This post is a comprehensive review of the education priorities of the Walton Family Foundation.
The Walton family has made many billions of dollars from the Walmart stores.
Walmart comes into a region and undersells every local retail store. In time, the mom-and-pop stores-beloved community institutions handed down in some cases from generation to generation- close their doors, and mom and pop become low-wage greeters at Walmart. The giant Walmart causes an implosion of Main Streets across the region where they are located, as working people shop for bargains and bypass their own community.
If the Walmart head office decides that the store is not making a big enough profit, the Walmart closes and goes elsewhere. It leaves behind dead small towns, towns without a local economy, because the local economy was sucked dry by the big Walmart. Whether the Walmart stays or goes, Main Street dies.
In education, the Walmart agenda is not dissimilar. The foundation supports charters and vouchers, though it prefers vouchers. It seeks to create schools that are non-union and that are able to skim off students from the local public schools. In time, the local public schools will die, just as the Main Street stores died.
They give generously to create an education marketplace of choices; the one “choice” they do not favor is the neighborhood public school. They underwrite major education media to be sure that their agenda gets favorable attention. They fund compatible researchers. They are strategic in their funding.
The Waltons and the Walton Family Foundation have gargantuan financial resources and can exert undue influence on politicians and public policy issues of their choosing. No matter where people come down on the issues of education reform or school choice, we can all agree it is unfair that the Walton family gets to dictate the future of public education because of the amount of money at its disposal, and to do so in a way that is unaccountable to the public.
In their marketplace of choices, the voucher schools and charters compete to get the “best” students.
The public schools take those rejected, excluded, or dumped by the charter and vouchers schools.
The end result: a dual system of schools, all publicly funded. One for the haves, another for the have-nots.
Even though the public disapproves of vouchers by 70 percent, special interests in the GOP keep trying to scuttle public school funding with them.
This week, the 45th annual PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools was released. Although it hit on several hot education topics, such as the Common Core State Standards and Teacher Evaluation, one of the poll’s most notable results was the public’s growing disapproval of private school vouchers.
The PDK/Gallup Poll wording also doesn’t even mention the clear problems surrounding private school vouchers: taxpayer unaccountability, a lack of civil rights protections, and public funding of religious schools.The survey reported the highest level of opposition to private school vouchers in its history: 70 percent of the public opposes private school vouchers. This is even higher than the opposition marked in 2012 (55 percent) and 2011 (65 percent).
Not only is this the highest opposition yet, but it comes at a time when private school vouchers are widely being pushed on the state and federal level. The National Coalition for Public Education (NCPE), of which AU is a co-chair, issued a press release saying the poll confirms that “the American people want a well-funded public school system that benefits all, not a patchwork of unaccountable private schools that cater to a few.”
The Friedman Foundation for Education Choice, a proponent of vouchers, was quick to call the PDK/Gallup Poll an outlier, saying the wording of the private school voucher question caused the public to lean towards opposition. But, the poll question was neutral, asking, “Do you favor or oppose allowing students and parents to choose a private school to attend at public expense?” Furthermore, the PDK/Gallup wording has remained identical for the past three years, so the trend data is accurate and not due to differences in wording.
The PDK/Gallup Poll wording also doesn’t even mention the clear problems surrounding private school vouchers: taxpayer unaccountability, a lack of civil rights protections, and public funding of religious schools.
After quite a bit of bad news on school vouchers on the state level of late, we can finally report a positive development thanks to a U.S. Senate Committee: A federal voucher ploy has been defeated!
Yesterday, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee was considering amendments to S. 1094, the “Strengthening America’s Schools Act,” which would reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).
Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C) introduced an amendment that would have allowed states to turn their Title I funds into giant voucher programs. It would have permitted any child whose income threshold qualifies his or her public school to receive Title I funds to take the allotment and use it toward tuition at religious and other private schools.
In 2009-2010, 56,000 public schools received Title I funds on behalf of 21 million children, according to the U.S. Department of Education. It is not known exactly how much taxpayer money the Paul/Scott amendment would have cost, but the entire program received over $14 billion in fiscal 2012, according to the Washington, D.C.-based New America Foundation.
Passage of this amendment, which was backed by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the ranking HELP Committee Republican, could have dealt a serious blow to public education given the amount of money and students involved.
Billions of public dollars could have been diverted to religious schools that are allowed to indoctrinate and discriminate, all while being free of the standards to which public schools are accountable.
Fortunately HELP Committee Chair Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) saw through the voucher scheme, as did all the other Democrats on the committee. Two Republicans, Sens. Mark Kirk (Ill.) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), also voted against the ploy, which failed 8-14.
Unfortunately this is probably not the end for federal voucher proposals, given that Alexander told The New York Times last week that he and Paul would introduce a similar amendment to the one that failed once S. 1094 comes up for a Senate floor vote.
American Federation for Children deceived public about how much they were spending to sway elections.
Dark money nonprofits spent hundreds of millions in the 2012 elections, but reported only a fraction of that thanks to an “issue advocacy” loophole that requires only limited disclosure for ads that don’t explicitly urge viewers to vote for or against a candidate. Federal and state elections officials have rarely probed whether a group’s so-called “issue ads” are really intended to influence elections — but in Wisconsin, a politically-active nonprofit exposed its issue ad charade on its own.
