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School Choice is Good For America; round 4


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When President Donald Trump announced that he would sign an executive order creating a commission to promote “patriotic education,” there was much outrage, including “Hitler Youth” and “Trump Youth” trending on Twitter. We do not know exactly what the promised executive order will contain, but worries about the federal government putting unacceptable things into children’s minds are utterly understandable. And this is not just a conservative or liberal problem: both sides are to blame for the real and present danger of federally approved thought.

Both liberals and conservatives have for decades been shoving power over education toward Washington. In the 1960s the feds ignored a clear absence of authority to govern in education and started spending big on schools. That may have been driven largely by liberals such as President Lyndon Johnson, but conservatives got deeply into the game in the 1980s, with highly energetic Secretary of Education William Bennett using his bully pulpit, and federal testing, to push reform from DC. The first President Bush called a summit of governors and created a “national education strategy” with America 2000, which President Clinton – with whom Bush closely collaborated – turned into Goals 2000. The second President Bush championed the bipartisan No Child Left Behind Act, through which the federal government solidified a national regime of standardized testing and “accountability.” And lots of conservatives and liberals, including President Obama, pushed the federally coerced Common Core curriculum standards, while Obama also tried to impose federal answers on hotly disputed social issues.

Lots of good intentions inspired these actions, but the ultimate result was predictable: federal power would be be used to impose on all Americans things that only some Americans could accept. We would even take the kinds of highly personal—and especially painful—values and identity‐based conflicts we see constantly in one‐size‐fits‐all public schools, including over American history, to a national level. Families would not even be able to move to a new district or state to escape unacceptable teaching – everyone would have to engage in political warfare to make their values, or takes on history, the winner.

By ignoring the Constitution, we have torn down the bulwark intended to protect us from rule by a single government, or a single person. And not just conservatives or liberals are to blame – both sides have dirty hands.

Agreed.  Such a "patriotic education" edict is evil, plain and simple.   Parents should be able to choose what to educate their children, not have it driven primarily by the state.


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Compulsory vs. Free Education



The Reverend George Harris described the effects of compulsory education in imposing uniformity and enforced equality (soon after the establishment of compulsion):

Education is already so generally provided in America and other countries [1897], that, without forecasting imaginary conditions, there is no difficulty in seeing how much equality is given by that opportunity….The same amount of time is given to all; the same courses are prescribed for all; the same teachers are appointed to all. The opportunity is not merely open; it is forced upon all. Even under a socialistic program it is difficult to imagine any arrangement for providing the education which all are supposed to need more nearly equal than the existing system of public schools. Even Mr. Bellamy [a prominent totalitarian socialist of the day] finds schools in the year 2000 AD modeled after those of the nineteenth century. All things are changed except the schools….Behind fifty desks exactly alike fifty boys and girls are seated to recite a lesson prescribed to all….But the algebra is not an opportunity for the boy who has no turn for mathematics….Indeed, the more nearly equal the opportunity outwardly the more unequal it is really. When the same instruction for the same number of hours a day by the same teachers is provided for fifty boys and girls, the majority have almost no opportunity at all. The bright scholars are held back…the dull scholars are unable to keep up…average scholars are discouraged because the brighter pupils accomplish their tasks so easily.1

In the 1940s, the English writer and critic Herbert Read emphasized the diversity of man by pointing out the "psychological" objection to a compulsory "national system of education":

Mankind is naturally differentiated into many types, and to press all these types into the same mold must inevitably lead to distortions and repressions. Schools should be of many kinds, following different methods and catering for different dispositions. It might be argued that even a totalitarian state must recognize this principle but the truth is that differentiation is an organic process, the spontaneous and roving associations of individuals for particular purposes. To divide and segregate is not the same as to join and aggregate. It is just the opposite process. The whole structure of education as the natural process we have envisaged, falls to pieces if we attempt to make that structure…artificial.2

The great philosopher Herbert Spencer pointed out the despotism inherent in compulsory education:

For what is meant by saying that a government ought to educate the people? Why should they be educated? What is the education for? Clearly, to fit the people for social life—to make them good citizens. And who is to say what are good citizens? The government: there is no other judge. And who is to say how these good citizens may be made? The government: there is no other judge. Hence the proposition is convertible into this—a government ought to mold children into good citizens….It must first form for itself a definite conception of a pattern citizen; and, having done this, must elaborate such system of discipline as seems best calculated to produce citizens after that pattern. This system of discipline it is bound to enforce to the uttermost. For if it does otherwise, it allows men to become different from what in its judgment they should become, and therefore fails in that duty it is charged to fulfill.3

Mrs. Isabel Paterson brilliantly sums up the tyranny of compulsory state education, and the superiority of free choice of private education:

political control is…by its nature, bound to legislate against statements of both facts and opinion, in prescribing a school curriculum, in the long run. The most exact and demonstrable scientific knowledge will certainly be objectionable to political authority at some point, because it will expose the folly of such authority, and its vicious effects. Nobody would be permitted to show the nonsensical absurdity of "dialectical materialism" in Russia, by logical examination…and if the political authority is deemed competent to control education, that must be the outcome in any country.

Educational texts are necessarily selective, in subject matter, language, and point of view. Where teaching is conducted by private schools, there will be a considerable variation in different schools; the parents must judge what they want their children taught, by the curriculum offered. Then each must strive for objective truth….Nowhere will there be any inducement to teach the "supremacy of the state" as a compulsory philosophy. But every politically controlled educational system will inculcate the doctrine of state supremacy sooner or later, whether as the divine right of kings, or the "will of the people" in "democracy." Once that doctrine has been accepted, it becomes an almost superhuman task to break the stranglehold of the political power over the life of the citizen. It has had his body, property, and mind in its clutches from infancy. An octopus would sooner release its prey.

A tax-supported, compulsory educational system is the complete model of the totalitarian state.4

Here we must add that, in the current system, the State has found a way in the United States, to induce the private schools to teach State supremacy without outlawing private schools, as in some other countries.

By enforcing certification for minimum standards, the State effectively, though subtly, dominates the private schools and makes them, in effect, extensions of the public school system. Only removal of compulsory schooling and enforced standards will free the private schools and permit them to function in independence.

Mrs. Paterson deals succinctly with the problem of compulsory education and literacy:

But would not some children remain illiterate? They might, as some do now, and as they did in the past. The United States has had one president who did not learn to read and write until after he was not only a grown man, but married and earning his own living. The truth is that in a free country anyone who remains illiterate might as well be left so; although simple literacy is not a sufficient education in itself, but the elementary key to an indispensable part of education in civilization. But that further education in civilization cannot be obtained at all under full political control of the schools. It is possible only to a certain frame of mind in which knowledge is pursued voluntarily.

And Mrs. Paterson answers teachers and educators who would tend to reply in epithets to her criticism:

Do you think nobody would willingly entrust his children to you to pay you for teaching them? Why do you have to extort your fees and collect your pupils by compulsion?5

One of the best ways of regarding the problem of compulsory education is to think of the almost exact analogy in the area of that other great educational medium—the newspaper. What would we think of a proposal for the government, Federal or State, to use the taxpayers' money to set up a nationwide chain of public newspapers, and compel all people, or all children, to read them? What would we think furthermore of the government's outlawing all other newspapers, or indeed outlawing all newspapers that do not come up to the "standards" of what a government commission thinks children ought to read? Such a proposal would be generally regarded with horror in America, and yet this is exactly the sort of regime that the government has established in the sphere of scholastic instruction.

Compulsory public presses would be considered an invasion of the basic freedom of the press; yet is not scholastic freedom at least as important as press freedom? Aren't both vital media for public information and education, for free inquiry and the search for truth? It is clear that the suppression of free instruction should be regarded with even greater horror than suppression of free press, since here the unformed minds of children are involved.


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  • 2 weeks later...

Schooling For Totalitarianism: https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/schooling-for-totalitarianism-loudoun-county-live-not-by-lies/


Here’s a story about why voting for Donald Trump will not stop wokeness — and through no fault of Trump’s.

Education policy is set primarily by state and local leaders. This is, in my conservative view, a good thing. What works for students in Brooklyn might not be right for students in Tyler, Texas. The people whose kids are going to have to live with their decisions should be the one’s closest to making those decisions.

This is why, though, Trump (and any president) is largely powerless to stop wokeness at the institutional level.

Over the weekend I had a conversation with a reader who works in an educational institution, and who is in hot water because he voiced opposition on social media to Critical Race Theory. Good thing that teacher doesn’t work for Loudoun County (Va.) Public Schools, which serve children in Virginia’s wealthiest county. If the school board adopts a proposal coming up for consideration at its October 12 meeting, no employee of the system will be allowed to criticize CRT ever, not even in private — and employees will be required to snitch on each other. You think I’m kidding? I am not kidding. Read more:


The proposed change would cover all communication by Loudoun County Schools’ employees, on campus or off, by telephone, in person or on social media.

According to the draft policy, employee speech that “will not be tolerated ” includes anything that district leaders believe could be perceived as “undermining the views, positions, goals, policies or public statements” of Schools Superintendent Eric Williams or the school board.

These comments could “disrupt the operations or efficiency of LCPS,” the policy argues.

Per the policy, LCPS employees would have a “duty to report” their colleagues alleged free speech violations to the school administration.

