Republican attack on public schools

Drilling down into Gov. Cooper's Veto of Read to Achieve reboot

An expensive boondoggle, by any other name:

The state has put more than $150 million into the program to date, and a study last year by North Carolina State University found no gains for the first year of students involved.

"Teaching children to read well is a critical goal for their future success, but recent evaluations show that Read to Achieve is ineffective and costly," Cooper said in his veto message. "This legislation tries to put a Band-Aid on a program where implementation has clearly failed."

It has failed. Not "performed below our expectations," but failed, miserably. NC State followed two separate cohorts of students who took part in the RtA program, and detected virtually no improvement with them as compared to those who did not take part:

NC's Innovative School District program suffering mysterious turnover rate

And nobody wants to fess up as to the causes:

LaTeesa Allen took over as superintendent of the ISD after Eric Hall, the first superintendent, left for a job in Florida. That was February. In response to inquiries from EducationNC, Dave Prickett, head of communications for the ISD, said that Allen’s last day was June 28. That is all he said. Meanwhile, in addition to Allen’s departure, the principal of the sole ISD school — Southside-Ashpole Elementary in Robeson County — has also left.

In interviews for an article about Southside-Ashpole published in March on EducationNC, neither Major nor Allen gave any indication that they were thinking about leaving.

"Rats fleeing a sinking ship" comes to mind, but it could also be something as simple as a management company being too tight with resources. That second thing has always concerned me about Charter Schools, because the governing boards are usually made up of business people, as opposed to educators, and cutting costs *always* emerges as a top priority with those folks. But honestly, the very nature of the ISD approach is wrong-headed, and amounts to a hostile takeover of public schools:

Friday with Ferrel: Education isn't enough

We need to widen the discussion if we want better results:

“Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham, and Wilmington are also expected to be the only three regions with more than half of the new jobs earning $30,000 or more in annual median wages,” say the Commerce analysts. “For remaining regions, most of the new jobs are expected to be at the lower end of the pay scale (less than $30,000).”

I'm jumping around a little bit here, but a good (long) look at economics in the overall child development picture is long overdue. That new jobs prediction above is pretty bleak, but it looks even worse when you consider a substantial number of those jobs will place families directly into the Medicaid coverage gap. In other words, despite all the cheerleading coming from Republicans and their consultants, things are getting much worse for those in the lower-middle. And that has a direct and profound impact on student performance:

Mark Johnson's "ClassWallet" program is a costly boondoggle

Somebody should design an app to detect idiots:

Several influential Republican lawmakers and GOP State Superintendent Mark Johnson announced Wednesday the creation of the N.C. Teacher Classroom Supply Program that would be funded by new legislation requiring school districts to transfer $400 to each teacher. If passed, educators would use the ClassWallet app to spend the money and to submit reimbursements for supplies they purchase.

“Giving teachers the maximum control over classroom supply funds is the ultimate local control,” Johnson said at a news conference. “Teachers can be nimble and they can use these funds to buy what they need, when they need it.”

This is even worse than we initially thought. If that money was given directly to teachers, they could pool their resources and make larger (bulk) purchases, and/or contribute to local businesses. But being forced to use an app restricts their choices, and allows for the (huge) inflation of prices. Don't just take my word for it, listen to the teacher:

Teaching supplies "shell game" criticized by education leaders

Robbing from Peter to pay Paul could make matters worse:

After Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson backed a bill Wednesday that would shift money from school districts to give teachers $400 each for classroom supply needs, several State Board of Education members expressed issues Thursday with the bill’s potential consequences for districts.

Both teacher advisors on the board, 2017 Teacher of the Year Lisa Godwin and 2018 Teacher of the Year Freebird McKinney, were vocal Wednesday about their opposition to Senate Bill 580, saying the reallocation of the money would take away resources districts need to buy supplies and equipment in bulk. Thursday, board member Jill Camnitz said she agrees with the advisors’ sentiments.

Not only is Mark Johnson not qualified to be NC's SuperNintendo, he apparently has a damn short memory. Just last Summer, he took money that was supposed to be disbursed to individual teachers and bought a bunch of IPads with it:

GOP school privatization scheme: Overfund, then loosen rules

Phil Berger is Public (schools) Enemy Number One:

Opportunity Scholarships, approved in 2013, provide up to $4,200 a year to help low-income parents send their children to private schools. The program has never used all the money allocated, leaving millions unspent each year, but a spending plan approved in 2017 calls for increasing the budget by $10 million a year through 2027, the Observer recently reported.

