Top 10 Reasons School Choice is No Choice

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On the surface of it, school choice sounds like a great idea.

Parents will get to shop for schools and pick the one that best suits their children.

Oh! Look, Honey! This one has an exceptional music program! That one excels in math and science! The drama program at this one is first in the state!

But that’s not at all what school choice actually is.

In reality, it’s just a scam to make private schools cheaper for rich people, further erode the public school system and allow for-profit corporations to gobble up education dollars meant to help children succeed.

Here’s why:

1) Voucher programs almost never provide students with full tuition.

Voucher programs are all the rage especially among conservatives. Legislation has been proposed throughout the country taking a portion of tax dollars that would normally go to a public school and allowing parents to put it toward tuition at a private or parochial school. However, the cost of going to these schools is much higher than going to public schools. So even with your tax dollars in hand, you don’t have the money to go to these schools. For the majority of impoverished students attending public schools, vouchers don’t help. Parents still have to find more money somewhere to make this happen. Poor folks just can’t afford it. But rich folks can so let’s reduce their bill!? They thank you for letting them buy another Ferrari with money that should have gone to give poor and middle class kids get an education.

2) Charter and voucher schools don’t have to accept everyone

When you choose to go to one of these schools, they don’t have to choose to accept you. In fact, the choice is really all up to them. Does your child make good grades? Is he or she well-behaved, in the special education program, learning disabled, etc.? If they don’t like your answers, they won’t accept you. They have all the power. It has nothing to do with providing a good education for your child. It’s all about whether your child will make them look good. By contrast, public schools take everyone and often achieve amazing results with the resources they have.

3) Charter Schools are notorious for kicking out hard to teach students

Charter schools like to tout how well they help kids learn. But they also like to brag that they accept diverse students. So they end up accepting lots of children with special needs at the beginning of the year and then giving them the boot before standardized test season. That way, these students’ low scores won’t count against the charter school’s record. They can keep bragging about their high test scores without actually having to expend all the time and energy of actually teaching difficult students. Only public schools take everyone and give everyone their all.

4) Voucher and charter schools actually give parents less choice than traditional public schools

Public schools are governed by different rules than charter and voucher schools. Most public schools are run by a school board made up of duly-elected members from the community. The school board is accountable to that community. Residents have the right to be present at votes and debates, have a right to access public documents about how tax money is being spent, etc. None of this is true at most charter or voucher schools. They are run by executive boards or committees that are not accountable to parents. If you don’t like what your public school is doing, you can organize, vote for new leadership or even take a leadership role, yourself. If you don’t like what your charter or voucher school is doing, your only choice is to withdraw your child. See ya.

5) Charter Schools do no better and often much worse than traditional public schools

Pundits and profiteers love to spout euphoric about how well charter schools teach kids. But there is zero evidence behind it. That is nothing but a marketing ploy. It’s like when you’re in a bad neighborhood and walk past a dive that claims to have the best cup of coffee in the city. Yuck. Surely, some charter schools do exceptionally well. However, most charters and almost all cyber charters do worse than their public school counterparts. Fact.

6) Charters and voucher schools increase segregation

Since the 1950s and ’60s, we used to understand there was no such thing as separate but equal education. Before then we had Cadillac schools for white kids and broken down schools for black kids. The Supreme Court ruled that unconstitutional. But today we have Cadillac schools for rich and middle class kids (most of whom are white) and broken down schools for the poor (most of whom are black or brown.) After making tremendous strides to integrate schools and provide an excellent education for everyone, our public schools have been resegregated. Charter and voucher schools only make this problem worse. They either aid in white flight or leach away minority students. This just makes it easier to give some kids a leg up while keeping others down.

7) Charter and voucher schools take away funding at traditional public schools

It costs almost the same amount of money to run a school building of a given size regardless of the number of kids in it. When students leave the public schools for charter or voucher schools, the public school loses valuable resources. It now has less revenue but the same overhead. So even if you found an excellent charter or voucher school to send your child, you would be hurting the chances of every other student in the public school of having their own excellent education. This is what happens when you make schools compete for resources. Someone ends up losing out on an education.

8) Properly funding parallel school systems would be incredibly wasteful and expensive

We could fix this problem by providing adequate funding for all levels of the school system – traditional public schools, charters, voucher schools, etc. However, this would be exorbitantly expensive. We don’t adequately fund our schools now. Adding additional layers like this would mean increasing national spending exponentially – maybe by three or four times the current level. And much of that money would go to waste. Why have three fully stocked school buildings in one community when one fully stocked building would do the job? I don’t imagine residents would relish the tax hike this would require.

