Nov 6, 2012
ELW

Presidential Candidates on Education: Families or Government in Charge?

The following statement has been attributed to Abraham Lincoln:

The philosophy of education in one generation becomes the philosophy of of government in the next.

Although education continues to be overshadowed by the economy and lately by foreign affairs such as the Benghazi debacle, it has still been discussed in the presidential campaign. The candidates discussed the federal role in education including the Common Core Standards and financing in the first debate, which I outlined in our last alert. And never has there been a more distinct contrast between the philosophies of education between the two presidential candidates.

President Obama’s approach has been unwaveringly towards big government solutions. He has consistently been in favor of more federal control and spending from cradle to college, as well as hiring more teachers and expanding federal data gathering. His administration has relentlessly pursued national standards in both preschool and K-12 via the Race to the Top grant programs as well as the No Child Left Behind waivers.  As a result he is very close to achieving federalization of curriculum, because 46-1/2 states and the District of Columbia have adopted these standards.  Nine states have federalized their preschool standards and put in place early childhood quality rating systems that will control private and religious programs as well. The administration has also increased Head Start spending despite numerous studies, including one in 2010, showing it to be a failure and GAO evidence of fraud in the program’s administration.

Governor Romney, on the other hand, except for being less forthright than he needs to be about the absolute necessity of cutting federal education spending has spoken consistently about decreasing the federal role in education. He has specifically stated that it is not the role of the federal government to promote national standards.

Most importantly, Mitt Romney has spoken of the critical importance of families and parents in the education of children, especially young children. These statements are like water in the desert for families and groups that want to see power and freedom returned to families and locally elected school boards to make education decisions.

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Oct 6, 2012
ELW

1st Presidential Debate Discussed Federal Role in Education

The first presidential debate, a decisive and widely declared victory for Mitt Romney, contained a number of illuminating moments on education.  While President Obama continued to openly display his authoritarian philosophy, Governor Romney showed the conflict in his camp and perhaps within himself personally between a strong limited government view and continued ineffective federal education spending.   Both candidates spoke about the role of government in general and in education in particular.

There was absolutely nothing new in discussions about the role of government from President Obama.  He continued his very statist approach saying:

But I also believe that government has the capacity, the federal government has the capacity to help open up opportunity and create ladders of opportunity and to create frameworks where the American people can succeed…

All those things are designed to make sure that the American people, their genius, their grit, their determination, is — is channeled and — and they have an opportunity to succeed. And everybody’s getting a fair shot. And everybody’s getting a fair share — everybody’s doing a fair share, and everybody’s playing by the same rules. (emphasis added)

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Oct 2, 2012
ELW

Education Liberty Watch Introduces New Freedom Grading Scale for Private School Choice Laws

The concept of trying to rescue poor and minority students from failing public schools is a noble one.  However, if the private schools are forced to teach the public school standards, which are at grave risk of becoming nationalized via the Common Core and its accompanying tests in 45-1/2 states and the District of Columbia (Minnesota accepted the English standards but not the math), in order for their students to pass the state tests, private schools will no longer be a meaningful alternative to the public schools.

This danger was detailed in our 2011 alert Imposing a Federal Curriculum on Private Schools – Why Voucher Programs that Require State Tests Are So Dangerous. At that time, we mentioned Minnesota’s proposed law that has not yet passed (that would have received a D grade on our scale) and Indiana’s enacted law (that did receive an F grade) that both require state tests to be given to private school students receiving vouchers or to the entire private school.  Since then, I have reviewed the testing accountability requirements for all of the 30 school choice laws that have passed in 18 states and the District of Columbia through 2012 based on the Alliance for School Choice’s annual report  and looking at the  newest 2012 laws passed since that report was written.

And, since grading scales are becoming de rigeur, I though that Education Liberty Watch should join in on the trend and provide a freedom grading scale based on how well each statute protects private school autonomy.  My hope is that you will see where your state falls and contact your policymakers to either improve your own state law if needed, make sure that any school choice bill offered in your state is as strongly pro-freedom as possible, and if nothing else, warn the private schools in your area what may be coming and urge them to speak up as this type of legislation is considered.

Before the table with the grades is presented however, it is important to also mention the education plan of presidential candidate Mitt Romney on this issue.  Thankfully his plan is a just a plan right now that was likely mostly written  or at least heavily influenced by former Governor Jeb Bush.  Mr. Bush, whose organization is funded by the Bill Gates Foundation, is a huge fan of the Common Core to the point of trying to prevent model legislation against the standards from being supported by ALEC. He also seems to be completely tied in with the corporate interests such as the US Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable, and the Business Partnership and the Gates Foundation, which has funded his own organization, that seem not at all concerned or even determined to bring about the usurpation of private school curriculum with the national standards. The Romney plan, A Chance for Every Child, speaks of the federal government promoting and paying for both public and private school choice.  It says on pages 23-24:

Romney Administration will work with Congress to overhaul Title I and IDEA so that low-income and special-needs students can choose which school to attend and bring their funding with them. The choices offered to students under this policy will include any district or public charter school in the state, as well as private schools if permitted by state law… To ensure accountability, students using federal funds to attend private schools will be required to participate in the state’s testing system. (Emphasis added.)

