Monday, July 31, 2017

Education News Roundup

From the ever-amusing Washington Policy Center: Vouchers are Pell Grants for students under 18. 
Vouchers are no different than Pell Grants or GI benefits, except the money goes to the families of students younger than age 18. 
Except they are. Pell Grants were created to help needy students and that's not really the goal of the voucher program.  The Pell grant website does have a couple of great studies on why low-income students drop out before finishing their higher ed and what makes a difference.

The GI bill was not solely about education so that's one big difference from a K-12 school voucher program.   This is interesting (from Wickipedia):
President Barack Obama also signed Executive Order 13607 which was to ensure that predatory colleges did not aggressively recruit vulnerable military service members, veterans, and their families.
And that's exactly what will happen with vouchers - predatory schools will go after vulnerable families.  

Scanning the WPD, I see they think people are being hard on DeVos because she's a woman and that Arne Duncan got it easy.  Someone at WPD is not paying attention.  None of the criticism of DeVos is about being a woman in a high place; it's about a wealthy person buying herself into a high position for which she is not qualified.

Speaking of vouchers, a compelling conversation at NPR, Lessons On Race And Vouchers From Milwaukee.
The oldest school voucher program was created in Milwaukee in 1990 with a singular focus on African-American students living in poverty. This school year, the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program issued nearly 28,000 vouchers for low-income kids to attend dozens of private and religious schools at public expense. 

Over the years, though, most voucher recipients have performed no better academically than their public school peers. In some cases they've done worse.
Want to learn more about the public education system that DeVos champions? Meet Florida.

From the Washington PostFlorida’s education system — the one Betsy DeVos cites as a model — is in chaos

Traditional public school districts are trying to absorb the loss of millions of dollars for the new school year that starts within weeks. That money, which comes from local property taxes, is used for capital funding but now must be shared with charter schools as a result of a widely criticized $419 million K-12 public education bill crafted by Republican legislative leaders in secret and recently signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott — at a Catholic school.

You don’t hear DeVos talking about the fact that Florida has for years had one of the highest annual charter closure rates in the country, schools that were closed after financial and other scandal.  From the Washington Post:
Florida, as first reported by Education Week, no longer wants to judge schools on whether they are closing achievement gaps between different groups of students, or on how well English language learners do on English proficiency tests.

Gov. Scott also recently signed a new law that has alarmed people who care about science education. Known as H.B. 989 and targeted at the teaching of climate change and evolution, it empowers those who want to object to the use of specific instructional materials in public schools. Now, any resident can file a complaint about instructional material; it used to be limited to parents with a child in the schools.

The state requires students to sign pledges that they won’t talk to anyone — not their parents, friends, or anyone — about standardized tests they have to take in the Florida assessment system.  

The Florida Supreme Court refused to hear a challenge from parents to the state’s law requiring that third graders pass a test or be forced to repeat the grade.

A great op-ed from the New York Times today:  What the ‘Government Schools’ Critics Really Mean (bold mine)
When President Trump recently proposed his budget for “school choice,” which would cut more than $9 billion in overall education spending but put more resources into charter schools and voucher programs, he promised to take a sledgehammer to what he has called “failing government schools.” That is harsh language for the places most of us call public schools, and where nearly 90 percent of American children get their education. But in certain conservative circles, the phrase “government schools” has become as ubiquitous as it is contemptuous.
But the attacks on “government schools” have a much older, darker heritage. They have their roots in American slavery, Jim Crow-era segregation, anti-Catholic sentiment and a particular form of Christian fundamentalism — and those roots are still visible today.
We owe the new currency of the phrase to the likes of Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council — also bankrolled in its early years by the DeVos family — who, in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling allowing same-sex marriage, accused “government schools” of indoctrinating students “in immoral sexuality.” Or the president of the group Liberty Counsel, Anita Staver, who couldn’t even bring herself to call them “schools,” preferring instead to bemoan “government indoctrination camps” that “threaten our nation’s very survival.”
And from the front lines of that war on schools, a first-person account,  I Was Trained for the Culture Wars in Home School, Awaiting Someone Like Mike Pence as a Messiah.
I grew up in the far-right evangelical conservative (Christofascist) movement; specifically, I was homeschooled and my parents were part of a subculture called Quiverfull, whose aim is to outbreed everyone for Jesus. I spent my teen years being a political activist. I was taught by every pastor I encountered that it was our job as Christians to outbreed the secularists (anyone not a far-right evangelical Protestant) and take over the government through sheer numbers. I was part of TeenPact, Generation Joshua and my local Teenage Republicans (TARS). 
How do you do that?
  •  Well, you overturn Roe v. Wade, Griswold v. Connecticut, Brown v. Board of Education and Bob Jones v. The United States.  
  • As retribution, you amend the Constitution to discriminate against queers, trans people, women and people of color.
  • Then, you make laws legislating morality. 
Generation Joshua started in 2003, primarily catering to children homeschooled by extremely religious rightwing adults. Its purpose was to train us to fight in what the Christofascists have been calling the “Culture Wars.” It’s a loose and ambiguous term that basically means anything or anyone that doesn’t align with this very specific view of Christianity must not be allowed to continue.
From the ACLU, a white paper, Bullies in Blue.  (I do want to note that I don't like the title as it implies all police officers are bullies, whether they are school-based or not.  The real issue is the lack of training needed to handle kids and cultural competency issues.)
The ACLU’s newly released white paper, “Bullies in Blue: Origins and Consequences of School Policing,” examines the origins of school policing, which has been driven by the same punitive criminal justice policies and assumptions that drove the overcriminalization of Black and Latino communities and spawned an era of mass incarceration. Tracing school policing back to civil rights struggles to end Jim Crow segregation, the report challenges assumptions that the function of police in schools is to protect children.
Advocates for school policing, such as the National Association of School Resource Officers, describe the role of school police as that of disciplinarian, mentor, and teacher. “Bullies in Blue” argues that those roles should not be the role of police officers who have neither the training nor direct mandate to act as mental health specialists or trauma counselors. Trained professionals and educators whose responsibility is foremost to the students and the school should fill these roles.  

“The often toxic relationship between law enforcement and communities of color frequently begins in the schools,” said Dennis Parker, director of the ACLU’s Racial Justice Program. “The atmosphere of fear and mistrust experienced by many people of color on the streets as a result of abusive and unwarranted stops and arrests has even greater consequences when it occurs in schools, which are supposed to be safe spaces conducive to learning, not places to prepare young people for a place in the criminal justice system and correctional institutions.” 

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Washington Ideology Center would be a much better name for them.

CT

Good News? said...

Katherine Stewart authored the New York times piece. She also authored The Good News Club:
The Christian Right’s Stealth Assault on America’s Children. The story began in a Seattle Public School.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Thank you, Good News; I should have included that info.

Anonymous said...

"The state requires students to sign pledges that they won’t talk to anyone — not their parents, friends, or anyone — about standardized tests they have to take in the Florida assessment system."

Since students, except a few of the oldest high-schoolers, are minors, are these pledges actually binding?

SK