Monday, April 17, 2017

Privatization of Public Schools

I previously posted the long memo called Real Choice vs. False Choice: The Repercussions of Privatization Programs for Students, Parents, and Public Schools that Senator Patty Murray sent to her colleagues in late March about the privatization of public schools. She does credit in laying out real world examples of how privatization has not worked in the U.S.

Her most basic point?
Privatization efforts provide a false sense 
of choice for many students and families. 

From the Network for Public Education comes the NPE Toolkit: School Privatization Explained
on PrivatizationThere are a variety of topics covered about charter schools as well as tax credit and voucher programs.  They give Washington State a "C" for school privatization.

 Here's some of what Senator Murray's memo says:
Under school privatization programs such as private school vouchers, tuition tax credits or deductions for private school, and education savings accounts for elementary or secondary education, families and students are promised a better school experience. But the reality is that private schools receiving taxpayer funds lack accountability and transparency, can deny students and parents basic rights, and are inaccessible to students in rural areas and students who cannot afford to pay the difference in cost between the voucher and private school tuition. These programs are particularly concerning for our nation's children who need additional supports and services in school, including students with disabilities who are often forced to sacrifice their rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in exchange for a voucher.

The Trump Administration and some in Congress are pursuing an education agenda under the guise of providing students and families with so-called “school choice.” Though, on its face, this promise may sound appealing, in reality, this so-called answer doesn’t work for students and families for a number of critical reasons: It ignores the needs of students in rural areas without private school options, ignores the threats posed to students with disabilities and students who may face discrimination, and ignores the parents who believe in their communities and want their children to be able to attend strong public schools in their neighborhood. In other words, it is a false choice. The only true student and family agenda is one that delivers on the idea that every child, parent, and family should have the choice to attend a high-quality public school.

Privatization programs may offer more resources to private schools, but they don’t offer real choices for students and families. Under privatization programs, schools receive an ever-growing share of taxpayer funding but are free to choose the students they want, the rules they follow, and the practices they believe in, ignoring accountability and transparency for public dollars.

While traditional public school districts are governed by local school boards and subject to open meetings and open records requirements, private schools can refuse to comply with these requirements.

According to the Council of Parent Advocates and Attorneys (COPAA), while there are four states that allow students to maintain some rights under IDEA when they accept a voucher, the majority do not. Sometimes, parents are not even aware they are losing their rights.

From these examples, it is clear that a voucher strategy is not designed to help all students. Joseph Manko, a principal at Liberty Elementary in Baltimore, where more than 90 percent of students are eligible for free or reduced meals, describes this bluntly, “These private schools are 15,000 dollars a year... I think really the beneficiaries of a voucher program are going to be mostly affluent families. They’ll get a $2,000-$3,000 subsidy in the form of a voucher that will serve as a scholarship to go to a school that their child is already attending... Those aren’t my kids. And I think just based on the country that’s not a lot of people’s kids now. We have a lot of impoverished children. And those are the kids that need the most support, but those are not the kids that benefit from a program like this.”

1 comment:

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