Archive for vouchers

WI voucher school closes "in dead of night," only 1 student proficient in reading 2012-'13


school vouchers

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker sure loves to push the talking point of a voucher school in every pot, because, see, that's just the kind of corporatist he is. But back in August 2013, I posted this: Wisconsin families who already have kids at taxpayer-funded private schools are still sending in voucher requests. I wrote:

Wisconsin gets a lot of voucher requests for their private schools. However, there appears to be a teeny weeny little glitchette. Families who already have kids at those schools are still sending in voucher requests. Gee, ya think someone should take a second look at Gov. Scott Walker's cherished privatizing efforts?

The answer to that question is still "yes." Why? Here's one more reason, courtesy of JSOnline:

A small private school participating in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program abruptly closed in the middle of December, but not before collecting more than $200,000 from taxpayers this academic year to educate students who now attend other schools, state officials confirmed.

LifeSkills Academy, a K-8 school that had dwindled to 66 students... "They moved out, as people say, in the dead of the night," Father Carl Diederichs of All Saints said. [...]

LifeSkills received $202,278 in taxpayer-funded voucher payments from the state this year, and more than $633,248 in voucher payments in 2012-'13, according to the DPI. The school joined the voucher program in 2008-'09 and collected more than $2 million in total public payments to educate children.

Pretty bad, huh? It gets even worse. Test scores showed that, out of all the students who went to LifeSkills school o' voucher, only one-- count 'em, one-- was proficient in reading or math in 2012-'13. That's some track record.

And it gets worse: The Department of Public Instruction cannot "recoup public money spent by voucher schools that do not finish the year." That's a big hunk o' cash to lose, right taxpayers?

So, Gov. Scott Walker, how's that privatization thing workin' for ya?



WalkerWorld: Achievement gap between black and white Wisconsin students “unacceptably high”


walker world

The LaCrosse Tribune is reporting on how things are going in Scott Walker World, specifically how fourth- and eighth-grade students are coming along.

The good news?

Wisconsin fourth- and eighth-graders are scoring at and above national averages in reading and math, according to results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress tests released Thursday...

The bad news?

... but the results also showed the state’s achievement gap is the highest of all 50 states.

Wisconsin’s gap [between black and white students] is the highest in each of the four areas tested among states, according to the NAEP testing data. [...]

The achievement gap between black and white Wisconsin students is “unacceptably high,” DPI said. Wisconsin’s black students’ average scores were some of the lowest in the country.

Gee, could it have anything to do with his budget funding school vouchers, charter schools "leaving public schools on life support"?


Wisconsin report card: 53% of charter schools fell below expectations, 2 got failing grade


grade F

Back in February I posted, Gov. Scott Walker's budget: Planned Parenthood closes 4 locations; funds school vouchers, charter schools "leaving public schools on life support."

Yes, Scotty not only tries to bust unions, but he also makes it harder on children, including special needs children, to access public education.

By the way, did you know that e-mails linked the Jeb Bush foundation, corporations, ALEC, and education officials? Of course, corporate funders benefited. Leave it to the GOP to put profits over the educational needs of all children.

When schools are privatized, they exist to make money, which leads to cutting corners and catering to those who can afford the high price of a private education. And charter schools challenge teachers’ unions while education opportunities suffer. In Philadelphia, charter school teachers rallied for unionization:

[T]hese teachers are on the frontlines of the education reform movement and among the first to seek to unionize the corporate education sector.

$400,000 was spent by the group that owns the charter of the high school in question to stop that union effort.

At the rally, the teachers were pretty clear about what they were fighting for; and, it doesn't revolve around pay and benefits. Emily Guck who has been teaching at Olney Charter High School for two years explained that since teachers see how policy affects their students on a day-to-day basis, teachers at the charter school should be granted a seat at the table.

Period. That was their priority, not money.

One twelfth grade teacher at the school explained:

"One of the reasons we feel our charter school union drive is so important in the present moment is that over the last decade or so, as we've seen charter schools continue to proliferate, major changes have happened in terms of who actually gets to make decisions about public education. Traditionally, such decisions have been made through collaborations between elected officials, teachers, parents, and administrators. Increasingly, they are now being made in closed-meetings by the unelected board members of private organizations, who may or may not have backgrounds in education, or children in the schools for which they are making decisions."