The policy acknowledges that employees have a “First Amendment right to engage in protected speech” but says it “may be outweighed” by LCPS interest in “promoting internal..and external community harmony and peace” and  achieving Williams’ “directives, including protected class equity, racial equity, and the goal to root out systemic racism.”

Here are the key lines:



Notice that the words “Critical Race Theory” do not appear in the draft policy. They don’t have to. Here is the Loudoun County School system’s “Detailed Plan To Combat Systemic Racism” — which, of course, is based in part on the work of Ibram X. Kendi, the “antiracist” guru who teaches that anything that is not “antiracist” (in his definition) is therefore positively racist. And here is the “Comprehensive Equity Plan”.

Very little of this is straightforwardly presented. A parent who didn’t understand the jargon would have no idea what is actually being proposed for a vote. Reading this, it would even be possible to think, like debate moderator Chris Wallace and Democratic candidate Joe Biden, that this is only about “racial sensitivity training.” In fact, it’s about something far more radical — and the policy will include firing people who publicly disagree with it in any way, ever. 


If you follow those links and dig deep into the bureaucratese, you’ll find that the “Equity” plan involves manipulating passing grades and school suspension rates to achieve “equity” — that is, to reward or punish people based not on their conduct and accomplishments, but on their race and ethnicity. Equality means giving everyone an equal chance; equity means guaranteeing an equal outcome, or at least a demographically proportional outcome. Look:


This is bureaucratic woke speak for “we’re going to indoctrinate your children in left-wing identity politics.” And look at this:


If your kid goes to a church that is not progressive and LGBT-affirming, she better shut up about her religious views at school, or she will be expelled. If you kid won’t consent to calling a trans student by that student’s preferred pronoun, that could be the end of him at Loudoun County public schools. Anything that the left identifies as a manifestation of “white supremacy” — and these days, what isn’t? — makes students who hold it targets of the system. What if a high school student believes that on balance, Robert E. Lee was a noble, if tragic, figure, and said so in a history class? He would have to fear that Loudoun County public schools, in the state of Virginia, would punish him as a white supremacist.

All throughout the Loudoun County Public Schools documents they talk of “equity” without ever defining it. People not familiar with the way the woke use this word might think of it as neutral, or even positive. Wrong. James Lindsay, in his invaluable Translations From The Wokish dictionary, writes in part:

Notice that, in Critical Social Justice, the meaning of “equity” takes pains to distinguish itself from that of “equality.” Where equality means that citizen A and citizen B are treated equally, equity means “adjusting shares in order to make citizens A and B equal.” In that sense, equity is something like a kind of “social communism,” if we will—the intentional redistribution of shares, but not necessarily along lines of existing economic disparity but in order to adjust for and correct current and historical injustices, both as exist in reality and as have been drawn out by the various critical theories (specifically, Theory—see also, critical race Theoryqueer Theorygender studiesfat studiesdisability studies, and postcolonial Theory).

The example given (above) of providing a wheelchair user with privileged access to an elevator is one that few people would find unfair. However, within Critical Social Justice conceptions of the world, specifically disability studies here, invisible systems of power and privilege are understood to hold some people back in often invisible ways because of their racegendersexuality, or other marginalized identity factors. Therefore, “equity” requires giving some identity groups privileges in order to redress the perceived imbalance.

In common parlance, this is the difference between attempting to force equality of outcome by enforcing some resource allocation system and equality of opportunity, which Critical Social Justice regards not only as myth but as a harmful ideology that upholds injustices like “white supremacy.”

Because of the blank slatism and simplistic ideas of power and identity found within Critical Social Justice worldviews, all imbalances of representation in desirable areas of work are held to be caused by these perceived power dynamics. Equity is the intended remedy to this problem, and it is made applicable only (and especially) to positions of status and influence. For example, there is no equity program that attempts to increase the number of female sanitation workers, though there are equity programs that seek to increase the number of female doctors and politicians, and these endure even in high-status positions that employ more women than men. Of particular concern are positions that have influence where power is concerned, including in terms of shaping the discourses of society.

For this same reason, the measurement for equity is wholly on assessing the most superficial aspects of outcomes and then ascribing any differences from either demographic parity or parity adjusted upward to “correct” for historical exclusion to systemic bigotry. That is, in practice, an equity approach is almost wholly unconcerned with the root causes of disparate outcomes and merely seeks to identify where they occur and then artificially “correct” them, perhaps through preferential hiring, grading, promotion, pay, etc., by eliminating measurements that reveal disparities like standardized testing, by open, secret, or tacit discrimination against “dominant” group members, or even by installing quotas and specific guidelines for how outcomes must come out, regardless of what leads to them. In that sense, it is a very impoverished theory that is unlikely to achieve any of its stated goals (and will probably hurt most those it claims to help).

Read it all — it’s fascinating. Basically, deep-blue, wealthy, predominantly white Loudoun County in suburban Washington, DC, is going to ruin its public schools by turning them into ideology factories. You’d want to get your kids out of those schools now, if you can — but what about the people who can’t afford private schooling? Their kids are going to be indoctrinated. Anyway, you may send your kid to a Loudoun County private school, but what if the staff there are also woke? The reader with whom I talked over the weekend works as a well-regarded private school which a woke mob within is trying to make it just as progressive as Loudoun County.

The Loudoun County school board paid over $400,000 to diversity consultants to come up with this tyrannical policy, including its provision to threaten people with firing if they criticize it, and its requirement that teachers and staff inform on others who do. It is possible that if the board affirms this policy, they will run afoul of President Trump’s executive order forbidding critical race theory from being taught. The Washington Free Beacon reports:

Loudoun County has come under fire for spending $422,500 on diversity training inspired by critical race theory, which claims racism is inherent in nearly every aspect of America. The school district also received backlash from teachers and parents for teaming up with the Southern Poverty Law Center to create a “social justice” curriculum for kindergartners.

President Donald Trump has promised to defund public schools that promote critical race theory. He also signed an executive order banning federal contractors from doing certain kinds of diversity training.

Manhattan Institute scholar Max Eden told the Free Beacon that the school district’s speech code should not be permitted given the Trump administration’s recent executive order. “If President Trump gets a second term, I think we could expect strong federal action against such totalitarian initiatives,” Eden said. “If Biden is elected, however, I expect that he will use the power of the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights to coerce school districts to adopt [critical race theory] initiatives.”

I’m honestly not sure how much power Trump has over local school board decisions — and frankly, I don’t want this or any POTUS to be in the position of ordering local school boards around. Yet I do expect Biden to accelerate woke indoctrination throughout the public schools.

In any case, if this isn’t in your public or private school now, get ready, because it’s coming. You are going to have a hell of a fight on your hands with the proponents of this stuff. The fact that in Loudoun County, its advocates want to fire anybody within the system who disagrees, and compel employees to rat each other out, tells you all you need to know about this totalitarian garbage.

In Live Not By Lies, I quote Hannah Arendt as saying the destruction of the institutions that made civilization possible — like, I would say, good schools — was part of the pre-totalitarian madness in Russia and Germany:

Arendt’s judgment of the postwar elites who recklessly thumbed their noses at respectability could easily apply to those of our own day who shove aside liberal principles like fair play, race neutrality, free speech, and free association as obstacles to equality. Arendt wrote:

The members of the elite did not object at all to paying a price, the destruction of civilization, for the fun of seeing how those who had been excluded unjustly in the past forced their way into it.

That’s what we are seeing in Loudoun County Public Schools. And not just there.

Yep, it's coming.


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Enrollment Is Dropping In Public Schools Around the Country: https://www.npr.org/2020/10/09/920316481/enrollment-is-dropping-in-public-schools-around-the-country


Orange County, Fla., has 8,000 missing students. The Miami-Dade County public schools have 16,000 fewer than last year. Los Angeles Unified — the nation's second-largest school system — is down nearly 11,000. Charlotte-Mecklenburg in North Carolina has 5,000 missing. Utah, Virginia and Washington are reporting declines statewide.

Comprehensive national data aren't available yet, but reporting by NPR and our member stations, along with media reports from around the country, shows enrollment declines in dozens of school districts across 20 states. Large and small, rich and poor, urban and rural — in most of these districts the decline is a departure from recent trends. Over the past 15 years, data from the U.S. Education Department show that small and steady annual increases in public school enrollment have been the rule.

Six months after schools around the country shut their doors amid coronavirus lockdowns, these fall enrollment declines come as schools have been scrambling to improve remote learning offerings and to adopt safety procedures to allow buildings to open for in-person classes, sometimes just a few days a week. In many parts of the country the start of the year has been marked by multiple changes in plans, widespread confusion among teachers and families, deep concerns about safety, and worries about unequal access to technology.

"We are not alone in this," Chris Reykdal, Washington state's superintendent of public instruction, said in a statement this week announcing a 2.82% decrease in enrollment statewide, driven by a 14% drop in kindergarten. "As our nation continues to fight the spread of COVID-19, states across the country are seeing changes in K–12 enrollment as families make decisions about the safest and most effective learning environments for their children."

Reykdal said operational cuts might be looming, and schools would lobby the state for stopgap funds. "Counts are taken every month, and if these trends continue, many of our districts will need to make adjustments in the short term even as they plan for booming kindergarten and first grade classes next year."

