Monday, May 15, 2023

In Case You Missed It – May 15, 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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"Just because one parent does not like a certain book and does not want their child to read it does not mean that no child should read that book or that it is pornographic." -- Michael Shaffer in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**


Our first three stories this week define the privatization of public education. First, there's corruption in the charter industry. Second, privatization is dividing us, and last, vouchers don't help children.

Philadelphia: Charter School Rigged Admissions by Zip Code

From Diane Ravitch
Privatizers have boasted for years that charter schools are superior to public schools because students should not be confined to schools by their zip code (I.e. their neighborhood). But a charter school in Philadelphia used student zip codes to exclude kids from their “lottery.” The lottery was rigged to keep out kids from certain neighborhoods.

Each of the 800-plus Philadelphia families who applied for seats at a nationally recognized charter school thought their children had a fair shot at a spot in this year’s upcoming freshman class. Pennsylvania law guarantees it.

But some had no chance at all.

Denis Smith: Public Schools Unite Us. Private Schools Divide Us.

From Diane Ravitch
...In the campaign to destroy our public education system by using public funds to finance private and religious schools through vouchers, these politicians disingenuously throw out such terms as “choice” and “freedom,” seemingly innocuous words that instead have the potential to fracture our national unity.

Yet when the subject is choice and freedom, however disingenuously those words might be used, we don’t need to look any further for guidance in identifying the glue that keeps us in a state of union rather than the disunion a profligate use of public funds will bring if educational voucher legislation is approved.

That glue is the public school, whose importance is enshrined in the language of Article VI, Section 2 of the Ohio Constitution:
The General Assembly shall … secure a thorough and efficient system of common schools throughout the state; but no religious or other sect, or sects, shall ever have any exclusive right to, or control of, any part of the school funds...
Lest we be confused by politicians spouting their favorite hyperbolic buzzwords like choice and freedom, our constitution contains clear language, including the use of the singular form: a system of common schools, not systems. It is one educational system that the state is mandated to support, not thousands of private and religious schools that clearly aren’t eligible for public support through vouchers or other means.

State and local experience proves school vouchers are a failed policy that must be opposed

From the Economic Policy Institute
Vouchers are a failed, unpopular policy driven by larger efforts to destroy public education

There is substantial and growing evidence that voucher programs do not serve students and may deepen educational and economic inequality. Voucher programs and the broader education privatization movement of which they are a part are also deeply unpopular. Instead, education privatization is a project by deep-pocketed right-wing funders and think tanks committed to dismantling our public institutions and collective power and implementing a policy regime of social control in service of the wealthy and corporations.

Ineffective, inefficient, and inequitable: Research on state and local experience shows vouchers are a failed public policy
  • Vouchers do not improve educational outcomes and likely worsen them. There is an extensive body of research finding that voucher programs do not improve student achievement. Recent studies in four states all showed that students who used vouchers experienced worse academic outcomes than their peers, and a study of voucher programs in Milwaukee found that voucher students performed better after transferring from private to public schools.


Jim Hightower: Chicken Little Attacks America’s Teachers

Legislators around the country need someone to attack, and, as has been the case for several decades, the targets are your local public school teachers.

From Diane Ravitch
Public schools do have some real problems: Politicians constantly slashing education budgets, professional burnout created by understaffing and low pay, the devastating strain of a killer pandemic, and a new-normal of assault-rifle murders. But the profiteers, theocrats, and knuckleheads aren’t interested in those, instead focusing on what they say is the fatal flaw in public education: Teachers.

Yes, the claim is that diabolical educators are perverting innocent minds by teaching America’s actual history, showing students that the full diversity of humankind enriches our society, and presenting our Earth as something to be protected, not plundered. And worse – OMIGOSH – many classroom teachers are union members! So, teachers suddenly find themselves political pawns in the GOP’s culture war. “Our schools are a cesspool of Marxist indoctrination,” squawked Sen. Marco Rubio, and Donald Trump squealed that schools are run by “radical left maniacs” and “pink-haired communists.”

This year's Indiana General Assembly session is, thankfully, over. The damage to public schools, public school teachers, and public school students continues.

In week meant to honor educators, Indiana lawmakers show nothing but contempt

From Michael Shaffer in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
It always sounds great at the start of the legislative session when the governor promises record spending for education and increases in teacher pay, almost as if we have a governor and legislature that respect and want to show appreciation for our teachers.

Since this is Teacher Appreciation Week, I thought I would recount the wonderful ways our legislature and governor have shown their appreciation for traditional public school teachers.

We can start with the biggest increase in education spending in recent years (or so the legislature says.) Tremendous amounts of money will be going to education. However, the biggest percentages will be going to the unregulated, unmonitored voucher industry, which caters to wealthy, middle-class white parents who, as long as their family of four makes less than $220,000 per year, can qualify for a full voucher for their children to attend a religious school of their choice.

Am I being unfair in stating that most of the money goes to white families who already attended voucher schools? No.

If you check the Department of Education website, only 10.45% of the students attending voucher schools are Black, down from 24.11% in 2011. In 2021-22, nearly 70% of the students in these schools had never attended a public school. Religious schools? They are 99.976% of the voucher schools (yes, that is a real number).

Thank Goodness They Went Home…

From Sheila Kennedy
The GOP’s persistent efforts to privatize education–while ignoring the state’s increasingly critical shortage of the public school teachers who teach 90% of Hoosier children–required legislators to ignore the years of highly credible academic research rebutting justifications for vouchers.

I have previously posted about the many problems with privatized and other forms of “alternative” schools that researchers have identified. Among those numerous problems is the distressingly high percentage of such schools that close within 4 years of their founding. A May 4th article from the Indianapolis Star confirms that Indiana is not exempt from such closures. It appears that a third of charter schools close each year.

Referendum success rate was typical

Blogger Steve Hinnefeld reports on school referendums in Indiana.

From School Matters
Ten Indiana school districts had property-tax referendums on the ballot in last week’s elections, and seven of them passed. That’s a typical success rate.

In the past 10 years, voters have approved 132 school district funding referendums and rejected 51. That’s an approval rate of 72%. There was speculation that inflation and talk of rising property taxes could dampen voter support this year, but that didn’t seem to be the case.

Indiana has two primary types of school funding referendums. Districts must get voter approval to raise property taxes to pay for expensive construction and renovation projects. They can also ask voters to raise property taxes to help pay for school operations if they conclude state funding isn’t adequate.

**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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