In Wisconsin, charter schools and voucherizing have consistently been pet issues for Gov. Walker. Let's check in on how that's been working out.

Via JSOnline:

Despite having more freedom over curriculum, budgets and staffing than traditional public schools, the majority of Milwaukee's independent charter schools are not meeting performance expectations, according to statewide report card results for 2012-'13.

Of the 17 independent charters in Milwaukee that received a rating through the state's new school report card accountability system, 53% fell below expectations, with two schools authorized by the City of Milwaukee receiving a failing grade... The schools are publicly financed but privately managed, and are given freedom from bureaucratic restraints on school districts in exchange for upholding a promise to deliver on performance. [...]

[O]n a percentage basis, the 134 schools rated in MPS [Milwaukee Public Schools] educated three times as many students learning English and twice as many students with special needs, compared with independent charters. The charter schools enrolled a higher percentage of white students and lower percentage of students in poverty than MPS.

Class dismissed.


Wisconsin families who already have kids at taxpayer-funded private schools are still sending in voucher requests


public school sinking cartoon via Philly.comVia

Wisconsin gets a lot of voucher requests for their private schools. However, there appears to be a teeny weeny little glitchette. Families who already have kids at those schools are still sending in voucher requests. Gee, ya think someone should take a second look at Gov. Scott Walker's cherished privatizing efforts?

Via the Leader-Telegram:

Earlier this year, in a controversial move, the state Legislature expanded the voucher program to include 500 students outside the Milwaukee and Racine school districts and grow from 500 to 1,000 the number of students in those two districts eligible for taxpayer-funded private school educations for the 2013-14 school year.[...]

The program would pay for K-12 students to attend private schools if income eligibility requirements are met rather than the public schools where they live. Private schools would receive taxpayer funding in the form of state aid for each eligible student.

When pushing for private school voucher expansion, Gov. Scott Walker said the plan would allow students from underperforming public schools who couldn’t afford to attend private schools to do so. State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, D-Alma, said using state money to pay for students whose families already send them to private schools wasn’t part of those discussions. She said she raised the issue of that possibility earlier this year when the Legislature discussed vouchers but was told that wasn’t the intent of the program.

Oh, but it was. Using public money to pay for students who already attend private schools was indeed the intent. Democratic members of the state legislature are "troubled by the lack of fiscal transparency by private schools, who are not required to provide school-related information as are public schools." Too many loopholes in the law, say they.

And they would be correct.

walker world


VIDEO: "Going Public" exposes wealthy conservatives' aim to gut public education. "Mommy, they're gonna fire me!"


public schools trailer for Going Public doc

school vouchers

Someone I admire greatly, Lisa Graves, is in the movies! Specifically, a documentary about the despicable movement to privatize public schools. Here's the first sentence of her bio at ALEC Exposed:

Lisa Graves is the Executive Director of the Center for Media and Democracy, the publisher of PR Watch, SourceWatch, and BanksterUSA...

Please link over for the rest of her impressive resume.

And you can link over to all of our posts on privatizing public schools here, something I concentrate on because it infuriates me that so many wealthy Republicans and their corporate buddies (coughKOCHBROTHERScough) think nothing of closing our schools and then using the privatized ones, and our children, to turn a profit and bust unions.

Learning, teaching, and kids have nothing to do with it for these greedy, power-hungry monsters. This is about making money.

And by reducing tax dollars paid in, they cut public services for the rest of us while further enriching themselves, the richest people in the country.

Here's the trailer for "Going Public":

About a year ago we began the work on Going Public, our documentary whose goal is to remind the world that public education is the heart of our democracy. Our public schools are the last place where people from different classes and different walks of life come together to learn, to share ideas, and to be afforded a fair opportunity to reach for the American dream.

But today, an unholy alliance of wealthy conservatives and aggressive hedge fund managers have declared war on public education. Their goal is to dismantle public schools, and ultimately destroy the middle class and the opportunity of upward mobility that defines the can-do American spirit. We asked several questions: Why are teachers, their unions, and public education in general under attack now? Who stands to profit from this? And is there a real basis for these attacks? Finally, we want to know where our schools are working well and why. [...]

For anyone who’s ever hoped for a movement to bring back the dignity of public schools and restore their place in our democracy, for anyone who is looking for answers to the the role outside money is playing in helping to destroy public schools, we hope we’ve got your back.