The American Federation for Children, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization that supports school privatization through “vouchers” and other programs, told Wisconsin’s elections board it spent only $345,000 on state legislative races in 2012. Like many nonprofit groups active in the 2012 elections, the actual total spent around the elections was much higher, but it was never disclosed publicly because AFC claimed the spending was about “issues” rather than supporting or opposing a particular candidate.
In a document titled “2012 Election Impact Report” obtained by Dan Bice of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, AFC boasted that it spent $2.4 million in Wisconsin helping elect nine pro-privatization legislators to office. The disparity between what was reported and actually spent is likely attributable to the “issue advocacy” loophole. And most importantly, voters never knew who actually provided the funding for the ads.
This sound familiar to me because I did a study on how the evangelical right wing in America was saying things like rock music was satanic and that the peace symbol was really a witchcraft symbol with the upside down cross having its arms broken (this is a fact - I have books from the 70s from such evangelicals claiming this is the case) In reality the peace symbol is a combination of the semaphore signals for the letters “N” and “D,” standing for “nuclear disarmament”.
There was of course also from these evangelicals fears of black culture mixing up the whites so a lot of the “satanic” rock influence was linked to “African ritual” music. The famous story is that there was a white missionary family in Africa and the missionary’s kid started to play a rock song and the black natives who had become Christians came into the house and told the ignorant missionary that this music was like the music they used when they practiced their African paganism.
These stories I am sure still continue on the evangelical right but I am sure not as much as they used to with probably their last big push being during the late 80s and early 90s “Satanic Panic” and then after that I did not find much on this theory being pushed by prominent evangelicals.
These stories were before my time but are there any Lizards on here from these eras that recall evangelicals making such claims?
School textbook: Hippies were rude, didn’t bathe, worshipped Satan
A textbook used in one of Louisiana’s voucher schools has a lot to say about the 1960s counterculture
BY KATIE MCDONOUGH
PS: There was also a right wing claim not linked to religion that the hippie and peace movement was somehow a KGB anti-west operation. After the fall of the USSR there was no evidence the USSR ever was involved in peace groups and in fact they were scared of them coming over and influencing their youths (Thus the Beatles were considered subversive music).
Several church-state separation issues are coming up in the states. Here are a few highlighted bills that AU is working on:
Oklahoma On Tuesday the Oklahoma legislature held a hearing on HB 1918, a bill that provides a way for employers to side-step the federal mandate that the health insurance they provide to their employees cover contraceptives. This underhanded bill proposes state tax deductions for employers that receive federal tax penalties for refusing to provide birth control for employees. It passed the Appropriations and Budget Committee, and we’ll be watching it as it progresses.
Oklahoma: The House Judiciary Committee passed anti-Sharia bill, HB 1060, last Wednesday. The bill claims to prohibit the application of foreign law in Oklahoma, but Oklahoma Courts can already refuse to apply foreign law if it conflicts with U.S. and Oklahoma law. Instead, this bill targets the Muslim community, perpetuating the false claim that Sharia Law is being implemented in the United States. This bill only perpetuates anti-Muslim sentiment and should not pass.
Vouchers and Tuition Tax Credits
Vouchers and tuition tax credits - backdoor vouchers - funnel taxpayer money away from public schools and fund primarily religious schools, violating our country’s commitment to the separation of church and state. Vouchers do not work: multiple studies of the District of Columbia, Milwaukee, and Cleveland school voucher programs, students offered vouchers do not perform better in reading and math than students in public schools. Not only have these voucher programs been proven to be ineffective, they also often lack accountability and civil rights protections. Nonetheless, we are seeing several attempts to implement vouchers in the states.
Alaska: The Alaska House Education Committee held a hearing on Friday on HJR 1, which would repeal provisions of the Alaska Constitution that prohibit the state from spending taxpayer money for religious school tuition. AU submitted testimony opposing the resolution.
Nebraska: Richard Spellman, Omaha Chapter President, submitted testimony on behalf of AU opposing LB 14, a tuition tax credit bill.
New Jersey: Governor Christie made his Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Address on Tuesday, revealing a plan to put $2 million towards a pilot voucher program for children to attend private and religious schools. If you live in New Jersey, tell your legislators to oppose vouchers!
Tennessee: Last week The Tennessee Senate Education Committee placed SB 196, a voucher bill, on its agenda. AU submitted testimony opposing the bill. Only one witness was heard at the hearing, however, and the bill will be heard again in committee this Wednesday. The House Education Committee will hold a hearing on the House version of the bill tomorrow.
I am posting this to ad to the conversation started by this article:
Creationism Spreading in Schools, Thanks to Vouchers
Religious anti-education getting more public funding
To me this is more evidence that the right wing/GOP/Republicans are stuck in the 1970s fighting the same old issues you saw on “Archie Bunker” be it women’s issues, gays or race. It is as if the GOP has been trying all they can to reverse those issues they lost out on in the Nixon era.
