11/30/2017 – GOP War On Learning Continues In Senate Tax Plan, State Funding Cuts

THIS WEEK: States Shorting Schools … NOLA Reform Myth … Breaking Schools … Hurting Teachers Unions … Reform Ate Democrats


GOP War On Learning Continues In Senate Tax Plan, State Funding Cuts

By Jeff Bryant

“As the Republican-controlled Congress continues to advance tax plans that slash funding from public education, a new report reveals how state and local government officials, especially where GOP leadership dominates, have continued a decade-long campaign to keep school funding below levels that preceded the Great Recession … Perhaps, the whole strategy behind GOP tax plans and budget cuts boils down to a short-term need to cut education in order to offset the large cuts Republicans are providing to wealthy families and corporations. But next year’s mid-term elections – in which a third of the Senate, 36 governors, and three quarters of states’ legislators are up for re-election – will give the rest of us a chance to speak up.”
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K-12 Spending in Most States Still Far Below Pre-Recession Levels, Report Says

Education Week

“Overall K-12 spending in at least 29 states is still less than what it was before the housing industry collapsed in 2007… While housing values have somewhat rebounded in some areas, people aren’t spending at the levels they used to, and websites such as Amazon continue to siphon off a large portion of sales tax revenue. In at least 12 states … school spending cuts were especially alarming … ‘State level cuts have real and damaging consequences for local school districts.'”
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Faking The Grade

New Orleans Tribune

“The latest School Performance Scores for the state of Louisiana are in. And that makes now a pretty good time to finally come to terms with the fallacy of the miracle in New Orleans … We have known for quite some time now that the miracle was really a myth and that this reform and its purveyors, along with the state, the RSD and the charter operations to which they have given our public school students, our facilities and our money were failing our children and our communities … It’s been 12 years since our schools were hijacked. And 12 years later, many of them are performing just as poorly as they were before they were stolen … This brings us to the bogus notion of school ‘choice’ that reformers have held up as a blessing for parents and students, when, in fact, the only entities that exercise any real choice in admissions have been the charter schools—not parents, not students.”
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Here’s Why Two Indiana School Systems Went Broke. And Others Are In Danger.


“In the rush to overhaul education, [Indiana] lawmakers abandoned decades of commitment to the traditional public school system, pushing forward even as districts started closing schools, cutting programs and losing teachers. They developed a system that encourages free-market competition with other public schools, charter schools and private ones – creating a sink-or-swim mentality that already has helped push Gary and Muncie schools into such a deep financial crisis that the state was forced to take them over … School leaders across the state, though, say the way Indiana funds them only deepens the disparity in education between wealthy and impoverished areas … The state knowingly destabilized traditional public school funding, crippling some urban and rural school districts and creating a system of winners and losers that shows no sign of slowing. Statewide, the big question now is how many more school districts are headed toward the precipice.”
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Gutting Wisconsin Teachers Unions Hurt Students, Study Finds


“Weakening unions led to declines in test scores, particularly in math and science. The effects were fairly large, comparable to sharply increasing class sizes. And the harm was not evenly distributed: Schools that started out furthest behind were hurt the most, while higher achieving schools saw no impact … The law led to big cuts in teacher compensation, particularly for veteran teachers and especially in health insurance and retirement benefits … There was also a spike in teacher retirement immediately following the law’s passage. As compensation drops, it may become harder for district and teachers to recruit and keep teachers. An increase in retirement also reduces teacher experience, which has been linked to effectiveness … ‘High-performing schools filled vacancies from teacher retirements by poaching high-quality teachers from low-performing schools through attractive compensation schemes.'”
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How Education Reform Ate The Democratic Party

The Baffler

Jennifer Berkshire writes, “To begin to chronicle the origin of the Democrats’ war on their own – the public school teachers and their unions that provide the troops and the dough in each new campaign cycle to elect the Democrats – is to enter murky territory. The Clintons were early adopters … Redistribution and government intervention were out; investment and public-private partnerships were the way to go … This new cult of education wasn’t grounded in John Dewey’s vision of education-as-democracy, or in the recent civil-rights battles … Teachers unions were impeding progress … Following the political demonology pioneered by Arkansas’ first couple, neoliberal policy innovators routinely cast teachers as self-interested dunderheads, impeding progress, civil rights advancement, even global economic competitiveness … Today’s Democratic school reformers – a team heavy on billionaires, pols on the move, and paid advocates … got their start as Bill Clinton’s policy shop, branded as the intellectual home for New Democrats … Four decades after the neo-Democrats set their sights on the education bureaucracy, the journey has reached its predictable destination: with a paler version of what the right has been offering all along.”
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