9) School choice takes away attention from the real problems in our public schools – poverty and funding equity

We have real problems. More than half of public school students live below the poverty line. They are already several grade levels behind their non-impoverished peers before they even enter kindergarten. They need help – tutoring, counseling, wraparound services, nutrition, etc. The predicament is even more complicated by the way we fund our schools. Throughout the country, poor districts get less money than wealthy or middle class ones. The students who go to these schools are systematically being cheated out of resources and opportunities. And instead of helping them, we’re playing a shell game with charter and voucher schools. The problem isn’t that parents don’t have several excellent choices. If they’re poor, they often don’t have one.

10) School choice is not supported by a grass roots movement. It is supported by billionaires.

The proponents of school choice will tell you that they are only doing the will of the people. This is what parents want, they say. Baloney. While there are individuals who support school choice, the overwhelming majority of money behind this movement comes from conservative billionaires actively trying to dismantle the public education system. They want to steal the public system and replace it with a private one. They don’t care about your child. They just want to steal the hundreds of billions of tax dollars we pay to educate our children. This is not philanthropy. It is a business transaction meant to screw you and your child out of your rights.

If we really want to ensure every child in this country gets an excellent education, the answer isn’t school choice. Instead, we need to commit to supporting our public school system. We all need to be in this together. Yes, our schools should look at the needs of each child and tailor education to fit appropriately. But that shouldn’t be done in parallel school systems. It should be done under the same umbrella. That way, you can’t defund and defraud one without hurting all. It can’t just be about your child. It has to be about all children.

That’s the only choice worth making.


NOTE: This article was given a shout out on Diane Ravitch’s blog and published on the Badass Teachers Association blog.

 

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141 thoughts on “Top 10 Reasons School Choice is No Choice

  1. What you are saying is that parents should not have a choice unless they are rich enough to send their kids to private schools. If the local public schools are staffed by unaccountable teachers’ union members, too bad. By the way, charter schools ARE public schools. If (non-charter) public schools are such a great idea, then competition from vouchers and charter schools should not be a problem. Unfortunately, teachers’ unions don’t want to compete, they want to coerce.

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    • tgiordan, No, that’s not what I’m saying at all. All parents should have the choice to send their children to an excellent school – not just some of them. But so-called School Choice initiatives are all about saving SOME kids while dooming the rest to inequitably funded schools. And the kids choicers are working to save are just the ones with wealthy parents who don’t need any saving. THAT’S what I’m saying. You’re being duped by billionaires and their surrogates.

      By the way, unions members are not unaccountable. Who hired them? Answer: your duly-elected school board members. Who fires them? Answer: school administrators who can prove wrongdoing. Yes, even if teachers have tenure.

      Additionally, charter schools are public in name only. They are run and judged by different rules. If it doesn’t look like a duck and doesn’t quack like a duck, I’m not calling it a duck. Neither should you.

      Competition is a terrible way to run a school system. That means someone has to – by definition – lose. That means there will be some kids who don’t get an education. Why? Because some business person thought he could make more money by reducing students’ services and taking the savings home as profit. Moreover, these for-profit charters would all be closed if our legislators weren’t often pocketing thick envelopes full of campaign donations from these same scumbags who run these for-profit charters.

      The enemy is not teachers and their unions. It is privatizers robbing you and your children blind as you blindly cheer them on.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Why wouldn’t I like to use my education tax dollars on my child? Until this year, my tax dollars have funded other children’s education exclusively. I paid for my child’s private and homeschool education completely out of my pocket. (I’m not a billionaire or even a millionaire, by the way.)

        Liked by 1 person

      • Rebeca, the problem is that this is taxpayer money. It’s not just your money. It’s everyone’s. Therefore, there are certain standards for how it can be spent. For example, it can’t be used to fund religion. That’s why it can’t go to a private school. Public schools have to be accountable to all taxpayers. I think that’s a good thing. But I do agree with your question. Why WOULD you not use your tax dollars on your child? Why wouldn’t you send your child to a public school? They aren’t perfect, but you get a pretty good return on your investment. We need to stop focusing on just our own children. We need to make sure everyone gets an excellent education and the best way to do that isn’t to divide our tax dollars up to different types of schools. It’s to strengthen our public schools for all. (By the way, if you homeschooled, you got government money to help you do that.)

