Educate All Students, Support Public Education

November 29, 2014

TFA Teachers Under Stress All Across America

Filed under: TFA — millerlf @ 10:40 am

It is that time of year when many TFA teachers realize that help is not coming. They are stressed, sometimes desperate and looking for support.

On Thanksgiving I happened to have a conversation with a women sitting next to me while waiting to board a flight to San Francisco. She explained that she was going to visit her daughters, one who is a TFA teacher in Oakland.

In asking how her daughter is doing, a floodgate of concern opened up. She described her daughter as someone very strong, wants to teach but is very stressed. why?
–Only six weeks of training this past summer before being sent to Oakland to work with “at-risk” students,
–little (promised) support, and
–a requirement to simultaneously work toward a master’s degree while navigating first year teaching in very challenging conditions.

Could there be a worst setup for failure? This betrays both our kids in under-resourced schools and new teachers who are inspired to make a difference.

As we enter the holidays I hope all TFA teachers get a chance to relax, regroup and find the strength to finish the school year.

November 26, 2014

Diane Ravitch Reviews Important Book on New Orleans “Recovery” School District

Filed under: Ravitch,Recovery District — millerlf @ 9:18 pm

Diane Ravitch 9/23/2014

The first thing to be said about Kristen Buras’ new book is that the publisher overpriced the book ($125). As the author, she had nothing to do with that poor decision. This is a book that should be widely read, but at that price, it won’t be. There will eventually be a softcover edition, but probably not for a year. Urge your library to buy it, or get together a group of friends to pool the cost. Or contact the author directly, and she will send you a coupon that gives you a 20% discount (

Although it has its share of academic jargon, it is a major contribution to the literature about post-Katrina New Orleans that directly challenges what you have seen on PBS or heard on NPR or read in the mainstream media. Buras has written her narrative from the grassroots, not from the top. She has spent countless hours interviewing students, parents, teachers, and reformers. She has read all the relevant documents. This is the other side of the story. It is important, and you should read it.

In 2010, I went to New Orleans at the invitation of my cyber-friend Lance Hill, who was running the Southern Institute for Education and Research. Lance arranged for me to speak at Dillard University, a historically black institution in New Orleans, and he invited some of the city’s leading (displaced) educators. There were advocates for the charter reforms in the audience, and they spoke up.

But most of the audience seemed to be angry teachers and administrators who had been fired, and angry parents whose neighborhood school had been taken over by a charter. What I remember most vividly from that evening, aside from meeting the direct descendants of Plessy and Ferguson, who now work together on behalf of racial and civic amity, was a woman in the audience who stood up and said, “After Katrina, first they stole our democracy, then they stole our schools.”

I understood that she was unhappy about the new regime, but I understood it even better after I read Kristen L. Buras’ Charter Schools, Race, and Urban Space (Routledge). It is just published. As i said at the outset, the publisher priced it out of the reach of most people who want to read it. What a strange judgment at a time when so many cities are closing down their public schools and handing their children over to charter operators because they want to be “another New Orleans.” If there is one lesson in Buras’ book, it is this: Do not copy New Orleans.

Buras, now a professor of educational policy at Georgia State University, spent ten years researching this book. She describes fully the policy terrain: the Bush administration’s desire to turn Katrina-devastated New Orleans into a free enterprise zone. The support of New Orleans’ white-dominated business community and of the leadership of Tulane University, for privatization of the schools. Privatization also was encouraged by the Aspen Institute, whose chairman Walter Isaacson (former editor in chief of TIME) was simultaneously chairman of the board of Teach for America. A swarm of market-oriented “reformers” saw a chance to turn New Orleans into a model for the nation. They had no trouble getting tens of millions, perhaps hundreds of millions, from the federal government and foundations to create the enterprise zone of independently operated charter schools they wanted.

Obstacles were quickly swept away. Some 7,500 veteran teachers, three-quarters of whom were African-American, the backbone of the African-American middle class in New Orleans, were abruptly fired without cause, making room for a new staff of inexperienced young TFA recruits. Public schools were soon eliminated, even those that were beloved in their communities, some with fabled histories and vibrant ties to the neighborhood.

Buras relates the troubled history of New Orleans, with its background of white supremacy and the disempowerment of African Americans, whether enslaved or free. She recoils at the accusation that black teachers were somehow responsible for the poor condition and poor academic results of the public schools of New Orleans before Katrina. She documents that those in power in the state systematically underfunded the schools until the charters came; then the money spigot opened.