Kindergarten and pre-K stand out

In many places, the enrollment drops are especially noticeable in kindergarten and pre-K. For our reporting, we reached out to more than 100 districts and heard back from more than 60. In our sample, the average kindergarten enrollment drop was 16%.

Many education experts are skeptical about the virtues of remote learning for very young children, and lots of parents seem to feel the same way.

"It was either going to be virtual or hybrid, or if they were in person it was going to be weirdly socially distant and masked," says Megan Olshavsky, whose son was scheduled to start kindergarten this fall in Austin, Texas. "And he wouldn't be able to interact, really, with other kids."

Instead, Jonah, who is almost 6, is staying in his small private Montessori school for kindergarten, where he'll attend in person, full time.

"We had signed him up to start in Austin in the beginning of the year and then, you know, in the late spring and the summer, we kind of realized that school wasn't going to look normal," Olshavsky said. The school district started the year with four weeks of virtual learning before phasing in small groups of students.

Jonah's Montessori school cut class sizes to fewer than 10 students to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread. And since it's licensed as a day care, the children aren't required to wear masks. Meanwhile, the Austin Independent School District is down 5,000 students this fall, a 6% drop.

Olshavsky says she and her husband will have to tighten their belts to afford another year of private school tuition.

And school districts stand to lose money as well.

Public schools are generally funded by states on a per-pupil basis. The first week of October marks the first of two "count days" in many states — a day in the fall, right at the start of the new fiscal year, where school districts must submit an official enrollment count to determine their funding for the subsequent year.

And that system tends to favor schools in better-off communities, which get more of their funding from local property taxes, explains Bruce Baker, an education professor at Rutgers University. It's the less well-funded districts that are more dependent on state aid.

"If you've got a district where 70, 80% of the money is coming in state aid based on some enrollment count number, which would tend to be a poorer district serving a higher share of low-income and minority students," he explains, "those districts stand to lose a lot if the state decides to follow through with using this year's enrollment counts as a basis for funding in the future."

The potential loss is a hardship for school districts that already are facing the costs of schooling during a pandemic — from masks and hand sanitizer to hiring additional teachers to run both in-person and virtual programs. On top of that, the coronavirus-induced recession has already driven education budget cuts across the country.

Stephanie Elizalde, the superintendent of Austin ISD, told NPR that the state of Texas has agreed to "hold the district harmless" for enrollment declines for the fall semester only. She is hoping that students start to show up in greater numbers now that the school doors are open a few days a week. Otherwise, she says, "We could have huge cuts."

"I don't think there's ever been a time I can recall where I visited with colleagues and all of us are like, how are we going to manage this? ... Knowing that you have these cuts during the most economically challenged times and a pandemic is — I mean, that's just unheard of," she says.

Baker agrees that a downturn in enrollment this fall does not automatically equal a budget cut next year — states have time to pass measures in the spring to help schools make up the gap in funds.

But in the meantime, budget pressures may push schools to make reopening decisions that they wouldn't otherwise. In Florida, for example, enrollment in Miami-Dade, Broward County and Orange County — all of which are in the top 10 largest districts nationwide — has dropped by several thousand students each.

Back in July, on the same day President Trump implored schools on Twitter to open in the fall, the Florida Department of Education offered school districts the following deal: Reopen and get funded based on the much higher enrollment levels from before the pandemic. Or don't, and get funded based on the actual number of students. Plus, districts will get about $2,500 less for every student who remains online-only.

Judith Marte, the chief financial officer of Broward County schools, said at a recent school board meeting that the expected enrollment drops of 8,500 students could lead to a significant reduction in a district budget that is already "disgustingly low." And that shortfall, she added, could lead to potentially cutting thousands of jobs.

On the other hand, echoing the difficult decisions educators around the country have faced, Marte said she worries about the safety of returning students to buildings full time: "This is also incredibly stressful for staff, it's incredibly stressful for this board and the superintendent ... To do what's right for our community, it's a very, very difficult place to sit."

Concerns about the youngest students

If students are not showing up at their public schools, where are they going? Possibly to private school, though dozens of private schools have shuttered since the start of the pandemic. Child care centers, which may accept pre-K and kindergarten students, are threatened as well. But there are some reports of private schools gaining students even as public schools are losing them, in places where private schools are in person and public schools are virtual or hybrid.

"The inequity of the situation is just really staggering," says Olshavsky, the mother in Austin. "We were basically able to pay to keep our kid in a safe learning environment."

Austin Superintendent Elizalde agrees that her main concern is an "exacerbation ... of opportunity gaps in students from different economic backgrounds."

Not all families have the means to send their children to private school, or devote a parent to home schooling full time. Some families, says Elizalde, will be leaving children home with older siblings or to sit in front of the TV.

Jessica Diaz is a nurse in Tampa, Fla., married to a firefighter, with three daughters. Since she and her husband work in high-risk environments, they don't want to send her children to school in person. But she's struggling with the district's online learning offerings, too. Her children's nanny is Spanish-speaking and has trouble with tasks like navigating Zoom class meetings.

"I don't think [virtual school] is a sustainable option for our family at this point," she told NPR. "For all of the burden of constant emailing, changes in schedules, assignments and submissions, etc., we feel the content of the education that is being delivered is far below our girls' capabilities and not worth the trouble at this point."

She plans to pull them out and home-school after the winter break, when she hopes she'll have time to put together a curriculum; but she'll have to do the actual teaching herself in the evening hours after work.

Experts in early childhood education agree with Elizalde that keeping kids out of kindergarten and pre-K, in particular, is likely to exacerbate existing inequalities. Kindergarten is not compulsory in most states. That means children can sit out the year without necessarily doing formal home schooling or private school.

They may enter next year as first-graders, or simply delay the start of kindergarten — a practice sometimes called redshirting and, in normal times, more popular among affluent families and boys.

Diane Schanzenbach, an economist at Northwestern University who studies redshirting, says starting kindergarten late has no long-lasting educational advantages and may even have some drawbacks, for example in lifetime earnings. And Chloe Gibbs, an economist at the University of Notre Dame, says decades of research have underlined the importance of early childhood enrichment for all children, and especially for children from lower-income and less educated families. "We have consistent evidence that these kinds of interventions can have big effects on children's both short-term skill development, but really importantly, their long-term life chances."

In other words, pre-K and kindergarten are the rare educational interventions that both narrow gaps and lift all boats.

When families keep children home, the opposite may be true, says Gibbs. "Parents may be choosing not to send their kids to pre-K or to hold back their age-eligible kids from kindergarten," she explains. "And that could be fine for kids in terms of their skill development, if they are in homes where they're ... reading a lot."

But, she adds, what experts really worry about are kids "for whom this early childhood landscape has changed so much. And what are they getting kind of in the absence of having those important early experiences?"


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On 10/9/2020 at 11:12 AM, Muda69 said:

Enrollment Is Dropping In Public Schools Around the Country: https://www.npr.org/2020/10/09/920316481/enrollment-is-dropping-in-public-schools-around-the-country


This would be an interesting study in Nevada, as we have a unified database that tracks student enrollment. Did kids move out of State, or did they switch from public to charter schools? Some charter schools, like Odyssey in LV, were the first to offer online school. In addition, Odyssey has a 4-star rating, so I can see why a parent would want their child to enroll there. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

'This Building Has Caused More Problems Than It Solved'



Betsy DeVos became President Donald Trump's education secretary on February 7, 2017, following Vice President Mike Pence's vote to break a Senate deadlock—an inauspicious first for a Cabinet-level confirmation. Furious opposition to her nomination came from the nation's teachers unions: American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten called DeVos an "ideological" opponent of public education.

But DeVos' tenure has shown that she's an ideological opponent, not of public education, but of public education managed by federal bureaucrats. And she includes herself in that.

"I would not be at all unhappy to work myself out of a job," she says.

A former chair of the Michigan Republican Party, DeVos was known as an advocate for vouchers, charter schools, and more educational options for parents well before President Trump offered her the nation's top ed job. These issues became even more relevant in 2020, after the coronavirus pandemic forced schools to close or go virtual, leaving millions of families in the lurch. With teachers unions all over the country fighting on behalf of their members to stop schools from reopening, many parents might be feeling ideologically opposed to the K–12 status quo as well.


While school choice is DeVos' signature issue, her tenure as secretary will probably be best remembered for implementing significant changes to Title IX, the federal statute that prohibits sexual harassment and discrimination in education. During the Obama years, heavy-handed guidance in the form of a "Dear Colleague" letter from the federal Office for Civil Rights caused colleges to abandon norms of due process in sexual misconduct hearings. DeVos spent two years writing a new rule that would restore basic fairness to these procedures. It formally took effect on August 14.

Much like DeVos herself, the new rules are a lightning rod—and deeply unpopular with a host of policy makers and advocates who say the secretary is callously making college campuses less safe for women. Sen. Patty Murray (D–Wash.) has accused DeVos of "silencing survivors." The activist group Know Your IX predicted that sexual violence would increase as a result of the administration's actions.

In August, Reason's Robby Soave interviewed the secretary in her offices at the Department of Education in D.C.—a building that "has done more harm than good," according to DeVos. "I view this department as one that probably never should have been stood up," she says.


