CURMUDGUCATION: 5 Reasons I Oppose Vouchers

CURMUDGUCATIONThe slightly-cranky voice navigating the world of educational “reform” while trying to still pursue the mission of providing quality education.

5 Reasons I Oppose Vouchers

Honestly, I had thought that vouchers were pretty much dead and gone and living only in the hearts and minds of determined free market cult members. But since it looks like DeVouchers are on the fast track to Policytown, I want to just list, without a lot of fanfare or my usual gumflappery, the reasons I believe that vouchers are Really Bad Policy. So here’s a quick list of five reasons to oppose the policy.

1. Church and State

Turns out that in practice, vouchers have mostly been a subsidy for people who send their children to private religious school. I think separation of church and state is a hugely good idea, and I think it’s a good idea both for the state and for the church. Using public tax dollars to finance private religious schools violates that tremendously. That should bother those schools more than it bothers taxpayers, because in the long run it can’t lead anywhere except to government oversight of religious practices. I don’t want to pay tax dollars so some Religious Academy can teach the Bible as factual history and flat earth as science, and I also don’t want to see the Federal Bureau of Religious Education set up to decide which religious schools pass muster (including the faux religious schools set up by profiteering oportunists.

2. School for All

If your school wants my tax dollars to pay for student tuition, you had damn well better take every student who applies and fits. No turning away students just because you don’t want to be bothered with them or because they’re the wrong race or the wrong creed or not properly abled or they just might cost too much to educate. That is one mighty messed-up part of voucher programs– my tax dollars go to finance the same school that refused to admit my child.

3. Disenfranchised Taxpayers

A voucher system is taxation without representation. The idea is that the marketplace is supposed to sort these schools out or pressure them to do develop a good aquatics program or tiddly winks team. But that means only parents have a say. If you are an employer or a neighbor or a fellow voter and taxpayer or a citizen depending on educated professionals to take care of you later– well, you have no say in a voucher system. You still get to pay taxes, but you have no say.

4. Accountability

It’s not just the question of what is being taught in the schools. As a taxpayer, I’d like to know what my money is being spent on. So voucher schools had better be just as accountable as public schools. Public board meetings by known school directors. Transparent and fully open and available budgets and financial records.

5. Tell the Truth about Costs

It is amazing to me how rarely discussions and proposals about vouchers actually address the amount. Because that is everything. If the government announced that it was giving everybody automobile vouchers, folks would want to know whether the voucher was enough for a new Lexus or just a used Kia. It’s pointless to discuss vouchers without discussing the dollar amount. If the voucher is one third the cost of tuition at a participating private school, it’s pretty much useless as anything but a partial rebate to people who already send their students there. If it’s a full-on, cover-the-cost-of-any-good-private-school voucher, then taxpayers might want to know how that voucher is going to be paid for.

A real voucher system would be expensive. Right off the bat, the day vouchers go into effect, a whole bunch of money moves even though not a single student leaves the public school. Where did that money come from? Did the public school just lose it, even though their expenses didn’t change? Did the taxpayers just cough up a bunch of extra school tax money to pay for sending students to private school? Will the taxpayers pay more to fill the new gap in the public budget, or will they just be taxed for the vouchers directly? Were the vouchers underwritten by corporations who took a corresponding tax break, and now, because LexCorp directed a half million of its tax payment to voucher schools, taxpayers have to make up the difference in, say, road maintenance?

Vouchers, especially vouchers that are big enough to actually pay for some school, increase the total system cost for education. Where is that money coming from?

There’s more to all this argument, most especially dealing with all the issues involved in privatizing one of our most important public institutions (yeah– other than that, Mrs. Lincoln) but I promised myself I’d put up a short, clear listicle, so here it is. Vouchers are a huge mistake, even if they’re being pushed at the federal level. Push back.

Source: CURMUDGUCATION: 5 Reasons I Oppose Vouchers

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The DeVos Family now wants to remake part of a southeast Grand Rapids neighborhood

It seems clear from these minutes that AmplifyGR wants to move forward quickly and not have to be bothered by the tedious process of public and resident input, because there is an “urgency.”

All of these developments are taking place somewhat under the radar and should concern all of us who care about justice and equity. The group Grand Rapids Homes for All is hosting a meeting with AmplifyGR on Thursday, June 8, from 6 – 8pm at the Baxter Community Center. Come with questions, come with concerns and lets not allow the DeVos family to dictate the future of yet another part of the city of Grand Rapids. — read the full blog post — https://griid.org/2017/05/29/the-devos-family-now-wants-to-remake-part-of-a-southeast-grand-rapids-neighborhood/

Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

Over the past several years, we have seen the impact that developers and investors are having on the gentrification of neighborhoods throughout Grand Rapids.

