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.)
(Parts 1, 2, and 3 here, here, and here.)
For this particular progressive supporter of public schools – namely, me – at least, there is a big dilemma regarding the federal role in education. It has to do with to what extent the federal government should be involved in setting and enforcing educational standards and practices. And I must say that it is a topic that tends not to be discussed, beyond predictable and frankly superficial rhetoric, in most progressive media and forums devoted to education.
The concern is that as the federal role is lessened, conservative states and districts will feel more empowered to “educate” based on, for example, religious and market fundamentalism (the two in fact have a great deal in common, when it comes to benighted acceptance of dogmas that are clearly false), science denial, and Reagan-worship. In fact, raising as many kids as they can on that kind of crap, as opposed to knowledge and reason, is the only chance contemporary conservatives have of retaining any influence – political, social, and economic – in the longer term.
Conservatives, in effect, have been saying to the federal government, “We demand that you stop imposing your terrible standards and tests on our communities. It’s the states’ job to destroy critical thinking and curiosity, and we’ll do that with our terrible standards and tests, thank you very much.” If you’re a teacher, it may not make much difference if oppressive dictates originate in Washington, D.C., the state capital, or even the district office. The point is still that your skills as a professional educator, and the unique interests and needs of a particular group of kids, don’t count for much. ESSA remains the Eternal Standardization of Schooling Act.
Of course so much damage has been done. In the image it’s pointed out what the real purpose of all of the standardized testing has been. So people apparently getting serious about reducing it is not a bad thing, though certainly the first thing that comes to mind is why it’s taken so long.
Minnesota prepared Monday to trim more standardized testing, echoing President Barack Obama’s weekend call to ensure that students aren’t spending too much time on exams.
The Legislature has made a raft of changes to public school testing in recent years, including eliminating high school exit exams in 2013 and capping testing time earlier this year. It’s been the subject of repeated calls to eliminate nearly two dozen different exams, work groups and stalled legislative proposals. And lawmakers aren’t done…
Their goal could be buoyed by the president’s announcement on Saturday. Sen. Charles Wiger, a Maplewood Democrat who chairs the Senate’s education committee, said it “re-energized” the need to chip away at testing, which he called a top priority for next year. Wiger said it gives him hope that the federal government would approve more waivers from the No Child Left Behind Act, the law that required standardized testing starting in third grade.
Sarah Lahm always has the greatest commentary on education issues in Minnesota.
There it is! The “sharing together more consistently” thing! Just a few days before Mickelsen’s piece comparing union supporters to fundamentalists hit the fan, Cunningham published a near replica, called “The Best Hope for Teachers Unions is…Reform.”
Cunningham’s pro-“get tough” reform piece appeared on both his Huffington Post site and on Education Post, in a coordinated campaign sort of way.
I’m not sure if the two were comparing notes, but Cunningham’s piece strongly resembles Mickelsen’s. Or maybe it’s the other way around. In any case, both pieces harp on remarkably similar (and familiar) points of view: charter schools are amazing, teachers unions are toxic and antiquated, and school choice is the yellow brick road to redemption.
(Bright Light Small City)
Here’s another intriguing end-of-session item.
Gov. Mark Dayton has vetoed $1.5 million in funding for Teach for America programs in Minnesota.
It was the DFL governor’s only line-item veto in the higher education bill he signed into law Friday afternoon.
Dayton explained his action in a letter, noting that Teach for America in fiscal 2011 reported its revenues nationwide exceeded its expenses by more than $50 million. With those financial resources, Dayton said he did not understand why the program needed a state grant.
The governor also said he was concerned about the way Teach for America was selected for the state grant. He said there was no competitive process allowing other applications to be considered.
This earned the governor a warm fuzzy from a high-profile proponent of a public education agenda that works, Diane Ravitch.
For his recognition that Minnesota needs a cadre of highly professional, experienced teachers, for his willingness to stand up to the fawning media hype about TFA, Mark Dayton joins the honor roll as a champion of American education.
I have mixed feelings about TFA, because I know a few young people that were involved, and, while none chose careers in education, at least not right away, I know they sincerely gave it their best while there, and believed in what they were doing. I also recognize that it can be a tool of the “school deform” (not a typo) movement, though not the most heinous in its contemptible arsenal.
By the way, conservative claims that the DFL-passed education budget represents the “largest increase ever” do not bear scrutiny.