You are someone who has advocated for more choice, more local decision making, in education. But then you were thrust into the role of national education official. It had to be tempting to use that position to really push local governments to implement more of the ideas that you have. But your idea is that there shouldn't be some person in charge of telling everyone what to do. Do you ever feel this tension?

I do. The previous administration went exactly the opposite direction and overreached in multiple areas. Much of what I've had to do is come back and undo a lot of that. But at the same time, there are plenty of folks who've been critical of my not implementing all kinds of conservative policies that, in my view, would be desirable for students and their families. But I think my [approach] here has been one of restraint, and that I believe is ultimately a big accomplishment.

I view this department as one that probably never should have been stood up. I think there are ample arguments for it having gotten more in the way of students and their futures than actually being any kind of value-add.

Should the Department of Education be abolished—or gradually abolished, perhaps?

I would not be at all unhappy to work myself out of a job. I think that states and local communities and, most importantly, the family has to be the epicenter of these decisions. The 40 years since this department has existed, there's been over a trillion dollars spent to close the achievement gaps. They haven't closed one little bit. They've only opened in multiple areas. So why would we continue to advocate for doing more of the same thing and expect something different?


An interesting interview.  And Ms. DeVos is correct, the federal department of education should have never been created.  It is a fundamentally unconstitutional edifice.


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Predictably Poor Results for Ed System’s “Final Products”



This morning the latest results for 12th graders—the K-12 system’s “final products”—on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) came out, and they were poor, as usual. As you can see below, on a test conducted in early 2019 – before COVID-19 lockdowns – scores were either stagnant or declined, depending on the subject and comparison year. The average scores in both reading and math also remained below “proficiency.



Obviously, this is not encouraging news, though the scores are limited in what they tell us. For one thing, many people value learning that is not likely reflected in standardized tests – critical thinking, moral development, and more. For another, 12th graders, only a representative sample of whom ever see a NAEP exam, may not care that much about a test with no stakes for themselves or their schools. That said, it would still be good to see scores rise, and low motivation would have probably always been the case, meaning score inclines and declines might still reflect changes in learning. Finally, this is the first time the test was conducted digitally, though no negative impact was reported.

These scores also reflect poorly on the power of spending money. Many more factors go into performance than spending, but we are increasingly being told that the case is closed that higher funding produces better outcomes. This is disputed concerning specific, often tightly focused studies, and these scores reinforce doubts on the macro level. As you can see in the latest federal data below, inflation‐adjusted, per‐pupil public school spending grew between both 1992 and 2005 and the 2016–17 school year (39 and 8 percent, respectively). And spending between 2016–17 and the 2019 NAEP administration probably continued to grow as the economy improved. Yet scores either stagnated or fell. Standard of living has also improved in the testing time frame, so it does not appear that life has simply gotten harder.


NAEP scores are hardly the end‐all‐and‐be‐all of American K-12 education. But they are something, and that thing is not very encouraging.


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Teachers Unions and the Myth of ‘Public’ Schools



American taxpayers have been hoodwinked by the whole idea of “public schools.” No other institutions get away with such bad behavior on the part of some employees who staff them. We’ve been putting more and more money into the system for decades without reaping more returns for the nation’s children. Just this week, the national 2019 results for 12th grade student achievement were released, showing an average score of 37 percent reading proficiency and 24 percent math proficiency. These numbers are appalling but unlikely to improve as long as public teachers unions continue to behave like the nation’s most lucrative and powerful racketeering ring.


They get away with it in part because of the terms we’ve all been trained to use when speaking about them. Political language is often used to preempt political debates in this way. A case study would be the way the words “private” and “public” are used in political discussions. We speak of a private and a public sector; private and public land; and, of course, private and public schools. These terms stop us from thinking clearly.

The word “private” smacks of a desire to shield something from other people. It describes things that concern self rather than society and it’s almost always used in a defensive way. When we lift a book off a friend’s shelf and hear them shout, “That’s private!” we know we’ve been told to retreat from an unwanted advance into guarded territory. It’s a word used by individuals to make claims on their own behalf against the claims of others. For this reason, it’s at a distinct disadvantage in a democratic society.

The word “public” fares much better in majoritarian politics. It describes things that concern everyone rather than things that pertain to specific individuals. At a time when loneliness and social isolation are rampant, it conjures up associations with community, solidarity, and collective effort.

Neither of these terms are fit for the purposes they serve in political discourse, but the common use of “public” is the more pernicious one. By defining a given interest or industry as “public,” we give the impression that it benefits everyone in society instead of just a few individuals. This creates a blind spot in our discourse. It prevents us from recognizing the fact that the people who staff “public” institutions or those who sell their political prescriptions as salves to be applied in “the public interest” are just as nakedly self-interested as everybody else.


The saddest and most salient example of “public” institutions that are nothing of the sort in the United States is our “public” education system. These schools are advertised to taxpayers as institutions that serve every child in the nation. In reality, they serve the interests of no one other than the small group of Americans who work in these schools as teachers and administrators. This should not surprise us. We expect workers in the “private” sector to pursue their own financial gain. When “private” sector unions go on strike, they do so not for any altruistic reason but in pursuit of higher wages and better working conditions, and they do so unapologetically. But “public” sector unions operate within a different rhetorical framework that puts them at a distinct PR advantage when compared with their “private” sector counterparts. Since the teachers unions can shield their own avarice with claims of “public service” to children, they can manipulate the actual public into thinking that more money, job security, or political power for themselves is in everyone’s interest instead of their own. They can claim that the hopes and dreams of America’s children are somehow mystically present in their paychecks and their extended holidays as if the funds in each of their bank accounts amount to some sort of progressive eucharist of which the entire nation partakes. But a look at graduation rates, test scores, and graduate employability calls this into question.

We’ve seen a ramping-up of their special pleading during the pandemic as union leaders have identified the crisis as an opportune moment to blackmail students and parents for more concessions. The mafia-style protection racket proceeds apace even as I write this. Just this week, the Fairfax Education Association, a union that represents teachers in northern Virginia, announced its refusal to return to in-person schooling until August 2021 at the earliest. This is in spite of the fact that K-12 schools across the nation that have reopened have managed to avoid coronavirus surges so far.

In typical fashion, the teachers unions are arguing that their actions are meant to protect the health of both teachers and students. All this proves is that they either don’t know or don’t care about the extremely concerning negative effects that long-term distance learning is having on the neurology of children. My colleague Madeleine Kearns recently conducted an interview with the child psychiatrist Allan M. Josephson for National Review in which Dr Josephson details the disruption to childhood brain development that the policy of the teachers unions could bring about. Face-to-face interaction with other kids is critical if children are to develop the interpersonal problem-solving skills that will be required of them as adults. Clearly, no child psychiatrist was consulted when the Fairfax Education Association was putting together its list of demands or, if one was, he or she was summarily ignored.

Becky Pringle, the newly elected leader of the National Education Association (the country’s largest union) recently spoke out about what the policy of her 3-million strong organization would be if Donald Trump is reelected and Betsy DeVos kept on as secretary of Education. She said that “we will lift up all of the things that they are doing to destroy public education, to dismantle it, to hurt our educators’ rights to organize and have a voice to advocate at work for our students and for their community.” Notice the sentence structure. It isn’t “our students and … their community” whose “rights” are being “hurt.” It’s “our educators,” who stand in as middlemen between taxpaying parents and their children in order “to advocate at work for our students and for their community.” They claim the mantle of “public educators” when they should be called “taxpayer-funded educators.”

Political language is never more powerful than when it circumvents arguments by generating assumptions instead. The assumption that government-run schools operate in the “public interest” has prevented us from noticing the many ways in which teachers unions operate in their own self-interest. When all is said and done, the pandemic ought to have robbed the idea of “public education” of all its rhetorical currency. But as long as they have the language of the “public”-“private” divide to draw upon, they’ll probably succeed in convincing themselves and a good deal of voters that they are the selfless ones.


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7 hours ago, Muda69 said:

Teachers Unions and the Myth of ‘Public’ Schools




7 hours ago, Muda69 said:

The word “private” smacks of a desire to shield something from other people

The word "stupid" is the only apt description of the person who wrote this article. 

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COVID-19 Didn't Break the Public School System. It Was Already Broken.



We are witnessing an exodus from public schools that's unprecedented in modern U.S. history. Families are fleeing the traditional system and turning to homeschooling, virtual charters, microschools, and—more controversially—"pandemic pods," in which families band together to help small groups of kids learn at home.

The result has been an enormous backlash. A recent New York Times opinion article claimed that families forming pods is "the latest in school segregation." Denver Public Schools issued a formal statement in August urging parents not to unenroll their children—even though the district is not reopening its schools in person—because it is "deeply concerned about the pods' long-term negative implications for public education and social justice." Falls Church City Public Schools in Virginia issued a similar statement the next day, pressuring families not to withdraw their children. Administrators were concerned about "pandemic flight" and worried that "an exodus of students" would cause schools to lose money.

The vast majority of students have been out of the classroom for nearly half a year because of the K-12 school closures brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. Although it's technically back-to-school season, millions of children won't actually be returning to school buildings. About three-quarters of the nation's 100 largest public school districts decided not to reopen with any in-person options this fall, which has left families scrambling for alternatives.

