What Jeb Bush’s Group Said About the Nevada Voucher Decision

In the previous post, I pointed out that the Nevada Supreme Court overruled the funding of vouchers.

Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education hailed the same decision as a major step towards educational “freedom,” meaning no more public schools.

Since there is zero evidence that choice produces better education but ample evidence that it intensifies inequity and segregation and destabilizes communities, you can consider the press release either an affirmation of rigid free market ideology or lunacy:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

September 29, 2016 Contact: Press Office
850-391-4090
PressShop@excelined.org

Nevada Families One Step Closer to Educational Freedom

Today, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled that Education Savings Accounts (ESA) are constitutional. Nevada’s ESA program is the most expansive educational choice program in the nation.

Specifically, the court agreed with the state that the primary constitutional arguments brought by plaintiffs against ESAs are without merit. Although the court ruled against the state on a funding issue, it laid out a clear blueprint for addressing the funding technicality so that the 8,000 parents who have applied for an ESA are able to take advantage of greater educational opportunities for their children.

“The court’s ruling that ESAs are constitutional is a significant victory for Nevada families,’’ said Foundation for Excellence in Education (ExcelinEd) CEO Patricia Levesque.

“I look forward to Governor Brian Sandoval and the legislature addressing the funding mechanism for the state’s ESA program so that all Nevada parents have the right, as well as the resources, to choose the best education option for their children.”

ExcelinEd filed an amicus brief in the Nevada Supreme Court in support of the state’s position in the Duncan vs. State of Nevada case. The amicus curiae was prepared by Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP.

Learn more about Education Savings Accounts:

Nevada’s Education Savings Account (ESA) legislation, which passed in 2015, provides parents of up to 450,000 eligible students in the state with the funding to select schools, tutors and other approved education services for their children, including necessary therapies for students with disabilities.

Since the first Education Savings Account (ESA) program was introduced in 2011 in Arizona, this policy has been changing education as we know it.

ESAs place state dollars designated for a child’s education into an account that parents can direct in a manner that is best for a child’s unique needs.

Account funds can cover multiple education options, including private school tuition, online education, tutoring and dual enrollment, and unused funds can be saved for future K-12 or higher education costs.

ESAs create an entirely flexible approach to education, where the ultimate goal is maximizing each child’s natural learning abilities.

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Breaking News: Nevada Supreme Court Blocks Funding of Voucher Program

The Nevada Supreme Court blocked the funding of the state’s sweeping voucher program, which would have given money to every student to spend anywhere. Despite the total absence of any evidence for the efficacy of such programs, the Nevada legislature undoubtedly will go back to the drawing board to devise another voucher giveaway that won’t improve education but will divert funding from the state’s underfunded
Unlicensed schools.

The Nevada State a Constitution has explicit prohibition against sending public money to sectarian schools, but that hasn’t stopped the anti-constitutional impulses of the Republican majority.

What part of the Nevada constitution does the legislature not understand?

The Constitution of the state of Nevada clearly states in Article 11:

Sec: 9.  Sectarian instruction prohibited in common schools and university.  No sectarian instruction shall be imparted or tolerated in any school or University that may be established under this Constitution.

Section Ten.  No public money to be used for sectarian purposes.  No public funds of any kind or character whatever, State, County or Municipal, shall be used for sectarian purpose.
[Added in 1880. Proposed and passed by the 1877 legislature; agreed to and passed by the 1879 legislature; and approved and ratified by the people at the 1880 general election. See: Statutes of Nevada 1877, p. 221; Statutes of Nevada 1879, p. 149.]

I was just in Nevada. I was taken aback by the luxurious hotels and promiscuous spending in Las Vegas. An additional 1% sales tax would be a boon to the public schools. But the legislature offers choice instead of resources.

Why won’t the legislature fund the education of the kids in public schools, as the Constitution commands?

Is it because they don’t care about the kids, the kids whose parents clean the hotels and wash dishes in the restaurants?

