Voucher Program Helps Well-Off Vermonters Pay for Prep School at Public Expense

by Annie Waldman  ProPublica, June 2, 2017, 8 a.m.

Regardless of their income, residents of small Vermont towns can use state vouchers to send their children to boarding schools and ski academies. Some school-choice advocates want to replicate the program nationwide.

via Voucher Program Helps Well-Off Vermonters Pay for Prep School at Public Expense – ProPublica

School Privatization State Report from Network for Public Education

NPE State Report Card 2017

The School Privatization State Report Card is a rating system designed to let the public know what school privatization programs exist in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. In addition, we rate the states and DC on the extent to which each state has laws and policies that further school privatization. To learn how we rated each state, go here.





Trump’s first full education budget: Deep cuts to public school programs in pursuit of school choice

 May 17

Funding for college work-study programs would be cut in half, public-service loan forgiveness would end and hundreds of millions of dollars that public schools could use for mental health, advanced coursework and other services would vanish under a Trump administration plan to cut $10.6 billion from federal education initiatives, according to budget documents obtained by The Washington Post.

The administration would channel part of the savings into its top priority: school choice. It seeks to spend about $400 million to expand charter schools and vouchers for private and religious schools, and another $1 billion to push public schools to adopt choice-friendly policies.

. . .

The budget proposal calls for a net $9.2 billion cut to the department, or 13.6 percent of the spending level Congress approved last month. It is likely to meet resistance on Capitol Hill because of strong constituencies seeking to protect current funding, ideological opposition to vouchers and fierce criticism of DeVos, a longtime Republican donor who became a household name during a bruising Senate confirmation battle.




Tennessee Balks at School Vouchers Despite Trump Support


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Proponents of school vouchers hoped the national political mood could make this the year that Tennessee would enact a law allowing students to use public money to go to private schools.

They were wrong. And now they’re mad.

Donald Trump won big in the state and picked Betsy DeVos as his education secretary, one of the country’s most vocal champions of school choice. But big city school districts and a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers beat back the latest attempts to enact voucher legislation this session.

Legislators couldn’t even enact a voucher pilot program limited to Shelby County, which includes Memphis.

The decision to put off the pilot program until at least next year incurred the wrath of the American Federation for Children, a school choice group DeVos once chaired. The group’s Tennessee political action committee has spent more than $1.5 million on direct mail, advertising and candidate contributions since 2012.

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In Arizona, teachers can now be hired with absolutely no training in how to teach

By Valerie Strauss  Washington Post The Answer Sheet blog.

New legislation signed into law in Arizona by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey (R) will allow teachers to be hired with no formal teaching training, as long as they have five years of experience in fields “relevant” to the subject they are teaching. What’s “relevant” isn’t clear.

The Arizona law is part of a disturbing trend nationwide to allow teachers without certification or even any teacher preparation to be hired and put immediately to work in the classroom in large part to help close persistent teacher shortages. It plays into a misconception that anyone can teach if they know a particular subject and that it is not really necessary to first learn about curriculum, classroom management and instruction.

Read the rest of the article




Facing ‘Dire’ Budget Deficit, Brockton Schools Will Lay Off Nearly 200 Teachers


Layoffs are on the horizon for 189 teachers in Brockton.

The district says the move is a last resort seen as the only way it can attempt to close a $16 million budget gap that the city says is partially caused by changes to the way the state counts low-income students.

New Method Misses Some Students 

Two years ago, 81 percent of students in the Brockton School District were considered “low income,” and like all districts, Brockton received extra money to educate them.

Today, the number of counted low-income students hovers around 55 percent. What accounts for a 26-point drop in just two years?

Brockton Public Schools Chief Budget Officer Aldo Petronio says part of the district’s financial woes is a change in the way the state counts low-income students.

“They now look at our student population — they receive it electronically — they match that against four state lists that they have,” Petronio said.

For Massachusetts to count a student as low income, the student must be registered for Medicaid, foster care or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This is a shift from how low-income students used to be counted, when all that was needed was proof of income to be eligible for free or reduced lunch. Districts would use this information to determine how many low-income students they had.

Now students must be receiving some sort of state benefits to qualify. And for places like Brockton, which has a significant immigrant population, students that may be living in poverty are not necessarily receiving any state benefits. Petronio says many Brockton students are newcomers to the country.

“They’re not on any state assistance program,” he explained. “They don’t qualify. It takes upwards of five years in this country before you can qualify, along with the fact that some of them are just afraid to get on any state assistance because there’s a good chance they’re not here legally.”

This leaves a huge hole in Brockton’s budget, because according to Petronio, not all of its low-income students are being counted.

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The Top 10 Resistance Victories in Trump’s First 100 Days – AltNet

Nothing Succeeds like Success and the grassroots resistance movements against Trump are proving that great adage with great aplomb.  The Women’s March and Town Halls are my favorite but read about all 10 and get involved in the next one yourself. mc

via The Top 10 Resistance Victories in Trump’s First 100 Days | AlterNet

By John Cavanagh, Sarah Anderson, Domenica Ghanem / AlterNet