“We’ve got substantial demand,” Berger said. “I think the growth that’s currently built into the program is something that we don’t need to go backwards on.” Although he acknowledged that there haven’t been enough eligible applicants to claim all the money budgeted, he said that’s not a reason to rein in spending. “I think it’s reason to maybe modify the rules,” he said.

I take very little satisfaction that I predicted just that a few weeks ago. It was almost inevitable, considering how unethical Republicans can be when engineering their pet projects. I also take little satisfaction in being proved right RE my concerns about Joel Ford:

Dan Forest blabbers on about God and morality at Christian school

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Oh where did I put those anti-nausea pills?

“So when you go off the college and a professor immediately confronts you with this idea about God and says to you ‘God does not exist. Prove that he exists.’ And the first response from any student is to go ‘Well, I don’t know how to prove that, so God must not exist, so I’m just going to be quiet and go over into the corner and I will allow this professor to say whatever he wants,’” Forest said. “You need to be able to stand up in that class and say ‘Professor, you prove that God doesn’t exist.’”

Forest said college professors and “everybody else in the world” is trying to put the burden of proof on the students for their beliefs and “you need to be able to defend what you need to defend.”

Okay, aside from the fact the vast majority of professors don't and wouldn't confront a student in such a fashion, and that whole meme is straight out of a demented pastor's sermon, that is not how science works. At all. And that's not how education, especially higher education, works either. The goal is to jumpstart the critical thinking skills of students, not reinforce the idea they already know everything they need to know. But the most telling aspect of Forest's mind-numbing address to students is about government:

Blistering analysis of the GOP Legislature's failure to address school shootings

Talk about an exercise in futility:

Consider Recommendation 2, which urges a civics curriculum in each grade that focuses on citizenship, courtesy, and deference to school administrators. Of course, nothing is inherently objectionable about civic responsibility. But emphasizing it in a report ostensibly about school safety, in a year in which so many students died from gun violence, is a slap in the face to the teachers, students, and parents across the state who have demanded and deserve serious-minded solutions.

Most troubling of all is Recommendation 3, which urges legislation requiring that students receive first-aid instruction “on the immediate response to bleeding, how to recognize life threatening bleeding, and appropriate ways to stop the bleeding.” Tying tourniquets and applying quick clot bandages: no longer, apparently, the exclusive province of paramedics and other first responders, but tasks kindergartners must master.

What about triage? At least two (2) children in each class should be well-versed in what constitutes a fatal injury, so they can use a red Sharpie and put an "X" on the foreheads of any classmates that can't be saved. Yes, I'm being facetious, but that still shows a higher level of respect than this "report" deserves:

Stark evidence that private/charter schools are bringing back segregation

The numbers don't lie:

In 1988, enrollment figures for Wilson County Schools showed 52 percent non-white students and 48 percent white. Today, a breakdown of Wilson County Schools’ 11,164 students shows the student population is 44 percent black, 30 percent white, 20 percent Hispanic, 1.4 percent Asian and 4.6 percent other race.

According to PrivateSchoolReview.com, Wilson area private schools have a lower percentage of students of color. The site notes that Greenfield School has 11 percent students of color, Community Christian School has 17 percent students of color, Wilson Christian Academy has 5 percent students of color and Garnett Christian Academy has 11 percent students of color.

Bolding mine, because a shift of that magnitude over a thirty year period doesn't happen by accident. That's what providing "choice" to parents will accomplish; the choice to avoid black people. Let's roll back the clock a little bit to see why this is so important in Wilson County:

Veto S469, Municipal Charter School pension access

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Segregation then, segregation now, segregation forever:

A law that allows for town-run charter schools in four Charlotte suburbs has been criticized because it could lead to more racially segregated schools in that area. Now, a bill to offer state pensions to teachers at those proposed schools could make it easier for the model to spread to more cities. That bill (S469) is on the governor’s desk awaiting veto or signature.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools has publicly opposed the technical corrections bill passed last week that would allow municipal charter schools to offer state benefits to their employees. “Prior to this technical corrections bill, the functional reality is, these schools weren’t going to start,” said Charles Jeter, legislative liaison for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

The whole idea of municipal charters is insane, but allowing them to participate in the state's pension system is even crazier. Why? Because it makes us all complicit in the re-segregation of schools. First of all, municipalities have the ability/authority to refuse incorporation of poor and (quite often) African-American communities, basically blocking those black students from attending the new schools. And throwing the pension in there will no doubt draw many good teachers away from county schools and into the same white incubator. But that's not all this particular bill would do. It's a "technical corrections" bill (see omnibus), which would also give $8,000 vouchers to disabled students attending private schools:

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