redefinED blog stars: The problem with vouchers, with teacher tantrums, with Parents Across America and more

Editor’s note: Here’s our latest round-up of interesting stuff from other ed blogs.

Rick Hess Straight Up: Self-Pitying Tantrums Are Poor Way for Educators to Win Friends, Influence People

Fact 1: Teachers feel like they’re getting a bad rap in the public discourse.

Fact 2: I’ve long since stopped reading the comments proffered on RHSU.

What in the world do these two statements have to do with each other? I think it’s simple. Self-proclaimed advocates of educators and public education have become so vitriolic, mean-spirited, arrogant, and unreasoning that it’s becoming inane to anyone who’s not a fellow true believer. This means that they’re poorly positioned to convince Americans, and painfully uninteresting to anyone who doesn’t agree with them already. …

I was enamored by the self-identified teacher who wrote, “I honestly wonder what you’re doing, writing about a profession that you so clearly despise. I also wonder about the integrity of Education Week, since it keeps publishing more and more hit-pieces by people like you, who openly brandish his anti-union, anti-public education, and anti-public school teachers attitudes, just to satisfy the whims and expectations of sponsors such as the Gates foundation and others…Unlike hacks like you, we can not charge over time, or demand to be payed [sic] by the column, or the word. You sir, are the worst kind of demagogue, attacking a noble profession, while disguising your broadsides as concerns over our benefits.” Another wrote, “Well, Rick anyone can blog on and on about the virtues of deceit. Pity the folks in Wisconsin who couldn’t quite get it together to alter the lopsided equation.” Truthfully, I’m not even sure what this means. Full post here.

Cato@Liberty: State Rep. Balks at Voucher Funding for Muslim School

Just as Louisiana’s legislative session was wrapping up earlier this month, state Rep. Kenneth Havard refused to vote for any voucher program that “will fund Islamic teaching.” According to the AP, the Islamic School of Greater New Orleans was on a list of schools approved by the state education department to accept as many as 38 voucher students. Havard declared: “I won’t go back home and explain to my people that I supported this.”

For unreported reasons, the Islamic school subsequently withdrew itself from participation in the program and the voucher funding was approved 51 to 49. With the program now enacted and funded, nothing appears to stand in the way of the Islamic school requesting that it be added back to the list, and it is hard to imagine a constitutionally sound basis for rejecting such a request.

This episode illustrates a fundamental flaw in government-funded voucher programs: they must either reject every controversial educational option from eligibility or they compel taxpayers to support types of education that violate their convictions. In either case, someone loses. Either poor Muslims in New Orleans are denied vouchers or taxpayers who don’t wish to support Muslim schools are compelled to do so.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Read post here.

Alexander Russo’s This Week in Education: The Problem With “Parents Across America”

There’s a small but very active group called Parents Across America that’s been around the last year and change, usually criticizing reform measures like turnarounds, value-added, and the parent trigger.

Their criticisms are all fine and good — I have my own issues with many reform priorities.  But I do have at least one big issues with them.  (Or really two, but they’re closely related.)

No, it’s not the issue of whether they’ve received any money from the teachers unions. [They have, apparently, but I don’t care.]  No, it’s not that PAA is a private subsidiary of Leonie Haimsen’s Class Size Matters.  [Nonprofit doesn’t mean corporate or capitalist in my book.]  No, it’s not even increasingly ridiculous claims that PAA makes about reformers and those like me who raise questions about their allegations. [Though I have to admit the paranoia and name-calling are really annoying.]

It’s actually a problem that PAA shares with its sworn opponents, the school reform community. Like many reform group leaders, PAA is mostly not from the low-income minority communities or the dysfunctional schools that are the the focus of so much reform attention, and it’s not at all clear that have a legitimate claim to represent those communities and schools in any great numbers. Full post here.

 Getting Smart: Who Governs the Child?

North Carolina is host to the latest battle over expanding digital learning, charter schools, and parent choice.  It involves attempts by the State Board of Education (SBE) and the NC School Boards Association to block a proposed online public charter school, North Carolina Virtual Academy (NCVA) from serving students this Fall. Yet, beyond the details of this one new charter school, this issue has sparked a renewed debate over governance, and whether the principal virtue of “local control” in education is district control or parent choice. …

Policies on school finance and accountability for all schools — traditional and charter; brick & mortar and online – are important and worthy of research and debate.  Education reformers support quality and accountability.  However, as is happening in NC, critics will happily raise these policy concerns only when the subjects are charter schools and other schools of choice.

At its core, the debate over this one new online public charter school in North Carolina is really about the fight over governance, and who should control the education decision of the child:  school districts or parents.  It’s the latest episode in a familiar storyline we’ve seen play out over 20 years since real, parent-driven school choice first emerged and began to shift the paradigm. Full post here.

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BY reimaginED staff

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