School Vouchers Are a ‘False Road,’ and There’s Data to Prove It

by Jeff Bryant – “We’ve not done enough to help kids at the lower end of the socio-economic rungs,” says labor economist and Stanford University professor Martin Carnoy. It’s not an accident these families, particularly in the African American community, are demanding vouchers, charters, and other forms of choice. But it’s a false road, and one that’s more apt to result in proponents of choice, when faced with the negative consequences of their ideas, turning back on these lower-served communities and saying to them, ‘Well, we gave you a choice. It’s your own fault if you chose the wrong one.’ With President Donald Trump’s appointment of billionaire “school choice” champion Betsy DeVos as U.S. Secretary of Education, there’s strong speculation in the media that some sort of school voucher plan that allows parents to withdraw their children from public schools and send them to private schools at taxpayer expense will be...

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Vouchers don’t Help Disadvantaged Students, Regardless of what Betsy DeVos Thinks

by Casey Quinlan – A new report finds little to praise in school vouchers. Education secretary Betsy DeVos has been a champion of school vouchers for decades, and has claimed students don’t benefit from better funding of public schools. But a new report from the Economic Policy Institute shows that vouchers do not improve student achievement in any meaningful way. A significant body of research on vouchers over the past 15 years has found that there is not enough evidence to support the claim that vouchers significantly improve student achievement, wrote Martin Carnoy, Vida Jacks Professor of Education and Economics at Stanford University. In some cases, vouchers exacerbate issues that hurt students’ quality of education, such as racial and economic school segregation and a flow of inexperienced young teachers into schools. Research on voucher experiments in New York City, Dayton, Ohio, and Washington, D.C. showed that there were no significant improvements...

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Another Unrealistic Trump Policy Proposal: Homeschool Vouchers

by Jessica Huseman – Trump recently proposed billions in spending to allow the nation’s poorest students to leave public schools and enroll elsewhere, including by using homeschooling. Except the plan won’t work for the poorest students. GOP nominee Donald Trump has said he plans to spend billions of dollars on so-called school choice programs. The $20 billion in federal funds would be available only to what he says are 11 million children living in poverty who are also “trapped in failing schools.” Families will be eligible for vouchers to send their children to charter, magnet or even private religious schools. Last Friday, he announced the policy would include homeschooling as well. “School choice is at the center of this civil rights agenda, and my goal is to provide every single inner-city child in America that is trapped in a failing government school the freedom to attend the school of their choice,”...

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Last-Minute Assault on Wages and Workers in Wisconsin Budget

by Jody Knauss and Mary Bottari – The Wisconsin legislature sent a $72 billion biennial budget bill to Governor Walker’s desk Thursday, giving him just four days to process and sign the budget before his July 13 scheduled presidential announcement. The bill slashes $250 million from the University of Wisconsin System, advances school vouchers and the corporate privatization of Wisconsin public schools, and is chock full of public policy provisions that did not have public hearings or public input. Although the governor has recently been projecting surpluses for the next fiscal year, the drastic cuts in state programs will still leave the state facing a structural deficit of some $490 million, according to the Wisconsin Budget Project. Last weekend, the Joint Finance budget-writing committee produced a large addition to the budget, an anonymous “999 motion” that took 24 pages just to summarize. Tucked into the motion were major changes...

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Top House Lawmaker’s Daughter to Step Down as Texas Lobbyist

By Morgan Smith, Texas Tribune – Following attacks from conservative activists over a possible conflict of interest, House Public Education Chairman Jimmie Don Aycock announced that his daughter would step down from her role as an education lobbyist for the upcoming legislative session. The Killeen Republican said in a statement that his daughter, Michelle Smith, had chosen to withdraw her lobby registration after questions over her position continued despite his decision to recuse himself from any issues involving her clients. “Her employment predates my service as House Public Education Chair. We have both filed the required disclosure forms, and I announced I would recuse myself on matters related to her clients. Despite these measures, the comments have persisted,” Aycock said. Aycock has become a target of conservative groups who want lawmakers to create a publicly funded scholarship program to that would help parents send their children to private schools. Such legislation has failed in the...

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North Carolina GOP Finds Appalling New Level of Anti-democratic Treachery

By  Adam B, Daily Kos – First they try to make it harder to vote, while also manipulating the map to ensure that Democrats couldn’t cast meaningful votes. We’ve seen this playbook before. But this? This takes Republicans’ war on democracy to a new level: After passing laws imposing new conditions on abortions and elections, taking away teacher tenure and providing vouchers for private school tuition, Republican state legislators have seen those policies stymied in state and federal courtrooms. So they have passed another law, this one making those kinds of lawsuits less likely to succeed when filed in state court. Beginning in September, all constitutional challenges to laws will be heard by three-judge trial court panels appointed by the chief justice of the state Supreme Court. The move takes those cases out of the hands of individual Superior Court judges and sends them to be heard in Wake County, where the panels of judges from...

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