Reviewing this history, and especially the years since the destruction caused by Katrina in 2005, Buras reaches some strong judgments about what happened to New Orleans that ties past to present.
When the new power elites were debating the best way to manage the schools, what became clear was that they distrusted local school boards as “politicized and ineffective,” and preferred either state control, mayoral control or appointed leadership. Behind their models was the Reconstruction-era assumption that “African Americans have no capacity for self-government.”

“Whether in terms of how [charter] boards are constituted or in terms of how student or familial challenges are addressed, the charter school movement in New Orleans is closely bound to the protection of whiteness as property, as the clearest beneficiaries are upper-class white (and a few black) entrepreneurs who seek to capitalize on public assets for their own advancement while dispossessing the very communities the schools are supposed to serve.”
Buras tells the counter-stories of community-supported public schools that resisted the charterization process. One chapter is devoted to Frederick Douglass High School, the heart of the Bywater neighborhood in the city’s Upper 9th Ward. It opened in 1913 as an all-white school named for a Confederate general who was Reconstruction governor of Louisiana after the Civil War. With desegregation in the late 1960s, white flight commenced, and it eventually became an all-black school. Not until the 1990s was it renamed for abolitionist Frederick Douglass. As Buras shows, the local African American community tried to save the school, which was important to the neighborhood, but it was eventually handed over to KIPP.

Buras points out that most of the charter schools did not hire veteran teachers, and none has a union. They prefer to rely on the fresh recruits, “most of them white and from outside the community.” After Katrina, she writes, state officials and education entrepreneurs shifted the blame for poor academic results onto the city’s veteran teachers. She quotes Chas Roemer, currently the chair of the state education board, as saying “Charter schools are now a threat to the jobs program called public education.” (Roemer’s sister heads the state’s charter school association.) Buras concludes that his remark echoes the old racist view that African Americans are shiftless and lazy and dependent on state welfare. She counters that teachers in New Orleans before Katrina contended with “racism and a history of state neglect of black public schools.” Several teachers told her of the unfit conditions of the schools in which they taught. They did not have access to the bounty that arrived in the city for charter schools.

Beneath the chatter about a New Orleans “miracle,” Buras sees the unfolding of a narrative in which whites once again gain power to control the children of African American families and take possession of schools that once belonged to the black community and reflected their culture and their aspirations.

“Knowingly or unknowingly,” she writes, inexperienced white recruits with TFA undermine the best interests of black working-class students and veteran teachers to leverage a more financially stable and promising future for themselves.” Buras is especially scornful of TFA, which she holds culpable for treating its recruits as “human capital,” while helping to dismantle democratic institutions and take the place of unjustly fired black teachers.

In the end, she offers up her book as a warning to urban districts like Philadelphia, Newark, Detroit, Indianapolis, Nashville, and others that New Orleans is not a model for anyone to follow. The entrepreneurs grow fat while families and children lose schools that once were the heart of their community. Schools are not just a place to produce test scores (and the evidence from the New Orleans-based “Research on Reforms” shows that New Orleans’ Recovery School District is one of the state’s lowest performing districts). Schools have civic functions as well. They are, or should be, democratic institutions, serving the needs of the local community and responsive to its goals. Schooling is not something done to children, but a process in which children learn about the world, develop their talents, and become independent, self-directed individuals and citizens.

November 25, 2014

The Ruling on Michael Brown’s Murder is a National Disgrace

Filed under: General,Racism — millerlf @ 4:37 pm

Last night Paul Butler of the Georgetown University Law Center said, ”An unarmed African American man or women has no rights that a white cop is bound to respect.”

This true statement is framed from United States Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney when ruling on the Dred Scott case in 1857. He stated, “The Black man had no rights which the white man is bound to respect.”

Last night District Attorney Robert McCulloch said healing should begin. All day today people called for healing to begin.

I don’t think healing can happen until political power is conceded and the murder of young Black men by the police and “stand-your-ground” racists ends and the guilty are punished.

Unite to Organize!

November 21, 2014

Howard Fuller Autobiography, No Struggle No Progress: A Critique

Filed under: Fuller,Vouchers — millerlf @ 9:30 am

By Larry Miller

In No Struggle No Progress Howard Fuller constructs an argument for his version of “education reform” and a defense of his participation in that movement. The following is a critique of that argument.

