Thursday, May 30, 2024

Tunnel Vision!

Tunnel vision is when you focus on one aspect and ignore or don’t see everything else.

Case in point…
School choice programs have been wildly successful under DeSantis. Now public schools might close.
The Republican governor’s school choice programs may serve as a model for other GOP-leaning states across the country.
May 26, 2024

Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida Republicans have spent years aggressively turning the state into a haven for school choice. They have been wildly successful, with tens of thousands more children enrolling in private or charter schools or homeschooling.

Now as those programs balloon, some of Florida’s largest school districts are facing staggering enrollment declines — and grappling with the possibility of campus closures — as dollars follow the increasing number of parents opting out of traditional public schools.

The emphasis on these programs has been central to DeSantis’ goals of remaking the Florida education system, and they are poised for another year of growth. DeSantis’ school policies are already influencing other GOP-leaning states, many of which have pursued similar voucher programs. But Florida has served as a conservative laboratory for a suite of other policies, ranging from attacking public- and private-sector diversity programs to fighting the Biden administration on immigration.

“We need some big changes throughout the country,” DeSantis said Thursday evening at the Florida Homeschool Convention in Kissimmee. “Florida has shown a blueprint, and we really can be an engine for that as other states work to adopt a lot of the policies that we’ve done.”

Education officials in some of the state’s largest counties are looking to scale back costs by repurposing or outright closing campuses — including in Broward, Duval and Miami-Dade counties. Even as some communities rally to try to save their local public schools, traditional public schools are left with empty seats and budget crunches.
WOW! Great news! Or is it? Or is it another form of segregation?
The district has lost more than 20,000 students over the last five years, a decline that comes as charter schools in particular experienced sizable growth in the area. Enrollment in charters, which are public schools operating under performance contracts freeing them of many state regulations, increased by nearly 27,000 students since 2010, according to Broward school officials.
Fantastic! Or is it?

NBC Miami Ch6 reports…
“Of the 122,895 new students, 84,505 (69%) were already in private school, 16,096 (13%) came from public schools, and 22,294 are entering kindergartners,” the report released Wednesday said. “Does 16,096 represent an ‘exodus’ from the public schools as critics forecast HB 1 (the bill that included the expansion) would cause?”

As the bill was debated during this year’s legislative session, Democrats and other critics argued that such an expansion of the voucher programs would lead to large numbers of students exiting traditional public schools.
And that is exactly what happened, more students leaving public schools! It is doing exactly what it was designed to do. But what is that?
"As we continue to analyze the data provided by Step-Up For Students, what initially stands out is that roughly 7 in 10 new scholarship awards are going to students already enrolled in private school, at what FPI (Florida Policy Institute) estimates is a $676 million cost to the state,” the Florida Policy Institute, which strenuously opposed the voucher expansion, said in a statement Thursday.

The non-profit added that the voucher “money is going to subsidize tuition that families were already paying, an average of $8,000, that they can now use for other purposes.”
So what that is saying is that 70% of the students enrolled in private schools before the change, in other words those who could afford to send their children to private schools.
The report said that 27 percent of the voucher students enrolled this year in private schools are from households with incomes above $120,000 — which is 400 percent of the federal poverty level for families of four — or from families who “did not submit income information.” About 29 percent are from families whose incomes are between 185 percent and 400 percent of poverty level, which would include household incomes of up to $120,000 for families of four. Another 44 percent are from families below 185 percent of the federal poverty level, or $55,000 in income for a family of four.

Meanwhile, the state’s voucher program that serves students with special needs, called the Family Empowerment Scholarships for Students with Unique Abilities, also has grown. Step Up for Students reported that 79,035 students have been awarded the scholarships, compared to about 70,000 last year.
What this means is those who couldn’t afford privates school only a slim more families can now afford to send their children, so it shifted some who couldn’t afford private schools but the vast majority of lower class still cannot afford private schools.
The data published by Step Up for Students did not include information about the race and ethnicity of voucher recipients. The organization said such data “would be forthcoming, but not until enrollments in private schools stabilized sometime after the first week of September, which would make for a larger and more representative database.”
However, we have only seen bits and pieces of the report that the governor wants you to see. Politico goes on to quote the governor,
“Florida has shown a blueprint, and we really can be an engine for that as other states work to adopt a lot of the policies that we’ve done.”

 Gov. Ron DeSantis
We have DeSantis releasing cherry picked data before the whole report comes out. What we are seeing is the new modernized Jim Crow Laws and segregation.

And those private schools. Don’t forget that they can refuse trans students, gay and lesbians students, students who are not doing well academically, and special needs students… or they get to pick the cream of the crop. While all the public schools get all the misfits, which in many classes bring down their graduation rate which in return will cut funding for private schools.

Like I said the voucher program is doing exactly what it was designed to do cripple public education.