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      • ‘Until this year, my tax dollars have funded other children’s education exclusively’

        Since OUR tax dollars fund more than just other children’s education, are you against defending the Untied States military or fixing the country’s run down and worn out infrastructure?.

        According to cbpp.org, 25% of tax revenues fund Education. The rest funds other public benefits and infrastructure projects.

        If we don’t educate those other children, what will happen to the United States? Your share of the taxes that fund public education contributed to this country being ranked #4 in the world for the ratio of college graduates and most of those college graduates went to public k – 12 schools.

        America spends over $550 billion annual on public elementary and secondary education in the United States. How much was your share of that amount?

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    • You could not be more wrong tgiordan. In all of the places where teachers are unionized the quality of the public schools is better; go research it. Charter schools are separate and unequal. They don’t have school boards so thay can keep their financials hidden from the public and in many, many cases they refuse to release records to the public when requested. In fact there are a number of court cases right now because the charters are charging exorbitant fees to copy and produce records and even when ordered by judges,they still refuse to comply. Charters have poorer working conditions than public schools and a very high turn-over rate for teachers.Charters can and often do hire underqualified and uncertified teachers because they pay lower salaries and by the way ALL public school teachers have to be very highly qualified with NO waivers. That is federal and state law. If charters are indeed public schools as you say then why do they get to play by a completely different set of rules? How is it that in the Northampton MA. district for example the per pupil cost at charter schools is 11,000 dollars and the public school per pupil amount is 1,187? That is not fair because it takes tax dollars away from every one else, much the same way segregated schools in the south did for a very long time. Charter schools are NOT better than public schools. There is no evidence to suppport that and there is quite a bit of evidence to show that they perform poorly in many areas. They do not service special needs students in the same number that the public schools do and if you google it you find out that they often get rid of students they do not want to service. Oh and one last thing, what if your parent is working 2-3 jobs, doesn’t have transportation and is not near public transportation? Would you have an “equal” opportunity to attend a charter school?Teachers are accountable! I was a teacher for 35 years and a proud union member. We must demonstrate all of our competecies through a rigorous evaluation process, and provide physical and photographic evidence for all of the curricula we teach. So the next time you want to bash unions remember unions fought for smaller classes, more planning time, more classroon materials, safer schools, and professional development to keep improving their skills. Don’t memorize sound bites; do your homework!

      Liked by 5 people

      • Tgiodan, you might think differently if you had actual experience with a bad teacher at a charter school. There’s no magic bullet at charter schools that guarantees they have great teachers any more than there is in a public school. The issues is perhaps less accountability in a charter school, depending on the school. I know teachers who have left the public school system for charters, they were no better or worse than those who stayed. The issue is accountability. If public funds go to private organizations, then the accountability should be the same!

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    • Please explain your words “unaccountable teachers union members”. In my experience ALL public school teachers are extremely accountable: to students, parents, their peers, their principal, their district, the state DOE, and when applicable, to the federal auditors and monitors. It’s inescapable. In contrast, teachers at private charters and for-profit charters and charter chains are ultimately accountable mainly for the bottom line profits of the charter company!

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    • It has nothing to do with teacher unions. I worked 30+ years in a “right to work” state where unions have no impact on how schools are run. In the beginning of my career schools were funded at a modest rate which allowed for decent class sizes with a full range of needed services to address ALL students’ academic needs. With the increase of charter and for-profit schools politicians found a way to be bought at the expense of students while vilifying education. Meanwhile, in many states teacher unions are powerless to collectively influence the education system. Don’t blame teacher unions!

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    • I should also add that you are correct when stating that charter schools are public schools. The issue with charters is that they are not held to the same standards as the traditional public schools. As the article points out there are many examples of charters’ ability to basically ignore the rules the rest of us have to live by.

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    • Teachers ARE 100% held accountable. They have observations, have to maintain professional development hours, are observed constantly. If a teacher is deemed inadequate they are put on a Corrective Action Plan (Probation) . If the teacher is not up to standards they are dismissed. If charters are so great why aren’t the wealthy towns in my area clamoring for them? They only seem to be in the “hood”

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  2. I think magnet schools should also be lumped with charters and vouchers because for the most part, these schools do little to close the achievement gap,also pull resources from and create competition for traditional neighborhood schools.

