Republican attack on public schools

GOP education plan: Unfunded mandates and temporary fixes

You can have tax cuts for the wealthy or proper school funding, but not both:

In passing the bill, Senate leaders have publicly promised to provide additional funds for enhancement teachers beginning the 2018-19 school year. Despite the pledge, the Senate worryingly voted down an effort by Sen. Jay Chaudhuri to include that funding pledge in the bill’s language. As a result, North Carolina’s class-size controversy remains unsettled.

Absent from the class-size debate has been an estimate of exactly how much additional funding will be required to meet 2018-19 class-size requirements while preserving enhancement classes for students in grades K-3. To fully-fund class-size requirements and enhancement teachers, the General Assembly will need to increase classroom teacher funding by approximately $293 million in FY 18-19.

Just a comment about messaging and word choice: I like the term "Enhancement" when classifying teachers and their subjects, much more than what I've been hearing a lot over the last few weeks, "Specials." I realize the latter is educator jargon and is not meant to be derogatory or demeaning, actually the opposite. But words don't automatically become what you want them to just because you chose them, they have their own baggage, their own connotations, and your meaning can be misinterpreted and your words used against you very easily. Special can mean enhanced, but it can also mean in addition to, on top of, on occasion, temporary, and other meanings that make it easier for someone to say, "That would be nice, but we can't afford it." I would argue these subjects are just as "Core" as the core classes, but if you're going to delineate between the two, choose the terminology wisely.

NC's "silver spoon" charter school proposal

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Because corporate scions deserve preferential treatment:

A nonpartisan, national organization setting benchmarks for charter policy is expressing concerns with a pair of GOP-backed charter reform proposals advancing in the N.C. General Assembly, at least one of which the organization describes as the first of its kind in the nation.

The former allows for up to 30 percent growth in charters not identified as low-performing with no additional state review of finances or operations; the latter clears publicly-funded charters to set aside half of their enrollment for the children of private “charter partners,” defined as corporations donating land, infrastructure, renovations or technology to the schools.

Bolding mine, because what the hell. Even ritzy private schools at least try to maintain an air of objectivity when it comes to accepting children of wealthy patrons, even if it is a wink wink, nudge nudge admissions ritual. This is pretty much a "buy your child a seat," straight-up business proposal. A seat that is paid for by the taxpayers, no less. And NC is breaking new ground with this country club "members only" BS:

NC Senate bill would shift more funding to charter schools

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The school privatization train picks up speed:

The battle in question concerns how local funding is shared between traditional public schools and charter schools. SB 658 would require traditional school districts to send more of their local funds to charter schools.

This bill is misguided because charter schools already receive more local funding than traditional public schools, and the gap is growing. A NC Justice Center report published in September showed that, controlling for student residence, the local spending in charter schools in fiscal year 14-15 exceeded the local per pupil spending in traditional schools by $142 per student. That gap has increased in fiscal year 15-16, with charter schools now exceeding local spending of traditional schools by $212 per student. SB 658 would only exacerbate these funding discrepancies.

We're heading into a public school crisis with the unfunded mandate on class sizes, which has already cost educators several dozen jobs. Instead of fixing that problem (which they created), they're trying to take away even more money from traditional public schools. The word "irresponsible" falls way too short in describing their actions, but they just keep chugging along.

Vinroot uses faulty data when promoting diversity of charter schools

Masking the reality of state-sponsored segregation:

“I am very much concerned,” says state Rep. Rosa Gill, a Wake County Democrat and former high school math teacher who sits on the N.C. House of Representatives’ education committee. “I think when our legislators have false information, we come up with legislation that is not in the best interest of kids.”

To make his points, Vinroot relies on free or reduced lunch data in charters. By most estimations, that’s not a fair assessment, experts say, pointing out less than a third of the state’s charters participate in that program.

But I'm sure the public school haters in the General Assembly will eat it up with gusto.

Betsy DeVos and the dumbing-down of US education policy

Striving for mediocrity:

Questioned minutes later, DeVos confesses she may have “confused” the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), leading Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan to worry aloud that the presumed chief of the United States’ massive public education structure is “unfamiliar” with one of its most basic protections.

It’s scenes like these that seem to be most vexing to public education advocates like June Atkinson, North Carolina’s former superintendent of public instruction, as DeVos’ confirmation looms. Atkinson was recently ousted from her longtime post by a Republican challenger who, much like DeVos, comes to the top position with relatively little experience in public school policymaking. “It was painful to watch,” says Atkinson of this month’s DeVos hearings.

