Friday, June 21, 2013

State Senate Republicans give Voucher Schools Pass on Taxpayer Accountability, passing Budget after Midnight.

"In the dark of night, at the stroke midnight"...sounds like the opening sentence to a bad novel. Instead, it explains how bad policy is passed by state Republicans. 

My focus here? How "empowered" parents just lost all their power in Wisconsin's school choice program.

Why do backers of choice and school privateers continue their efforts to conceal more and more of their business and educational results from “empowered” parents, if they’re so damn good?  

It's because the privateers are afraid they’ll be exposed as marginal businesses simply out to make a buck. You can’t grow profits each year and still spend lots of money providing a high quality education, a point missed by parents suckered into vouchers. 

Playing on the insecurities of parents who fear they’re not doing enough for their kids, choice advocates falsely claim choice puts parents in charge, when it’s the other way around. Parents give up tons of information to businesses out to exploit them, turning that data into campaigns that “target” parents for marketing campaigns that not only tug on your heart strings, but allow them to make P.T. Barnum like claims.

Republicans secretly inserted a last minute change they knew would end public education once and for all. Without real data and accountability on the private side, and years of Republican rules and regulations squeezing the public side, the writings on the wall:
jsonline: The state budget bill expanding voucher schools across Wisconsin is also putting limits on the release of public data about their performance. The limits were inserted into an amendment (that) equires the Department of Public Instruction to release uniformly from all voucher schools the data on how well they are using that taxpayer money to educate students … prohibiting the state education agency from releasing selective data on individual voucher schools unless the private schools agree.

That could prevent journalists, parents and researchers from getting an early look at student scores as well as potentially a number of other records such as how much money the schools have been paid, complaints that have been filed against them, lists of board members and financial audits.

Jim Bender, president of School Choice Wisconsin, said the main thrust of the records provision was to prevent Evers and the DPI from selectively releasing information about voucher schools that make their performance appear worse than it is. Bender acknowledged that the amendment would have a larger impact … It would require a voucher school to sign off on the selective release of information to journalists or parents.
And some choice suckers thought public schools weren't responsive enough through anecdotal stories manufactured by conservative zealots with an ax to grind. Just wait till they seek answers from a private school CEO's, where secrecy is codified in law. 

The phase out of public education to a privately funded taxpayer supported system is here, and more subversively rolled out. Private information like business income, course work, grades and professional requirements will be almost impossible to get. Instead, and I've warned about this, “empowered” parents will have to rely exclusively on advertising brochures, TV and radio marketing. Nice way to buy cereal, but a not so great way to set your kids up for a productive life. 

But this isn't the only nail in the public school coffin:
Republicans who run the Assembly adopted an amendment Wednesday that would allow schools participating in the Milwaukee and Racine programs to accept students from anywhere in the state without it counting toward the student cap. Democrats said Thursday they had determined those schools could set up new, satellite institutions anywhere in the state that would not be subject to the cap, potentially rendering it meaningless.

Schools Superintendent Tony Evers said late Thursday that attorneys are reviewing the issue but that he is worried about it. "That would essentially negate any kind of caps," Evers said.
European countries have vouchers too, say privateers, but they conveniently leave out how those countries have national standards and tests. Such accountability is never brought up, and is a no-no for freedom loving defenders of choice. 

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