DeVos: Single Issue Candidate?

By now most people who care realize that Betsy DeVos has one issue:  parental choice.  To achieve that end, she supports state control over education policy.  In the New York Times analysis of her confirmation hearing, her knowledge of the law and education policy was non existent.  This is not surprising.  She has been a one horse pony in the private sector for vouchers and charter expansion.

The NY Times piece cites DeVos’ ignorance about special education law, regulation of for-profit universities, or even the difference between achievement gains and proficiency levels.  The answer to every question was:  leave it to the states.  Will Congress bow out?

Suppose the federal government did close down the Department of Education.  The federal government was not always involved in K12 education.  Its history is interesting.  Where would that lead?  State after state is cutting funding.  School districts and the private sector are supposed to find the money locally to manage the schools.

My grandmother taught in a country school.  So did my husband’s mother.  A few people got together, built a one room school and hired a teacher.  Will this approach raise our PISA scores?  It reminds me of an old time saying:  Watch out what you wish for. 

Time is Money or Maybe Not!

wrist-watch-941249_640Suppose you are a really good teacher and can prove it.  You notice that a neighboring district has a pay for performance plan where high quality teachers with less experience earn more money than average teachers with more experience.  Would you change districts?  In today‘s Gainesville Sun, a local economist, Dave Denslow, summarized a study by Barbara Biasi, a Stanford graduate student, who compared school districts in Wisconsin that used a ‘pay for performance plan‘ with districts that did not.   The result?

 

 

 

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The Racial Divide in Charters

directory-281476_1280Today’s New York Times delves into the divide within communities over charter schools.  The NAACP is calling for a moratorium on charters because they are increasing not only the racial divide but also the economic divide.   Charters in some cities, particularly cities with fewer charter schools as in Newark, Boston or Washington tend to do better than in cities with many charters, but as the number of charters increases, achievement decreases.  The reasons become clear:

Charters are viewed by some parents as an ‘escape’ from schools that must serve children with discipline and other emotional problems.  Charter educational programs may be no better than in traditional schools, but ‘problem’ students are either screened out or suspended.  Suspension rates are higher in charters and disproportionately impact minority students.  Achievement for those who remain may rise giving the appearance of being better.

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Take “Public” out of charter school language

shield-123080_640What makes a public school ‘public’?  It is more than how schools are governed and funded.  It is also a matter of the ethical and legal obligation to serve all students.

In Valerie Strauss’ latest Washington Post article, she reports on former New York principal, Carol Burris’ study of the sort and select enrollment practices in New York charter schools.

These are charters that are so often held up as success stories, so to speak.  Are they?

 

 

 

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Charter ‘Got to Go’ Lists in New York Success Schools

http://www.prwatch.org/files/new_charter_school_black_hole_report_oct_21_2015.pdf

Since expelling students is difficult in New York City, Success charters drive parents to withdraw their children.  The suspension rates are reported to be between 4 and 23 percent at least once.  Most schools suspend at least ten percent while public schools have a three percent suspension rate within a school year.  Suspensions start as early as kindergarten.

The charters use other strategies to encourage some parents to withdraw children who find it difficult to adapt to rigid rules.  Schools repeatedly call parents  to pick up their children early.  They may be counseled that the school is not a ‘good fit’ for their child.  Staff may tell parents that students needed special education that the school could not provide.  Some schools use 911 calls as a threat for children who misbehaves.  One mother whose child was on the list said she did not know about it.  She said, “He doesn’t hit kids, he doesn’t  knock kids over, he doesn’t scream, he just talks too much.”

This whole notion that parents should be able to choose schools that ‘fit their children’ has serious consequences.  The whole idea of a school where some children do not belong does not sound like a ‘public’ school.  When schools become exclusionary communities, the sense of community is lost.  With that loss, the problem is not contained just in a school.

 

Private Schools Respond to Public Money

church and stateThis Orlando Sentinel article turns data into description.  How Florida’s tax credit scholarships and McKay vouchers for students with disabilities impacts private schools is the topic.

Some private schools operate solely on public money.  Others combine public scholarships and tuition.  Some do not take public money.

The rules for private schools are different.  Public accountability is limited.  Teachers do not need certification.  Academic achievement is mixed.  The Sentinel story has been excerpted below.  It is a side of the story worth telling.  What we do not know is if it is money well spent.

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Confused about Voucher Lawsuits?

frog-48234_1280Florida has had three recent voucher lawsuits:  Fasse et al vs. Scott et al, McCall et al vs. Scott et al, and Citizens for Strong Schools vs. Department of Education.  They all oppose Florida Tax Credit Scholarships (FTC)  to private schools. 

The money is significant; it now amounts to over $900 million in FTC scholarships.  Which companies provide the money? Want to know more?

 

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One of Two Florida Voucher Lawsuits Thrown Out

One of the two Florida voucher lawsuits was thrown out today by Judge Charles Francis.  Faase et al vs. Scott et al was dismissed once before and then refiled.  The new version was deemed to be legally insufficient to sustain a finding of ‘special injury’.  This complaint was based on SB850 which was alleged to have been passed by the legislature using ‘log rolling’ strategies to combine bills to expand the tax credit scholarships and create new accounts for students with disabilities.  Click the LAWSUITS banner on the Home Page of this blog for more information.