That's an understatement. After such a poor (and often confusing) performance, it's hard to imagine any Senator actually voting for her. But she'll probably make it, and she will probably end up in court before 2018 arrives, because she is clearly not qualified for the position:

And a child will lead them

Mark Johnson has his first day at school board:

He had successes and failures, he said, but the story that sticks with him is one about a 16-year-old student he taught in his second year. By that time, Johnson had his class management skills down, he explained, so the students would file into the classroom quietly, collect their assignments and books, and start reading.

One particular student — the aforementioned 16-year-old — was more fond of skipping class and cutting up. But one day, when the student walked in and saw all the other kids behaving properly, he asked Johnson for his textbook and assignment. Johnson said he was thrilled. It was a dream moment for a teacher — getting through to a hard-to-reach student. But Johnson’s enthusiasm was smashed moments later when the student called him over after starting the assignment. “I still remember to this day,” Johnson said. “He told me, ‘Mr Johnson, I can’t read the words in this book.’”

I've mentioned this before, but I'm going to do it again: The part of this story that should stand out to everybody reading it, is the fact these kids only had access to their textbook for the 55 minutes they were in class. They should have it with them in study hall, when they go home in the afternoon, right before they go to bed, when they get up in the morning, while they're riding the bus (or car) to school, etc. But when your budget is so tight you've got five or six classes of children sharing the same books, you've got to "ration" their usage. Like a fricking basketball during P.E. That should have been the moral to Mark Johnson's story every time he told it, but it sounds like it didn't even register on him.

Blatant hypocrisy emerges in charter school scandal

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Oversight? We don't need no stinking oversight:

But when it comes to the Republicans’ pet education issues – increasing the number of charter schools and expanding the use of vouchers for private schools – the accountability demands ease. The lack of oversight has now shown up in a Durham charter K-12 school that awarded 53 diplomas in the last two years to students who lacked the credits necessary to graduate. That’s nearly a third of the school’s graduates since 2014 and the problem could go back further.

I find it extremely hard to believe administrators at this school couldn't keep up with a simple credit count. It's not quantum mechanics, for God's sake. Which means, there was an intentional effort to graduate unqualified students, and an apparently widespread problem in even providing enough classroom instruction to meet the criteria. What other shortcuts did they take? We likely won't find out, because Republicans seem intent on ignoring the problem:

More school privatization on the menu with Mark Johnson

I'm already missing June Atkinson:

Johnson, an attorney who taught public school with the Teach for America program before entering law school, deserves credit for running an energetic campaign, and he made his fast-paced pitch to voters in every corner of the state. One priority: reducing testing, which Johnson believes is taking too much energy from teachers. Another: more help for local districts from DPI. And another: support for charter school expansion and a voucher program wherein public money goes to parents (for now, only to lower-income parents) who want to send their children to private school.

Standard, boiler-plate Conservative stuff. Testing has gotten out of control, but the charter/voucher mantra is getting tiresome. A lot more failures than successes, and the tenacity in which these people pursue such a dubious program screams a hidden agenda. Whether that is greed for profit or the desire to undermine government-controlled education, it really doesn't matter. Education results are a secondary consideration, which means these programs will continue to fail, pissing away public monies in the process.

School privatization "boosts" real estate market

May not be good for (all) the kids, but home values apparently soar:

Once we realize that assigning children to schools results in concentrating poverty, we can begin to imagine the social benefits of systems that avoid assignments.

Research recently published in the Journal of Housing Research shows homes are worth more in the places that use this scholarship system instead of the more rigid assignment system. Homes are worth significantly more in tuitioning districts than in districts with weak assigned schools. The more school options that were available, the larger the price premium. Studies on similar systems in Paris, France, and San Antonio, Texas, find similar results.

I have developed a (maybe bad) habit of scrolling to the bottom of an Op-Ed to get an idea of who a writer is, and where that writer is coming from, before I digest the information being put forward. Usually it's pretty straightforward, but sometimes there's a weird confluence. In this case, it's an associate professor of finance and real estate talking about education. Like I said, weird. But this guy's approach to the subject is even weirder, talking about areas that don't even resemble North Carolina's school districts:

Dan Forest wields unprecedented influence over new ASDs

Expanding his twisted little empire:

A selection advisory committee appointed by Lt. Gov. Dan Forest has been interviewing candidates and is expected to make a recommendation to the State Board of Education by next week. The state board will have the final say in who is hired.

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