Public School Funding: In Too Many States, It’s All about Subtracting and More Subtracting


Let’s review the importance of school finance. It you think this topic is too arcane to think about, consider who has been teaching us about the importance of school funding for two years now, and you’ll realize it’s not abstract or complicated at all. Really it is just an elementary school story problem: If you have a public school budget made up of local, state, and federal tax revenue, and you take away some money by cutting taxes after a recession, and then you take away some more money for charter schools, and then you take away some more money for vouchers, how much will you have left?

For two years now, striking schoolteachers have forced us all to examine what little funding will remain.  They have shown us in the most concrete way the implications of school policy emphasizing test-and-punish school accountability and increased school privatization—all overlaid upon an…

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Teresa Hanafin: McConnell’s “See No Evil” Impeachment Rules

What a 3-ring circus!! Present the evidence. Let all the witnesses testify. Let Judge Roberts do his job and preside. Then let the senate vote.

Are they afraid they might find something don’t want out there? Will the witnesses clear him. No one knows because all the witnesses have been forbidden from testifying.

Diane Ravitch's blog

Teresa Hanafin writes in the Boston Globe’s Fast Forward:

You have to hand it to Mitch McConnell:He is quite open about his devotional obeisance to Trump. Just look at the TPP he has unveiled (that’s Trump Protection Plan, not Trans-Pacific Partnership) and which the Senate will vote on today: His rules are very different from those in place for the Bill Clinton trial, which he had pledged to follow. (Wait, a Republican lied? I’m shocked, shocked to find that lying is going on in here!) A cynic would sum up the proposed rules as no evidence, no witnesses, no time, no sunshine.

Evidence. The material the House collected during its impeachment investigation will not be automatically entered into evidence, as it was at the Clinton trial. Instead, it will be subject to a vote of acceptance by the full Senate, a vote that won’t happen until after statements and…

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Valerie Strauss: A Q & A with Me about SLAYING GOLIATH

Diane Ravitch's blog

Valerie Strauss, veteran education writer at the Washington Post, interviewed me about my new book SLAYING GOLIATH. 

Her questions get to the heart of the book. I hope you will read the exchange.

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The Future of Public Education Hinges on This Supreme Court Case

Diane Ravitch's blog

Tomorrow, the United States Supreme Court will hear arguments in a crucial case called Espinoza v. Montana.

The goal of the Espinoza plaintiffs is to strike down state laws that prohibit public funding for religious schools.

This is a case that could not only erase the line between church and state but could actually compel states to fund religious schools. It would require states to fund religious schools of every kind, and no one knows who will determine what is a legitimate religious school. It would divert funding from public schools to support students enrolled in religious schools, now and in the future.

The plaintiffs are represented by the libertarian Institute for Justice. Its efforts on behalf of school choice have been funded over the years by anti-public school activists like the Walton Family Foundation (which has launched one of every four charter schools in the U.S.), the Bradley Foundation…

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Two Master Bloggers–Peter Greene and Steven Singer–Deconstruct the “National Parents Union”

Diane Ravitch's blog

Two of the best education bloggers in the nation weighed in on the nature and purpose of the new “National Parents Union,” which proudly announced that it would give parents’ “voice” in opposition to the teachers’ unions.

Peter Greene asks, “Do You Smell Astroturf?” 

He provides a detailed history of the well-established “ed reform” credentials of its founders, as well as a scathing letter by a parent who previously founded the New York City Parents Union, and found that she was pushed aside by the Walton-funded newcomers. He notes: I have heard the argument over and over and over again that philanthropist money and Walton and Gates and Broad and Jobs money is necessary to counterbalance the vast financial resources of the unions, but the union is a bb gun in a field of howitzers.

