One wonders how many science teachers in particular are being hoovered up by for-profit charters.
The Chokio-Alberta School District, nestled in the agricultural belt 50 miles east of the South Dakota border, serves two rural communities with a combined population of just under 500. The district has about 150 students.
This past year, when Superintendent David Baukol hired Shaun McNally to teach 7th-12th grade science, he felt relief. A teacher shortage has left districts across the state scrambling to fill positions in math, science, technology, and special education, especially in rural areas.
But with only one science teacher for a combined middle-high school of 73 students, Baukol doesn’t know what he will do if McNally ever leaves. He was the only person to apply when the job was posted last year, which doesn’t breed confidence in anyone else coming along soon.
“We’re just barely holding on by a thread,” says Baukol. “If we had not had this science teacher apply, we would have been in dire straits. What would we have done without a science department?”
With the end of the regular legislative session at the end of today, some things have been getting through. So far, while nothing’s perfect, the Party of Trump is for the most part not getting its way.
Higher fees for hunting and fishing licenses are in and major changes to the buffer law are out as the House voted 83-51 to pass the omnibus environment and natural resources finance conference committee report late Sunday night.
The reworked Legacy bill got bipartisan support.
The Higher Ed “compromise” may not yet be up to snuff, to get Gov. Mark Dayton’s signature.
The Omnibus Elections bill does not include the vote-suppression measures that had been sought by Republicans, led by Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer (R-Big Lake).
Also, no “backdoor vouchers.”
But Republicans were forced to give on a big priority: a plan for tax credits to people and companies who donate to private school scholarships for low-income children.
I’ll keep you posted.
Three items. Regarding the first, you may recall that during the Pawlenty administration Local Government Aid was slashed, to the point that local governments had to hike taxes on businesses just to provide basic services. And believe it or not, Party of Trump legislators want to go down that road again, though in less flagrant ways this time around.
The Governor’s proposal—by virtue of its larger appropriation increase in 2018 and by the fact that it does not rescind that increase in 2019—provides larger aid increases for more cities in both 2018 and 2019 than either the House or Senate proposals. For example, 679 cities receive an aid increase relative to current law in both 2018 and 2019, and for 532 of these cities, or 78 percent, the increase exceeds two percent. No city experiences an aid reduction relative to current law in either 2018 or 2019 under the Governor’s proposal.
To this point, the analysis in this proposal has been in nominal dollars (i.e., dollars unadjusted for inflation). Because inflation erodes the purchasing power of LGA over time, it is important to examine the change in aid in real (i.e., inflation-adjusted) dollars.‡ Only the Governor’s proposal provides LGA funding sufficient to maintain the real purchasing power of LGA dollars at the 2017 level in both 2018 and 2019 for a significant number of Minnesota cities.
(North Star Policy Institute)
We’ll see how hard the deformers push this in the legislature, when crunch time comes. Traditional public schools these days are turning out kids who are simply too smart to buy into conservatism – the failed ideology of f*cking idiots. The righties are beyond desperate to undermine that.
Gov. Mark Dayton has been a longtime opponent of efforts to allow public money to follow students to private schools.
But the governor said he was asked to publicly repeat his position, so that’s what he did Wednesday: “I will veto any bill that has vouchers attached to it.”
That’s not all, though.
Dayton clarified that his opposition extends beyond the traditional concept of private school vouchers. He opposes provisions in the House and Senate tax bills that would give breaks to people who donate to organizations that deliver private school scholarships, saying too many charities would want similar status.
Here is important background information.
Conservatives continue to push vouchers and private school tax credits, despite new research (summarized in a recent North Star article) indicating that this approach is counter-productive to improving student achievement. Minnesota is among the states considering expanding the K-12 education tax credit to include contributions by individuals and corporations to foundations that provide vouchers and other funding for private schools. If we do the math, it becomes apparent that a large portion—up to 82 percent—of these private contributions to private schools would be effectively paid for with public dollars…
Ultimately, these educational tax credits for individuals and corporations will result in de facto public funding of private educational choices, with relatively little public oversight over how the dollars are spent and without proof that student achievement goals are being met (or even adequately measured) or that teachers are fully qualified. In some instances, public dollars could be subsidizing institutions that have a political affiliation or social agenda. The public will not decide how these public tax dollars are spent, but rather private corporations and wealthy individuals, whose goals may not align with the public interest.
(North Star Policy Institute)
And a couple of additional items.
In the lead-up to billionaire Republican megadonor and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ confirmation, numerous media outlets published deep-dive investigations into DeVos’ background, significant political contributions, potential conflicts of interest, far-right ideology, and negative influence on Michigan policies.
But since she formally took over at the Department of Education, the investigative work seems to have mostly dropped off; coverage of DeVos has focused more on her public gaffes than the inner workings of the agency she now runs. It certainly doesn’t help that DeVos and her department have struggled with media transparency. As education media writer Alexander Russo wrote, “DeVos takes press questions at events only occasionally, has yet to grant a formal interview with a major national education reporter, and heads a department that only intermittently provides answers in a timely manner – through a spokesperson whose name reporters are forbidden to use. The agency has even struggled to put out her weekly schedule in advance of public events.”
