Alas, there’s nothing new in this post, because, privatization still does not help America’s student achievement improve. It does, however, transfer public funds to private and corporate “schools.”
VOUCHERS FAIL AGAIN…
According to its proponents, the voucher program in Indiana began (by legislative fiat, not by popular demand) as a way to provide poor children in “failing” schools the chance to go to “good private schools.”
Back in 2011, former Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels saw the passage of the voucher program as a huge victory.
“Social justice has come to Indiana education,” Daniels said at the closing of the 2011 session.
Once Gov. Mike Pence took office in 2013, the program experienced a dramatic change, putting enrollment in the tens of thousands. In his first State of the State address after being elected, Pence praised the program and encouraged the legislature to expand it.
“Indiana has given parents who previously had few choices the ability to choose the public or private school that best meets the needs of their family,” Pence said.
Yet, other “choices” don’t receive public tax support. We don’t get vouchers for the “choice” of shopping at Barnes and Noble instead of using the public library. We don’t get vouchers for the “choice” of joining a country club instead of visiting public parks. We don’t get vouchers to hire our own fire departments and police departments. What is it about school “choice” that makes it different?
“CHOICE” IS AN EXCUSE
➤ School “choice” is an excuse to subsidize religion and give their schools (99% of the vouchers in Indiana go to religious schools) public money. Is it the public’s job to support religion? Ben Franklin implied that it is not. The Civil Power should not be responsible to fund a religious school.
When a Religion is good, I conceive that it will support itself; and, when it cannot support itself, and God does not take care to support, so that its Professors are oblig’d to call for the help of the Civil Power, it is a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one.
➤ School “choice” is an excuse to preserve both economic and racial segregation. That was the excuse for “choice” after the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision.
After Brown v. Board of Education and the court-ordered segregation of public schools, many Southern states established voucher schemes to allow white students to leave the education system and take taxpayer dollars with them, decimating the budgets of the public school districts. Today’s voucher schemes can be just as harmful to public school district budgets, because they often leave school districts with less funding to teach the most disadvantaged students, while funneling private dollars to unaccountable private schools that are not held to the same academic or civil rights standards as public schools.
Privatization increases segregation. See also
➤ School “choice” is an excuse to line private pockets with taxpayer money. For examples (these are a few of the most recent, published from May 21 to June 1)…
- Tennessee: Exclusive: New Vision charter school under investigation for financial irregularities and ADA compliance
- New Jersey: Trenton charter school officially announces closure as 9th Grade Academy readies move-in
- Connecticut: Willimantic Charter School Faces Potential Closure Amid Questionable Management Practices
- New Mexico: Troubled charter school under scrutiny again
Vouchers for private religious schools do not improve student learning. It’s the public’s responsibility to provide schools for all children using public tax dollars. Public money should be reserved for public schools.
The current administration loves vouchers despite the evidence.
…At an event last year hosted by the White House, Vice President Mike Pence called the D.C. voucher program “a case study in school choice success.” But how can the administration deem the program successful when it has been shown time and again to fail students?
Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Education released a study on the effects of the D.C. voucher program. The study looked at the voucher program’s impact on students and parents two years after students applied to the program. The department found that, once again, students in the D.C. voucher program are performing worse academically than their peers not in the program. And what’s more, students’ negative scores were worse this year than they were last year.
CHARTERS – PUBLIC, YET PRIVATE
Listen, not all charters are bad. Some charters are not-for-profit. Charters are ostensibly public schools. But for-profit or not-for-profit…good or bad…all charters have one thing in common; they drain resources from real public schools.
➤ Some charters have perfected the skill of student skimming. They have learned to manipulate their clientele so that they get more high achievers, fewer students with special needs or behavior issues, and more students with supportive parents.
Reuters has found that across the United States, charters aggressively screen student applicants, assessing their academic records, parental support, disciplinary history, motivation, special needs and even their citizenship, sometimes in violation of state and federal law.
➤ For some charters, the main goal is the profit.
As a result of this change to the tax code, banks and equity funds that invest in charter schools in underserved areas can take advantage of a very generous tax credit. They are permitted to combine this tax credit with other tax breaks while they also collect interest on any money they lend out. According to one analyst, the credit allows them to double the money they invested in seven years.
➤ Charters claim to be public schools when it comes to taking public funds, but whine that they are private institutions when they’re confronted with the threat of teacher organizing.
…in 2013 the National Labor Relations Board ruled in favor of a Chicago charter school and deemed it a private institution. Therefore, teachers at the school must organize under laws governing private-sector rather than public-sector employees.
➤ Charter schools often choose the students they want.
Charter schools take resources away from the public schools, harming public schools and their students. All charter schools do this – whether they’re opportunistic and for-profit or presenting themselves as public, progressive and enlightened.
Charter schools are free to pick and choose and exclude or kick out any student they want. They’re not supposed to, but in real life there’s no enforcement. Many impose demanding application processes, or use mandatory “intake counseling,” or require work hours or financial donations from families – so that only the children of motivated, supportive, compliant families get in. Charter schools publicly deny this, but within many charter schools, the selectivity is well known and viewed as a benefit. Admittedly, families in those schools like that feature – with the more challenging students kept out of the charter – but it’s not fair or honest, and it harms public schools and their students.
END THE PRIVATIZATION OF PUBLIC EDUCATION
We cannot afford to fund three educational systems with public tax dollars. We need to return to one, publicly funded, public school system.
What about “failing” public schools?
What “privatizers” call a “failing” public school is, in fact, a “failing” municipality or state government. The answer to low achieving schools is not to take money and resources away in order to fund a second or third school system. The answer is to improve schools so that all students are well served.
Public funds should be reserved for public schools.