We now have substantial data suggesting that the public school system will likely lose millions of students this school year. An August nationwide survey from Gallup suggests that the proportion of students enrolled in traditional public schools might drop by seven percentage points, with a random sample of 214 parents telling pollsters what type of education option they will choose for their oldest child this year—whether that be a public, charter, private, parochial, or homeschool option. Because around 50 million children were enrolled in public schools pre-pandemic, this finding implies that about 3.5 million students may leave the system.

While the direct cause of this wave of departures is the pandemic, the exodus didn't come out of nowhere. Many families simply realized the school system wasn't going to be there for them. Some expected the remote learning disaster from the spring to repeat itself. Others didn't like what they saw going on when they got a closer look at their child's curriculum at the end of last year. And being offered slightly less poorly choreographed Zoom lessons—or nothing at all—wasn't enough to keep the skeptics around. For many, COVID-19 was the final push they needed to leave a system that was already barely meeting their needs.

The education establishment is panicked, but there is little it can do to stem the flow once families determine to take matters into their own hands. What remains is the task of restructuring the underlying funding mechanisms to attach money to students instead of institutions, so that more families are empowered to escape a system that isn't working for them.

The Exodus

As COVID-19 started to spread domestically and schools began to close in the spring, many families struggled. But some discovered that they really liked homeschooling. The pandemic-induced test drive of home-based education gave millions of parents a chance to reassess the factory model. Some families reported that their children were less anxious, more engaged with learning materials, and learning more in a fraction of the time. Other families realized that they could actually make homeschooling work—and decided never to turn back.

In fact, national polling from EdChoice has found each month since March that families are growing more positive about homeschooling as a result of COVID-19. A survey from July found that 74 percent of parents reported having a more favorable view of homeschooling, whereas only 15 percent reported having a less favorable view.

A Google Trends search reveals that public interest in homeschooling reached a peak in mid-July, as it dawned on millions of families that their public schools weren't necessarily planning on reopening in person.

The August poll from Gallup estimated that the proportion of homeschoolers—defined as students who are not enrolled in a formal school—would double this school year. And a survey conducted in May and June by EdChoice found that 15 percent of families reported they were "very likely" to make the switch to homeschooling full-time this year.

Another national survey by Civis Analytics found that nearly 40 percent of families have disenrolled their children from the school they were supposed to attend because of reopening plans. Notably, this survey suggests that some of these changes could last. About 17 percent of the families who withdrew their children reported that they would not place their children back in the original school even after it's considered safe to do so.

These indications aren't limited to surveys. We also now have hard evidence of actual public school enrollment declines across the country. Arizona's largest school district reported a 5.6 percent decrease in enrollment from last year. Clark County, Nevada, reported a 3.4 percent drop. In Florida's Orange County, enrollment is down about 9 percent from projections. In Nashville, it's down 4.5 percent from projections. And as of August 28, over 3,000 students—about 1.6 percent of total enrollment—had filed to withdraw from Virginia's Fairfax County Public Schools and switch to homeschooling or a private school.

Each of the reported enrollment reductions has been larger for elementary students than for higher grade levels. The drop in Mesa Public Schools in Arizona is around 10 percent for elementary schools and 17 percent for kindergartens. The drop in Dallas Independent School District is about 8 percent for elementary schools. Each of these districts reporting enrollment reductions has announced that they do not plan to reopen with any in-person instruction.

Homeschool filings are also through the roof in many states. Nebraska reported a 21 percent increase from the same time last year. In Vermont the rise is 75 percent; in Wisconsin it's 128 percent. These spikes have been as large as 175 percent in the biggest school district in Utah, 229 percent in Maricopa County, Arizona, and 288 percent in the state of Texas. So many families filed to homeschool in North Carolina that they crashed the government website.

Pods and Microschools

Pods and microschools are a midway point between modern private schooling and homeschooling. "Microschool" is a broad term to describe groups of around five to 10 children together, often in a home, with a teacher or "guide" to facilitate learning. Many families are now applying the microschooling approach to the current situation and creating "pandemic pods." These groups allow families to pool resources to cover the costs of private tutors or just to share supervision responsibilities to make home-based education more efficient and affordable. Put differently, microschools and pandemic pods allow families to economize by outsourcing the process of homeschooling. Although many families forming pods are unenrolling their children from the public school system altogether, others are banding together to offset child care costs while their children receive instruction from their traditional public school teachers virtually. In states like Arizona, eligible families can even use a portion of their children's K-12 education dollars to cover the costs of microschools. One private Facebook group helping families form and find these pods has picked up 41,000 members since it started about a month before the beginning of the school year.

While some families are using pods to administer the virtual curriculums provided by the schools where their children are still enrolled, others have opted out entirely. This trend, perhaps more than any other, is what spooks the public education bureaucracy.

Given that the U.S. spends about $15,000 per public school student per year—and given that districts are partly funded based on enrollment counts—the departure of 3.5 million kids could drain up to $52 billion from the public school system.

The public school monopoly is afraid of this exodus—and for good reason. Arizona's Chandler Unified School District, for example, already estimated that its expected loss of 1,656 students would lead to a funding shortfall of around $21 million.

Denver Public Schools in August issued a statement noting that "the district loses approximately $10,600" for every student who withdraws. It urged families not only to "stay enrolled in your school!" but also to "reject the notion of school vouchers and stipends," arguing that allowing public dollars to follow children to the educational setting of their choice would "siphon funds from public education."

The reality is that the public school system siphons funds from families; school choice returns that funding to its rightful owners.

Private and Charter Schools

A nationally representative survey conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs found that private and charter schools adapted to the lockdown better than did district-run public schools. The survey found that private and charter school teachers were more than twice as likely to meet with students each day—and about 20 percent more likely to introduce new content to their students—than were teachers at traditional public schools. Parents of children in private and charter schools were also at least 50 percent more likely to report being "very satisfied" with the instruction provided during the lockdown than were parents of children in traditional public schools.

Special interests, hoping to protect their monopoly, have been fighting hard to prevent families from having access to these alternatives. Oregon's teachers union successfully lobbied to make it illegal for families to access virtual charter schools back in March. The Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators likewise pushed to block families from switching to virtual charter schools, and California passed a bill that prevented funding from following children to public charters. One charter school in the Golden State reported that the legislation forced it to put 500 already-admitted students back on the waitlist. The teachers union in Alaska opposed the state's move to partner with a virtual school that had been successfully providing remote education for decades.

A coalition of 10 teachers unions and the Democratic Socialists of America called for a ban on new charter schools and private school voucher programs, and the Los Angeles teachers union called for a ban on all charter schools.

Families are hitting other government-imposed roadblocks as well. Officials in Montgomery County, Maryland; Dane County, Wisconsin; Sacramento County, California; and Oregon have ordered private schools not to reopen in person, even though day care centers are permissible in each of those places. A private school in Sacramento rebranded as a day care, going so far as to retrain its teachers as child care workers, in an attempt to get around the regulation, but the county ordered it to close anyway.

Massachusetts now requires pandemic pods with more than five unrelated students to be licensed—and paying a private instructor is forbidden. New Mexico is currently under pressure from the U.S. Department of Justice for unconstitutionally limiting private schools to 25 percent capacity while public schools are limited to 50 percent capacity and day cares are permitted to operate at 100 percent capacity.


Even now, the outflow of students could be staunched if schools reopened. But public schools, especially those in major cities, have been deeply resistant to in-person instruction. Eighty-five percent of the nation's 20 largest school districts decided not to offer any in-person instruction this fall. New York City's part-time in-person reopening plan was met with fierce opposition. Teachers groups poured into the streets to protest with props such as fake tombstones and body bags. Amid threats of a teacher strike, Mayor Bill de Blasio pushed back the reopening date to September 21. After more discussions with union officials, he further delayed the reopening of schools until September 29 for elementary schoolers and October 1 for the rest of the student body.

The American Federation of Teachers, which boasts 1.7 million members, threatened "safety strikes" over fall reopening plans. An Arizona school district had to cancel classes in August at the last minute because of a teacher "sick out" that left families out to dry. Families in Kenosha, Wisconsin, found out after 10 p.m. on a Sunday night that public schools weren't going to be there for students the next morning because 276 teachers called in absent at the last minute. And after pushback from the teachers union for voting to reopen schools in person, the Ft. Worth Independent School District board voted again, at around 3:30 a.m., to delay reopening for two more weeks.

The latest data suggest that these reopening decisions have more to do with union influence and politics than safety. Using Education Week's data on the reopening decisions of 835 public school districts, researcher Christos Makridis and I found that districts in places with stronger teachers unions are much less likely to be offering full-time in-person instruction this fall. Even after controlling for several county-level demographic variables, including age, gender, marital status, race, political affiliation, and household income, we found that a 10 percent increase in union power was associated with a 1.3 percentage point reduction in the probability of in-person reopening. In Florida, 79 percent of the 38 school districts included in the dataset are planning to offer full-time in-person instruction. In California, a state with much stronger teachers unions, only 4 percent of the school districts included in the dataset are planning to do the same.

We did not find evidence to suggest that reopening decisions were statistically related to health risk as measured by recent COVID-19 cases or deaths per capita in the county.

These results make sense. Stronger unions are in better positions to get the policies they want. And keeping public schools from reopening in person minimizes any safety risks for union members while keeping benefits for teachers, in terms of job security and wages, about the same.

Yet teachers aren't the only stakeholders in this debate. Reopening schools without any in-person instruction ignores the needs of families.