How about throwing a little money their way so they can finish the project? Your donations will be tax-deductible, but more importantly, you're helping to expose the calculated destruction of public education and other services at the hands of those who care only about profit and power, not democracy, equality, the future of our children, and the lives of their fellow Americans.

privatize public schools Going Public doc


What WI Gov. Scott Walker, GOP do when they need positive voucher school study: Pay major donors to do the research.


facts schmacts smaller

It's becoming more and more difficult to avoid writing about Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker these days. What a shame, so many of us would like to escape all Walker-related thoughts, but alas...

No sooner had I written WI Gov. Walker, GOP gov's "tempered" (you can stop laughing now) as they seek 2nd terms; Dems slam GOP at convention than I ran across another article about Gov. Scotty from The Marshfield News Herald.

This one is about campaign finance reports showing that Walker and GOP legislators are using research that supports expanding the state's school voucher program. So? What's wrong with that, you ask? Well, I respond, that research was paid for by the same special interest groups that support many GOP candidates who are pushing for those very vouchers.

I sense very little surprise from you about this. This is completely understandable. It is also completely expected.

This Republican-I-approve-this-message study is being slammed by other researchers who say it's all kinds of flawed, that voucher schools are no better than public schools:

The research conducted by the School Choice Demonstration Project at the University of Arkansas is paid for primarily by special interest groups that also donate to politicians pushing for the voucher expansion.

A Wisconsin Democracy Campaign report on school choice special interest money shows that individuals with ties to foundations that have funded the School Choice Demonstration Project have donated more than $630,000 to Wisconsin politicians, most of them Republicans, during the past decade.


But hey, if facts about the issues don't go your way, pay major donors to make 'em up for you. Way to earn voters' trust, Republicans.


WI Gov. Walker, GOP gov's "tempered" (you can stop laughing now) as they seek 2nd terms; Dems slam GOP at convention


phony baloney

The Marshfield News Herald is chock full o' news today. We all remember how Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's conservative, restrictive policies resulted in scenes like this one, right?

And here is a recent Walker recap I wrote about a month ago responding to a few quotes:

  • “We’re the ones who care for the everyday people of this state and this country.” That must be why you were nearly kicked out of office. And why your “screw the 47%” presidential candidate lost in a landslide.
  • Turn down federal money to expand the Medicaid program.” Nothing says “caring for everyday people” like taking away their lifeline.
  • Walker mocked claims from critics that the change was a sign he hates poor people.” Did it ever occur to him that they say that because he hates poor people? See: “Turn down federal money to expand Medicaid.”

Now that he and other hypocritical conservative governors who have been screwing the poor, the middle class and an increasingly diverse electorate need voters on their side, they're "tempering" themselves:

Running for re-election in 2014, [Walker] hopes to strike a more conciliatory tone. [...]

The firebrand governors who took statehouses by storm in 2010, when the Tea Party movement was surging, are running for second terms in 2014 with tempered messages and in a different political landscape.

The old makeover switcheroo again. We see. That's been working out so well for them recently. You know what would be "conciliatory"? Changing their policies and attitudes, not just their language.

Eight new GOP governors were elected in 2010 in states that had voted for Barack Obama two years earlier and would vote for him again two years later... Now these freshman Republican governors are expected to seek second terms in their solidly blue or battleground states: Florida, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Five of the eight refuse to support the Affordable Care Act's state-based insurance marketplaces.

But playing nicely during election cycles is a must. So is proving to voters that you've earned their trust. Take Walker for example. In 2010, he sworetogod he'd create 250,000 jobs, but it's been about 2½ years, and he's only managed to cough up 62,000. Oops.

So there's that.

Meantime, Tammy Baldwin fired up state Democrats at the party's convention on Friday. She revved 'em and stirred the pot as hard as she could in an effort to get them to kick Walker and other GOP officeholders out on their hineys in 2014.

Via the Post Crescent:

Other Democratic leaders weren’t nearly as restrained as Baldwin... [T]hey bashed Walker and Republican lawmakers in speech after speech. They lambasted Walker for positioning himself for a potential presidential run while Wisconsin’s economy suffers. Again and again they played up that the state has dropped to 44th in the nation in job creation... They took Walker to task, too, for rejecting a federally funded Medicaid expansion.

Please follow the link for more details.

Let's hope that all that Democratic passion leads to positive results at the polls. If not, this country is screwed.