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1 majii  Wed, Jul 10, 2013 5:21:58pm

If a private school accepts public money in the form of a voucher it should be obligated to supply all of the services a student needs. Teachers in public schools don’t have the option of rejecting any student with special needs because of federal laws, and teachers have to craft specific lessons to meet the student’s need(s.) In their rush to funnel public education funds to private schools, RW lawmakers never consider holding the private schools accountable for anything, not even for the academic achievement of the students. When Jindal and RW lawmakers in Louisiana created a voucher school law, they did not include a means of funding the program. A few months ago, a LA court decreed that Jindal and the RW legislators could not use funds intended for public education to fund these schools. An unexpected consequence of the LA voucher school law happened when RW members of the state legislature found out that other religious groups besides Christians could apply for and receive funding. A female member of the legislature said she would not have voted for the bill if she had known this, so yep, the funds are meant to be used to only educate some students, not all of them the way public schools have to do. The LA law contains nothing holding these private schools accountable for anything, not even the students’ academic achievement. Public school teachers are held accountable for academic achievement, student attendance issues, contacting parents, completing tons of paperwork, duty before, during, and after school, etc. They are constantly being threatened with losing their jobs if their students’ academic achievement doesn’t improve. I returned to visit the high school from which I retired and teacher morale was lower than I’d ever seen it in the 31 years I worked there. Many of the teachers were thinking about leaving the field of education and looking for jobs in other fields, and I don’t blame them.

2 XtremeDave  Wed, Jul 10, 2013 7:29:51pm

Stories like this are a reminder why we have the public sector. If the private sector could accomplish the goal of affordable, universal education, then we wouldn’t need to have a public education system. But just like with healthcare, the private education sector wants to cherry pick its customers to maximize profit, while leaving the government to deal with the market’s “undesirables” (e.g. kids with behavior issues, pre-existing conditions). Or worse, allow basic education to be optional (because the Koch’s are going to be hiring lots of $1 an hour labor, who needs to graduate high school).

Public education isn’t perfect, but in my opinion the education privatization movement is mostly a scam designed to funnel public funds to both religious institutions and GOP-supporting executives/shareholders (hurting Democratic-supporting public teachers unions is icing on the cake). Whatever good reforms have come from charter schools are overshadowed by the truth that higher school performance is automatically going to happen when schools are allowed to receive public funding but deny access to certain members of the public.

3 Romantic Heretic  Thu, Jul 11, 2013 4:14:31am

Why are you against freedom?

4 wheat-dogghazi  Thu, Jul 11, 2013 7:42:54am

[OK, my third attempt to make this comment. Don’t know what’s going on here.]

Charter schools as a whole have as good a track record as the public schools. Some are very good, some are very bad, and most are okay. The big difference is that charters are beholden only to their (private) boards of directors and their “customers.” Private and parochial schools have always had the right to turn away, or expel, students they feel are unsuitable. Vouchers and charter schools just expand that ability, leaving the public schools with a larger proportion of quote unsuitable unquote students to deal with. In contrast to charters, public schools by law have to educate every student who crosses their thresholds, and rightfully so.

A democracy requires a well informed, well educated public. Education is a public responsibility, a duty which our politicians are, willfully or uniwttingly, shirking. Behind all this politicking about “the education marketplace” and “making the schools accountable” is an effort to balkanize the already barely cohesive American education system, to make it nearly impossible to have a well informed, well educated public.

This trend will have serious repercussions in the next few decades, mark my words.

5 John Vreeland  Thu, Jul 11, 2013 8:33:32am

In DC charter schools are beholden to a very powerful charter board. When I taught there (at Caesar Chavez on Capitol Hill) we had far more children with disabilities than the public schools took in. In some classes learning-disabled students approached 1/3 of the seats.

The reason for this surprised me, at first. Parents were sending their disabled children to charter schools because they felt it was safer.

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