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  3. Charter schools are ‘not’ private schools. They are sometimes privately funded via a non profit etc. but they adhere to public school standards as well. Montessori schools for example are private funded directly.

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    • I never said they were. However, they aren’t held to the same high standards as traditional public schools. We shouldn’t conflate them. Charters are not required to be nearly as transparent or have to answer for how they spend taxpayer money or the results they achieve for children. In general, they’re a bad choice for individuals and even worse for society.

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  4. Nice job! People may be interested in our book, EDUCATIONAL DELUSIONS which explains the conditions that can either make choice intensify stratification or increase opportunity for students in awful schools and how we forgot the lessons we learned about this a half century ago in the civil rights era.

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  5. I’m not rich! I bust my but to work 2 jobs to send my kids to private school because the public education system is a joke. Im offended that you even insinuate private school are only for the rich.
    Our public school has curriculum below my children’s ability, unequal distribution of technology, and numerous other factors. I shouldn’t have to work so hard for my children to get the education they deserve. So, if the state isn’t using the money to make visible improvements in the public school system then vouchers it is.

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    • You’re Making my point. Not everyone can work as hard as you and no one should have to just to give their child an education. But when you remove your child from the system, you’re just allowing those who broke it to get away with it. You’re not part of the solution. You’re part of the problem. We need everyone – especially strong people like you – to fight for an equitable public education for all. I understand you’re putting your child first, but frankly you just gave up on a system that benefits everyone.

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      • I am offended by your response. I will work as hard as I can in order to give my children the education they deserve. I can’t afford to move to get a better education for my children. I live in a ridiculously expensive area. My only option is too work hard to send my kids to private school or I have to move.

        I will not send my kid to the terrible public schools that the public system offers me. You talk about choice. I have no choice. I have been assigned to some extremely bad schools.

        I don’t know how we can have good teachers where I live considering the cost of living and the relative low salaries teachers receive. Housing is outrageously expensive. Is a teacher expected to commute for hours to find affordable housing. Good luck getting good teachers with the huge housing expenses here. Most of the good teachers move to affordable areas to teach. I don’t blame them one bit. They are doing what is best for them. Does that mean they gave up on the system? Are they part of the problem for moving to an area where they can have a reasonable standard of living?

        Yet you say the problem is that wealthy neighborhoods have the best schools. I live in Silicon Valley and I pay way too much for my house. I manage to somehow live in an area where the median home price is $900,000 for a shack. The schools here are heavily impacted by low income families who use the school as free daycare. I admire the school for feeding the children at lunch. It is probably their one good meal a day and I approve of this use of taxpayer money.

        I don’t claim to have the answers. I would just argue that everyone can work as hard as Bwalker if they love their children enough to provide them with a good education. Claiming he is part of the problem is completely disturbing to me. Yes he is motivated by his self interest in his children. Just as your blog pertains to your self interest as a teacher in the public school system.

        So your answer is that I should put the public school system first, before my own child. What if that system fails my child? Wouldn’t that make me part of the problem if I could have worked harder to give him the education that the public school system failed to give him? I want to be the solution for my child and if I have to work harder than so be it.

        But I understand where you are coming from. It is a complicated issue and I personally believe that higher pay for teachers is a critical component to improving our system.

        Here is the ultimate irony in the public system. One of the school teachers for the local elementary school I am assigned to is an alcoholic. I know this because after school this teacher goes to a local bar every single day. This teachers own children were taken from them by child protective services. They were seen unfit to raise their own child! But this same person is raising 31 other children in their classroom. This is not fiction. This is truth and I really have no desire for that teacher to have any influence on my child whatsoever.

        No my friend. My children will not be exposed to that. So seeing that this is my option for a teacher and my public schools existing terrible reputation for gang activity, I will work as hard as I can to provide my children with the opportunities that the public system will not. I would argue that you sir are motivated by self interest in your cause. I hear you beating to the drummer of an equitable public education for all. I completely agree with that in and of itself. But the reality is the system is not fair or equitable and all 3 schools offered to my child by the public system are bad.

        But I don’t want to blame all teachers. I believe many teachers are good. But the reality is so many kids where I live, make it to high school who should not have made it past 3rd grade. That is the reality of the public school system where I live.