Aside from the fact that the federal government has no constitutional authority to be involved in education, a fact both parties have completely forgotten, this would be an utter disaster for education freedom.  It would bring the full force of the federal government to impose the federal curriculum of the Common Core on private and religious schools.  It would also negate the laboratories of democracy in the states that have passed good state laws that do not require this public school testing accountability.  On Education Liberty Watch’s Freedom Grading Scale, the Romney education plan, as currently written, would receive a D grade for requiring students to participate in the state tests.  If the plan is meant to require that all of the students in a private school attended by voucher recipients take the state (Common Core) tests, we would give it a failing grade.

However, the good news is that Governor Romney has recently made some important and very good statements opposing the Common Core and government expansion of preschool, which we will outline in our next alert. It is therefore hoped that the more pro-freedom members of his education team are beginning to hold sway and that Governor Romney can be educated about the perils to private schools in his plan.

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Oct 1, 2012
ELW

Education Liberty Watch Private School Choice Freedom Grading Scale Table

STATE

TYPE OF SCHOOL CHOICE

TYPE OF ACCOUNTABILITY TESTING IF ANY

ACCEPTED COMMON CORE?

FREEDOM GRADE

Arizona (2006) CSTC –  Means tested Nationally norm referenced test

Yes

B

Arizona (1997) ISTC None listed

Yes

A

Arizona (2009) CSTC-low income & foster children None listed

Yes

 

A

Arizona (2011) ESA – Children w/disabilities None listed

Yes

A

Colorado (2011) UV-  Douglas Co. State tests for  recipients

Yes

D

 

Florida (1999- expanded 2011) SNV (McKay) None Listed

Yes

A

Florida (2001 & expanded  2011 & 2012) CSTC Recipients must take either national norm-referenced  or state tests

Yes

C

Georgia (2001) SNV Schools must report recipients’ academic progress to parents and state

Yes

A+

Georgia (2008) CSTC & ISTC None listed

Yes

A

Indiana (2009) CSTC & ISTC State or NNRT

Yes

C

Indiana (2011) MTV Private schools must administer state tests

Yes

F

Iowa  (2006 & expanded in 2011) ISTC & CSTC None listed

Yes

A

Louisiana (2008) MTV/FSV in New Orleans Private schools must administer state tests to voucher recipients

Yes

D

Louisiana (2010) SNV None listed

Yes

A

Louisiana (2012) MTV/FSV – statewide State tests to recipients  & report to parents

Yes

D+

North Carolina (2011) ISTC – disabilities None listed

Yes

A

New Hampshire (2012) ISTC & CSTC None listed

Yes

A+

Ohio (1995) MTV –  Cleveland School District Private schools must administer state tests

Yes

F

Ohio (2003) SNV – autism None listed

Yes

A

Ohio (2005) FSV Private schools must administer state tests

Yes

F

Ohio (2011) SNV School must administer state tests unless student exempted due to IEP

Yes

D

Oklahoma (2010) SNV None listed

Yes

A

Oklahoma (2011) CSTC & ISTC NONE – Ensures academic accountability through regular progress reports to parents

Yes

A+

Pennsylvania (2001) CSTC None listed

Yes

A

Rhode Island (2006) CSTC None listed

Yes

A

Utah (2005) SNV Administer annual assessment of student’s academic progress and report results to the student’s parents

Yes

B

Virginia (2012) CSTC Private schools must administer NNRT annually, report results to parents, & aggregate results to state DOE

No

B+

Washington, DC (2004) MTV Administer NNRT & conduct  comparative evaluation  utilizing D.C. PublicSchools, Charter Schools, and OSP school testing data

Yes

B+

Wisconsin (1990) MTV –  Milwaukee district Administer state tests to scholarship recipients in grade 4, 8, & 10 & provide scores to School Choice DemonstrationProject

Yes

D+

Wisconsin (2011) MTV – Racine district Administer state tests to scholarship recipients in grades 4, 8, and 10

Yes

D+

FREEDOM GRADING SCALE:

A+ = No testing requirements and accountability only to parents

A = No testing requirements

B+ = Requires only a nationally norm-referenced test and reports results to parents

B = Requires only a nationally norm-referenced test  (Not currently tied to Common Core)

C = Requires the state tests or a nationally norm-referenced test

D+ = Requires private schools to give voucher recipients the state tests but reports results to an outside entity instead of the state

D = Requires private schools to give voucher/tax credit recipients the state tests

F = Requires private schools to give state tests to all students in a private school

ABBREVIATIONS:

CSTC = Corporate Scholarship Tax Credit

ESA = Education Savings Account

FSV = Failing School Voucher

ISTC = Individual Scholarship Tax Credit

MTV = Means Tested Voucher

NNRT = Nationally Norm-Referenced Test

SNV = Special Needs Voucher

UV = Universal Voucher

*Information, except for 2012 laws, adapted from Alliance for School Choice: School Choice Year Book 2011-12

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