Republican attack on public schools

Private school vouchers lead to lower math scores, even four years later

Not the kind of "choice" parents were hoping for:

In math, the results, which focus on grades five through eight, are consistently negative. Even four years into the program, students who use a voucher had lower test scores than public school students. In English, there were no clear effects. Here, there was some evidence that voucher students improved over time, though there were no statistically significant positive effects after four years.

The results, published this week in the peer-reviewed Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, are largely in line with an earlier version of the same study — with a key exception. The first paper suggested that declines in math disappeared for students who used a voucher for multiple years. The latest version finds that the negative effects seem to persist for at least four years.

No doubt Civitas and/or John Hood will quickly dredge up some study they can cherry-pick to refute these findings, but it's becoming more clear every day that both parents and lawmakers have been hoodwinked. We've gone from better than to just as good as to considerably worse than public schools, but the private school cheerleaders in Raleigh still want to shift more public education dollars into the gaping maw of this black hole. And the only possible explanations left for that continued support are 1) Racial segregation revival and 2) Misappropriation of taxpayer dollars. And as for "why" parents would continue to pursue this apparently substandard education for their kids, don't discount the power of bigotry:

Introducing Kristen Powers for Alamance County Commissioner

"After Charlottesville, some of the Alamance County commissioners made comments so hurtful to people of color that my black friends refused to come back to that building. It may have been the comment that somebody’s family slaves were considered workers or perhaps the part where a commissioner was willing to spend money rebuilding a torn down statue instead of allocating funds to repair deteriorated rooftops on schools. In North Carolina, the county commissioner is powerful. Unfortunately, in Alamance County, there are only a few who are using that power for good. When I saw that one of them was essentially running unopposed, I decided that I had to step in."

Editor's note: Kristen is a friend, but she's also *exactly* what is needed on our County Commission these days. She's not only intelligent, but she puts that intelligence to work for the good of all people, especially those who need it the most, in her work for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice. Here's more about her decision to run:

School uniforms required after forced privatization of Ashpole Elementary

Because apparently "choice" is only an option for parents and not students:

Eric Hall, Superintendent for the ISD, added, “In addition to fostering a sense of community and school spirit, student uniforms will help make mornings easier for families by eliminating discussions about what to wear from morning routines; relieve school staff from administering school dress codes, reduce the potential for teasing with regards to a student’s attire, and they’re economical.”

Wait, I thought charter schools were supposed to be an incubator for creative thought, a radical shift away from the "conformity" of the factory-styled public school model, a monument to freedom of thought, a paradigmatic shift...You're right, I'm being facetious. The school choice movement has nothing to do with innovation, and everything to do with social engineering and money-making. Expecting them to operate in the way they've promised in order to sell their destructive policies is an exercise in futility. Also, we'll see how "economical" those uniforms are going down the road. Parents will be buying replacements before Halloween rolls around.

Justin Burr wants to track what films were shown in schools

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We'll have to be more careful with our Liberal Socialist Indoctrination Program (LSIP):

AN ACT TO REQUIRE LOCAL BOARDS OF EDUCATION TO REPORT MOVIES SHOWN IN SCHOOLS DURING INSTRUCTIONAL TIME.

The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts: SECTION 1.(a) Each local board of education and each charter school shall report in writing to the Superintendent of Public Instruction by September 1, 2018, on each movie shown during instructional time at each school in the local school administrative unit or at each charter school during the 2017-2018 school year in the months of November, December, January, April, May, and June.

SECTION 2. There is appropriated from the General Fund to the Department of Public Instruction the sum of one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000) in nonrecurring funds for the 2018-2019 fiscal year to provide for collection and summarization of data in accordance with this act.

If you're wondering about those dates, join the club. This bill was filed three days ago, but it seeks data from the previous school year. Data that was not (previously) required of teachers to compile. Yes, most of those teachers could probably tell you exactly what was taught on a specific day by perusing their schedules, and could probably tell you off the top of their heads what films were shown. But the timing of this tells me Justin Burr has a burr up his butt about something. Like, some irate evangelical parent told him about some evil film that was shown (Evolution!), and he's on a crusade to root out that evil. Whatever the case, get a life, dude. Are you upset you couldn't punish judges all across the state, so now you're going after teachers? I'll take that silence as a "yes."

