Americans United for Separation of Church and State supports keeping public money in public schools. Here are two articles about so-called “school-choice”.
Starting this week, proponents of private school voucher schemes will be touting National School Choice Week – but what they won’t be touting is all the ways that vouchers harm public education and religious freedom.
Public schools are open to all students regardless of race, religion or ability. They are a unifying force in our society. Private school vouchers undermine our public schools by funneling desperately needed public resources away from them to fund the education of a few students at private, religious schools.
Supporters of so-called “school-choice” generally neglect to tell parents that the school chooses the student, not the other way around.
…what people support in voucher policy is not what voucher fans are prepared to offer. Voucher programs don’t offer nearly enough money for families to send their children to top private schools– assuming those schools are even interested in accepting their child in the first place. Private schools are not flinging wide their doors to enroll students that offer any sort of expensive challenge (or they may discriminate for other reasons), and while voucher advocates can brand themselves champions of choice till the cows come home, the fact remains that it is the schools that get to choose– not the parents. And while folks from many subgroups (minorities, millennials, rural folks) say yes to major changes in public schools, the only major change to come from vouchers would be public schools that are more strapped for resources. Meanwhile, the voucher schools are accountable to nobody– if you think they need changes, you are welcome to just walk out the door. Shut your mouth and vote with your feet.
In the Public Interest provides information about privatization throughout the country. In this week’s edition they report on a charter school that “chooses” to exclude a student due to medical issues.
13) Arizona: A Phoenix mother is suing a public charter school that she says illegally turned away her daughter because she had Type 1 diabetes. “‘Everybody was on the same page,’ says Kohnke. ‘It seemed like it was only the principal that saw the stuff and was like, “No, no, no, no.” Kohnke says the principal sent her away with a yellow Post-it note with a list of other schools. ‘Once she handed me this I was like, OK, so I kind of understood where we were standing at that point,’ says Kohnke.”
Can we afford to fully fund a dual system of education? Phyllis Bush, a co-founder of both the Network for Public Education (NPE) and Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education (NEIFPE), explains what’s wrong with “school choice”.
The expansion of choice is creating two separate school systems. In this parallel system, one pathway will be for those who can afford quality choices. The other pathway will be an underfunded, separate-but-unequal road, marked by poverty and by ZIP codes. As most people know, public schools are required to accept all students, while “choice schools” have the option of choosing the students who fit their agenda. Choice schools are allowed to reject students with behavior issues, students with low scores, students with disabilities, and students who don’t speak English.
The probable result of this further expansion of choice schools will be that the children with the most difficulties will be housed in the least well-financed schools. Sadly, many legislators have chosen to be willfully unaware of the consequences of “school choice.”
Instead of funding a dual system of schools by using public funds to pay for private schools, religious schools, and privately run charter schools, states should fully funded public schools, based on the needs of the students. This would allow every public school to provide an excellent education for their students.
The mantra for privatization is that students of poverty deserve an equal chance for a better school. The deception here is that it’s not the parents who choose, it’s the charters and private Schools who choose. The neediest and most underperforming students are not being selected or kept by charters and private schools. In fact, more than half of all vouchers go to students already in private schools, not the poorest from public schools. Private schools are allowed to discriminate in their selection/retention of students resulting in intensified segregation — all with public tax dollars.
What do schools need to provide their students? Fully funded, fully supported education with wrap-around services where needed. Here’s an excellent model still waiting for implementation:
- The Schools Chicago’s Students Deserve: Research-based Proposals To Strengthen Elementary And Secondary Education In The Chicago Public Schools
MISSING: SHARED ACCOUNTABILITY
Public schools are not responsible for the child poverty rate in the communities they serve. Legislators and policy makers have abdicated their responsibility for childhood poverty and dumped it on schools. When the schools are unable to overcome the effects of poverty they get labeled as failures.
All community stakeholders must accept their share of responsibility and be held accountable for the success or failure of schools – including legislators and policy makers.
…If our society were intent on helping the children who have been left behind, we would invest in ameliorating poverty and in supporting the hard working teachers in the schools in our poorest communities. Things like reauthorizing the Children’s Health Insurance Program would help! The ESSA plans being submitted to the Department of Education aren’t having much impact at all. The old, made-over NCLB jacket is slowly slipping to the back of the closet.
Increasing access to high quality preschool is on the ESSA list of things-to-do. Yet, we still consider the job of preschool teacher to be akin to that of babysitter – and preschool salaries show it.
Preschool is important. We need to invest in well trained teachers. We need to invest in our future.
…But if teachers are crucial to high-quality preschool, they are also its most neglected component. Even as investment in early-childhood education soars, teachers like Kelly continue to earn as little as $28,500 a year on average, a valuation that puts them on par with file clerks and switchboard operators, but well below K-12 teachers, who, according to the most recent national survey, earn roughly $53,100 a year. According to a recent briefing from the Economic Policy Institute, a majority of preschool teachers are low-income women of color with no more than a high-school diploma. Only 15 percent of them receive employer-sponsored health insurance, and depending on which state they are in, nearly half belong to families that rely on public assistance. “Teaching preschoolers is every bit as complicated and important as teaching any of the K-12 grades, if not more so,” says Marcy Whitebook, a director of the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment at the University of California, Berkeley. “But we still treat preschool teachers like babysitters. We want them to ameliorate poverty even as they live in it themselves.”