sells that is either “sexually relevant” or “sexually explicit.”

The first problem is, book vendors, the intermediaries between publishers and libraries, are basically salespeople. They’re not publishers, they’re not librarians and they’re not ratings agencies. None of this is in those companies’ business plans, and they will not be ready by the deadline. It’s like asking a shoe repairman to make you a dress.

Professional librarians, on the other hand, have always been entrusted to select reading materials that align with the curriculum but also include books for reading pleasure. School librarians use selection aids and other resources when choosing the best library materials for their community schools. And Texas law requires us to have a master’s degree and at least two years of teaching experience.


David Sirota: How Paul Vallas Helped Wall Street Loot Chicago’s Public Schools

From Diane Ravitch
When he led the Chicago school system, mayoral candidate Paul Vallas took actions that resulted in more than $1.5 billion being transferred out of the city’s budget-strapped public schools and to some of the wealthiest individuals and banks on the planet, a new report shows.

Now, Vallas is in an election runoff against Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson to lead the city of Chicago, with big support from wealthy investors and other corporate interests — including from executives at law firms and banks that benefited from the controversial financing methods he used as CEO of Chicago Public Schools from 1995 to 2001.

With less than two weeks left before the April 4 election — which polls show is a tight race — Vallas has faced little scrutiny over his tenure as the Chicago Public Schools chief, even though he helped create a slow-moving financial disaster for America’s fourth-largest school system.
**Note: The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette is behind a paywall. Digital access, home delivery, or both are available with a subscription. Staying informed is important, and one way to do that is to support your local newspaper. For subscription information, go to [NOTE: NEIFPE has no financial ties to the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette]

Note: NEIFPE's In Case You Missed It is posted by the end of the day every Monday except after holiday weekends or as otherwise noted.


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