Category Archives: Politics

“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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Filed under Education Reform, Politics

“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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Filed under Education Reform, Politics

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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Filed under Funding, Politics, Vouchers

Phony school “reform” agenda takes a beating (Salon.com)

The “tl;dr” version is the current-day “education reform” efforts are not true populist grass-roots movements.  The so-called “reform” efforts are the illegitimate love-child of conservative ideology and corporate greed.

The “reform” efforts were defeated in Colorado, Idaho, and Indiana.  Maybe one day the same thing will happen in Louisiana.

You can read the Salon.com coverage here.

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Filed under Education Reform, Funding, Politics, Vouchers

“School reform’s propaganda flick” (salon.com)

More about right-wing funded corporate propaganda disguised as a major motion picture:

The first thing to know about Friday’s opening of the school-choice drama “Won’t Back Down” is that the film’s production company specializes in children’s fantasy fare such as the “Tooth Fairy” and “Chronicles of Narnia” series. The second thing is that this company, Walden Media, is linked at the highest levels to the real-world adult alliance of corporate and far-right ideological interest groups that constitutes the so-called education reform movement, more accurately described as the education privatization movement. The third thing, and the one most likely to be passed over in the debate surrounding “Won’t Back Down” (reviewed here, and not kindly, by Salon’s own Andrew O’Hehir), is that Walden Media is itself an educational content company with a commercial interest in expanding private-sector access to American K-12 education, or what Rupert Murdoch, Walden’s distribution partner on “Won’t Back Down,” lip-lickingly calls “a $50 billion sector in the U.S. alone that is waiting desperately to be transformed.”

You can read the rest of the story here.

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Filed under Charter Schools, Education Reform, Politics, Teachers' Unions

“When public schools answer to markets” (Salon.com)

Why move to market-based incentives in public education if the results are not better and there is less public accountability?  Here’s what we’ve discovered so far about market-based education reforms:

There are several problems with this model from the perspective of both efficacy and, more importantly, democracy. First, despite the grand intentions behind marketized programs, they do not get better results on average than traditional public schools. A study conducted by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University found that 17 percent of charter schools reported academic gains that were significantly better than traditional public schools, 46 percent showed no difference from public schools, and 37 percent were significantly worse. Additionally, introducing supposedly tough-minded material incentives to improve teacher performance, such as giving higher “merit” pay to more successful teachers and threatening to fire less successful ones, has yielded no measurable benefits for children and, instead, tends to divide and demoralize teachers.

Other studies have found that the competitive incentives designed to drive innovation in the classroom are not operating as intended. Instead of improving teaching and learning practices, market incentives have driven an increase in schools’ marketing and promotional activities – that is, advertisements that better sell their products. And as marketing is most effective when aimed at specified groups, schools usually beef up their academic achievement statistics by targeting families of higher-achieving students, thereby contributing to increased student selectivity, sorting, and segregation.

Efficiency considerations aside, the real problem with championing marketized models in education and other areas is the damage it does to democracy. We should not be upholding a model based on turning citizens into consumers. Democratic citizenship does not simply involve an individual’s choice from a platter of options. Rather, it requires active participation in collective decision-making.

The problem with marketized models is that in the process of providing individuals with private “choice,” citizens are necessarily deprived of public choice – that is, the opportunity to discuss, deliberate, and act in concert with others. While advocates of marketization claim that it eliminates many of the protracted disputes that currently impede the effectiveness of schools, disputes aren’t always such a bad thing from the standpoint of democracy – especially when they deal with matters of genuine common concern like the education of future generations. Even if conflicts do arise, the opportunity to debate and engage in a democratic give-and-take with neighbors is a vital aspect of political education and empowerment. As Alexis de Tocqueville observed in the 1830s, it is only through participation in the exercise of power over collective outcomes, and the practice of thinking about and acting on public issues in public arenas, that people can develop the skills and commitments necessary to be citizens. Removing public education as a site for political education simultaneously removes yet another stake citizens have in our democracy.

You can read the entire article here.

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Filed under Charter Schools, Education Reform, Politics

Stop Governor Jindal’s Creationist Voucher Program ( Repealing the Louisiana Science Education Act Blog)

This what Louisiana taxpayers get with no public accountability and a political culture that doesn’t value church-state separation:

Stop Governor Jindal’s Creationist Voucher Program Before Governor Romney Takes it Nationwide

Update: Superintendent White removed Eternity Christian Academy from this list, but the other 19 remain. Eternity was not removed for curriculum issues, so it may be returned to the program while keeping a creationist curriculum.

According to the Associated Press, there are 750 creationist voucher slots which are worth more than 4 million dollars approved for this year.

These numbers will grow as the voucher program continues, and will easily be able to reach the numbers I’ve posted below. The numbers below represent the number of voucher slots originally requested by the creationist schools, and the maximum amount of voucher money that the state allows.

Also note, the numbers below would be the final numbers if not for the public outcry over how backwards this voucher program is. We need to keep pushing on the Governor and the Superintendent to remove the remainder of the creationist schools.

Louisiana is preparing to spend over $11 million to send 1,365 students to 20 private schools that teach creationism instead of science as part of Governor Bobby Jindal’s new voucher program. It is time to halt the implementation of this creationist voucher program.

You can read the rest of this article here.

The “Repealing the Louisiana Science Education Act Blog”  was started by Zack Kopplin.  Zack is a freshman at Rice University and a recent graduate of Baton Rouge Magnet High School.  Zack grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and he is working to make sure that he and other Louisiana kids will be able to get jobs after they graduate.  Since June, 2010, Zack has led the effort to repeal the Louisiana Science Education Act, Louisiana’s misnamed and misguided creationism law.  He is organizing Louisiana students and citizens in support of his repeal.

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Filed under Education Reform, Funding, Politics, Vouchers

Louisiana state library funding has been eliminated (LA Times)

Well … this won’t help education at all …

Citing budget concerns, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has signed a $25-billion budget that eliminates almost $900,000 in state funding for its libraries. In a statement, the governor’s chief budget aide, Paul Rainwater, said, “In tight budget times, we prioritized funding for healthcare and education. Operations such as local libraries can be supported with local, not state dollars.”

On Thursday, Library Journal took a look at that assertion. What they found was that while some local parishes may be able to cover the funding gap, others will feel the loss. Rural parishes will face a particularly daunting challenge.

You can read the rest of the story online here.

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Filed under Funding, Politics