Damning report on teachers' out-of-pocket expenses

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When government austerity creeps into the classroom:

Pencils, pens, crayons, construction paper, T-shirts, snacks and, sometimes, a pair of shoes: The costs add up for public school teachers who reach into their own pockets for classroom supplies, ensuring their students have the necessities of learning. Nearly all teachers are footing the bill for classroom supplies, an Education Department report found, and teachers in high-poverty schools spend more than those in affluent schools.

The report, prepared by the National Center for Education Statistics and released Tuesday, is based on a nationally representative survey of teachers during the 2015-2016 school year. It found that 94 percent of teachers pay for classroom supplies, spending an average of $479 a year. About 7 percent of teachers spend more than $1,000 a year.

Keep in mind, this is a national report. When your state's per-pupil spending hovers in the bottom 20% of schools nationwide, the burden that falls on teachers (and their students) is that much greater. We can no longer afford the GOP's bait-and-switch, where they moan about out-of-control spending, cut back on programs, brag about surpluses, then give huge tax cuts to the rich. And then when budget time comes again, they restart the same old formula. It amounts to incremental decay of our public education system, something that takes decades to repair. This is not a new problem; teachers have been suffering this funding nightmare for years. So why now? Why the big push for more responsible government funding? Because in the last 25 years or so, teachers' incomes have been steadily declining in comparison with comparable non-teacher professionals, making it much harder to make ends meet:

Public vs. Private: The hypocrisy of Berger and Johnson on teacher rallies

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Do like I say, not like I do:

State Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson have been voicing opposition to the big teacher-led education rally that’s taking shape next Wednesday in Raleigh. Berger attacked the one-day event and even likened it to a teacher strike, which he proceeded to describe in a thinly veiled threat as “illegal.” Johnson also criticized the rally because it is on a school day and said he would not attend.

Funny that neither Berger nor Johnson raised such concerns earlier this year when conservative school choice advocates – including teachers, parents and students – held a rally in Raleigh on, Tuesday, January 23 – a school day. At that time, Johnson thought it appropriate not just to endorse the event, but to attend and serve as a featured speaker.

We all know that Berger only cares about a tiny portion of the state's citizens, and an even smaller fraction of his own District constituents. But Mark Johnson is working diligently for an even smaller segment of the population, those who operate for-profit education factories:

Why they march, and why you should support them

Group with ties to Art Pope pushes anti-teacher propaganda

State Policy Network pens instruction manual for discrediting teacher strikes:

The new rightwing strategy to discredit the strikes that have erupted in protest against cuts in education funding and poor teacher pay is contained in a three-page document obtained by the Guardian. Titled “How to talk about teacher strikes”, it provides a “dos and don’ts” manual for how to smear the strikers.

Top of the list of talking points is the claim that “teacher strikes hurt kids and low-income families”. It advises anti-union campaigners to argue that “it’s unfortunate that teachers are protesting low wages by punishing other low-wage parents and their children.”

I have to give credit upfront to the NCAE and all of our teachers who have washed over the NC Capitol grounds with a sea of red for several years now. It would not surprise me if Civitas was a driving force behind this propaganda manual, because they've been trying to attack the Moral Mondays movement with whatever tools they can, up to and including publishing the names and photos of those who dared to challenge Republican leadership. And it also comes as no surprise that money (tax cuts for the wealthy) is at the core of this devious attack on teachers:

Elon Poll: Supermajority of teachers oppose arming themselves in classroom

This bonehead idea just got a failing grade:

More than three-quarters of North Carolina public school teachers believe that allowing teachers to carry guns in school is a bad idea, according to a new Elon University Poll conducted in partnership with the Raleigh News & Observer and the Charlotte Observer. The poll found that only a quarter of teachers would consider carrying a gun in school if allowed to do so.

The Elon Poll found that a majority of N.C. public school teachers said allowing teachers to carry guns on campus and in the classroom would be harmful to the learning environment, would make them feel less safe, and would ultimately lead to an increase in gun-related deaths in American public schools. Most expressed concern that a gun carried by a teacher would fall into the wrong hands.

Bolding mine. As you can see, they don't merely *not* want to carry guns themselves, they believe it would make things more dangerous. That's an important distinction, especially for those lawmakers who envision a subset of teachers with the proper skills (or to be trained with) stepping up to become sentinels. Now that it has been made clear what they *don't* want to do, let's look at their opinions on other options:

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