DeVos’s American Federation for Children Runs TV Ads in Arizona, Thanking Governor for Voucher Expansion

Diane Ravitch's blog

When Betsy DeVos piously explains that she is wild for “great public schools,” please remember that she has spent most of her life advocating for alternatives to public schools. Can anyone recall her advocating for any public schools?

The group she founded and funded, American Federation for Children, just ran TV ads in Arizona thanking Governor Doug Ducey and his allies in the legislature for expanding the state’s voucher program, which will allow public funds to flow to religious and private schools.

AFC never loses an opportunity to support anything but public schools. It won’t be happy until every child in the nation attends a religious or private schools. It is never a friend of public education.

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Politico: New Study Shows Negative Effects of Vouchers in D.C. Program

Diane Ravitch's blog

Voucher advocates have protected D.C.’s voucher program, known as “Opportunity Scholarships,” since it was created in 2004 despite lack of strong evidence for its benefits. Evaluations have found little or no improvement in test scores. This new evaluation shows negative effects on test scores in the elementary grades for those who enrolled in voucher schools. This echoes studies in Louisiana, Indiana, and Ohio, where voucher students lost ground as compared to their peers who were offered vouchers but stayed in public schools. In the past, the D.C. evaluation team was led by Patrick Wolf of the University of Arkansas, the high temple of school choice. The evaluation team for this new study was led by Mark Dynarski of Pemberton Research and a group of Westat researchers. Dynarski, you may recall, wrote a paper for the Brookings Institution calling attention to the negative impact of vouchers in Louisiana and Indiana. Previous…

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South Carolina: James Kirylo’s Children Will Not Take the Tests

Diane Ravitch's blog

James Kirylo, university professor and expert on the works of Paulo Freire, wrote the following letter:

James D. & Anette A. Kirylo
P.O. Box 8698
Columbia, SC 29202
985.956.0563 /

April 25, 2017

Dr. Nancy Busbee, Deputy Superintendent
Division of Accountability
State of South Carolina, Dept. of Education
1429 Senate Street
Columbia, SC 29201

Greetings, Dr. Busbee,

As you can see, attached is a letter that I sent to my two sons’ school, Claude A. Taylor Elementary. In that letter, indicating I have one son in 5th grade and the other in 3rd grade, I specify that my wife and I are refusing to allow them to participate in taking the upcoming standardized tests, providing four broad reasons for our decisions.

Moreover, I make clear we have a tremendous respect for both our children’s teachers and the administrators, who lead the school. They are doing a tremendous job and…

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Nancy E. Bailey: Time to Stop Calling Under-Resourced Schools “Dropout Factories”

Diane Ravitch's blog

Nancy E. Bailey writes here about the corporate reformers’ love for the term “Dropout Factories” to refer to public schools, especially those in impoverished communities.

She says the term is used to disparage public schools and their teachers. It received wide recognition when it was featured in the abominable pro-privatization film “Waiting for Superman.”

Bailey offers a list of research-based strategies for improving struggling schools, which are almost invariably schools with high proportions of students who live in poverty.

She notes that the originator of the term Robert Balfanz of Johns Hopkins has close ties to the reformer industry.

A valuable and informative post.

P.S. Nancy Bailey and I are updating the Edspeak glossary and thank readers for their many wonderful suggestions. “Dropout Factories” will definitely be an addition!

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A Chronology of Ohio’s Recent Charter School Scandals

Diane Ravitch's blog

Progress Ohio has compiled a list of recent charter school scandals, covering only the past four years. Someone should take on the job of making the list comprehensive. But this is long enough.

This is an industry wracked with self-dealing, profiteering, political pay-offs, fraud, and corruption.

Please read the article and see for yourself.

And the amazing thing is that Arne Duncan’s Department of Education gave Ohio an additional $71 million to open more charter schools, apparently with complete indifference to what was happening on the ground.

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Good News! Tennessee Fails to Pass Voucher Law for Seventh Straight Year!