Howard Fuller chooses to open his autobiography boasting his friendship with President George W. Bush.

What does Fuller say? “I connected with the dude…. I found him quite likable.” This led to Fuller assisting Bush’s election by joining his education speech-writing and policy advisory team; a group that included fellows from right-wing think tanks like the Hoover Institution and the Hudson Institute.

This is the same George Bush who took us into the illegal Iraq war at a cost of $2 trillion, leaving thousands of Iraqis and poor and working-class American GIs – disproportionately African-American –wounded or dead. This is the same George Bush who founded his presidency on policies to benefit the 1%, abandoning the middle class and poor and working-class communities and plunging us into the worst recession since the 1930’s.

Fuller contrasts his friendship with Bush with his once-militant background, to explain why he’s difficult to categorize and had to tell his own story. But the anecdote tells more than Fuller intended. All change-makers understand the need for unusual allies. But we also understand the need to call out the sources of oppression. Silence in the face of George Bush’s role in the suffering in the Black community is at best a failure, at worst complicity.

In No Struggle No Progress Fuller argues that his present education work is a logical progression from his early organizing for Black political power. In reality the book reveals a drastic rupture with his past that has resulted in a free-market approach to K12 education and alliances with the very right-wing power-brokers who are leading the charge to set back low-income communities of color.

Most of the first half of the book is dedicated to describing his early organizing in defense of Black communities in Ohio, North Carolina and other southeastern states, his key role in founding Malcolm X Liberation University and organizing with the important African liberation support movement opposing colonialism and connecting African struggles to Black liberation in the U.S.

Following extreme sectarian infighting within the left groups that he had participated in, Fuller made a decision to end his work in North Carolina and return to Milwaukee. He goes on to describe his role as a leader in the 1981 movement in Milwaukee against the police murder of Ernest Lacy.

After that campaign Fuller was recruited to high-level government positions, first at the state level where he became Secretary of the Department of Employment Relations for the State of Wisconsin and later for Milwaukee County as head of the Health and Human Services Department.

From there Fuller moved to work directly with K-12 education. He took part in the effort to create a separate school district, mostly serving Milwaukee’s Black community, in response to the poor outcomes by Black students in Milwaukee Public Schools. Lacking the support it needed in the state legislature, the initiative lost any momentum and the campaign ended in 1988. Fuller then joined the effort to create an “experiment” with vouchers. In 1990 Wisconsin passed a law allowing for about 300 voucher seats for low-income students, known as the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program.

That same year the Milwaukee School Board hired Fuller as its superintendent of Milwaukee Public Schools. The Wisconsin state legislature passed a special law exempting Fuller from the requirement that he have three years of pre-collegiate teaching experience before he could be confirmed to the post because he had never been a classroom teacher or K12 school administrator.

He wasted no time making changes to Milwaukee Public Schools. He describes his efforts as MPS superintendent saying he opened “the door to innovative and radical educational practices.” He instituted two central reforms; one being “school to work” and the other decentralization. While the “school to work” effort brought forth some new ways to approach teaching and learning, success in that area was undermined by the way the in which decentralization was carried out.

Decentralization was intended to send more money directly to schools under the control of principals. While some decentralization was necessary, the Fuller administration took it to the extreme, in line with a free-market philosophy for K-12 schooling. For example, curriculum was also decentralized. This resulted in more than 25 different reading programs being implemented in elementary schools across the district. At the same time the system of councils addressing important work like reading and literacy began to be eliminated. The Multicultural Curriculum Council, the Early Childhood Council, the Bilingual Council, the Reading Council, the Humanities Council and others ended up being defunded as part of the decentralization moves.

It was the councils, through a collaboration of teachers and administration, that popularized best practices across the district, provided new literature and expertise to classrooms and served as centers for professional development benefiting all schools. Once they were eliminated, staff development became a challenge, often disconnected from the classroom. Not until 2010 was a unified approach re-established for classroom literacy and math instruction and professional development. (And even 14 years after Howard Fuller left the district, he attempted to directly undermine the district’s work by sending a letter to the Department of Public Instruction criticizing the MPS unified comprehensive literacy plan for not being “scientific.”)