Or are they protecting the 1% who own the casinos, hotels, and restaurants?

Or they just don’t give a damn about the Nevada state constitution?

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Los Angeles: Charter Teachers Protest Big-Spending Principal

El Camino Real Charter High School used to be a public school. It was always a good school. But now it’s embroiled in a financial scandal because its principal used the school credit card to charge lavish indulgences, including first class air travel, meals, hotels, and other items connected to his other job as a talent scout for a major basketball team.

The teachers are not happy.

Taxpayers should be picketing too.

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Georgia: Jack Hassard on the Money Behind the Vote to Create a Phony Opportunity School District

Jack Hassard is a Professor Emeritus of Science Education at Georgia State University. A former high school teacher, he usually blogs about science education. But he has seen through the hoax of the Governor Deal’s constitutional amendment this November. The ballot asks voters whether the state should have the authority to intervene to help failing schools, yes or no. Readers of this blog know that this is a hoax, intended to deceive voters. The real purpose is to creat a special non-contiguous district consisting of the state’s lowest performing schools. They will be removed from their district and handed over to state control. The state will then transfer them to charter chains.

Every so-called opportunity school district has failed. This is a hoax and a fraud. The governor must know this. Since when were conservative politicians concerned about “saving” poor kids? Note that this reform is a substitute for reducing the poverty that blights children’s lives.

This is an ALEC-inspired program to erode local control and expand privatization.

Hassard explains that Governor Deal is taking advantage of the Supreme Court’s horrendous Citizens United decision that removed limits on political contributions. In this post, he describes the twisted trail of big-money that’s behind Governor Deal’s push to privatize public schools, which will create a money pot for entrepreneurs. Deal is pulling the wool over the eyes of the public.

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Wendy Lecker on That Disappointing Judicial Decision in Connecticut

Wendy Lecker, civil rights attorney, explains here how disappointing the recent Connecticut funding decision is.

“As noted in my previous column, CCJEF trial judge Thomas Moukawsher refused to order the state to ensure adequate resources in schools, though determining constitutional adequacy was his responsibility. By contrast, the judge freely issued sweeping directives regarding educational policy.

“The judge issued far-reaching orders involving elementary and high school education and teacher evaluations. He also aired abhorrent views toward children with disabilities, which several commentators already addressed.

“This column addresses his orders regarding elementary education. I will address the others in subsequent columns.
Moukawsher observed that the educational disparities in secondary school begin in elementary school. (He actually acknowledged that they begin before elementary school, but declined to rule that preschool is essential.)

Moukawsher’s “fix” for elementary school was to order the state to define elementary education as being “primarily related to developing basic literacy and numeracy skills needed for secondary school.”

“Most of us understand that to thrive in secondary school, children must develop skills beyond basic numeracy and literacy. From an early age, children must develop the ability to think critically, creatively and independently.
There is no real division among brain functions — cognitive, social and motor — so they all must be developed in concert. As neuroscientist Adele Diamond observed, “a human being is not just an intellect or just a body … we ignore any of those dimensions at our peril in … educating children.”

“However, Moukawsher ruled that elementary school should concern itself with basic literacy and numeracy skills. Moreover, he demanded that this definition have “force,” “substantial consequences” and be “verifiable” — code for high-stakes statewide standardized elementary school exit exams.

“The judge’s myopic focus was emphasized by his suggestion for giving the required definition “force.” He declared that the state definition “might gain some heft, for example, if the rest of school stopped for students who leave third grade without basic literacy skills. School for them might be focused solely on acquiring those skills. Eighth-grade testing would have to show they have acquired those skills before they move on to secondary school. This would give the schools four school years to fix the problem for most children.”

Many children who do not score well on standardized tests are poor and experience stress in their lives that inhibits learning. Others are just learning English. Others have disabilities. Any lag in reading does not mean a child cannot think at grade level or beyond. Moreover, many low-income children have limited exposure to the wide variety of experiences their more affluent peers enjoy. Yet Moukawsher’s prescription for “fixing” them is to limit their education to reading instruction. No art, music, physical education, social studies, science, drama, or field trips. This “solution” will leave our neediest children further behind developmentally.