The reason I wanted to post this article is that a right winger on here mentioned “bussing” in the above thread. Bussing…as if that is still a hot button issue and this is 1974 again. But it shows they never got over this program and that resentment against it (and other culture war losses) has simmered on into the 21st century.
Racism lies at heart of school vouchers
School vouchers may be the most disingenuous and hypocritical program produced by America’s right-wing ideologues since their attempts to portray Martin Luther King, Jr., as an opponent of affirmative action (Read King’s discussion of compensatory treatment in ‘Why We Can’t Wait’ in 1964 for his defense of what wasn’t yet being called affirmative action). Vouchers for private schools divert funds from public education, subsidize unaccountable private — and often religious — schools and uphold racial segregation.
In another conservative experiment with tax dollars there are vouchers going to some highly questionable religious schools, and a lot of Catholic Schools. 8 years later it’s time for the Feds to stop bailing out religious schools and instead invest more in public schools.
When Congress created the nation’s only federally funded school voucher program, advocates said the plan would improve the education of some of the poorest urban youths.
Eight years later, it seems clear that things haven’t gone as planned.
A lengthy investigation of the Washington, D.C., voucher program by The Washington Post showed that many parents use the voucher money to send their children to schools that are unaccredited and unaccountable.
In addition, the program has become a type of bailout for Catholic schools. More than half of 1,584 students who receive vouchers use them to attend Catholic institutions.
Some of the schools examined, which include a K-12 school operating out of a storefront, a Nation of Islam school based in a converted house, and a school built on the teachings of an obscure Bulgarian psychotherapist, could not survive without federal funds, The Post said. In some cases, more than 90 percent of a school’s students pay with federal vouchers.
Congress allocated $20 million for the D.C. voucher program for this year, The Post reported, and since 2004 the federal government has set aside $133 million for the program. Students who meet the household income requirements can receive about $8,000 per year for elementary school and around $12,000 per year for high school.
And yet, the schools are not accountable to the taxpayers who are forced to fund them. No government official has say over the curriculum, academic quality or management of the schools.
In fact, the only requirements for D.C. schools that accept voucher students are that the institutions must have a certificate of occupancy and employ teachers who are college graduates. One requirement that is glaringly absent from that list is accreditation. D.C. private schools aren’t required to be accredited in order to enroll voucher students, and The Post found that at least eight of the 52 schools that accept vouchers lack accreditation.
If you retire in 2022 or after, Ryan and Romney want to hand you a voucher instead of Medicare coverage. Studies show most seniors then paying 1,000—6,000 more every year of their retirement after that.
What would U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget mean for Michigan families? Using nonpartisan data, the bottom line is stark. If the Ryan budget passes, a tiny proportion of Michiganders would benefit, but millions would lose.
The biggest winners in Michigan would be households making more than $1 million a year. An analysis by the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center finds millionaires would pay an average of $265,000 less in taxes.
To make room for new tax cuts for the very rich, the Ryan budget eliminates middle-class tax breaks and cuts social programs. With the tax cut the plan gives to a single Michigan millionaire, communities could pay the salaries of five firefighters earning the state’s median household income of $48,000 a year.
Michigan senior citizens would pay more for less security. Medicare guarantees health care for about 1.5 million Michigan senior citizens. But the Ryan budget would end Medicare as we know it.
The plan would require Michigan seniors retiring 10 years from now to use a voucher to help pay for private insurance or accept less Medicare aid. The value of the vouchers would decline over time, falling behind rising health insurance prices. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that senior citizens, or their families, would have to find an additional $6,000 each year to buy the same coverage seniors have now.
Mother Jones goes through the text books so you don’t have to:
Thanks to a new law privatizing public education in Louisiana, Bible-based curriculum can now indoctrinate young, pliant minds with the good news of the Lord—all on the state taxpayers’ dime.
Under Gov. Bobby Jindal’s voucher program, considered the most sweeping in the country, Louisiana is poised to spend tens of millions of dollars to help poor and middle-class students from the state’s notoriously terrible public schools receive a private education. While the governor’s plan sounds great in the glittery parlance of the state’s PR machine, the program is rife with accountability problems that actually haven’t been solved by the new standards the Louisiana Department of Education adopted two weeks ago.
For one, of the 119 (mostly Christian) participating schools, Zack Kopplin, a gutsy college sophomore who’s taken to change.org to stonewall the program, has identified at least 19 that teach or champion creationist nonscience and will rake in nearly $4 million in public funding from the initial round of voucher designations.
Many of these schools, Kopplin notes, rely on Pensacola-based A Beka Book curriculum or Bob Jones University Press textbooks to teach their pupils Bible-based “facts,” such as the existence of Nessie the Loch Ness Monster and all sorts of pseudoscience that researcher Rachel Tabachnick and writer Thomas Vinciguerra have thankfully pored over so the rest of world doesn’t have to.
My personal favorite:
“[Is] it possible that a fire-breathing animal really existed? Today some scientists are saying yes. They have found large chambers in certain dinosaur skulls…The large skull chambers could have contained special chemical-producing glands. When the animal forced the chemicals out of its mouth or nose, these substances may have combined and produced fire and smoke.”—Life Science, 3rd ed., Bob Jones University Press, 2007