Thursday, March 9, 2017

GOP to end law protecting Public Schools, nationally Fund Private School System.

Lost in the flurry of devastating policies just hitting the fan is the actual dismantling of public education.

There is now a bill in the House to eliminate the countries educational framework for public schools known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965. This may be the first time your hearing about this law, so here's what it has been quietly protecting for the last 51 years. This will soon be gone...:
The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESSA) of 1965 is the nation's educational law and provides equal opportunity in education. 
1. It is a comprehensive program that covers programs for struggling learners, AP classes, ESL classes, classes for minorities such as Native Americans, Rural Education, Education for the Homeless, School Safety (Gun-Free schools), Monitoring and Compliance and Federal Accountability Programs.

2. Abolishes the Nutritional Act of 2012 (No Hungry Kids Act) which provides nutritional standards in school breakfast and lunch. For our most vulnerable, this may be the ONLY nutritious food they have in a day.

3. The bill has no wording whatsoever protecting special needs kids, no mention of IDEA and FAPE.

4. Protects Children with Disabilities - ensures access to the general education curriculum-ensures access to accommodations on assessments-ensures concepts of Universal Design for Learning - includes provisions that require local education agencies to provide evidence-based interventions in schools with consistently underperforming subgroups - requires states in Title I plans to address how they will improve conditions for learning including reducing incidents of bullying and harassment in schools, overuse of discipline practices and reduce the use of aversion behavioral interventions (such as restraints and seclusion).
What will be replacing it?

The Choices in Education Act of 2017, introduced by Republican wacko Rep. Steven King. It gets rid of the ESSA and creates federal block grants that'll be used Republican states to pay for what would be a federally funded nationwide private school system, short changing public schools. Not exactly small government/constitutionally required and well beyond the incentives used before this:
The bill establishes an education voucher program, through which each state shall distribute block grant funds  
(1) distribute a portion of funds to parents who elect to enroll their child in a private school or to home-school their child, and(2) do so in a manner that ensures that such payments will be used for appropriate educational expenses.
To be eligible to receive a block grant, a state must:

(1) comply with education voucher program requirements, and(2) make it lawful for parents of an eligible child to elect to enroll their child in any public or private elementary or secondary school in the state or to home-school their child.
At fake news purveyor Breitbart, home schoolers are as mad as hell over the possibility taxpayers may want them to be accountable:
Homeschooling families throughout the nation are voicing opposition ...“would be a slippery slope toward more federal involvement and control in homeschooling,”  asserts William Estrada, director of federal relations for the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA).
Why faze out public schools via state taxes and replace them with grant funding of private religious and home schooling? Rep. Steven King admits steering government funding to private school systems will stop the liberal attack on education and religion, giving back to parents the control they never lost regarding their child's schools. Oh, and that establishment of religion thing...?:
"We’re watching as a nationwide curriculum is being established, and that nationwide curriculum eventually drags the parochial schools into that curriculum. I’m watching as our Judeo-Christian values are being undermined, and I’m watching as western civilization is being deconstructed systemically throughout our public school system and especially in our universities – which we don’t touch with this, by the way. The object is to put parents back in control of their children’s education and curriculum and put it in a position where the public schools compete with the parochial schools.

Let the states regulate those things at that level, not the federal government. States that are unwilling to pass a voucher program have to give up their federal money. So isn’t that a much bigger goal for us – to put the public schools into competition with parochial schools than it is to preserve the status quo of homeschool?"
The states would then be able to cut even more public school funding with impossible benchmarks while sending more money to private schools.

Like one Westchester Pennsylvania blogger wrote:
Does the bill refer to any standards for schools to meet? No.

Does the bill require the child to be making some recognizable progress? No, just be “aged 5 to 17, inclusive.” So a student age 5-17, even if repeating one grade 3 times, qualifies, but a high school senior aged 18, for whatever reason such as earlier serious illness, doesn’t.

Don’t federal and states standards cover some of these things? Maybe, but none are referenced in the bill. In a year when you can see regulations falling like dominoes, you can bet that once the door is opened by HR 610, no one will dare turn off the money.
Check out this recent article from The Nation:  Education for Sale? School choice and the future of American education.

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