Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Unfortunate goal of school choice movement - Pastors for Texas Children

Unfortunate goal of school choice movement - Pastors for Texas Children
Many years ago, Jerry Falwell articulated the goal of the school choice movement well when he said, “I hope I live to see the day when, as in the early days of our country, we won’t have any public schools. The churches will have taken them over again and Christians will be running them. What a happy day that will be!”
Since the beginning of the religious right movement with Falwell, Phyllis Schlafly, Pat Robertson and others, the aim has been to destroy public education in America. Today they are closer than ever to achieving their goal because it is now being promoted by the president, his education secretary Betsy DeVos and Republican leaders in Texas government including the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, agriculture commissioner and land commissioner.

This is what you have elected in Texas, my friends, by choosing party over sanity.

Vouchers, school choice, education savings accounts — they are all code words intended to mask the real aim of this movement: destroy public education in America and turn all schools into institutions of religious indoctrination.

Now you may say, “Well, David, you are being an alarmist. It would never go that far. Why not try it in Texas?”

Pastors for Texas Children, on whose board I serve, will host an information session at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 9, at Southland Baptist Church. Speakers will include Veribest Superintendent Bobby Fryar and Barry Haenisch, executive director of the Texas Association of Community Schools. The purpose is to answer that very question for you.

But let me do my best to answer it here. I live in the Wall ISD. If 20 students get $5,000 apiece to leave the public school to attend a private school, Wall ISD will lose close to $130,000 that can’t be replaced. That money is just lost. No teacher can be fired, no bus route stopped, no money on utilities saved — they just lose the money.

So let me speak bluntly to my friends in the Wall ISD (and you can apply this to any ISD in our area) — when you keep electing right-wing, religious right Republicans at the state and national level, you are voting to close our schools. Please figure that out before it’s too late.

Notice I didn’t say all Republicans. State Rep. Drew Darby is a Republican who opposes vouchers. No, I said “right-wing, religious right” Republicans such as Dan Patrick, Ken Paxton, Ted Cruz, Sid Miller (yes, we have a Texas agriculture commissioner who is trying to destroy our rural communities — he sponsored the voucher bill when in the Texas House). Please take the time to learn where different Republicans stand on our children’s education.
Now let me warn you about something else. Since 2008, the state has reduced spending on education by $339 per student and reduced the state’s share of spending on public education from 44.9 percent to 38.4 percent. They keep pushing the burden onto local taxpayers while bragging they are cutting taxes. (They do this to our counties as well).

Public education already is underfunded by the state; if vouchers pass we will be using tax dollars to support both public and private schools, which will harm our public schools even more.

David R. Currie, Ph.D., serves on the board of Pastors for Texas Children and is the chairman of the Tom Green County Democratic Party.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

FairTest Testing Resistance & Reform News: March 8 - 14, 2017

FairTest Testing Resistance & Reform News: March 8 - 14, 2017
In state after state -- and even in Washington DC -- lawmakers are responding to grassroots' concerns by beginning to rein in standardized exam overuses and misuses. There's still a long way to go to win comprehensive assessment reform but there is concrete evidence of real progress. Check out FairTest's new test opt-out resources to see how you can add to the pressure during this year's testing season.  

ESSA Test Accountability Rules Swept Aside by Congress
National ESSA Implementation is Now a Big, Big Mess
National Did Sec. DeVos Ask States to Ignore Stakeholder Participation for ESSA Plans

FairTest Opt-Out Fact Sheets Revised to Reflect ESSA Rule Repeal as Testing Season Begins

Multiple States 
"A to F" School Rankings Draw Local Pushback

 Legislator Questions State Funding of ACT Testing
Arkansas School Grades Track Poverty

California Smarter Balanced, ACT and SAT Fight Over State Testing Control
California New School Accountability Dashboard

School Offers Incentives to Entice Kids to Take Tests

Senators Tout Benefits of Cutting State Exams
Florida Bill Would Eliminate Some Testing Requirements

School Leaders Seek Options on Testing Mandates,102728
Georgia Bill Seeks Escape Hatch From State Tests

New School Evaluation Plan Adds a Few Non-Test Factors

State Test is Neither Valid Nor Reliable

City Leads Way in Opt-Out Push

Less Testing More Learning Group Seeks Opt-Out Policy Clarification
Massachusetts Educators, Legislators Pushes for Alternative Assessment Measures

Plans for A to F School Grades Dropped
Michigan Debate Persists About Best Way to Assess Schools

New Jersey 
Resist Administrators Pressure to Take PARCC
New Jersey Why Is State Requiring Third Graders to Take Test on Computers

New York 
Activists Promote Sample Test Refusal Letter
New York Opt-Out to Stop High-Stakes Testing
New York Minor Test Changes Won't Change Exam School Diversity

Under Pressure State Agrees to Review Testing
Ohio Principals Question High-Stakes Testing

 Senator Says Standardized Tests Aren't Worth the Hefty Cost

Texas Model Assessment Reform Legislative Advocacy Resources

Suspension of School Grading Approved by House

State House of Representatives Votes to Scrap Graduation Test Requirements

West Virginia
 State Board Scraps A-to-F School Grading System

University Admission Harvard Law Dropping LSAT Could Lead to Sweeping Admission Changes
University Admission Worcester State Goes Test Optional
University Admissions FairTest Updates List of 925+ ACT/SAT Colleges and Universities

Worth Reading Eight Reasons to Opt Out

Bob Schaeffer, Public Education Director
FairTest: National Center for Fair & Open Testing
office-   (239) 395-6773   fax-  (239) 395-6779
mobile- (239) 699-0468