"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Saturday, February 25, 2017

GOP Voucher Plan Provides NPE Fundraising Opp

After Obama brought Arne Duncan to DC to replace the toxic Margaret Spellings as Secretary of Education, a howl went up from racist states rights advocates against any kind federal intervention in education.

The whining and yipping continued, in fact, until Lamar Alexander and the Clintons came up with a plan to replace NCLB with a states rights version of ESEA that was labeled ESSA. ESSA left in place the annual testing empire, neutralized the role of the Secretary of Education, and gave the states rights advocates greater control of federal education dollars.

ESSA is chocked full of charter school stimulus provisions and incentives for more depersonalized computer screen time for kids that, in good Orwellian fashion, is known as "personalized" learning.

With continuing provisions in ESSA to incentivize annual conversions of the poorest and poorest-scoring five percent of schools, everyone at the RNC and DNC expected the gradualist approach to school privatization to rock along until all poor black and brown children were once again entirely segregated, this time in corporate welfare charters free to impose dehumanizing, paternalistic cultural sterilization methods that public schools with public oversight could never condone.

Even though the Alexander/Clinton plan became law, it could be interrupted by the election of insane clown, Donald Trump, who has his own privatization agenda that replaces DNC gradualism with undisguised Bannonist blitzkrieg.

Less than a week after the Trump inauguration, Steve King introduced H.R. 610 in the House, which replaces ESSA with education block grants to the states to use as they see fit.  Sort of. In the event that states don't see fit to use the federal cash to fund charters and vouchers, King's bill requires any states to pass laws allowing school vouchers programs before they can receive federal dollars.
This bill repeals the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 and limits the authority of the Department of Education (ED) such that ED is authorized only to award block grants to qualified states.

The bill establishes an education voucher program, through which each state shall distribute block grant funds among local educational agencies (LEAs) based on the number of eligible children within each LEA's geographical area. From these amounts, each LEA shall: (1) distribute a portion of funds to parents who elect to enroll their child in a private school or to home-school their child, and (2) do so in a manner that ensures that such payments will be used for appropriate educational expenses.
Reaction has been swift from the Clinton/Obama DNC and their paternalist patrons in the multi-billion dollar charter reform school industry, all of whom have for years now preferred the gradual privatization and cultural sterilization methods of the "no excuses" KIPP Model schools. 

Leading charter propagandist, Kevin Carey of New America, published a piece at his regular hangout at the NYTimes' TheUpshot, which reminds policymakers of the last three school voucher studies from 2015 and 2016, all of which show negative test score effects for voucher students.  Carey's pitch comes near the end of his voucher research survey:
The new voucher studies stand in marked contrast to research findings that well-regulated charter schools in Massachusetts and elsewhere have a strong, positive impact on test scores. But while vouchers and charters are often grouped under the umbrella of “school choice,” the best charters tend to be nonprofit public schools, open to all and accountable to public authorities. The less “private” that school choice programs are, the better they seem to work.
The Ravitch Basecamp has come out swinging, too, against Steve King's voucher extortion plan in H. R. 610. Ravitch, in fact, has turned this bad tiding into a fund-raiser for her AFT/NEA support team at the Network for Public Education (NPE). 

In NPE's appeal for more letters and more cash, it is interesting to note that there is no mention H. R. 610's planned elimination of ESSA, which, of course, is the current blueprint for school privatization via tech-heavy blended charter schools.  Ravitch fought too hard to get ESSA passed to let it go now, and so she focuses, instead, on demonizing other road to privatization that she and her patrons did not take:
This bill [H.R. 610] would undermine funding to public schools while demanding that school vouchers be allowed for states to receive funding. It would also reduce the nutritional quality of school lunches.
In focusing only on the threat of school vouchers, thousands of letter writers are misled to believe that they are fighting school privatization. In fact, the focus on the school voucher threat ignores the larger present danger of school privatization via charter schools, the same charter schools that have received the seal of approval by Ravitch, the corporate unions, and the DNC.

Wonder why Ravitch is leading the charge only against school vouchers?  Where is the moral outrage against the teacher and student dehumanization of the "non-profit" segregated corporate reform charter schools?

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous12:02 PM

    Any day now the Weingarten flirtation with DeVos will result in an AFT proclamation extolling the academic and societal benefits of voucher schemes.

    Abigail Shure