Some public school districts in Arizona, California, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Virginia, and Michigan have reopened otherwise-closed public school buildings as "day cares" and started charging families for the service—in addition to what they already pay in property taxes. But if public schools can reopen as day cares, why can't they reopen as schools?

The answer is that one group of workers is willing to supervise children in person while another group is refusing to do so. Day care workers are watching students at schools while teachers provide remote instruction from their homes. This may be a great deal for teachers, but families and taxpayers are getting the short end of the stick, since they now have to pay two people for the job of one.

Teachers unions also pushed to limit requirements for virtual instruction. In the spring, the Los Angeles teachers union struck a temporary deal with the district to require just four hours of work each day. Some public school districts even attempted to use language from the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act as an excuse, in the name of equity, to not provide any virtual instruction to any students. These districts reasoned that they would be contributing to inequality if some students had better access to remote learning than others. Instead of stepping up to the challenge presented by the pandemic, they decided to shut down learning for all children.

In fact, an analysis by the Center on Reinventing Public Education found that only one in three school districts required teachers to deliver any instruction this spring—and less than half of districts expected teachers to take attendance or check in with students on a regular basis. A national survey conducted in August by Common Sense Media found that 59 percent of teens reported online learning was worse than in-person learning. Only 19 percent reported the opposite.

Although the five largest school districts in Massachusetts aren't reopening with any in-person instruction this fall, the state's teachers union successfully reduced the 180-day school year by 10 days for "planning purposes." And The New York Times has reported that "many teachers have expressed anxiety about how they and their homes would look on camera during live teaching."

At least one public school in Indiana in August even conducted a nonsensical "virtual fire drill" for students to participate in from home.

Fix the System

Families are getting a bad deal, and they know it. Hopefully, they're reevaluating the structure of K-12 education funding and realizing that there's no good reason to fund institutions instead of students. As with many other taxpayer-funded initiatives, from Pell Grants to food stamps, the money should go directly to students, and families should be able to use it on the provider of educational services that works best for their children.

This has always been obvious to supporters of educational freedom, but it's now becoming clear to others as well. Schools aren't even reopening, yet the system is still getting our children's education dollars. And in most cases, none of those dollars follow the child when they switch to a private school or homeschool. That doesn't make any sense.

Even if a school does reopen, families should still be able to take their child's education dollars elsewhere. The money should be for educating children—not protecting a government monopoly.

More and more families are starting to understand this. A national poll from August found a 10 percentage point jump in support for school choice (from 67 percent in April to 77 percent now) among parents with children in public schools.

Although educational freedom isn't the norm right now, there are at least five proposals that have been recently introduced in Congress—in addition to legislation in states such as North Carolina and Pennsylvania—that would allow more funding to follow children instead of institutions.

Families are waking up to the fact that they have been powerless when it comes to K-12 education for far too long. This realization is already pushing parents to unenroll their children from the public school system. It could also push them to demand their children's education dollars back from that system. In this sense, the public school monopoly's latest failure to meet the needs of millions of families just might be the straw that breaks its own back.


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  • 2 weeks later...

We Need to Change Teacher Training



It has been evident for decades that our schools of education — those college programs that aspiring teachers must usually complete if they want to become certified — do a poor job. Those schools were long ago overrun by educational theorists who disdain knowledge but love the idea of using schools to shape young minds as they believe they should be shaped.


One thing that is certainly out is education for character. In today’s Martin Center article, dean Matthew Post of the University of Dallas, one of the few schools that has resisted the invasion of trendy theory, explains that we desperately need to change the way we train teachers.

He writes, “The content in many schools is a problem, but a deeper one remains: Too few teachers and leaders focus on the importance of character formation.” Instead of that, many teachers are eager to indoctrinate youngsters in Critical Race Theory and other “progressive” notions.

Post doubts that our current education schools can be reformed. We need new institutions and we also need to get rid of mandatory state teacher licensing, which does nothing to ensure competence. But how can we accomplish that?

Post answers, “Independent homeschooling co-ops, schools, publishers, and other continuing education services have a role to play. But so, too, does any university with the vision and will to offer more robust teacher formation, tailored to those dedicated to classical liberal education in the true sense: Education that begins with human beings as rational and free, is committed to individual and communal flourishing, and pursues excellence in scientific discovery, artistic work, shared inquiry, and civic responsibility.”

He’s right. One of the great looming battles in America will pit the forces of statist education against parents who are increasingly coming to realize that such education is making a terrible mess of their kids.


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  • 4 weeks later...

Common Core: The Last Time Bill Gates Helped America



Twenty years ago, No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the legislation intended to save American children from stupidity and the “soft bigotry of low expectations,” became law. Ten years later, Common Core came to the fore. They both failed. Like all liberal ideas, they started with good intentions and government intervention and ended in cheating, lying, and wasted taxpayer money.

NCLB was passed in the Senate in June 2001 and ratified into law in January 2002, with a bipartisan effort from George W. Bush and the Big Man of the Senate, Teddy Kennedy. As far as government responses to tragedy go, NCLB got buried under an endless war, but like so many government programs continues to harm the public to this day.

When NCLB failed to produce desired outcomes, President Obama decided that the answer was more federal control, and more money. Enter Bill Gates, the Gates Foundation, and Common Core. But first NCLB’s failures from the Mises Institute:

“Those who control the schools control the future.”

More importantly, what are the results of the program? One should keep in mind, however, what Kohn said regarding the scores: the higher test scores may come at the cost of learning. However, in 2006, for example, math and reading test scores dropped significantly, showing that only 32% of high-school students were proficient in math.

What about high-school graduation rates? Surely the rate of graduations is reflective of school quality and efficiency, which No Child Left Behind was supposed to improve. In 2008, a report sponsored by America’s Promise Alliance, which was prepared by the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center, showed that schools in major cities in the United States had a horrible 52% graduation rate after four years; the national average is 70%, which still isn’t good. In areas like Baltimore, with a graduation rate of 34%, Columbus, with a graduation rate of 41%, and Detroit, with an awful rate of 25%, their suburbs are at 80% or higher. These urban areas were supposed to be the ones No Child Left Behind would target.

In 2015, the Obama administration replaced No Child Left Behind with the even more Orwellian program named ESSA: the Every Student Succeeds Act. Like its forebear, ESSA’s outcomes were not great. In fact, one of the promising provisions of NCLB, teacher competence — a teacher had to have mastery of the subject he or she taught — was stripped from ESSA. Unqualified teachers “taught” children.

Now, in 2020, Bill Gates, the rich man trying to remake the world in his image, has new ideas for America. This time, they involve vaccination, vaccination cards, and universal testing requirements. It’s worth noting whether his old ideas have results worth emulating.

Twenty years federalizing primary education has resulted in a dumber America.

George W. Bush believed that American education was failing. He was not wrong. Student test scores were sliding. There were great disparities between school districts and between states. Like today, poor children were being left behind.

Politicians on the left agreed with George W. Bush. Moreover, after the hyper-partisanship of the Clinton years, George W. Bush wanted to heal America with “compassionate conservatism” borne of Christian charity. Bush, like Ted Kennedy in the Senate, was possessed of a certain noblesse oblige. He came from a great American family and was tasked with glorious purpose, as Loki would say. He wanted to heal the nation by reaching across the aisle for his first action in Congress. No Child Left Behind was born.

NCLB would tie federal funds to schools improving test scores and successful outcomes. It didn’t take long for school districts, especially districts with the most challenging student populations, to realize that to get the federal dollars, they’d need to game the system. Test-taking scandals popped up across the country, most notably in Atlanta, Georgia. Teachers and administrators were implicated in taking tests for students to goose averages and qualify for federal and private grants.

One teacher, Shani Robinson, refused to plead guilty to the crimes and wrote a book about the experience. She says in an NPR interview (after the obligatory racism allegations):

when you think about cheating on standardized tests, this is something that was happening over the entire country. Over 40 states have had cheating allegations — 14 of those states, it’s been known to be widespread cheating. In Washington, D.C. there were 103 schools that were flagged for high levels of suspiciously high test scores. And so to think that what happened in Atlanta was, you know, like an anomaly — you know, that was the biggest thing: Why were the educators in Atlanta charged with racketeering when this was happening over the entire country?

Despite this debacle, the Obama administration decided that problem with No Child Left Behind was that the legislation didn’t go far enough. NCLB let states and local school districts create the curriculum to teach to the standardized tests. It was up to them to improve their scores. Because primary education had always been the most local of politics, even introducing national testing was controversial. But, according to the Obama administration, local school districts couldn’t be trusted to teach the right things.

Enter Common Core. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Eight years of NCLB had resulted in lowered test scores. President Obama would save education, and tech billionaire Bill Gates and the Gates Foundation would help him. Philip Brand of Capital Research writes an excellent history of the program:

Enter the Common Core State Standards Initiative. In April 2009 representatives from 41 states met with representatives of the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and agreed to draft a set of common standards for education. All the states, except Alaska and Texas, signaled their initial support. The standards, which outline what American students should know in grades K-12 in both math and English, were drawn up by a coalition that included schoolteachers, college professors and curriculum specialists, and Achieve, Inc., an education nonprofit (2008 revenues: $7.4 million) created in 1995 by state governors and corporate leaders concerned about education. The standards were then reviewed by the teachers unions and by state departments of education. It was the release of this 500-page document that was celebrated at Peachtree Ridge High.