It’s time for investigative journalists to dig deeper and shine light on DeVos’ priorities, such as early staffing decisions at the Education Department. There’s certainly plenty to explore — many of the temporary staffers in the Education Department are veterans of the right-wing think tank echo chamber on “education reform,” and some have anti-LGBTQ and anti-black track records. Like DeVos, almost none have spent significant time as educators.
In the world we’re in:
Student loan companies will be free to charge thousands of dollars in fees to borrowers who miss payments, even if they immediately attempt to catch up, the Trump administration said (March 16), reversing Obama-era guidance that banned the charges.
The reversal was the first visible move on student loan policy by Trump’s Education Department, and suggests the administration may ultimately take a more industry-friendly approach to student lending…
USA Funds, then the country’s largest guarantor of indirect federal loans, sued the Education Department in 2015 for the right to charge a fee as high as 16% to people who had started to repay their loans within 60 days of defaulting. The woman at the center of the case had tried to repay her loans just 18 days after she was told she had gone into default — and then was hit with $4,500 in fees on a loan of $18,000.
– “The number of hungry and homeless students rises along with college costs” (MPR)
In a potential, better one:
The election of 2016 forced us, like so many Americans, to reconsider much of what we imagined we knew about our country and our society. For example, only a few months ago there was a growing, nation-wide movement for tuition-free higher education. At the time, we proposed debt forgiveness for the many Americans – the figure now stands at 43 million – who carry the burden of student loans.
Now, all three branches of government are under the control of ideologues who espouse a harsh and individualistic brand of conservatism. That forces us to ask ourselves: How can we pursue such an ambitious and visionary goal when we are confronted with a direct challenge to the communitarian ideals that have guided this nation to its best achievements?
And yet, individually and together, we have reached the same conclusion: this is a more important time than ever to reaffirm our bravest and highest values. Jubilee – the ancient concept of debt forgiveness as an affirmation of community – reflects those values. We can reject the reactionary principles that the right wing represents by embracing the concept of a student debt jubilee as the symbol of our long-held community values.
I admit that since the election I’ve generally seen fit to be somewhat measured when it comes to education issues. The Trumpkins won’t really be able to literally destroy public education, will they? As it turns out, they really do damn well plan to try.
The budget includes increases for the charter school fund, a new program for private school choice, and incentives for states to make sure some Title I dollars for low-income students follow them as they move among schools. The $1.4 billion in new dollars for school choice eventually will ramp up to $20 billion, the budget says, matching the amount Trump pledged to spend on school choice during his campaign.
“We will give our children the right to attend the school of their choice, one where they will be taught to love our country and its values,” Trump pledged at a rally in Nashville Wednesday evening.
The department overall would see cuts of $9 billion, which amounts to 13 percent of its “discretionary” budget (the part not including mandatory higher-education spending).
Don’t count on Congress changing this much. Plenty of Democrats there remain fans of the school deformer movement, despite the proven failure and corruption of its agenda. They will probably mitigate the cuts to public school spending somewhat, but won’t change the privatization initiatives to speak of.
Here’s where some hope that we can avoid total disaster comes from. (Don’t get me wrong, there will be plenty of opposition in urban districts, too.)
I don’t have a good handle yet on what I think Trump, DeVos, and their minions will be able to do to public education, other than that it won’t be good. Meanwhile, I’m noting some relevant items for this state.
In 2016, 2,227 high school juniors opted out of the MCA tests statewide. That’s just a drop in the bucket, compared to the 55,975 students who did take it. But it is more than three times the number of eleventh grade students–694–who opted out of the MCAs in 2015.
This is a startling jump, taking place in schools and cities as diverse as suburban St. Louis Park, rural Pine City and Minneapolis.
(Bright Light Small City)
And for pretty good reasons.
A state audit is highlighting several major flaws connected to Minnesota’s standardized testing landscape, and educators are calling for change.
“One thing is obvious after reading this report. The taxpayers are not getting their money’s worth from this sprawling system of state and local standardized testing,” said Denise Specht, a fourth-generation teacher who heads up Education Minnesota, which represents 80,000 educators from across the state.
The Office of the Legislative Auditor released its findings earlier this week. Educators have zeroed in on what they call four major flaws.
Though it’s certainly possible, we probably can’t count on Education Secretary Betsy DeVos getting caught up in this Russia thing.
Levy’s observations are confirmed by my report on how the “school choice” issue, so beloved by big-money Republicans, is hitting opposition from red state rural Americans. Rural schools across the country face formidable problems including high dropout rates, low academic performance, and lousy funding. None of these problems will be solved by creating more charter schools and using vouchers to siphon off even more students and resources. In fact, that option will only make things worse.
So the unprecedented opposition to DeVos is more about a struggle over the soul—at least an education soul—of America. And regardless of how the vote turns out, this fight is not about to end.