        The system has failed, but I don’t blame all of the teachers. Just the ones who shuffle the kids to the next grade to get them out of their classroom and pass the problem on to the next years teacher… who in many cases does the same thing. This may not be an issue where you live, but it unfortunately is an issue in my school system.

        So my question is would you send your kid to one of these schools? If your a good parent the answer is no you would not. But as a teacher with a who is a stake-holder in the public school system of course you would say that. I get it.

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      • Concerned parent, I’m glad you found my blog. You are obviously worried and conflicted about the state of public education. Me, too.

        I don’t have all the answers. I wish I did. However, I know the public school system, and that experience has taught me that the best we can do for our children (unless we’re wealthy maybe) is to support that system. We can go to school board meetings and demand better. We can even run for school board. And if we know of real, actionable misconduct among school employees, we can go to the school board and ask it be investigated.

        I’m not just a teacher. I’m a public school parent. I send my daughter to the same urban public school I graduated from. It’s far from perfect. She doesn’t get the opportunities she’d get if we lived in a wealthier neighborhood. Her class sizes are too large, too. But I am confident she is getting a good education. The teachers are trying their best, and she loves them. She’s also learning about so many different kinds of people by being exposed to different cultures, religions and creeds. I have no regrets.

        One thing you have to realize is that parents are more important than teachers. If you’ve done your best to raise a well-behaved, curious, emotionally balanced young person, he or she will probably do well no matter where the school is. A good teacher helps and can inspire a young person, but it’s really up to them. Out of school factors have a larger impact than in school factors. That’s our job as parents. I worry more for those children who don’t have the support at home.

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      • You asked Steven if he would send his kids to one of these alleged horrible public schools,but I’m going to answer that question too.

        YES!

        In fact we did against all the advice of family and friends that we were making a mistake. The result. Our daughter graduated from a public high school in an area with home prices simliar to what you mentioned. She graduated with honors as a scholar athlete and her GPA was 4.65. Stanford accepted her and she graduated from Stanford with a BA in June 2014 and already had a job starting out with about what I ended earning after 30 years of teaching in the public schools in California.

        I’m going to tell you what we told our daughter when she was in third grade. Teaching is the responsibility of the teacher. Learning is your responsibility. If you earn a poor grade, it was probably because you weren’t learning. If you need help teachers have office hours outside of class time. Take advantage of it. She did. She knew that if she didn’t learn even from incompetent teachers it was her fault she wasn’t learning.

        In her second year at Stanford I asked her how many teachers she had K-12 that were incompetent. She thought about for awhile and then replied, “Two.” She earned A’s from them too.

        Our daughter K-12 public school experience spanned five different school districts from Southern California to Northern California. The high school she attended was ranked 8 on California scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest. That ranking was based on the test scores of the students. Those test scores do not reveal how much students read, cooperate in class, do homework, get adequate sleep vs watching TV, texting, listening to music, playing video games, staying up well past midnight even on school nights, etc.

        I think parents that blame schools for children who don’t learn our not really doing their job as parents. They accuse public school public school teachers failing when their children aren’t bothering to do what it takes to learn.

        How do you judge a failing school? I haven’t known of a public school that is a real failure yet, because student test scores are misleading and flawed.

        For most of the 30 years I taught, often working 60 to 100 hours a week along with many of the teachers I worked with, I worked at schools where the child poverty rate was 70 percent or higher. The schools were all rated failing by the states flawed and fraudulent method of ranking public schools with test scroes while ignoring what’s going on in corporate charters, but the public school teachers still had students that came out of their classrooms who graduated with honors and ended up on full scholarships to universities like Stanford, MIT, USC, etc. The same teachers taught the students who went on to college and the students who went home overnight to fight gang turf wars and spray gang graffiti on walls until the early morning hours or watch way too much TV, playing video games, texting etc.

        I refuse to blame teachers for lax and lazy parents who allowed their children not to learn.

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  6. Private sector charter schools are only public schools until they get the public’s money, and then they are private-sector businesses so they can be as opaque as possible and hide their flaws.

    Except that ploy is falling apart.

    “Charters are public schools, funded by taxpayers and widely promoted as open to all. But Reuters has found that across the United States, charters aggressively screen student applicants, assessing their academic records, parental support, disciplinary history, motivation, special needs and even their citizenship, sometimes in violation of state and federal law.”