No, Georgia was not picked to launch Common Core by accident. And far from locally driven standards, Common Core was adopted almost wholesale from the Gates Foundation’s initiatives. Gates Foundation grants and a snappy, newly named campaign, Race to the Top, had school districts competing for foundation grants to teach struggling kids.

Did Common Core work? Did the millions of Gates Foundation dollars make a difference? Nope. In 2019, the New York Times blared, “Reading Scores on National Exam Decline in Half the States.” Far from being a success, national standards and financial incentives had made the weaknesses among American students universal and diminished any strengths they might have had.

Washington, D.C., conservative intellectuals felt that the benefits of Race to the Top and Common Core outweighed the negatives. Meanwhile, conservative activists hated both the substance of Common Core and the federal government taking over education. In addition to opposing the bank bailouts, “school choice” became a Tea Party mantra. The argument for school, and parent, choice in educating children is stronger today than ever before, despite over 20 years — and, if one goes back to Lyndon Johnson’s efforts, 50 years — of federal meddling in education.

If American teachers hate NCLB and Common Core, American parents loathe it, and for good reason. Both federal programs sought to modify more than just teaching standards. They aimed to change the behavior of American parents, especially. The underlying premise was that involved parents create smarter kids. The solution, then, was to force parents to be involved. Kindergartners were now coming home with homework, and parents were overwhelmed with ridiculous projects. As more women entered the workforce and as more of them were single parents, the burdens were nothing short of discriminatory.

Education was front-loaded. Rather than letting young children run around and play for half the day, teachers were now cramming information into the heads of six- and seven-year-olds. The theory was that a certain amount of learning had to be in a kid’s brain by third grade or he’d be left behind. In practical effect, America’s children are now fatter and dumber. They’re denied play time, they are full of pent-up energy and anxiety, and they’re doped up on ADD medicine to suppress them. They hate school, and their growth is stunted.

Then there was the inane curriculum itself. Math became a convoluted mess. Parents are still teaching their kids the “old” way, and then teachers teach kids to the tests with Common Core math. As the above test scores illustrate, the reading curriculum is no better.

One of the “successes” of Common Core was that the dropout rate declined and more kids graduated. But school districts gamed that, too. They wouldn’t count kids who were withdrawn by parents or kids who were moved to alternative private schools for difficult children. These schools, often for-profit, would take the most at-risk kids, and then those kids would be “off the books” for school systems wanting to hit benchmarks.

Twenty years federalizing primary education has resulted in a dumber America. Now, with big-city teachers unions rebelling against doing their jobs because of COVID, the most needy children aren’t being educated at all. Since these unions control the Democrat party, don’t expect any helpful innovation anytime soon.

In fact, the new Democrat craze is to get rid of standardized testing. The answer to stupid children, evidently, is to not test them at all, as testing is “racist.” Getting rid of standardized testing means that schools may reduce their standards and not have any proof of success. Meanwhile, America gets less competitive.


Why is all this important? Besides the obvious implications regarding the fruitless national educational standards, the players trying to enforce these standards are all back in power.

The Obama administration will be running America for a third term. They favor more government power. The current COVID crisis plays into their governing biases. The government must fix the COVID problem.

An older, still utopian, Bill Gates is back, too. He has been funding vaccine research and vaccination programs around the world. This is noble. Just as funding education standards and attempting to help school districts educate children is noble. These are objectively good motives.

But federal attempts and the public-private sector partnerships being created to attack these big issues tend to fall flat and end up in places not intended.

Recently, Gates was on Jake Tapper’s show on CNN opining that America should be shut down, maybe through 2022. Two whole more years? This is insanity that only sounds sane to people who can afford to never leave their palatial homes again.

Already, Americans will be given vaccination cards (which they can keep in their wallets!) to prove that they’re vaccinated. Want to go to a concert? Better have an app to prove your COVID status. Want to fly on a plane? Better have an app. Activists are again warning against the possible implications of COVID government power grabs. Like warnings about home loans and education, these sensible statements are getting lost.

Bill Gates has great incentive to push universal vaccination. He funded the research into the vaccines. He stands to profit if there are millions of buyers. Americans are right to be concerned about federal pushes. The consequences in the past have been disastrous.

Government intervention often leads to unintended results. As we learned last week, liberalized home loans lead to bank bailouts and a near-total financial collapse. Government intervention in education, with help from Gates, has resulted in dumber students, frustrated parents, and the desire to ditch all standardized testing. These are bad outcomes.

When it comes to the COVID crisis, Americans are smart to be skeptical. Government interventions pave the road to hell. There’s no reason to believe that these interventions will be an exception.


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53 minutes ago, Muda69 said:

So how does government effectively force these deadbeat parents to become "involved"?

You allow the job market to do it. The children of deadbeats go on to be deadbeats; but those who buy in, and work with their children, will go on to a better life. 

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3 hours ago, DanteEstonia said:

You allow the job market to do it. The children of deadbeats go on to be deadbeats; but those who buy in, and work with their children, will go on to a better life. 

So you are essentially talking about social Darwinism, correct?


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On 12/16/2020 at 9:26 AM, DanteEstonia said:

You allow the job market to do it. The children of deadbeats go on to be deadbeats; but those who buy in, and work with their children, will go on to a better life. 

Wouldn't that be considered racist?

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Just something I read.....

http://www.nationalforum.com/Electronic Journal Volumes/Bartz, David African-American Parents an Effective Parent Involvement Programs SCHOOLING V8 N1 2017.pdf


Look - SF doesn't disagree with your statement You allow the job market to do it. The children of deadbeats go on to be deadbeats; but those who buy in, and work with their children, will go on to a better life.   It is indicative of the capitalist society we are in.  It just seemed like an about-face for you considering your previous positions elsewhere on the GID.  That's all....


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3 hours ago, swordfish said:

Just something I read.....

http://www.nationalforum.com/Electronic Journal Volumes/Bartz, David African-American Parents an Effective Parent Involvement Programs SCHOOLING V8 N1 2017.pdf

Look - SF doesn't disagree with your statement You allow the job market to do it. The children of deadbeats go on to be deadbeats; but those who buy in, and work with their children, will go on to a better life.   It is indicative of the capitalist society we are in.  It just seemed like an about-face for you considering your previous positions elsewhere on the GID.  That's all....


How is it an "about-face" from what I've said before?

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Why the Covid Shutdowns of Public Schools Are Driving So Many to Homeschooling



The American public school system fell apart this year. The overwhelming majority of American parents found themselves remote schooling from home. No consensus exists on whether or not schools should reopen, or whether they should reopen only after everyone attending gets vaccinated. Because teachers still get paid no matter what happens, anger and vitriol between parents, teachers, and other parents has increased to a point where the social fabric children lived in a year ago is ripping apart. 

A Broken Model

We can only solve these problems by returning to a true marketplace for schooling. We need to admit that the public school system model has failed. It only marginally worked under the assumption that enough parents worked the same hours and paid enough money in property taxes to keep the system up and running. However, without a societal norm in terms of who can work from home, who needs to work on-site and therefore needs in-person childcare, and who even has a job, only a relatively free market can possibly match the many different needs parents have right now.

The public school system was established less than two hundred years ago, and over the last hundred years, the state has increasingly inserted itself into the realm of raising children. States do not generate anything, merely redistribute it; and when they began to offer “free” childcare and education it came at the price of buying into a system increasingly difficult to opt out of. 

Nationally, the United States spends an average of about $12,000 per year per student in the K–12 public school system.  The average tuition for private schools nationwide is also about $12,000. Meanwhile, the parents who choose to pay for private schools pay twice. They pay tuition for their own children to attend the schools of their choice, and then they pay taxes for everyone else’s children to be educated as well. 

Many people cannot afford this, so without a functional public school system, where does this leave them? 

Public Schools Are AWOL, So Many Must Turn to Homeschooling

Homeschooling needs to be presented as a viable alternative for low-income families. I am currently in my ninth year of homeschooling. I spend between $500 and $700 a year on materials for three children. Of course, I have lost a lot of income by leaving my job in order to homeschool. When I quit my job to care for my children full time, I had been making about $40,000 a year. So, one could say it costs me approximately $16,700 a year in lost wages, per child, to homeschool.

However, it gets more complicated than that. I do not have to buy work clothes. I do not commute. My kids can wear thrift store clothes. I spend a fraction of what my former coworkers do on food, because I can cook from scratch. When my children were little, I had no time for anything besides childcare; now that they are older, we have a little hobby farm which produces much of the food we eat, as well as providing entertainment. Homeschooling can make it easier for parents to work part time. If I need to do school later in the day to take a lamb to a processing plant, or squeeze in our schoolwork earlier so my children and I can process chickens in the afternoon, I can do that.

Household finances consist of ins and outs. When you choose to homeschool, you may bring in far less in terms of lost wages, but you will also send far less out the door in expenses. If your wages have gone to zero due to lockdowns—and resulting involuntary job loss—then it costs you nothing in terms of lost wages to homeschool. 

