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school vouchers

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school vouchers

Teacher shortages and school “choice”

by Dan Burns on June 9, 2017 · 0 comments

abandonedOne 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?”
(City Pages)



schoolsA few items.

But it isn’t just rural Americans who oppose vouchers. Polls have shown that opposition to voucher schemes is widely shared by Americans across the board. Phi Delta Kappa, an international organization for professional educators, regularly polls Americans to get their opinions on vouchers. Polls have shown opposition to vouchers ranging from 57 percent to as high as 70 percent.
More tellingly, Americans in rural, urban and suburban areas have voted against vouchers repeatedly at the ballot box. Since the 1960s, vouchers (or similar plans) have appeared on ballots in several states as referendum questions. All have been defeated, usually by wide margins.
(Diane) Ravitch, in her speech to the Friends of Texas Public Schools, said aside from the negative educational and financial implications of voucher schemes, there’s a social and civic impact as well.
“A public school brings people together. A public school is a place where people learn democracy. For many people, it’s the first opportunity they have to work together with their neighbors toward a common goal. To work together on behalf of their shared goals for their children.



Trump voters got well and truly suckered, Part 15

by Dan Burns on February 20, 2017 · 0 comments

devos2Though 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.
(Jeff Bryant/OurFuture.org)


MN GOP Education Agenda: No Surprises

by Dan Burns on March 30, 2011 · 0 comments

In other words, about as wrongheaded as can be. Minnesota crazed teabaggers Republicans are passing their education agenda through the legislature, and it sux.  Lowlights include:

– Continued emphasis on standardized testing as a means of assessing teacher performance. Emphasizing standardized testing as a be-all and end-all, or anything close to it, is a joke.

– Destroying the teacher tenure system.  Here’s commentary on what a despicable agenda item that is.  I’d add that right-wing squealing on this issue is a preposterous red herring, because the vast majority of teachers are pretty damn good.

More below the fold.
–  Vicious cuts to higher education.  Another anti-knowledge item, brilliantly explicated herein, got tacked onto that one.

–  Vouchers, a miserable idea whose time has long since passed.

That’s not all, but it will do to go on.  These bills will certainly run up against Governor Dayton’s veto, and what the end result might include is not something on which I’m prepared to speculate, yet.  Except that it won’t be what our schools need:  more resources, less emphasis on facile nonsense like endless standardized testing, and an end to scapegoating education professionals in a desperate effort to divert emphasis from the real problems, namely, handouts-for-the-haves governance and the brute anti-intellectualism of conservatism itself.

Of course, if I was virtually half-witted, too, yet somehow managed to get elected to the state legislature, too, maybe I wouldn’t see much use in “book learning,” either.


Chartering A Course for Privatized Public Education

by BlueCollar Daughter on January 22, 2011 · 0 comments

Yesterday U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan spent time in Minneapolis talking school reform with business leaders at a Chamber of Commerce lunch. Noting that Minnesota schools currently have one of the largest achievement gaps between white/higher income kids and their minority/lower income peers, Duncan called for the state to get onboard to embrace controversial educational legislation–in the form of alternative teacher licensure and reauthorization of the failing federal No Child Left Behind initiative.

Discussions like these are happening all over the country, in Minnesota public school districts
and in just about every other state , as gutted education budgets are allowing our education system to crumble. Concerned parents and professional educators see an insidious decline in the quality of public education, while taxpayer funds and political support are being siphoned into less-desirable “alternative” educational experiences.
Both in MN and elsewhwere, charter school growth is exploding as the economy declines, a point of concern for traditional school educators and progressives who see this trend as a movment toward quasi-privatization–and one that gives advantage to a privileged class of student while often leaving lower-income and high needs students to flounder in under-funded, poorly-staffed traditional schools:

“Charter schools are publicly funded schools, and we need to make sure students of all backgrounds have access to them,” said study co-author Erica Frankenberg, an education professor at Pennsylvania State University.

Oakland Unified School District has seen a major expansion of charters over the past decade, when it spent years under state control because of financial mismanagement. The district is now home to more than 30 charter schools.

Betty Olson-Jones, head of the Oakland teachers union, complains many charters recruit top students and get rid of poor performers, boosting the schools’ test scores and saddling traditional schools with a disproportionate number of students with disabilities, behavior problems and poor English language skills.

“You end up with schools that are filled with kids that are really struggling, Olson-Jones said.”

Some analysts have gone so far as to see the charter school trend as a union-busting technique, since charter schools typically do ont offer union-represented employment to their teachers.  

It has also been questioned if the GOP and religious right are using charter schools as a back door way to expand some conservative states’ voucher systems into a use of public money for parochial school programs.

Critics of the new trends in education funding support MN laedership pursuit of federal Race to the Top
educational funding to help struggling traditional public schools. Gov. Mark Dayton is also a proponent of Race to the Top, and has said he plans to pursue these funds if Congress approves a third round of RTT funding.