    “And from New Hampshire to California, charter schools large and small, honored and obscure, have developed complex application processes that can make it tough for students who struggle with disability, limited English skills, academic deficits or chaotic family lives to even get into the lottery.”

    http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-charters-admissions-idUSBRE91E0HF20130216

    RE: those who think the traditional public schools are failing, explain the results of this Stanford study:

    Poor ranking on international test misleading about U.S. student performance, Stanford researcher finds

    The report also found:

    There is an achievement gap between more and less disadvantaged students in every country; surprisingly, that gap is smaller in the United States than in similar post-industrial countries, and not much larger than in the very highest scoring countries.

    Achievement of U.S. disadvantaged students has been rising rapidly over time, while achievement of disadvantaged students in countries to which the United States is frequently unfavorably compared – Canada, Finland and Korea, for example – has been falling rapidly.

    U.S. PISA scores are depressed partly because of a sampling flaw resulting in a disproportionate number of students from high-poverty schools among the test-takers. About 40 percent of the PISA sample in the United States was drawn from schools where half or more of the students are eligible for the free lunch program, though only 32 percent of students nationwide attend such schools.

    RE: the comment that alleged teachers that belong to labor unions are not held accountable, YOU ARE WRONG!

    The local teacher’s unions do not protect incompetent teachers. Due Process does that, and the Fifth Amendment says to the federal government that no one shall be “deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.” The Fourteenth Amendment, ratified in 1868, uses the same eleven words, called the Due Process Clause, to describe a legal obligation of all states. These words have as their central promise an assurance that all levels of American government must operate within the law (“legality”) and provide fair procedures. Most of this essay concerns that promise. We should briefly note, however, three other uses these words have had in American constitutional law.

    https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/due_process

    Teachers’ unions step in with expensive legal support that teachers can’t afford when those due process rights that are part of the U.S. Constitution are threatened. The teachers’ labor unions are not there to protect incompetent teachers.

    What are those due process rights for teachers?

    Constitutional provisions provide protection to teachers and school staff at public schools that are generally not available to teachers at private schools. Since public schools are state entities, constitutional restrictions on state action limit some actions that public schools may take with respect to teachers or other employees. Rights that are constitutional in nature include the following:

    Despite this broad delegation, however, the state agencies may not act arbitrarily, nor may these agencies deny or revoke certification on an arbitrary basis. Some state statutes provide that a certificate may be revoked for “just cause.” Other common statutory grounds include the following:

    •Immoral conduct or indecent behavior
    •Incompetency
    •Violations of ethical standards
    •Unprofessional conduct
    •Misrepresentation or fraud
    •Willful neglect of duty

    Most states protect teachers in public schools from arbitrary dismissal through tenure statutes. Under these tenure statutes, once a teacher has attained tenure, his or her contract renews automatically each year. School districts may dismiss tenured teachers only by a showing of cause, after following such procedural requirements as providing notice to the teacher, specifying the charges against the teacher, and providing the teacher with a meaningful hearing.

    Teacher Dismissal
    A school must show cause in order to dismiss a teacher who has attained tenure status. Some state statutes provide a list of circumstances where a school may dismiss a teacher. These circumstances are similar to those in which a state agency may revoke a teacher’s certification. Some causes for dismissal include the following:

    •Immoral conduct
    •Incompetence
    •Neglect of duty
    •Substantial noncompliance with school laws
    •Conviction of a crime
    •Insubordination
    •Fraud or misrepresentation

    http://www.educationrights.com/teacherrights.php

    In the United States when anyone, even a public school teacher, is accused of a crime, the accuser must prove guilt in court with evidence. Until an accused teacher has his or her day in court where the evidence must prove guilt behind a doubt, that teacher is not guilty no matter what the headlines on a blog post or in the traditional media allege.

    Mother Jones published a piece on this issue:

    “Are LAUSD student vulnerable to molesters? Maybe. Unfortunately, the story was so poorly written that I literally had to print it out and start circling names and dates to figure out what their evidence was. When I finished, here’s what I had: Over a period from 1995 to 2005 the district, which employs around 50,000 teachers, apparently had three cases in which teachers or aides were (a) accused of molestation, (b) cleared, (c) put back in the classroom, and (d) later convicted of a subsequent molestation. In addition, there was one more case in which an aide acquitted of molestation charges was briefly put back in a classroom but later fired.”

    http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2009/05/sex-offenders-our-schools

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  7. At my public school, we have noticed that many charters hire our para professionals as teachers or the teachers who left or were fired because they were incompetent. After the charter school makes the same discovery, these teachers simply move to a new charter. Our paras have limited training and often have only a high school or an associates degree. Most have no training in child development or educational practices and strategies. This means the teacher has fewer resources to draw upon to help struggling students.