As superintendent, Fuller also invited RAND Institute researcher and privatization advocate Paul T. Hill to speak to MPS administrators. Hill’s 1995 RAND report, “Reinventing Public Education,” details how to replace “the entire existing public education governance system” with a contracting system, making public education profit-driven.

Fuller describes his 1995 resignation as the superintendent of Milwaukee Public Schools as a result of school board elections with candidates backed by the teacher’s union winning four positions. He identifies a key issue in that campaign to be his attempt to bring forward a private New York-based company, called The Edison Project, to operate two of MPS‘s schools. His thinking was that “it seemed of little importance … that the projects were profit-making venture for the owners.” The four newly elected school board members opposed that project.

With changes on the board, Fuller states, “I wouldn’t be backed into a position of having to grovel for the board’s respect. I’m in nobody’s pocket.”

Following his resignation, Fuller strengthened his alliances with some of the most regressive elements holding political and economic power in the American ruling circles, whose focus was privatization policies intended to dismantle public education. He publicly stated that K-12 education would be his sole focus and work.

With the help of generous funders such as the Bradley and Walton Foundations, Fuller founded The Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) in 1999 to increase African-American support for the school voucher movement. BAEO has chapters in Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee but their reach is in far more states.

In the book Fuller uses a variety of arguments to rationalize his alliances. He works closely with the Bradley Foundation and in the past bragged of his close friendship with its deceased president and major architect of the modern conservative movement, Michael Joyce. This is the same Milwaukee-based Bradley Foundation that funds conservative policies throughout the US, has been a major supporter of the Republican Tea Party movement and of ALEC, a group behind Stand Your Ground laws and voter restriction laws, among other reactionary policies. The foundation underwrote the blatantly racist study by Charles Murray resulting in the publication of The Bell Curve, which claims that Black people are intellectually inferior to other races. In his book Fuller describes a group of young people criticizing him for accepting money from the Bradley Foundation. He responded that it is “poetic justice” that they fund his work which he says stands in opposition to Murray’s claims. Since the Bell Curve was published, in 1994, Fuller has said very little about its content or its link to his major funder and ally, the Bradley Foundation.

Among Fuller’s portfolio of allies is the Walton family. He describes his particularly close relationship with the late John Walton, son of the Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, who gave Fuller $900,000 to launch the BAEO. The Walton’s pay their workers substandard wages, benefits and healthcare while implementing discriminatory policies in their workplaces. Yet the Walton Foundation’s claim is to save the children of the very people they exploit. This is the family that is wealthier than the bottom 42% of all Americans combined.

Fuller defends his practice of uniting with regressive people in power and continuing to be silent about their role through a concept called “interest convergence,” which he says he learned from the late Harvard professor Derek Bell. “Black people in this country have made progress only when our interests converged with the interest of people in power,” he writes.

This is a significant misuse of Bell’s work. Bell, one of the originators of critical race theory, was talking about the centrality of racism in the United States and the difficulty in dismantling it—not the efficacy of opportunistically allying with rich reactionaries in the name of “saving black children.” Bell’s point was that Brown vs. the Board of Education happened during a brief period of time when black struggles for civil rights in the United States fit in with ruling class goals, including a need to look more progressive to emerging Third World countries during the Cold War. When the needs of the power structure and the white base changed, progress for African Americans stalled and reversed. That perspective is a far cry from Fuller’s efforts to manipulate legitimate anger about the racism in our public schools to enlist African American families in replacing public schools with private ones. His insistence on separating education from the context in which children, their families, and teachers operate—the unbelievable growth in inequality, the destruction of cities, the lack of jobs and affordable housing—make clear that he is not talking about addressing children’s futures in any meaningful way.

On the role of teacher unions, Howard Fuller wastes no words saying, “I had never viewed the teachers union as a working class organization,” he writes. “It was not at all like the union to which my mother had belonged or to the local 77, for which I worked in Durham, fighting for the janitors, maids, and other service workers at Duke University.” At a 2010 KIPP school summit Fuller compared teacher unions and their leaders to Governor George Wallace standing “at the door trying to keep our kids from getting in.” He does not hesitate to berate public school teachers and their unions while telling Teach For America enrollees they are in the forefront of the “new civil rights movement.”