The Wealthy Street corridor, Michigan Street, the Belknap neighborhood, Bridge Street and West Fulton are just a few examples of neighborhoods that have seen the cost of rent rise dramatically, houses being torn down, families being displaced and the new development projects primarily benefiting the business/professional class.

There are now plans under way in the Southtown area of Grand Rapids, specifically the area that is bordered by Hall St. to the North, Burton St. to the South, Division St. to the West and Fuller/Kalamazoo to the East. Some people also refer to this area as the Boston Square neighborhood and the Cottage Grove business district.

One of the entities that is pushing for the re-development of this area is the Rockford Construction Company. Last year it…

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Poet on “The Stories Data Never Tell”

Diane Ravitch's blog

Responding to a post of the same name by Larry Lee of Alabama, SomeDam Poet writes:

“The stories that data never tell”

The stories that data never tell

Are known to the teachers very well

The pride in art

The joy of song

A brand new start

In something long

The growth that’s gauged

By smiles and laughs

And not encaged

By tests and graphs

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Personalized Learning Pathways & the Gig Economy

Personalized Learning Pathways & the Gig Economy
by seattleducation2010
Individual learning pathways, 21st century skills, Embracing the whole child; These empowering phrases are being used to sell the public on a technology-centric, radical redesign of public education. Why? So our students will be able to keep pace in the highly competitive global economy. David Coleman, father of the common core standards, let slip a … Continue reading Personalized Learning Pathways & the Gig Economy

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Seattle Education

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Individual learning pathways,

21st century skills,

Embracing the whole child;

These empowering phrases are being used to sell the public on a technology-centric, radical redesign of public education. Why? So our students will be able to keep pace in the highly competitive global economy.

David Coleman, father of the common core standards, let slip a rare insight into the real role individual students are to play in the new personalized education landscape of college and career readiness. Coleman’s statement was in response to the common core writing standards’ emphasis of analysis over opinion writing.

“As you grow up in this world, you realize people really don’t give a s— about what you feel or what you think,” he said. “It is rare in a working environment that someone says, ‘Johnson, I need a market analysis by Friday, but before that I need a compelling account of your childhood.’”

Forgive me, but…

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Do all you possibly can

Do all you possibly can
by Wendy E. N. Thomas

It’s that time of year for kids and young adults to graduate. In our family we have at one end – a college graduation (and he goes right into the army from there) and at the other end, we also have one who will be entering her senior year in high school.

She’s not sure what she wants to study when she goes to college. She’s got a few options in mind but hasn’t come to a decision.

“What do you think, mom?” She asks.

Live to Write - Write to Live

It’s that time of year for kids and young adults to graduate. In our family we have at one end – a college graduation  (and he goes right into the army from there) and at the other end, we also have one who will be entering her senior year in high school.

She’s not sure what she wants to study when she goes to college. She’s got a few options in mind but hasn’t come to a decision.

“What do you think, mom?” She asks.

“Take a bunch of classes,” I tell her. “Find out what subjects really get you excited. That’s going to be a clear indication of what field you will be most happy working in – and then do all you possibly can to make it so that you work in that field. Don’t make the mistake I did. I took English and writing classes, but because…

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Celebrate Memorial Day With A Wilderness Walk.

mikethegunguy

Yesterday I celebrated Memorial Day by sitting in a five-hour traffic jam on I-93 between Manchester and Concord, NH.  I was coming back from a graduation at a high school in Wolfeboro, as far as I could tell everyone else was driving to Lake Winnipesauke to eat soft ice cream at a drive-in, take the kids to a water park, or maybe just enjoy being inside their car instead of sitting in their backyard.

wilderness              The more our society becomes urbanized and suburbanized, the more we all want to find a way to get back to the rustic delights of the out-of-doors and nature, even if we can only do it when everyone else is trying to do it too. But as I was sitting on the highway, I kept thinking of what Jane Goodall once said, “I don’t give two hoots about civilization. I want to wander in the…

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COINTELPRO — The History of US-Sponsored Terror & Repression of Leftists That Progressives Should Know »

It is a period of unrest for the United States. The republic has been infiltrated by Russian agents using false reports & propaganda to spread confusion in the population. Few can be trusted. The Senators & Representatives

Source: COINTELPRO — The History of US-Sponsored Terror & Repression of Leftists That Progressives Should Know »

CURMUDGUCATION: Politics vs. Ed Reform

CURMUDGUCATIONThe slightly-cranky voice navigating the world of educational “reform” while trying to still pursue the mission of providing quality education.