Moukawsher’s proposal not only threatens to hinder development for our neediest children. It is not even an effective way to teach reading.”

Read the rest of her analysis. This is the same decision that the New York Times treated as historic. Apparently, no one at the Times actually read the decision.

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Arkansas: Judge Rejects Effort to Block State Takeover of Little Rock Schools, Expansion of Charters

Plaintiffs in Arkansas sued to block the state takeover of Little Rock public schools. Plaintiffs argued that the expansion of charters was racially discriminatory because the public schools are predominantly black, and the charters are predominantly white. The judge rejected their request.

“The plaintiffs, led by civil rights lawyer John Walker, had sought to reverse both the takeover of the LRSD and the granting of permission to Little Rock charter schools to expand their student populations. The suit named as defendants the state Board of Education (which gave final authorization to the takeover and the charter expansions), Education Commissioner Johnny Key and the Arkansas Department of Education. Marshall said the plaintiffs had failed to make a case against the state, though the school district itself must still face a trial on the merits of a complaint about unfairness in facilities.”

The plaintiffs didn’t prove that the plan was intended to cause segregation, even though it did.

In his decision, the judge wrote:

“And there’s no real question about disproportionate effect: more than 65 percent of LRSD students are black; a majority of the dissolved Board was black; and the students at the growing charter schools in Little Rock are (to generalize) whiter and wealthier than LRSD’s students. But the settled precedent is clear; discriminatory effects alone are insufficient to show discriminatory intentions.

“What’s missing are pleaded facts that show the intention to discriminate based on race, that show foul thoughts becoming harmful actions.”

So much for “saving poor kids from failing schools.” How about “opening segregation academies with state funding for affluent white kids?”

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California: Carol Burris on the Great Charter School Hoax: Part 2

Carol Burris, executive director of the Network for Public Education and experienced educator, traveled Calofornia to learn about charter schools. What she discovered was an industry that is growing by leaps and bounds, powered by billionaires’ dough, but rife with fraudulent practices that cheat students and taxpayers.

Although Arizona was once called the “Wid West” of the unregulated charter industry, California now appears to have captured that title. Big payoffs for the adults, poor education for students.

Carol’s article appears on Valerie Strauss’s “Answer Sheet” blog at the Washington Post. After I read her introduction, I urged her to remember that the very worst states in relation to charters are scandal-ridden Ohio, Arizona (where nepotism and conflicts of interest are fine for charters, and for-profit charters don’t have to open their books to the public), and Michigan (where 80% of the charters operate for-profit).

This article is the second in a four-part series.

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Jeb Bush Will Lecture at Harvard This Fall

Jeb Bush has been advocating everything related to corporate reform for many years. As Governor of Florida, he imposed high-stakes testing, charters, simplistic accountability measures, letter grades for schools, and did whatever he could dream up to promote competition and choice. He tried to get vouchers, but was only able to get vouchers for special education (a program once described in a prize-winning article as a “cottage industry for graft”). He sought a constitutional amendment to make vouchers possible, and Michelle Rhee joined him to promote vouchers. But in 2012, voters said no by 58-42.

This fall, this hater of public schools will teach at the Harvard Program on Education Policy and Governance, which is supervised by voucher advocate Paul Peyerson. Students will no doubt learn that public schools must be replaced by a free market. They will learn that choice will create Mira Les. They will learn that families should schools just as they choose milk in the grocery store: whole milk, 2% milk, 1% milk, chocolate milk, buttermilk. No one will tell Jeb about Sweden and Chile.

Saddest of all is that he is giving the annual Godkin Lecture, an honor once reserved for distinguished scholars.

As the evidence piles up that choice is no panacea, do you think he will apologize for the schools and communities he has disrupted?

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