Not surprisingly, Fuller was completely silent in the face of Gov. Scott Walker’s Act 10 attack in 2011 on all public employees and their unions. Many of these unions are like his mother’s union or Local 77, the American Federation of State, County, Municipal Employees Union (AFSCME) local he worked for. His silence gives encouragement to Tea Party and other Koch sponsored affronts.

Fuller endorses nearly every free-market K12 education initiative that has been proposed in the past two decades. The core of his strategy embraces vouchers, corporate and for-profit charters, and recovery school districts. He has aided the Milwaukee Metropolitan Association of Commerce, Milwaukee’s version of the chamber of commerce, in designing and lobbying to create two school systems for the City of Milwaukee; one school system for 20,000 students in high-performing schools by 2020, and a second school system that includes a turnaround district made up of low-performing Milwaukee public schools (led by a different superintendent) along with expanding vocational-technical education for large numbers of Milwaukee’s children.

Fuller characterizes himself as a reformer of K-12 education for low income students. But the book offers us little insight into best practices for teaching and learning in the K-12 classroom. In the final chapter of the book he talks about his work at Milwaukee Collegiate Academy, the school previously named CEO Leadership Academy. This was a very low performing voucher school granted a charter by the city of Milwaukee because of his political influence in city government circles. The most recent state report card data shows Milwaukee Collegiate Academy performing poorer than most of the high schools in Milwaukee Public Schools with a percentage drop in reading and math scores, from 2013 to 2014, that exceed all MPS high schools.

But Fuller implies that the real reason this school is struggling is that it receives significantly less funding per pupil than does Milwaukee Public Schools. Fuller perpetuates the falsehood propagated by pro-privatization advocates about the per-pupil allocation that goes to public school students.

He does raise a curriculum practice at the school called “blended learning.” This is the practice of giving students face time with computer-based curriculum. While there are positive best-practice examples of “blended learning” it has too often been misused as a replacement for good teaching and learning. Just stating that it is being applied at a school guarantees nothing. Far too often corporate generated curriculum, using “scientific” researched labels and claiming alignment with the Common Core State Standards, does nothing for students’ intellectual development.

K-12 classrooms, in this time of growing inequality, must engage students in critical thought. They must learn to question the status quo. Our students must understand systems of oppression and exploitation and the role they must play in building a new world. If we reduce teaching and learning to teaching to the test, to the latest technology and software fad or to simple solutions like unsubstantiated “scientific” reading programs, we are not carrying out our responsibility to our children.

Fuller describes his work and the work of many others involved in the “parental choice movement” as “more of a rescue mission than a fight for broad societal change” with the one goal of sending more students to college. While this may sound well intentioned, the reality of his work has been to dismantle public school systems and turn public education over to the private sector.

With growing economic inequality, separating education from the larger growing oppression is a luxury that many low-income and working-class families cannot take advantage of. In fact, it is the connection between the fight for educational opportunity and human and civil rights that will bring about a more equitable society with more access to higher education.

In the book Fuller does not come clean about the fact that Milwaukee’s voucher program, as it approaches its 25th year, is a failed program. Reading and math averages fall behind Milwaukee Public Schools. Yet he is working overtime to expand similar programs in Louisiana, Florida, New Jersey, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama and elsewhere.

Fuller describes his objection to Scott Walker’s 2011 attempt to lift the voucher caps for income and seats. He stated at the time, that if the proposed income caps were lifted, “this is where I get off the train.” He’s still onboard. He accepted a compromise that he claims “would allow more people with slightly higher incomes” to receive vouchers. The compromise allows for households making $77,000 per year to be eligible. Also, the majority of new voucher recipients, from the expansion statewide, were already enrolled in private schools.

When making such compromises Fuller is well aware of the direction vouchers are going in Wisconsin. The voucher program started with 300 students and was clearly designated for low-income families. There are now over 25,000 Milwaukee students in the program and it now has no cap for enrollment. The Milwaukee voucher program places it as the second largest school district in the state of Wisconsin.

With the recent re-election of Scott Walker and the strengthening of the Wisconsin Republican-led legislature, a “voucher in every backpack” of every Wisconsin student has become the right-wing clarion call.

Increasing access to college must be a key goal for all educators. But it rings hollow to think that it alone will be transformational for Black, Latino and other low-income communities – or achievable without drastic economic changes as well. We must teach our children to be part of a tide that raises all boats. Whether in Ferguson or Milwaukee, communities cannot afford for anyone to be silent.