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  8. […] Instead of adopting any of these ideas that are already proven to help children, we are choosing to adopt, at great expense, a plan that has been shown to hurt children. What a voucher program essentially does is ration high quality public education. Some children, namely those whose parents can navigate the system, will get a life boat to a potentially better situation. But what about those left behind? A vouchers plan does not offer a solution for those children. In fact, as blogger Steven Singer points out, it makes things worse. […]

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  9. Our son goes to a charter school which is in fact much better than our local public school option. It is far from perfect, but definitely better. Some of what you say is true and clearly there are some very bad charter schools, just like there are some very bad public schools.

    Ultimately for us it came down to the fact our local school was unable to challenge our son. Charter schools give parents a choice and hopefully this competition will ultimately push local school districts to realize they must serve all kids.

    It seems it is much easier to denigrate charters than get behind any efforts to improve the local public schools.

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    • Jody, there are some good charter schools out there. I’m glad you found one. However, dividing up our school systems – even if in doing so we create one better alternative – does not help all school children. We need to stop making schools for haves and others for have nots. We need an excellent option for all children. At best, charter schools are a distraction from the real problems that beset our public schools.

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  10. I think it essential to always, and I mean… ALWAYS…, keep in mind and upfront that the education of the children of the American Republic serves the purposes of the American Republic. The public school system is by far the largest institution entrusted with the preparation of the citizenry of the future. If the overwhelmingly largest portion of the population of future Americans is under educated then even the students of private, parochial, homes-school, or charters are in deep trouble. A country in a technological era is dependent upon an educated citizenry. In addition,The privatization of governmental responsibilities and institutions, from schools to prisons, is a demonstrably terrible idea!

    The roles of charters should be confined to:
    1. providing for those needs identified by local, elected school board members, as being unmet
    2. experimentation with innovative educational constructs
    3. providing for specialized educational needs such as schools dedicated to marine biology or a specific area of technology

    And vouchers are a slimy way to circumvent the clauses in most state constitutions which ban the use of tax-raised money to, in any way, support religion. Most money from vouchers are used to fund private, parochial (almost universally Christian) school tuition. While it may be technically legal, it is, by definition, money laundering . It is a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution for the government to support any religion or religion over non-religion. By a simple shell game of granting corporations a dollar for dollar tax deduction for their “contribution” to an “opportunity voucher” is more than likely, unconstitutional.

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  11. […] What goes untold hurts the general public — and that’s why I urge watchdog groups and education advocates alike to publicly deconstruct the myth of “choice.” Consider the following excerpts from “Top 10 Reasons School Choice is No Choice“: […]

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  12. Dear Singer,

    My name is Ming -Yang Lee, a special education teacher in Taiwan. I wonder if you agree to let me translate this article into Chinese and introduce it through my non-porfit blog to my countrymen? I will make it clear that where this article first appeared and specify the publication date and the link for this article.

    My blog is here: http://leespeedu.blogspot.tw/

    Kindly regards,

    Lee

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  13. […] This Wednesday, the Republican Party began airing its first Spanish-language television ad aimed at Latino voters.  The 30-second spot — currently airing on Telemundo and Univision — reminds Latinos that the GOP is working on issues that “give a voice to all Americans.” These issues include lowering taxes to help small businesses — a very important concern for Latino business owners. Between 2007 and 2012, Latinos represented around 86 percent of the small business growth in the U.S., almost single handedly responsible for growth during one of the worst economic crashes in the U.S. The GOP’s advertisement also addressed national security and school choice, a program that would allocate money for alternative educations, like charter schools, aimed at lower income families. The people targeted by “school choice” are definitely in need of help, but the program has many flaws. […]

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  14. This is the best resource I’ve found that debunks the myth of choice. It is a worthy addition to the article above which is spot on. It refutes the idea that parents choose based on quality alone and that it is possible for them to determine quality by any objective standard. It also examines the way that choice schools are incentivized to misrepresent the quality of their product. And that’s just for starters. http://horacemannleague.blogspot.com/2013/01/asymmetric-information-parental-choice.html

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  15. I do think our education system needs to be revamped, but the voucher system isn’t the way to do it. Do you realize that America is one of the few countries who gives everyone a FREE education? I’ve about decided that we need to do like some countries…after 8th grade based on your school performance you either are on the track to college or a trade school. The special education system is a joke and in many cases schools are just a babysitting service.