Women Are Heavily Impacted by Lockdowns

Millions of people lost income in 2020. There were 2.2 million fewer women in the workforce in October 2020 than in October 2019. Much of this has to do with the nature of jobs crushed by the covid-19 response. Women tend to work more in service positions. For example, in restaurants, as of 2017, while 52 percent of restaurant employees overall were women, 71 percent of the servers were women. Servers are some of the first people let go when restaurants have to shift to curbside pickup and takeout. Many of these jobs may not come back.

In our chaotic political environment it’s hard to predict which businesses will be allowed to bounce back and which will not. In addition to market uncertainty, there is also uncertainty over whether or not school will even be open for children who have not received the experimental covid vaccine. This would necessarily exclude many children whose parents are understandably not convinced of the vaccine’s safety.

The only certainty is that children grow up regardless of whether or not their parents have a plan. Homeschooling allows parents to exert control over the family’s schedule, finances, and medical decisions. 

The American government grew dramatically in 2020. The Biden/Harris administration has never feigned interest in shrinking the size of the government; we can probably assume most of last year’s destruction of small business will continue. With the destruction of small business, so goes much of the control individuals have over how they bring money into the household. However, we can still control what goes out, and choosing to homeschool can help families save money and provide children an education that aligns with their values. More importantly, it sends the message to government bureaucrats that we do not need them to raise our children.



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The Public School Monopoly Is Immoral: https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/the-public-school-monopoly-is-immoral/


The argument for school choice—letting parents decide how to spend the public money allocated for their child’s education—has until now rested on two well-documented findings. First, that creating a K-12 education marketplace tends to improve the academic performance of all schools within its region, public and private. And second, that this increase in quality typically comes in at a lower per pupil cost overall.

But when the polarization of American politics creates a divide where public school teachers have an overwhelming financial interest in one side of the debate, there is a third and decisive argument for school choice: namely, that public schools are increasingly inclined to slant what is taught with institutionally self-serving propaganda. So much so that school systems can no longer guarantee parents that their children are being educated in ways consistent with their family’s values and beliefs.

The enthusiasm of public school teachers and especially their unions for the liberal-progressive side of today’s ideological rift is not hard to understand. It was just over a half-century ago when President Lyndon B. Johnson proposed a new function for American public schools, insisting they should become the primary means for breaking the cycle of poverty and bettering poor children’s lives. “Education is the only valid passport from poverty,” he said, later signing what was to become the cornerstone of his War on Poverty, the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), into law.

The good news for educators was a lot more money. In 31 states, according to Katharine B. Stevens, visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, per-student spending more than doubled in inflation-adjusted dollars between 1972 and 2017, tripling in 14 others and the District of Columbia. Since President Johnson’s time, K-12 education has, in fact, become states’ single largest general-fund expenditure, with the nation’s total budget for elementary and secondary education now exceeding $700 billion annually.

The bad news about all this spending was that it was accompanied by an expectation for results, which has become a growing source of embarrassment for both teachers and administrators. With the exception of a relatively few affluent suburban school districts—which tens of thousands of American families have literally bankrupted themselves to buy into over the years—U.S. public schools have continued to rank at or near the bottom of academic comparisons with other countries. Indeed, results from the 2019 bi-annual National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) of U.S. fourth and eighth graders show that low-performing students have made none of the gains Johnson originally promised.

To give public educators their due, there did seem to be a sincere (if somewhat bizarre) effort to improve K-12 curricula early on. Back in the late 1960s and early ’70s, teachers experimented with a technique called “discovery learning,” which had children try to teach themselves. They later tried “open classrooms,” which literally removed the walls that had traditionally separated students from teachers and different age groups from each other.

But the more obvious it became that real academic improvement meant opening K-12 education to outside competition—from charter schools, independent schools, private tutoring, home schools, and most recently online academies—the more teachers unions began to discover a cause even more important than higher reading and math scores: engineering social justice. It began perhaps innocently enough with a greater emphasis on bilingual instruction, softer disciplinary techniques, and multicultural awareness programs. But with time it became clear just how effectively a never-ending succession of progressive palliatives for racism and sexism—minimizing testing and grading, ending the grading of homework, making grade level advancement automatic, eliminating selective-admission public schools, and recognizing multiple valedictorians—could shield both teachers and administrators from any academic accountability.

As Williams College political science professor Darel E. Paul has suggested, antiracism and related woke policies even allowed failing professionals to pose as heroes, defying the “tyranny” of traditional academic standards to champion more equitable schooling outcomes. Progressivism not only gave public educators the appearance of shouldering “noble tasks,” but conveniently justified their ever-growing salaries and benefits to accomplish those tasks.

(In the wake of President Trump’s January 6 D.C. rally speech, one suburban Connecticut superintendent was apparently so taken with his progressive mission as to publicly attack every local parent who had ever re-tweeted a Trump remark, shouted “lock her up,” agreed that Biden was not up to the job, or countered BLM with “all lives matter.” Each one of them, he posted to his Facebook page, was “a co-conspirator who has sided with domestic terrorism.”)

Unfortunately, few human institutions are capable of simultaneously upholding two competing worldviews. The result is that what began as a progressive set of policies related to how children are educated has increasingly changed what children are taught. In other words, the progressive outlook once associated with adjuncts to learning—school assembly programs, extracurricular activities, teacher development seminars, and the kinds of grading policies already mentioned—has more and more become embedded in the subject matter itself.

And not just in the most obvious places, such as history and the social sciences, but in math and English as well. In Seattle, for example, the public schools have adopted an “anti-western” or “re-humanized” mathematics curriculum, which advances failing students on the grounds that they should not have to learn a subject intrinsically unfair to people of color.

When it comes to English, Wall Street Journal columnist Meghan Cox Gurdon has chronicled growing efforts around the country to ban everything from Homer to Shakespeare to F. Scott Fitzgerald. With what is left, she says, “The subtle complexities of literature are being reduced to the crude clanking of ‘intersectional’ power struggles.”

In January of last year, even the New York Times expressed concern at how widely different editions of the same public-school textbook could vary, depending on how liberal the state. “Classroom materials are not only shaded by politics,” wrote national correspondent Dana Goldstein, “but are also helping to shape a generation of future voters.”

Because public education is technically a state responsibility, some might argue for letting school boards deal with the growing problem of a progressively biased curriculum. But the fact that most people serving on local school boards typically do so because they have at least one child in the system means, as a practical matter, that educators have far more leverage over boards of education than boards have over teachers and administrators. Even those parents willing to challenge subject matter are usually no match for administrators “with advanced degrees [who] flash their credentials and have glib answers for every question,” laments Dr. Armand Fusco, a retired public school superintendent who has written extensively on the need for school board reform.

Indeed, the existence of easily manipulated school boards, combined with support from a vocal minority of left-leaning voters, has led to the creation of course content so clearly at odds with the larger community’s values as to be almost unbelievable. In the red state of Ohio, for example, the Department of Education started off the 2020 academic year by providing local social studies teachers with a resource it called its “Anti-Racist Allyship Starter Pack”—links to 200 op-eds, essays, and blog posts on such academically relevant topics as “In Defense of Looting,” “Capitalism is the Real Robbery,” and “The Case for Delegitimizing the Police.”

If by some miracle local boards did assert greater control over what is taught in their schools, they would still be in the morally dubious position of imposing a single perspective on a population more politically and culturally divided now than it has been since the Civil War. Having a greater say over the curriculum might be good news for those households comprising the majority view in each community, but what about the minority—left or right—who will continue being taxed to support a political and cultural agenda they abhor?

Are those families which remain at odds with the prevailing ideology to be dismissed as simply “out of luck?” As Michael McShane, director of national research for EdChoice, has observed, today’s public school district may still be a local organization, but the disagreements are now too deep for it ever to be a pluralistic one.

The traditional argument for giving public schools an exclusive call on government funding has been the desirability of instructing all of America’s children in the larger community’s shared civic values. But the strategic decision of professional educators to ideologically camouflage their academic shortcomings—combined with an unprecedented cultural divide—effectively means that in our time, fewer and fewer values are held in common.

For decades, the National Education Association (NEA) and other teachers unions fought school choice on the grounds that taxpayers’ dollars would inevitably end up funding religious schools; and public money, they said, should never support an ideology not universally shared. Ironically, that is an excellent argument for why today’s public schools should no longer keep their monopoly on government funding: every American parent has the right to protect his or her child from being propagandized by an alien ideology.


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9 hours ago, Muda69 said:

First, that creating a K-12 education marketplace tends to improve the academic performance of all schools within its region, public and private.

When I see that study, I think back to my childhood and the private schools in Bedford. Both St. Vincent and Stonce City Christian would take the kids NLCS expelled, because tuition dollars are tuition dollars.

I now see the same thing in my adulthood in Las Vegas, where Democracy Prep @ The Agassi Campus takes in the kids CCSD expelled, because tuition dollars are tuition dollars. 

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11 hours ago, DanteEstonia said:

When I see that study, I think back to my childhood and the private schools in Bedford. Both St. Vincent and Stonce City Christian would take the kids NLCS expelled, because tuition dollars are tuition dollars.

I now see the same thing in my adulthood in Las Vegas, where Democracy Prep @ The Agassi Campus takes in the kids CCSD expelled, because tuition dollars are tuition dollars. 

And your point?  So you are saying these expelled children don't deserve another change at an education?  Apparently their parents believe so or they wouldn't pay the tuition.


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