Throughout U.S. history many community and political leaders have remained silent on the most important issues of the day giving them access to some of America’s most powerful men and money. Today the billionaire class and their representatives in the political arena are the source of an affront on the poor and working class. Whether it is–education, voting rights, mass incarceration, discrimination, employment, immigration, policing or stand your ground laws –the people are under attack. It is the obligation of all progressive-minded people to take a stand and speak truth to power against this offensive.

G.W. Bush, the Waltons, the Bradley Foundation, Tea Party Republicans, ALEC laws—Is their intention the liberation of poor communities and communities of color? The truth is that they are the power, the status quo, that must concede for progress to occur.

While Howard Fuller may try to rest on his past militant laurels, in life’s journey where we end up is more important than where we started. An alliance today with the Waltons, the Bradley Foundation, and Tea Party Republicans is an insult to those who have fought in the past and an affront to those fighting today for social justice and who continue to speak truth to power.

November 10, 2014

Wisconsin Association of School Boards (WASB) Takes Clear Stand for Public Education, Democracy and Against Privatization.

Filed under: Privatization,WASB — millerlf @ 2:40 pm

(Following are past resolutions adopted by the Wisconsin Association of School Boards at its annual delegate assembly.)

1.01 Preserving Powers
The WASB supports retaining and preserving the power and duty of locally elected school boards to oversee public education. (2001-2)(2010-1)
(a) “Parent Trigger” Laws
The WASB opposes measures (such as so-called ”parent trigger” laws) which allow parents, through a petition process, to lessen school board oversight and control of public schools that fail to meet certain performance criteria and, in some cases, allow parents to hand management of those schools over to private charter school management companies or to offer affected students private school vouchers, on the basis that such laws usurp the responsibility and authority of locally elected school boards to oversee the operation of local public school districts. (2013-7)
(b) Recovery School Districts
The WASB opposes the creation in Wisconsin of a recovery school district or a similar state-level authority designed to take over and attempt to improve the performance of low-performing public schools. (2014-11)

1.47 Forced Sale of School District Buildings
and Grounds
The WASB supports maintaining locally elected school board decision-making regarding the use of school district facilities and opposes legislation mandating that districts must sell or lease vacant or “underutilized” school buildings and Bounds. (2014-9)

2.705 Oppose Private School Aid—
Special Education Vouchers

The WASB opposes the use of state tax monies to provide special education vouchers for students with disabilities or other special educational needs to attend private schools located anywhere in the state. (2012-8)

2.71 Use of Public Monies
The WASB opposes legislation authorizing or requiring the placement of public school teachers, materials and equipment funded with federal
monies on the premises of private schools. (1984-14) (1995-1)

2.72 Textbook Loan
The WASB opposes the use of public funds for the purchase or loan of textbooks or other instructional materials to private schools or their students. (1988-10) (1995-1)

3.21 Charter Schools
The WASB opposes the creation or operation of a state-level charter school authorizing body that would be legally empowered to authorize
independent charter schools throughout the state. (2012-11)
The WASB supports charter schools for experimental and innovative programs provided:
(a) The school board is the sole chartering agency.
(b) Exemptions from many state “input-type” standards and restraints are allowed in exchange for accountability to clear and high standards of student outcomes.
(c) Funding arrangements are determined by the school board and charter school.
(d) Charter schools are required to maintain health and safety standards for pupils and staff, operate as nonsectarian entities, and be open to all district students without charge for tuition regardless of ethnicity, national origin, gender, or disability. (1993-11) (1998-1)
(e) The WASB supports maintaining a school board’s final authority to approve charter school applications. (2007-8)

3.36 CESAs and Virtual Charter Schools
The WASB supports allowing CESAs to enter into cooperative agreements with individual school districts to establish virtual charter schools authorized by the board of the local school district. The WASB opposes legislation granting CESAs the authority to establish independent virtual charter schools.
Should any CESA be authorized to operate a virtual charter school without entering into a cooperative agreement with a school district, the WASB supports limiting per pupil payments to any CESA authorized virtual charter school to an amount identical to the per pupil amount of the open enrollment transfer payment to prevent CESA-authorized virtual charter schools from unfairly competing with school board-authorized virtual charter schools. (2012-12)

3.55 Private School Transportation
The WASB supports legislation to remove the requirement that a public school district must provide transportation to students who attend private and parochial schools located outside the boundaries of the public school district. (2011-10)

3.93 Students with Disabilities—Parental Choice
The WASB supports legislation requiring private schools participating in any parental choice program to accept and provide services to students with disabilities, with additional state funding for the education of these students. (2011-13)

Wisconsin: Vouchers for All

Filed under: Vouchers — millerlf @ 1:33 pm

Last night (11-9-14) on the Mike Gousha Show Wisconsin State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said, “I don’t want a cap at all” on vouchers. This aligns with School Choice Wisconsin’s call for “A voucher in every backpack!”