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  16. “So even if you found an excellent charter or voucher school to send your child, you would be hurting the chances of every other student in the public school of having their own excellent education. ” My primary concern is for the education of my own children. I am not responsible for how or where anyone else manages to educate their children. Why should anyone be expected to keep their higher performing child in with low performing children who require additional resources and teaching time? Because stifling your own child’s learning might serve to “close the gap” for some child at the bottom? What logical person would choose to sacrifice their own child for the “common good”? Who does that really help?

    In the event that you thought making your own child the sacrificial lamb was an acceptable decision, you’d be sacrificing for nothing, because even if we as a society funded public schools at 100% of their requests, they’d fall short of their goals, and would still ask for even more money the next year. It’s a losing model. No business in existence can hemorrhage money at such a rate while still reporting failing returns/outcomes, but still exist to ask for more money from its shareholders year after year. It’s completely unsustainable.

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    • Lynn, what logical person would enroll their child in a public school, a school that’s set up for the common good? A parent who wanted to teach her child that the world doesn’t revolve around him. I’m a product of public school as are 90% of the people in this country. If public schools are so bad, America must really suck. I guess I just have a better opinion of this great country than you do. Moreover, I send my own daughter to public school – an underfunded school serving a majority impoverished and minority population. And you know what? I’ve never regretted it. She is getting an excellent education. She is learning to engage with people unlike her – people of various races, creeds and religions. She is learning what the true face of America is like – not the whitewashed version they get in the upper crust schools. Public schools are not a losing model. They’re an incredible success considering how business and government try to tie its hands behind its back. Imagine what our schools could do if we let them fly.

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    • Lynn wrote, “No business in existence can hemorrhage money at such a rate while still reporting failing returns/outcomes, but still exist to ask for more money from its shareholders year after year. It’s completely unsustainable.”

      Ha, you just shot yourself in the foot. Every country on the planet does it. For instance, the Chinese were doing it before the birth of Christ, spending public money to educated their citizens.

      You were wrong from the first two words because education is not “a business”. It is a service where teachers teach and children, who cooperate and engage mostly with help and support from their parents, learn.

      Even before K-12 schools and universities, education was a necessity for the future survival of even primitive tribes. For instance, hunters taught children how to hunt and probably how to make the bow and spears they hunted with. Healers taught their students the art of healing and what herbs helped the process.

      In fact, Plato, Aristotle and Socrates were teachers and they all had opinions on how education should work and none of them ever said that education should be a for-profit business.

      When Plato talked about the education of the body, he said we had to take Spartan military gymnastics as a model, because it was based on physical exercises and prescribed severe control over all pleasures. Plato also argued for the public character of education and that it had to be given in buildings especially built for that purpose. In these schools, boys and girls should receive the same teaching and that the educational process should start as soon as possible, as young as three-to-six-years old.

      Socrates believed that there were different kinds of knowledge, important and trivial. He acknowledges that most of us know many “trivial” things, and he said that the craftsman possesses important knowledge, the practice of his craft, but that this is important only to the craftsman. But Socrates thought that the most important of all knowledge was “how best to live.” He concluded that this was not easily answered, and most people lived in shameful ignorance regarding matters of ethics and morals. Socrates devoted much thought to the concept of belief, through the use of logic.

      Aristotle, however, said that the purpose of the state was to educate the people; to make them virtuous. He said virtue was the life principle of the state. The goal of the state was to educate with a view toward its own institutions (to preserve them); through the political education of all citizens.

      As for China, Confucius goal was to create gentlemen who carried themselves with grace, spoke correctly, and demonstrated integrity in all things. He had a strong dislike of the sycophantic “petty men,” whose clever talk and pretentious manner easily won them an audience of easy-to-fool people. In fact, it’s safe to say that Confucius would have despised Donald Trump and his deplorable supporters and followers.

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  17. “When you choose to go to one of these schools, they don’t have to choose to accept you. In fact, the choice is really all up to them.” In my experience, this exactly explains the choice school game I’ve seen tearing our district apart for more than fifteen years. After fifteen years of test-core fanatic invasions our district can now brag of having one of the most notable “achievement” (opportunity) gaps in the nation.

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