“Louisiana voucher students score almost 30 points below average on LEAP tests” (nola.com)

Perhaps Gov. Jindal’s education experiment needs to stop:

As Gov. Bobby Jindal tries again to fund his controversial school voucher program, new test scores indicate that many of the current students educated with public money in private schools are not thriving. Or at least they aren’t yet.

Released Wednesday, LEAP scores for third- through eighth-graders show only 40 percent of voucher students scored at or above grade level this past spring. The state average for all students was 69 percent.

For accountability purposes, students attending private schools at taxpayer expense take the same standardized tests as their peers in public schools. In 2011, when the voucher program operated only in New Orleans, students averaged 33 percent proficiency.

Now seven schools in Jefferson and Orleans parishes have results so low — less than 25 percent of voucher students proficient for three years running — that they have been barred from accepting new voucher students in the fall, as per state policy. In Orleans, the schools are Life of Christ Academy, the Upperroom Bible Church Academy, Bishop McManus, Conquering Word Christian Academy Eastbank and Holy Rosary Academy. In Jefferson, they are Faith Christian Academy and Conquering Word Christian Academy.

Read the rest of the article here.

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Filed under Education Reform, Funding, Politics, Testing, Vouchers

“New data shows school ‘reformers’ are full of it” (salon.com)

Maybe the route to “education reform” can be found by reducing the impact of poverty in the lives of children:

That gets to the news that exposes “reformers’” schemes — and all the illusions that surround them. According to a new U.S. Department of Education study, “about one in five public schools was considered high poverty in 2011 … up from about to one in eight in 2000.” This followed an earlier study from the department finding that “many high-poverty schools receive less than their fair share of state and local funding … leav(ing) students in high-poverty schools with fewer resources than schools attended by their wealthier peers.”

Those data sets powerfully raise the question that “reformers” are so desperate to avoid: Are we really expected to believe that it’s just a coincidence that the public education and poverty crises are happening at the same time? Put another way: Are we really expected to believe that everything other than poverty is what’s causing problems in failing public schools?

The interesting thing here is no one is suggesting that so-called “education reforms” be applied to schools in affluent neighborhoods:

One way to appreciate this reality in stark relief is to just remember that, as Barkan shows, for all the claims that the traditional public school system is flawed, America’s wealthiest traditional public schools happen to be among the world’s highest-achieving schools. Most of those high-performing wealthy public schools also happen to be unionized. If, as “reformers” suggest, the public school system or the presence of organized labor was really the key factor in harming American education, then those wealthy schools would be in serious crisis — and wouldn’t be at the top of the international charts. Instead, the fact that they aren’t in crisis and are so high-achieving suggests neither the system itself nor unions are the big factor causing high-poverty schools to lag behind. It suggests that the “high poverty” part is the problem.

That, of course, shouldn’t be a controversial notion; it is so painfully obvious it’s amazing anyone would even try to deny it. But that gets back to motive: The “reform” movement (and its loyal media outlets) cast a discussion of poverty as taboo because poverty and inequality are byproducts of the same economic policies that serve that movement’s funders.

You can read the entire article online here.

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“School text book: Hippies were rude, didn’t bathe, worshipped Satan” (Salon.com)

It sounds like South Park’s Cartman is writing the 8th Grade textbooks for Louisiana’s taxpayer-funded voucher schools.  Here’s an excerpt from one of the books:

They went to Canada or European countries to escape being drafted into military service.

They went without bathing, wore dirty, ragged, unconventional clothing, and deliberately broke all codes of politeness or manners. Rock music played an important part in the hippie movement and had great influence over the hippies. Many of the rock musicians they followed belonged to Eastern religious cults or practiced Satan worship.

You can read the rest of the story here.

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“Louisiana Voucher School Students Taught Hippies Were Dirty, Rude, Rock-Loving Satan-Worshippers” (Huffington Post)

And that’s probably not the worst things being taught with taxpayer funds in Louisiana voucher-funded schools:

As Mother Jones documented last year, other nuggets of historical “knowledge” have included, “Dinosaurs and humans were definitely on the earth at the same time,” “God used the Trail of Tears to bring many Indians to Christ,” and “The majority of slave holders treated their slaves well.”

You can read the rest of this story online here.

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“The Education of Michelle Rhee” (PBS Frontline)

PBS FRONTLINE examines the legacy of one of America’s most admired & reviled school reformers.

You can watch this documentary on TV or online here.

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Filed under Education Reform, Politics, Press Coverage

Rhee’s StudentsFirst grades education on ideology, not results (Daily Kos)

Louisiana is the top-rated state for education according to Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst organization. Unfortunately, Louisiana is 49th of 51 on eighth grade reading scores and 47th of 51 on eighth grade math scores.

Maybe Michelle Rhee needs to change her grading standards.  Anybody who values ideology over actually helping students learn should be ashamed for hurting students (especially when her organization gives lower rankings to states who actually do a better educating students).

You can read the rest of the story here.

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Bobby Jindal’s school voucher program unconstitutional (washingtonpost.com)

One of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s signature accomplishments, a private school tuition voucher program, was ruled unconstitutional by a Louisiana judge Friday, the Associated Press reports:

State Judge Tim Kelley said Friday that the program improperly diverts money allocated through Louisiana’s public school funding formula to private schools. He also said it unconstitutionally diverts local tax dollars to private schools.

Kelley ruled in a lawsuit backed by teacher unions and school boards seeking to shut down the voucher program and other changes that would funnel more money away from traditional public schools.

You can read the rest of this story online here.

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