And quite by coincidence, Steven Singer wrote about the “National Parent Union” and issued an…

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Ohio’s Budget Bill Multiplies School Vouchers, Leaves Local School Districts in Crisis


On Tuesday afternoon, I went to a meeting of my monthly book discussion group—all of us retired and over 70.  But as we sat down with our coffee and before we discussed the book we had all been reading for the month, we found ourselves distracted by the topic that is tearing our community apart: the changes the Ohio Legislature made last summer in the fine print of the FY 20-21 state budget—changes that exploded the size of the state’s EdChoice school voucher program.

I wonder whether legislators have any real understanding of the collateral damage for particular communities from policies enacted without debate. Maybe, because our community has worked for fifty years to be a stable, racially and economically diverse community with emphasis on fair housing enforcement and integrated schools, legislators just write us off as another failed urban school district. After all, Ohio’s education policy emphasizes state takeover…

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AstroTurf Alert: National Parents Union is Thinly Veiled Union Busting Backed by Billionaire Cash


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How do you do something disgusting without hurting your image?

If you’re the Walton Family, you hide behind a mask.

That’s what their latest AstroTurf front group is – the so-called National Parents Union (NPU).

It’s a way to bust teachers unions, destroy public schools and profit off of students behind the guise of a friendly parents organization.

Oh, it’s all funded with oodles of cash from the Walton family and other billionaires but they get to pretend to be nothing but supporters on the sidelines.

The people who bust unions before most of us have even had breakfast yet claim they have nothing to do with this anti-union movement. It is all the parents doing. The Walmart heirs just put up the money to let these parents live their dream of union free schools – as if schools where educators have no rights or intellectual freedom were somehow in…

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Charter Schools: All the Ways They Are Not In the Public Interest


Donald Cohen is the executive director of In the Public Interest. In a powerful statement about his organization’s mission for 2020, Cohen proclaims:

“So much is under attack: public education, water, transit, public parks, public health, libraries, the postal service, air traffic control, and much more.  Where there’s money to be made, there are corporations positioning to take over… What worries us most is when private interests get too much control and influence over fundamental democratic decisions and our ability to provide public goods… We often hear that government is needed when markets fail. We disagree. There are market things and public things. They’re different things, like apples and oranges.  Here’s what we mean by ‘public’ (or, what’s in the public interest):

  • The things we can only do if we do them together…
  • The things we all benefit from regardless of whether we use the specific service or…

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Educational Redlining: GreatSchools Ratings Drive Housing Segregation


Back in 2015, Heights Community Congress (HCC) in Cleveland Heights, Ohio raised serious concerns (here and here) about the impact of online GreatSchools ratings of public schools. The GreatSchools ratings were, in 2015, being used in online real estate advertising by listing services like Zillow.  The practice continues.

HCC, founded in 1972, is Greater Cleveland, Ohio’s oldest fair housing enforcement organization. For over four decades HCC has been conducting audits of the real estate industry to expose and discourage racial steering and disparate treatment of African American and white home seekers. During 2015 and 2016, the fair housing committee of HCC held community meetings to demonstrate that such ads and ratings of public schools are steering home buyers to whiter and wealthier communities and redlining racially and economically diverse and majority black and Hispanic communities.

Last month, Chalkbeat published an in-depth examination of similar concerns on a national…

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DeVos Ignores Judge’s Order: Will She Be Punished?

Probably not. She’ll buy someone off and it will go away.

Diane Ravitch's blog

During the Obama administration, Congress passed legislation to protect students who had been defrauded by for-profit colleges. In most cases, the “colleges” made claims about their success in placing their graduates in jobs. As a result of these misleading claims, thousands of students paid for a worthless degree. The Education Department attempted to help them get restitution. The Education Department was on the side of the victims of predatory colleges.

But times change, and now Betsy DeVos is in charge. In the past, she has invested in for-profit colleges. She has no sympathy for students who were defrauded. She thinks they are trying to get free money, and she has dragged her heels. Clearly she sides with for-profit colleges, not students.

A lawsuit was brought against the Department of Education for sending debt collectors to hound students who had been defrauded. The judge in the case, Judge Sallie Kim, fined…

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