If voucher advocates are successful in expanding private school vouchers, this program would eventually become one of the largest taxpayer‐funded entitlements in Wisconsin.

So how much could this entitlement end up costing Wisconsin taxpayers?

Let’s just focus on those students currently enrolled in private school, because, of course, lawmakers wouldn’t deny those children access to a voucher simply because they are already enrolled in private school. It wouldn’t be fair and it probably wouldn’t be legal either. Let’s also remove the question of income eligibility because Walker has expressed his desire to remove the income eligibility requirements for vouchers.

Last year there were 97,488 students enrolled in private schools in Wisconsin but not receiving a taxpayer‐funded voucher. If we multiply 70% of that number by the K8 voucher allotment of $7050 it comes to $479 million and if we add that to the high school cost of private school students ($7856/student) it is over $708 million.

So what would voucher proponents have lawmakers do to fund this growing entitlement? Raise taxes?

In the 1990s, Gov. Tommy Thompson was asked about his lack of support for statewide voucher expansion. He answered, “We can’t afford two systems of education.” His words ring just as true today as they did then.

We simply can’t afford two systems of education in Wisconsin.

Voucher expansion is not only bad education policy. It is bad fiscal policy as well.

(This content is updated from a 2013 Capital Times Op-Ed by John Forester, director of government relations for the School Administrators Alliance)

November 5, 2014

Anti-Mass Incarceration Measure Passes in California

Filed under: New Jim Crow — millerlf @ 11:08 am

California Voters Deal Blow To Prisons, Drug War

Matt Sledge Huffington Post: 11/05/2014

California approved a major shift against mass incarceration on Tuesday in a vote that could lead to the release of thousands of state prisoners.

Nonviolent felonies like shoplifting and drug possession will be downgraded to misdemeanors under the ballot measure, Proposition 47. As many as 10,000 people could be eligible for early release from state prisons, and it’s expected that courts will annually dispense around 40,000 fewer felony convictions.

The state Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates that the new measure will save hundreds of millions of dollars on prisons. That money is to be redirected to education, mental health and addiction services — a novel approach that reformers hope will serve as a model in the larger push against mass incarceration.

The approval of the ballot measure could also help California grapple with massive overcrowding in its state prisons, which are still struggling to release enough inmates to comply with a 2011 U.S. Supreme Court order.

Although California once led the nation in tough-on-crime policies, like the state’s infamous three-strikes felony law, Proposition 47 has led in every poll conducted since it was certified in June. The measure’s supporters have been an eclectic bunch, from conservatives like Newt Gingrich and business tycoon B. Wayne Hughes Jr. to liberal performers like John Legend and Jay-Z.

The most vocal opponents of Proposition 47 were law enforcement officials who warned that the measure could make it harder to prosecute felony gun theft or possession of date-rape drugs.

At the same time, a few scattered law-and-order voices, like San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón, did come out in favor of the proposition, dismissing those concerns.

Reformers also vastly outspent law enforcement officials and their allies. The main coalition in favor of Proposition 47 raised $7 million as of mid-October, buoyed by contributions from the likes of Hughes, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and a foundation backed by the financier George Soros.

Californians Against Proposition 47, meanwhile, garnered less than $500,000 in the same time period. The state prison guard union — often a formidable force in debates over mass incarceration — sat the ballot measure debate out.
“The country seems to have come to a different place […] I think, most fundamentally, because crime is down,” Keith Humphreys, a drug addiction expert who supported the measure, told The Huffington Post in October. “When people are not feeling terrified, they’re more willing to back off on the tough-on-crime stuff.”

California Proposition 47 California Prop 47 Proposition 47 Prop 47 Prisons California Prison Overcrowding California Drug War Drug War Elections 2014 2014 Election Midterm Elections 2014 Midterm Elections Video

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