Republican attack on public schools

Paving the way toward privatization

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The hemorrhaging of education dollars is increasing:

Before the voucher program began, there was little concern about the low level of state oversight of private schools because they received no public money. The voucher money is flowing now — $11 million this year, with $24 million budgeted for 2016 — but private schools are subject to minimal requirements for student assessment and none at all for curricula, instructional staff or financial viability. The schools can choose the pupils they want to admit and are free to provide religious instruction.

The hypocrisy of those on the right over this issue is mind-boggling. They wail about accountability and waste in our traditional public school system, and yet don't believe government has any business monitoring those very same things when taxpayer dollars are funneled into private and charter schools. And their predictable reaction to requests for more funding of struggling public schools, that "throwing more money" at them will do no good, is exactly reversed with charters and private schools. We need to direct more state and local funding in that direction, and every failure of one of those schools is blamed on a lack of monetary support from the government. It's amazing they can tie their own shoes without tying them together and then falling on their faces.

Charter school bullies: Baker Mitchell takes critic to court

Telling the truth doesn't always set you free:

“Pruden has falsely stated to third parties that public charter schools assist in ‘dismantling’ North Carolina’s system of public education…and that public charter schools have ‘morphed into an entrepreneurial opportunity,’” according to the original suit.

Mitchell says Pruden intentionally caused his Local Education Agency Impact Statement–a document submitted to the state as part of the charter approval process–to be published by the media. In that statement, Pruden accused Mitchell’s “private companies” of profiting from taxpayer dollars in the amount of $16 million.

Formal communications between local government entities and state agencies *should* be made public, especially if they concern possible changes in the way public funds are spent. Make no mistake, this is merely a version of a SLAPP suit, the main purpose of which is to silence opposition voiced in the public sphere. Combine that with the likelihood Charter-supporting Republicans in the General Assembly will soon introduce Parent Trigger legislation or other more aggressive approaches to shifting educational resources from public to private entities, and the chilling effect of this lawsuit should increase for many reading this.

NC Policy Watch series continues: Starving the schools

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And squeezing blood out of the teachers:

Staffing isn’t the only dwindling resource in the classroom — so are classroom supplies. Carter and other teachers dip into their own pockets to buy supplies and to meet emergency student needs. Carter said she typically spends $500 to $600 a year. Compared with 2008, the state has reduced the public schools’ classroom supplies budget by 52 percent.

“Let me be clear,” added Carson, the school’s principal. “Our teachers have been back and forth to that Wal-Mart across the street purchasing their own supplies for their classrooms.”

This is not a new, unforeseen problem, General Assembly members have been aware of this issue from day one. And they've made a conscious choice to hold back needed funding and put that burden on teachers, many of whom are under financial strain even without these added expenditures. It's contemptible, and even more so when you consider the bond package we're looking at now, which will spend hundreds of millions on University-related Capital projects most of these unfortunate students will never be able to touch. Scientia potentia est, and to withhold it from some indicates weakness and fear of their potential.

Teacher turnover in Guilford County just under 15%

That's one out of every six or seven teachers who are walking away:

Guilford County Schools’ teacher turnover rate, 14.95 percent, is the highest since 2007-08, the first year of the recession. The turnover rate that year, 15.7 percent, is the highest during nearly two decades.

When asked about the reasons why teachers are leaving the classroom, some educators also point to teacher pay and a negative political climate around public education...The average salary for a public school teacher in Virginia is about $15,000 more than in North Carolina. And that’s just with a bachelor’s degree.

This is quite possibly the single biggest threat to the future of our state, and what does the Republican-led General Assembly do? They throw a one-time "bonus" at teachers, knowing they will get a healthy chunk of that money back in taxes, while they (once again) cut income taxes for the wealthiest North Carolinians. Their priorities are clear, regardless of rhetoric and data-twisted graphs, and the smarter the teacher is, the more likely he/she will see through the lies and make the decision to leave. So we're not just losing a percentage, were losing the sharp edge, as well.