Politics vs. Ed Reform

Derrell Bradford is the head of NYCAN (and some other CANs too), one of the reformy arms of 50CAN, a reliably reformy group. He turns up in many of the usual reformy places, including Campbell Brown’s the74 site, where he recently wrapped up a three-part series about the state of the reform movement, adapted from his speech at the Yale School of Management’s Education Leadership Conference in April. It’s the third piece that I found most interesting; in it, he addresses the growing partisan problems that the reform movement has faced ever since Donald Trump became President.

I know what I think I see– reformsters who self-identified as Democrats faced a challenge in a President whose politics they opposed, but whose policies were pretty much in line with what they’ve been advocating all along. But I’m curious about how they see it, and Bradford has always been an articulate advocate for the reformy world.

Party allegiance is the new litmus test not just for political philosophy, but for personal belief and social inclusion. Answering the wrong way on the wrong question not just on reform — but on anything — carries the weight of possible ostracism from both the left and the right. 

Agreed. In fact, that fits the trend I’ve seen presented that we are entering an era of “tribal epistemology,” where the truth of any proposition or observation is not tested by any objective means, but by whether or not the proposition is supported by the tribal leaders. This has the effect of turning everything political– if Beloved Leader says the sky is green, to look up at the sky yourself becomes an act of political defiance. You must prove your allegiance to the tribe.

Bradford notes that the election was tough to navigate.

I ultimately supported Clinton despite my firm belief that she would appoint a secretary of education determined to make our lives harder, not easier. In the professional sense, I voted against my own interests because I thought it might be best for America.

Agreed. Pretty sure that’s a broadly held position in the education world.

He notes that These Times have led to many reformers heading further into their hard right or hard left positions, and this would be the place where I’d like to see further explanation because it remains hard for me to see the “left” wing of the reform movement as being all that leftist. But here he offers a pretty simple encapsulation of the political split of reformsterism:

We don’t have an education reform movement because liberal Democrats believe in civil rights. And we don’t have one because conservative Republicans believe in market solutions, low regulation, and freedom. We have one because they could believe in them both, at the same time, together, and at the same table. The golden age of “reform” that folks associate with President Barack Obama exists only because of a history of this sort of collaboration.

Out here in the cheap seats, I’m not sure that’s what I saw.

First of all, what’s up with putting “freedom” on the GOP list, as if Democrats aren’t interested in freedom?

Second, this model suggests that reformsters came together as equals in this coalition. I’m not sure this is true– the charter movement (which is about all that’s left when we talk about an “ed reform movement”) has been almost exclusive a business-driven movement. Corporate and privatization interests have used a variety of ideas as protective cover, including progressive ideas about equity and civil rights, but after years of this, I remain unconvinced that the major players have any real political bent at all. But we’re talking about the left because it’s impossible under the current administration to pretend that ed reform policies are about social justice or equity. And it is telling that when the language of equity and social justice is stripped from ed reform policy, hardly anything about the actual policy actually has to change.

In other words, charter and choice policy that doesn’t explicitly pursue equity and social justice looks almost exactly like charter and choice policy that claims to care about equity and social justice. Mostly you just have to change some language in the PR.

In fact, Bradford is very correct to put “low regulation” on the GOP list, because that is the one significant difference between reform policy that does or does not pursue equity. Regulation and accountability are a necessary element if you don’t want the reform landscape to be clogged with fraudsters and scam artists, not to mention operators who are racist and classist.

The golden age that Bradford speaks of could exist not because reform had protective cover on both flanks. Obama could not easily be accused of being anti-progressive, and yet his neoliberal leanings put him in perfect tune with the corporate privatization approach.

Bradford recaps some reform history to underscore that it has been built on bipartisan deals. True enough. Dems and GOP politicians have put party aside for something else. Bradford suggests that something else has been, and should be, For The Children. My cynical sided suggests that the something else has been For The Money, or For the Deep-Pocketed Private Interests Driving So Much of Ed Reform.

And Bradford offers an interesting example of working across lines of personal and political belief– Martin Luther King, Jr., and his willingness to work with all manner of people (including the hugely racist LBJ) to achieve goals of social justice.

“Keep your eye on the goal” seems like an excellent piece of advice (it’s actually one of my rules), but it highlights exactly the problem that Bradford is trying to address. Bradford suggests that the goal to keep eyes on is the needs of

 a boy on a corner in Bridgeport who just needs you to be on one side — and that side is his. He’s actually the last person who needs you to be a partisan — steeped in what you won’t do and closing off policy opportunities that make you uncomfortable because of your political beliefs — because in the end, it’s his life, not yours, that depends on it.

First, there are huge differences of opinion about how to serve that boy’s needs.