Diane Ravitch's blog

Advocates for vouchers in Tennessee failed again to pass voucher legislation, despite an intensive campaign, and narrowing the legislation only to Memphis.

The big stumbling block was how to hold voucher students and voucher schools accountable.

Chalkbeat reports:

“It’s an anticlimactic ending after months of debate and hundreds of thousands of campaign dollars spent to boost legislation allowing public money to be spent on private school tuition.”

The issue will be fought out again in 2018.

Interesting that the pro-voucher group calls itself the “Campaign for School Equity,” when it should be the “Campaign for School Privatization.” Honesty is the best policy. But the privatizers always name themselves what they are not.

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Trump Can’t Limit Federal Role in Public Schools AND Push School Vouchers



Donald Trump is talking out of both sides of his mouth.


This time he’s signing an executive order demanding the Department of Education study how the federal government oversteps its legal authority with regard to K-12 schools.

Yet he still proposes bribing states with $20 billion in federal funds to enact school vouchers.

Well which is it, Oh Orange One?

Are you for limiting the federal role in education or for coercing states to do your bidding?

Because you can’t be for both.

Either states and local districts determine the bulk of their school policies or not. You can’t barge into our state capitals promising billions of dollars in federal tax money if and only if we enact your chosen reforms.

That’s one of the primary reasons many conservatives (and even a sizable number of progressives) oppose Common Core. The Obama administration promised billions of dollars in Race…

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Politico: U.S. Department of Education Slows Down College Student Debt Repayment

Diane Ravitch's blog

I suppose it was inevitable that Betsy DeVos’s ED Department would side with for-profit colleges that have defrauded students. After all, she invested in such colleges, and Trump notoriously opened Trump University, which was ordered to repay students $25 million for its fraudulent courses.

Politico reports:

DEBT FORGIVENESS SLOWDOWN: Student loan recipients defrauded by their for-profit colleges might have to wait longer to see that debt forgiven by the Education Department. Since President Donald Trump took office, the department appears to have drastically slowed the approval of debt relief to tens of thousands of student borrowers seeking to have their federal loans canceled on the grounds their colleges defrauded them. That’s according to several current and former government officials.

– A department spokesman said in an email to POLITICO that the department “has not stopped approving borrower defensed repayments,” but declined to say how many claims the department had approved…

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National Education Policy Center: A Review of Claims about Vouchers in Milwaukee

Diane Ravitch's blog

We can always count on researchers at the National Education Policy Center to review reports issued by think tanks and advocacy groups, some of which are the same.

This review analyzes claims about Milwaukee’s voucher schools. It is funny to describe them as successful, since Milwaukee is really the poster city for the failure of school choice. It has had vouchers and charters since 1990 and is near the very bottom of the NAEP tests for urban districts, barely ahead of sad Detroit, another city afflicted by charters. Both cities demonstrate that school choice does not fix the problems of urban education or urban students and families.

Find Documents:

Press Release:
NEPC Review:
Report Reviewed:

William J. Mathis: (802) 383-0058,
Benjamin Shear: (303) 492-8583,

Learn More:

NEPC Resources on Accountability and Testing
NEPC Resources on Charter Schools
NEPC Resources on School Choice
NEPC Resources…

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Ohio: Potential Gubernatorial Candidate Criticizes Charter Schools and Vouchers

Diane Ravitch's blog

Dennis Kucinich, a former eight-term member of Congress, is touring the state of Ohio, possibly exploring a bid for the governorship. John Kasich is nearing the end of his two terms. Kucinich is an outspoken critic of charter schools and vouchers, saying that they drain resources from public schools.

Dennis Kucinich, a potential candidate for governor and former Ohio congressman, spoke Monday night in Washington Township, where he criticized charter schools as a drain on public funding and public schools.

Kucinich called charter schools a “multi-billion dollar boondoogle” that forces Ohioans to subsidize private school education with money that is supposed to go to public schools.

Charter schools are publicly funded, privately operated schools.

“If you want to send your kid to a private school, pay for it,” Kucinich said. “But don’t send your kid to private school and tell the public they have to pay for it.”

The local…

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