Accountability, On Teaching,
June is Internet Safety Month
THE POLITICS OF PRIVATIZATION
As Governor of Indiana, Mike Pence made no attempt to hide his preference for private education. His school-based photo ops were nearly always at parochial schools. His state budgets favored private schools and charters, and his friends in both the Indiana General Assembly and the State Board of Education followed his lead.
Betsy DeVos joins Pence in the current administration as an unapologetic advocate for privatizing education and the destruction of public schools. She doesn’t hide the fact that her intent is to provide as much money for private schools as possible. She couches her preference in terms which imply support for students, but when we dig deeper we find that she doesn’t consider all students worthy of support.
Her budget cuts millions from programs designed to help the neediest students. She passes the buck to the states and private donors to pick up the monetary slack. The fact that the states don’t have the money doesn’t matter. With the continued tax cuts for America’s wealthiest citizens, money for education is scarce and DeVos prefers to direct it towards the children attending private schools rather than those attending public schools.
In her recent appearance before a Senate committee, DeVos refused to take a stand against discrimination. Instead she repeated the same inane statement about supporting federal antidiscrimination laws. Would she take a stand against discrimination when the federal laws were vague? No…
This is what happens when a know-nothing, anti-public education billionaire, buys her way into the highest education office in the land.
At a minimum, DeVos’ answers reveal that she knows her desire to let private schools discriminate with federal dollars is unpopular. Students deserve better than private school vouchers that undermine civil rights protections.
The issue of discrimination is one of the many reasons Congress should reject any efforts to impose a federal voucher program. Rather than diverting funds for private schools, we should be funding the public school system, which educates all students.
From Steven Singer
Betsy DeVos seems to be confused about her job.
As U.S. Secretary of Education, she is responsible for upholding the civil rights of all U.S. students.
She is NOT a paid lobbyist for the school privatization industry.
Yet when asked point blank by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) whether her department would ensure that private schools receiving federal school vouchers don’t discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) students, she refused to give a straight answer.
She said that the these schools would be required to follow all federal antidiscrimination laws but her department would not issue any clarifications or directives about exactly how they should be doing it.
“On areas where the law is unsettled, this department is not going to be issuing decrees. That is a matter for Congress and the courts to settle,” DeVos said at a hearing before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education yesterday.
“I think you just said where it’s unsettled, such discrimination will continue to be allowed under your program. If that’s incorrect, please correct it for the record,” Merkley replied.
DeVos did not correct him.
From Diane Ravitch
The most devastating cuts are aimed at programs for public schools. Nearly two dozen programs are supposed to be eliminated, on the grounds that they have “achieved their original purpose, duplicate other programs, are narrowly focused, or are unable to demonstrate effectiveness.” In many cases, the budget document says that these programs should be funded by someone else—not the US Department of Education, but “federal, state, local and private funds.” These programs include after-school and summer programs that currently serve nearly two million students, and which keep children safe and engaged in sports, arts, clubs, and academic studies when they are out of school. They have never been judged by test scores, but the budget claims they do not improve student achievement, and aims to save the government $1 billion by ending support for them. The budget assumes that someone else will pick up the tab, but most states have cut their education budgets since the 2008 recession. No mention is made of how other sources will be able to come up with this funding.
President Trump has made bullying great again.
Donald Trump’s campaign and election have added an alarming twist to school bullying, with white students using the president’s words and slogans to bully Latino, Middle Eastern, black, Asian, and Jewish classmates. In the first comprehensive review of post-election bullying, BuzzFeed News has confirmed more than 50 incidents, across 26 states, in which a K-12 student invoked Trump’s name or message in an apparent effort to harass a classmate during the past school year.
The accountability laws in Indiana are a waste of time and money. The criteria used to judge a school, its students’ test scores and attendance, are inadequate and invalid. Tests and attendance do not indicate the quality of a school. The school climate and the involvement of parents are equally, if not more important to a school than how high the students score on a given achievement test. Student achievement tests should be used (if they’re going to be used at all) to assess student achievement, not the quality of a school or its teachers. Student attendance has very little to do with a school’s quality, and more to do with the economic status of the families of the students (for that matter, so do the achievement tests).
For decades, “reformers” have used poor test scores as the basis for claims that America’s public schools were “failing,” and to lobby for charters and vouchers. Now that they have charters and vouchers, the state rules about “accountability” are getting in the way of the smooth flow of tax dollars into private, parochial, and corporate pockets. The solution? Get the corporate stooges on the state board of education to “suspend” accountability for private, parochial, and corporate schools.
Just because Mike Pence is no longer in the Governor’s seat doesn’t mean that the state preference for privatization is gone…
Kudos to my former colleague, Steve Yager, for being one of the two votes against this.
Four private voucher schools previously cut off from accepting new voucher students because of academic failure, have been given a reprieve from the Indiana State Board of Education.
Due to receiving a grade of D or F for two consecutive years, the private schools had lost their ability to take on new voucher students. The schools can retain their current population of voucher students.
The schools were given permission to bypass accountability laws created for failing private voucher schools thanks to a new law signed by Gov. Holcomb. ISTA strongly opposed the bill throughout the legislative session, because it gives failing voucher schools a pass for low performance and allows a new voucher pathway via new school accreditation – schools with no track record.
From an experienced teacher and teacher educator…Russ Walsh gives us the benefit of his years as an educator. You’ll notice the five lessons he presents have nothing to do with teaching to the test. Instead he deals with relationships between teacher and student, teacher as coach, pedagogical content knowledge, using student errors to guide teaching, and teacher self-reflection. This, along with his book, A Parent’s Guide to Public Education in the 21st Century: Navigating Education Reform to Get the Best Education for My Child, are essential reading for parents, teachers, and anyone who is interested in improving public schools.
At its most basic, teaching is about building individual relationships with children. If children trust you, they will be willing to follow you in your flights of instructional fantasy and if they follow you they will learn from you.
STAY SAFE ONLINE
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