Voter survey on education spending

Private schools and for-profit charters are not as popular as the GOP thinks:

• 75% agree public tax dollars should not be used to pay for exclusive private schools
(up from 73% in 2013).

• 73% agree public money should not go to private schools. If parents choose to send their
children to private schools, they should pay for it (up from 68% in 2013).

• 71% agree tax dollars should not go to for-profit companies who run charter schools that are
not accountable to taxpayers for delivering student outcomes in the same way local public
schools are.

This is what happens when elected officials pay attention to a small group of advocates who echo their own prejudices; they strike off on a Crusade that does not have the support of a super-majority of the people they are supposed to represent. It's also one of negative effects of gerrymandering, because their inevitable re-election leads them to falsely believe people actually support what they're doing.

Eddie Goodall wants state to adverti$e for more charter school applicants

Think of how many more incompetent educators might try their hand if they only knew:

We already spend $20 million annually for lottery advertising, and senators want to spend $10 million more. We spend zero for charter schools. Advertising how to start charter schools in North Carolina offers a greater return on our taxpayer money than lottery advertising.

Better idea. Take $1 million of the lottery ad money and tell families and businesses about how to start a charter school. One primary reason we have dwindling charter applications (71 in 2014 and 40 this year) is that residents are unaware that it is indeed they and partnering neighbors or colleagues who apply to start the schools of choice.

No, the primary reason we have dwindling charter applications is that proponents are realizing it's not nearly as easy as people like you have been telling them. Somewhere around 1/3 of new charter schools close their doors within the first year, many of those never able to hold their first class. And poor financial planning is the major cause:

When op-eds go horribly wrong

Campbell professor goes off on a poorly-researched tangent:

Governments own and run most of our schools and therefore do not operate in competitive environments similar to those that brought us, among many other things, vast improvements in technology and telecommunications, higher quality foods at lower prices, bigger and cheaper HDTVs, and ever-cheaper means of transportation.

We run our schools much like the socialist-run factories of the last century: a top-down command and control system with a one-size-fits-all mentality.

Like most free-market fundies, Steckbeck feels the need to serve his tripe with a dash of fear-inducing "Socialism!" Maybe hoping to hide the fact he's just peddling an opinion, and not something that stands up under close scrutiny. HDTV was invented by Korean Woo Paik (product of public schools), and developed/introduced by Japan's public television network. And then a consortium of US-based electronics companies pooled their resources and developed standards which would (among other things) allow them to monopolize the technology and keep pesky entrepreneurs from joining the fun. I'm not through with him yet:

Oregon millionaire behind NC's public school takeover scheme

Everything is for sale, if you fill out the check properly:

John Bryan has underwritten the creation of ten charter schools across North Carolina, and now thanks to his political efforts he’s also behind a secret plan modeled after similar controversial initiatives in Tennessee, New Orleans and elsewhere to allow charter operators to fire an entire school’s staff and start from scratch in an attempt to catapult a public school into the top 25 percent of the state.

According to the North Carolina State Board of Elections, since 2010 John Bryan has given well over $100,000 to candidates who have a record of pushing school privatization efforts, including House Speaker Tim Moore, Rep. Jason Saine, former Guilford Rep. Marcus Brandon, Rep. Paul Stam, and Sen. Ralph Hise.

It brings the term "sellout" to a whole new level, doesn't it? Remember this: The state (for the most part) doesn't fund the construction of public schools, the counties do. In effect, this legislation has all the earmarks of Conservatives' supposed great nemesis "Eminent Domain," but in reverse. They're handing over something local taxpayers built and giving it to an out-of-state political crony. And they're handing over our children, too, which is even more outrageous, if that's possible. These bills shouldn't even be parked in committee, much less brought to the floor for a vote. They should be ceremoniously burned.

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