While out in Oklahoma the Republicans are attacking the public school system in another way.
Nine teaching certificates suspended by state board
Non Doc
By Joe Tomlinson and Bennett Brinkman
May 23, 2024

After more than an hour of executive session, Oklahoma State Board of Education members voted today to suspend the educator certificates of nine teachers accused of various illegal activities. Board members also voted to accept fact-finding reports on other educators facing disciplinary decisions, and they advanced proceedings for a half-dozen additional educators whose certificates could be revoked.
And their crimes?
One of those still awaiting a hearing is former Norman High School teacher Summer Boismier, who is suing Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters for defamation related to his statements about a QR code she posted in her classroom in August 2022 providing access to books via the Brooklyn Public Library. Walters, meanwhile, has been attempting to revoke Boismier’s Oklahoma teaching certificate even though she has moved to New York and now works for the library.
In other words she made a work-around for the banned LGBTQ+ books that were banned, the other teachers who lost their licenses were for justifiable means. The Oklahoman reported,
Walters took the action because Boismier pushed back against House Bill 1775, a controversial state law that targeted the teaching of critical race theory. In 2022 Boismier covered the bookshelves in her classroom with red butcher paper. She added a sign that read "books the state doesn't want you to read." She also posted a QR code to the Brooklyn Public Library, which gave students online access to a wide variety of books, including many questioned by school authorities.

Do you remember in the First Amendment where is says,
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble…
Well the states must think that it is okay for them to make laws to “abridging the freedom of speech” and “the right of the people peaceably to assemble.”
What begins at the local level moves to the regional level, then onto the state level when it comes to book bans. School book bans shift to public library book bans (despite claims made otherwise by those book banners), and then those bans find their way into the city or county level. In too many cases over the last four years, those city or county-level issues bubble to the state level, leading to legislation that does precisely the opposite of what the local-level regression seeks — local control is ceded to the state or country. This perspective is crucial for context as to why, in 2024, several states proposed legislation that would ban affiliation with the largest professional organization for library workers, the American Library Association (ALA).


Library workers are seeing their ability to be affiliated with their professional organization challenged. This is fueled by misinformation peddled by the far right, who see the ALA as some kind of machine that encourages librarians to fill their shelves with “pornography,” “obscenity,” and “inappropriate material,” as well as one that trains library workers how to undermine parents through diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. As outrageous as that sentence sounds — do we see the same kinds of arguments lodged at, say, police professional organizations, despite the fact they, too, seek to educate law enforcement officers about diversity, equity, inclusion, social-emotional learning, and so forth? — it underscores what these book bans are actually about. It’s not the books. It’s about eliminating anything outside the far-right Christian agenda from American democracy.
The Supreme Court has interpreted the First Amendment's right to peaceably assemble as protecting the rights of workers to join and participate in labor unions and professional organizations to collectively address workplace issues and conditions.

But hey, the Republicans don’t have to obey the Constitution they are above the law.

Updated: 3:30 PM

Florida’s top education official says public school closures a tradeoff for school choice
Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr.’s comments come after POLITICO’s reporting about the popularity of the state’s school choice programs — and the financial squeeze that subsequently placed on traditional public schools.
May 29, 2024

Florida’s top education official downplayed the sizable enrollment declines plaguing some of the largest school districts in the state on Wednesday, labeling potential campus closures as a motivation for traditional public schools to “innovate and provide programming that is attractive to parents.”


School choice is booming in Florida, with thousands more families flocking to charter schools, home schooling and using a state-funded scholarship for private schooling. This is by design of the state’s Republican leaders, like Gov. Ron DeSantis, who have expanded these policies in recent years — namely by opening scholarships to all students regardless of family income in 2023.
But all is not rosy…
Broward County, for example, has more than 49,000 classroom seats sitting empty this year, leading school officials to consider closing eight schools in the next two years. Closing one campus could save the district between $1.8 million to $4.3 million, according to a new presentation on Wednesday from the district.

Education leaders fear the long-term implications of school closures, like students being bused further away to a new campus and communities losing schools that have served them for generations.

“Here we saw today, the commissioner of education basically celebrating that public schools are being closed. That’s not OK,” Andrew Spar, president of the Florida Education Association teachers union, told reporters after Wednesday’s board meeting.
And who going to get the short stick?

I asked Perplxity AI
“Do school voucher programs causing segregation in school with white students migrating toward private schools and lower income students stuck in public schools?”

Yes, school voucher programs have historically contributed to increased racial segregation in schools, with white students using vouchers to attend private schools while lower-income students, particularly Black and Hispanic students, remain in underfunded public schools.

Evidence from the Search Results
The search results provide substantial evidence that school voucher programs, promoted under the guise of "school choice," have been used as tools to perpetuate racial segregation and undermine efforts to desegregate public schools, particularly in the South following the Brown v. Board of Education ruling:
  • After the Brown decision, many Southern states enacted laws and policies to resist desegregation, including authorizing the transfer of public funds to private segregated schools through voucher programs
  • For example, Prince Edward County in Virginia closed all public schools and provided vouchers for white students to attend private segregated schools
  • Between 1958-1980, private school enrollment in the South increased by over 500,000 students as hundreds of new private "segregation academies" were opened with white students using public voucher funds to attend
  • By 1980, an estimated 65-75% of white private school students in the former Confederacy were in schools that were 90% or more white
  • Today, while data is limited, the available evidence shows that students using vouchers to attend private schools are overwhelmingly white, even in states with voucher programs. Private schools serve only 9% of low-income students compared to over 50% in public schools
  • The origins of modern voucher programs can be directly traced back to efforts by segregationists to resist school integration in the 1950s-1960s
  • Vouchers were explicitly promoted as a way for white families to avoid desegregated public schools
So in summary, the historical evidence clearly shows that voucher programs have contributed to increased racial segregation by enabling the flight of white students from desegregating public schools to private institutions, leaving public schools with higher concentrations of minority and low-income students. This undermines the goals of equal educational opportunity.
And don't forget private schools do not have to take LGBTQ+ students nor students from different religions, nor special needs students, nor under achievers.

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