ACLU Sues to Invalidate Vouchers in Nevada!

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

At last! Three civil liberties groups have sued to block the implementation of “education savings accounts” in Nevada, which are vouchers that will be used in religious schools.

LAS VEGAS – Three civil liberties organizations filed suit today in Nevada District Court to challenge a school voucher program signed into law last June by Gov. Brian Sandoval. The American Civil Liberties Union, the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada, and Americans United for Separation of Church and State sued on behalf of a group of parents, clergy, and other taxpayers who oppose the program’s effort to divert taxpayer money to private, religious schools.

“Parents have a right to send their children to religious schools, but they are not entitled to do so at taxpayers’ expense. The voucher program violates the Nevada Constitution’s robust protections against the use of public funds for religious education,” said Tod Story, executive director of the…

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Austin: Eastside Memorial High is “Back from the Brink”

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

This is great news! Eastside Memorial High School in Austin will NOT be closed! For years, the school has been threatened with closure or conversion to a charter. The students, parents, teachers, and educators fought to keep their neighborhood school open. It is high poverty and 96% students of color, but the school refused to die.

School leaders brought in the Johns Hopkins Talent Development Group to help them. Everyone rallied to save their school, and they did it.

“At Austin’s Eastside Memorial High School, a new school year began for the first time in years without the familiar threat of closure, mass layoffs or reorganization from above. Its students earned a passing grade from the state last year, ending a run of more than a decade in which at least part of the campus came up short in the state’s ratings. In 2008, it became the first school in…

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Arizona’s Voucher Program: A Costly Failure

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Daniel Luzer, the news editor of Governing magazine, reviews Arizona’s voucher program, enacted almost 20 years ago.

Competition was supposed to be a game-changer. Advocates said it would cost the state only $4.5 million a year and would lift the performance of minority students.

None of that was true.

The program now costs $140 million a year, and there has been little change in test scores for minorities.

It was a giveaway to the wealthy, who managed to save money on their taxes.

Luzer writes in Washington Monthly:

Over the 20 years the state’s education performance has gotten a little better, but that’s also occurred in pretty much every state in the country. The state has seen no significant improvements, either for students in general or ethnic minorities, as a result of the private school fund.

Another problem is that this fund is a way to avoid taxes. People…

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Troy LaRaviere Responds to the Chicago School Board’s Reprimand and Warning

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Troy LaRaviere is one brave man. He is the principal of Blaine Elementary School in Chicago. Blaine is one of only three schools in the city singled out for praise for meeting standards set by the Mayor himself, Rahm Emanuel.

Yet LaRaviere, despite his successful leadership, has been given a warning by the board of the Chicago Public Schools. This warning may be a prelude to termination.

Read LaRivere’s response to this warning here.

He was warned first of all because he supported parents who wanted to opt their children out of the state tests. His school had an 80% opt out rate. The board said he was disobeying by refusing its orders to force the children to take the tests until the child herself refused, not the parent. He says that if parents should have choice about where to send their child to school, why not honor their request…

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The Outcome

Sometimes you win,

Sometimes you lose,

Sometimes you’re unscathed,

And sometimes you bruise,

Sometimes you strikeout,

And sometimes you hit,

Sometimes you’re starting,

And sometimes you sit,

Sometimes you fail,

And sometimes you pass,

But no matter the outcome,

You do it with class.


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Michael L. Hays: How to Fix the College Debt Problem

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Michael L. Hays, Ph.D., sent this interesting suggestion to address the problem of student debt. I was reminded when I read it that this issue came to a head in 1972, when Congresswoman Edith Green from Oregon fought for the idea below, that is, sending federal money to colleges to use for need-based scholarships. On the other side from Green was Senator Claiborne Pell, who advocated direct federal loans to students, not to institutions of higher education. Pell won and created the Pell Grant program, which some have likened to a voucher for higher education. Now these issues are being reconsidered as Presidential candidates debate what to do about the soaring cost of higher education and the crushing burden of debt that so many students carry.

Hays writes:

Recent campaign proposals to address the problems of student debt called my attention to the context of those loans and the mechanisms…

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“Sorry, I’m Not Taking This Test”

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Kristina Rizga in “Mother Jones” explains why the Opt Out movement is becoming a national phenomenon.

She focuses on the story of Kiana Hernandez, a student in Florida. She made the decision on her own, but she was inspired by seeing TV coverage of students opting out.

“By her own estimate, Kiana had spent about three months during each of her four years at University High in Orlando preparing for and taking standardized tests that determined everything from her GPA to her school’s fate. “These tests were cutting out class time,” she says. “We would stop whatever we were learning to prepare.” The spring of her senior year, she says, there were three whole months when she couldn’t get access to computers at school (she didn’t have one at home) to do homework or fill out college applications. They were always being used for testing.

“Kiana had a 2.99 GPA…

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Murdoch’s Néw York Post Lambastes Bloomberg School Reforms

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Mayor Michael Bloomberg left office in January 1, 2014. One of his legacies was the changes he made in the school system over 12 years of total control.

Today the Néw York Post says his “reforms” were disastrous, and the only hope for children in the city’s public schools is escape to a privately managed charter school.

The Post writes about the Bloomberg reforms:

“New York’s public-school system is an ongoing horror — one that traps hundreds of thousands of kids in schools that don’t work, “tracked” into dead-end “promotions” to equally bad schools that lead to worthless diplomas and limited economic opportunities for the rest of their lives.”

The Post has long–at least since Rupert Murdoch owned it–loathed public schools, their teachers and administrators, and unions.

So the editorial says that the “obvious solution”–based on a study commissioned by billionaire hedge fund managers who have the chutzpah to call…

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Get a Free Copy of “Defies Measurement” and Show It to Friends and Neighbors

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Shannon Puckett, the producer and director of the pro-public education film “Defies Measurement” is offering free copies to anyone who wants one.

She writes:

I would like people to know that I am offering Defies Measurement (for free) to anyone who would like to use the film as a fundraiser event in support of public education. All proceeds can be used to support public schools or organizations that support public schools. My website has a page dedicated to “how to host a screening” where anyone can learn more about planning a community event.

The film continues to get great reviews from supporters of public education. Articles have appeared in Daily Kos, Education Week, and Caflifornia Teacher. It is also being offered on KweliTv. (The mission of Kweli Tv is “To enhance knowledge, encourage self-empowerment, and promote positive change within the global black community through challening, inspiring and thought-provoking video…

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Fred LeBrun: Elia Risking Her Future Because of Tough Stance on Opt Outs

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Fred LeBrun of the Albany Times-Union warns State Commissioner MaryEllen Elia that she is making a huge mistake by her confrontational tactics with the parents of the 225,000 children who opted out of mandated state tests last spring.

He predicts that if she doesn’t change course, the number of opt outs will grow in 2016.

She assumes that the parents need a lecture (“it’s the law!”) or information (they just don’t understand how important these tests are).

Neither is true, writes LeBrun. The law days the state must give the tests, but the law does NOT say that students must take them.

And the opt out parents in Long Island and upstate New York are not uninformed. They know exactly what they are doing and why they are doing it.

LeBrun writes:

“Remember the state Education Department’s own statistical analysis of Opt Outers, the one-third of eligible upstate and Long…

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