It was never about busing.

Today’s New York Times published two full pages on the impact of desegregation in America’s schools. During the 70’s and 80’s, schools were integrated, especially in the south. Achievement scores rose and achievement gaps between black and white students fell. With the introduction of school choice in the 90’s, segregation increased. An attack on public schools began. Why?

As the U.S. reverted to the doctrine of separate but equal, it became obvious that low-income area schools were not equal. Equality in funding was a myth. Wealthy districts had better funding even if states required a minimum level of funds for each district.  Better funding provides better opportunities.

Children with greater physical and mental needs cost more, and a higher proportion of them reside in low-income areas. Higher-income areas often resist paying for educating ‘those other children’. As a result, lower-cost private and charter schools are sold as the symbol for better schools even though they are not better; they just choose which students to accept.

The point of the article, ‘It was never about busing‘ is that we are substituting code words for racist policies. The word ‘Busing’ has become a bugaboo (an imaginary object of fear). Many white children were always bused but not to black schools. Advocates for neighborhood schools used these code words for segregated schools.

Vouchers are supposed to reduce costs by housing more schools in churches, but they aren’t required to meet state standards for teaching and learning, and they do increase segregation.  Charters are designed to give lower-income parents an escape valve from the local schools struggling to meet the needs of all students.  Nevertheless, charters that reflect double segregation of race and income cannot overcome their lack of access to the wider world.

Improved access to high-quality preschool programs is the current panacea. Yes, they initially help minority children succeed, but their academic gains fade as they enter segregated schools.

The author of the article, Nicole Hannah-Jones, concludes that busing did not fail, we did.

Charter Industry Fights Reform

California’s charter reform commission, which included many charter operators, was convened by the governor as the result of a huge scandal in online charters that collected state funds for nonexistent students. The commission recommended improvements in charter school authorization and oversight. The charter industry is fighting back.

According to Jeff Bryant’s latest article, the charter industry is arguing that frequent closures of charters shows its accountability. Frequent opening and closures are good! The Network for Public Education’s report that a billion dollars in federal funds has been lost to charter operators. The question is good for whom? Is it good for the students and families who must scramble to find a new school or just for those who pocket the money?

Read Jeff Bryants’ article here and decide who benefits.

The Pursuit of Happiness

Have you ever wondered what ‘Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness’ really means? Thomas Jefferson was an avid student of Aristotle which is where the idea of a pursuit of happiness originated. I am reading a new book called ‘Aristotle’s Way’ by Edith Hall. I came across a paragraph about Aristotle’s view of public education that I would like to share with you:

“The eighth book of his Politics opens with this famous dictum: “None will doubt that the legislator should direct his attention above all to the education of youth for the neglect of education does harm to the constitution.” He means that education at all levels, from small children through to young adults, is of such fundamental importance to the flourishing of the community under any form of constitution that it must be publicly determined and can’t possibly be left to the decided ad hoc by each parent. Since the goal of any city-state is to ensure that its citizens live the good life, “it is manifest that education should be one and the same for all, and that it should be public, and not private.” Page 54-55

These are matters of common interest on which the pursuit of happiness is based.

“An incisive and devastating critique of the Bush A+ Plan”

You have to tell it like it is, especially when so many people have so much money invested in a failing education reform policy. Read the summary of the report: Twenty Years Later: Jeb Bush’s A+ Plan fails Florida’s Children posted by Diane Ravitch. Find out the hard truth about the impact of the A+ Plan on student achievement, school grades, teaching, and communities. Insist on an end to policies that seek to destroy public schools and rob children of a high quality education.

House Appropriations Slashes Charter Start Up Funds

In response to a report by the Network for Public Education, the federal startup funds were cut $40 million this year and another $100 million next year. The committee noted the lack of oversight of federal startup funding.

There is other good news in the proposed budget for full service community schools, look lars remodeling. This is a direct rebuke to the DeVos Department of Education budget proposal. The committee also noted the abuse of for-profit online schools.

Good things can happen! The budget section begins on page 182.

Florida Schools for Sale

Carol Burris of the Network for Public Education has her eye on Florida’s charter abuse. You need to see it too. Seeing is believing. The problems are really bad. Read the article here We have so many bad operators that Acclaim Academy is sometimes overlooked. it should not be. Find out about what happened to the $744,148 start up money they received from the federal government.