But more importantly, that boy’s future is not the goal that all reformers have their eyes on. For some, choice for its own sake is what matters, and if a choice system leaves that boy in a lousy school, well omelets and eggs. For some others, the goal has always been to open up that billion-dollar marketplace so that they can get in there and compete for those sweet, sweet dollars. And some reformsters are in no hurry to help that boy on the corner until he proves himself to be worth the trouble, because it’s possible he’s not a striver and out on the corner is where he deserves to be left.

On the most fundamental level, we have two philosophies of school operating– one that sees education as a means of raising up every single child, and one that sees schools as part of a way to sort the deserving form the undeserving. The sorters thought they had to at least pretend to get along with the uplift crowd to get what they wanted, but now they are ascendant, in power, and damned sure they’re not going to stop the bus to pick up some ragamuffin on the streetcorner who is just looking for a hand out paid for with some deserving wealthy person’s tax dollars.

In any coalition, as the endgame approaches, the different views of what that end should look like become more evident as coalition members pull apart for their special. It’s easy to carpool from Omaha to New York City for the first several hundred miles. But once you get to the city limits, if one car is headed for the Bronx and another is headed for Wall Street and another is headed for Long Island, your carpool is going to have problems.

The ed reform coalition was always going to fall apart. Well, unless you take a cynical view of the movement. Because maybe it was never a coalition at all, but a big solid core of pragmatic opportunistic corporate privatizers who surrounded themselves with just enough of people from different political viewpoints that they could protect that core. Maybe the “coalition” was just a thin candy shell, and now some parts of the shell are being sloughed off.

There is one other thing that always strikes me about these calls for cooperation within the ed reform community. I realize that Bradford’s original material was a speech for a particular audience, but if we are talking about social justice activists working with racists and Democrats working with Republicans, couldn’t we also talk about folks who want to remake the education system working with, talking to, even listening to the people who work in that system. Everyone should think about working side by side with everyone else– except teachers. And I don’t mean some carefully handpicked we-know-they-mostly-agree-with-us teachers. Bradford says that real progress is uncomfortable, and yet reformsters largely remain unwilling to suffer the discomfort of listening to actual working teachers who might disagree with them.

Posted by Peter Greene at Sunday, May 28, 2017

Source: CURMUDGUCATION: Politics vs. Ed Reform

The funding scheme of ArtPrize

“In addition to the large sums of money that the Dick & Betsy DeVos Foundation provides, several other family foundations make sizable donations to ArtPrize, along with dozens of other sponsors.

Then there is the fact that each individual artist must pay $50 to register the art they have created for ArtPrize. In 2015, there were 1,742 artists who entered ArtPrize, which at $50 a pop comes to $87,100.

To top it off, while a few artists win cash prizes, all of them give their labor for free. Imagine having several thousand artists create all kinds of art pieces, in various mediums, and not get compensated one penny.

It seems that the DeVos family has figured out another way to redirect public funds to cover some of the cost of ArtPrize, use non-taxed foundation money to underwrite the event, have sponsors pony up thousands more and get 2,000 artists to give free labor and pay money to enter this damn contest. Isn’t capitalism wonderful”
Read Jeff Smith’s full blog post here – https://griid.org/2017/05/28/the-funding-scheme-of-artprize/#like-25690

Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

Yesterday, MLive reported that the City of Grand Rapids has a new event policy, which changes the payment structure for events held in Grand Rapids. 

The MLive article states:

The change will impact ArtPrize the most, which will now be paying at least $9,000 in new fees to the city this year, said Tom Almonte, managing director of public services.

The change was a part of a large new fee structure the commission passed in order to make it easier for smaller community events to afford permit applications. However, the change doesn’t fully account for the lowered cost as $75,000 from the city’s general fund will be used to cover the difference.

The MLive article frames the issue as if entities like ArtPrize are being penalized for having an event with large crowds, when the reality is just the opposite. Like most coverage of ArtPrize, there is no critical inquiry…

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Add another to the list of former Trump campaign staffers lobbying for foreign clients

Former Trump campaign officials haven’t exactly been bashful about cashing in on their ties to the president in the lobbying sphere.

Former Trump campaign officials haven’t exactly been bashful about cashing in on their ties to the president in the lobbying sphere. Take Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s former campaign manager. Shortly after the election, he cofounded a lobbying and consulting firm, Avenue Strategies, boasting to domestic and foreign clients of his administration ties.

Now another name on the Trump campaign’s payroll, Healy Baumgardner-Nardone, will be representing a foreign client, the government of Malaysia.

 … read more

by Ashley Balcerzak

Source: Add another to the list of former Trump campaign staffers lobbying for foreign clients