School Choice: Charters and Vouchers
I know I’ve mentioned this about 1,256,093 times, but public schools are not failing.
Focusing on mathematics because, far more than reading and language, it is learned in school, the Lubienskis demonstrate that when the different economic and social characteristics of the school population are accounted for, public school students gained almost a half-year more than their counterparts in Catholic schools. Although Catholic school teachers believe they have greater freedom in controlling the curriculum and setting pedagogical goals, they seem to hold onto outdated instructional methods. By contrast, public school instructors place more emphasis on geometry, measurement, statistic/probability, and algebra/patterns, the “non-number strands” that are consistent, positive predictors of achievement. And, the Lubienskis point out, burdensome paperwork and links between job security and performance on tests are not related to enhanced student achievement.
ENDING THE SCHOOL TO PRISON PIPELINE
How much money are we spending on public schools? How much of that goes to help students in the form of smaller class sizes, to address inequities, for wraparound services, public preschools, improving school facilities, involving parents, and keeping teachers skills current? How much of it goes to test prep, test administration, data management and paying for tests?
The school-to-prison pipeline: an epidemic that is plaguing schools across the nation. Far too often, students are suspended, expelled or even arrested for minor offenses that leave visits to the principal’s office a thing of the past. Statistics reflect that these policies disproportionately target students of color and those with a history of abuse, neglect, poverty or learning disabilities.
Students who are forced out of school for disruptive behavior are usually sent back to the origin of their angst and unhappiness—their home environments or their neighborhoods, which are filled with negative influence. Those who are forced out for smaller offenses become hardened, confused, embittered. Those who are unnecessarily forced out of school become stigmatized and fall behind in their studies; many eventually decide to drop out of school altogether, and many others commit crimes in their communities.
In California for example, we can see where some of the problems lie. In 2010, California invested $8,482 per student. That, of course, is just an average.
California tumbled two more spots, to 49th in the nation in per-pupil spending, in Education Week’s latest annual Quality Counts report, released last week. The ranking, which includes Washington, D.C., and the 50 states, covers spending in 2010 and thus doesn’t include the impact of higher taxes that voters approved in passing Proposition 30 in November.
…California’s per-student spending of $8,482 was $3,342 – 28 percent – below the national average of $11,824…
…California also ranked low – tied for fifth-worst – in another Education Week measure, the percentage of state and local taxable resources spent on K-12 education. California, along with Oregon, Louisiana and Tennessee, spent 2.9 percent, compared with 4.4 percent nationally…
Now, if you can stomach this story, read about how much is spent per inmate in California prisons.
In addition to inhumane conditions, the Golden State’s prison system is an economic burden to the state. Each inmate costs California $45,000 per year, and in 2012, the state spent six times more on prisons than it did on college students.
California spends $8500 per year for a student and $45,000 a year for an inmate. Other states are similar. New Jersey is one of the highest spenders on students: $16,841 per student in school and their prison costs are still $44,734 per inmate, almost 3 times as much.
Is there a way to reduce the amount of money spent on our prisons and increase student achievement at the same time?
Why do we have 25% of the world’s prisoners when we only have 5% of the world’s population?
Am I the only one who thinks that this is an insane mixup of our priorities?
QUALIFIED CABINET MEMBERS
President Obama thought it was important to appoint a medical professional to the position of Surgeon General. Why doesn’t he understand that it’s equally important to have an education professional at the helm of the Department of Education?
Surgeon general nominee Vivek Murthy, who has launched an HIV/AIDS youth education program and is president of Doctors for America, would become the youngest physician to hold the position if approved by the Senate. The Boston physician, 36, would also become the nation’s first Indian-American surgeon general. Murthy was born in England and moved to Florida at age three.
PRIVATIZATION: VOUCHERS AND CHARTERS
More articles about voucher, charter schools and the false choice of “choice.”
For ALEC, school choice is not really about improving student outcomes. It’s about directing public dollars to private outfits that aren’t subject to the same standards of accountability as a public school. Vouchers siphon off huge amounts of money from public schools to subsidize the private education of a small handful of students —leaving the vast majority of our children in public schools that have been depleted of critical funding. ALEC wants us to believe that funding a failed idea like vouchers—which studies show do not improve student performance—is better than investing in a quality public education for all students.
Vouchers schemes cost taxpayers millions of dollars. For example, the voucher program in Indiana this year is expected to cost $81 million—that’s $81 million less for students who attend public schools.
There has been a concerted effort to transform America’s public education system to a taxpayer-funded private religious school scam, and last week many Americans missed a Republican proposal to destroy the public school system because they were awaiting President Obama’s State of the Union address. However, if they listened carefully to two of the Republican responses, they would have noticed the drumbeat to school privatization Republicans claimed is “all about the children.”
“The original premise was, give public schools a chance and see what you think,” David Dresslar of the University of Indianapolis’ Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning told the Indianapolis Star. “Now, that premise has eroded to the point where private schools are an alternative to public schools.”
Some of those private schools are getting more than $1 million this year from vouchers – and, again, almost all of them are religious schools that teach religion as part of their curriculum.
Gov. Mitch Daniels and state Superintendent Tony Bennett sold the voucher program in 2011 as a way to improve educational opportunity. But it has become something very different: taxpayer support for middle-class kids getting a religious education — to the tune of $81 million.
…D or F rated private schools had, on average, twice as many voucher-recipient students as the A schools. And the private school with the most voucher students — Ambassador Christian Academy in Lake County — received an F from the state.
What does school choice mean in Indiana? It means taxpayer-supported schools that can choose:
- To refuse admission to students on the basis of religion, economic background, academic record and more.
- Not to offer instruction to English language-learners or students with severe and profound disabilities.
- To conduct school board meetings behind closed doors.
- To teach creationism as science, in violation of federal law.
- To fire teachers without cause.
Taxpayers spent more than $36 million last year on schools not required to provide many of the services public schools must offer.
If you live in any of these states, there’s a good chance your tax money is helping to convince some hapless students that evolution (the basis of all modern biological science, supported by everything we know about geology, genetics, paleontology, and other fields) is some sort of highly contested scientific hypothesis as credible as “God did it.”
…if we’re going to be diverting a bunch of money from traditional schools to voucher schools, we need to have apples-to-apples comparisons to know whether we’re spending that money wisely. That means playing by the same rules. What data we do have from the last 20 years of vouchers in the country suggests that voucher schools don’t perform notably better than traditional schools and, often times, perform worse.
It’s time to concentrate on improving the traditional schools which educate the overwhelming majority of students and stop concentrating on a movement that inherently cannot meet the needs of all American children.
“If standardized test data are harmful for determining educational quality, student achievement, and teacher impact, let’s end the inordinate weight of standardized testing, period. And let’s acknowledge that the past thirty years of high-stakes accountability has misrepresented the quality of public schools and likely inaccurately increased public support for school choice.
“If charter schools are a compelling option because they allow schools relief from burdensome bureaucracy, just relieve all public schools from that bureaucracy and then no need for the charter school shuffle.
“Neither of the above will be embraced, however, by school choice advocates because they are not seeking education reform; they are seeking a privatized education system.”
Just days after Mayor de Blasio’s Department of Education proposed slashing $210 million from a charter-school construction fund, he said he also won’t allow charters to share space in public-school buildings going forward.
All who envision a more just, progressive and fair society cannot ignore the battle for our nation’s educational future. Principals fighting for better schools, teachers fighting for better classrooms, students fighting for greater opportunities, parents fighting for a future worthy of their child’s promise: their fight is our fight. We must all join in.