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This is What K-12 School Choice Really Looks Like

Before our daughter graduated from a traditional community based, democratic, transparent, non-profit public high school where she worked, learned and earned an excellent education, she applied to several universities and was accepted by most and rejected by a few. Stanford was one of the acceptances and that’s where she went. It was her choice what colleges to apply to and the choice of the universities to accept or reject her. That’s how choice works. In the private sector, businesses have the right to reject customers and refuse to sell products and/or provide services to them.

The K-12 real public sector schools do not have that choice, because they are funded by tax payers, and the U.S. Constitution and/or state constitutions do not allow the highly successful, traditional public sector schools to do what the private sector is allowed to get away with.

But a comment left by Stephen Ronan in a post’s thread on Diane Ravitch’s Blog alleged that autocratic, opaque, often fraudulent (click Charter School Scandals to discover how much fraud) and inferior, publicly funded, private sector charter schools offer parents a choice and Ronan thinks that the choice is better than community based, democratic, transparent, non-profit, traditional public schools.  Ronan even compared K-12 corporate charter schools to Harvard and MIT.

Ronan was totally wrong and here’s why.

There is only one Harvard, one Stanford and one MIT. How many publicly funded, private sector, often fraudulent and inferior, autocratic and opaque K-12 corporate charter schools are there – thousands?

Harvard and MIT are not opaque and they are not financed with public funds from taxpayers.  Harvard also has $32.7 billion in cash on hand through its endowment.  MIT’s endowment totals about $13.5 billion. Stanford’s is $5.5 billion. How many of the 100,000, K-12 public schools in the United States have similar endowments?

Harvard admitted 2,106 undergrads from 39,041 applicants.  Applicants had a choice to apply but who decided what undergrads to accept and reject?

K-12 public schools do not operate that way. Every child who lives in the area a public school serves is accepted to that public school. There is no sifting or rejections. Public schools are not allowed to choose the students they are willing to teach, but publicly funded, private sector, corporate charter schools often reject students that apply.

The cost to attend Harvard for the average student is $60,659.


Jesse Ventura is a former professional wrestler, former Navy Seal, and former governor of Minnesota (1999-2003)

What’s the average cost to educate a K-12 public school student in the U.S.?  According to the National Council for Education Statistics: “Total expenditures for public elementary and secondary schools in the United States amounted to $620 billion in 2012–13, or $12,296 per public school student enrolled in the fall (in constant 2014–15 dollars, based on the Consumer Price Index). These expenditures include $11,011 per student in current expenditures for the operation of schools; $931 for capital outlay (i.e., expenditures for property and for buildings and alterations completed by school district staff or contractors); and $355 for interest on school debt.”

There is a huge difference between $60k and $12k.

Harvard’s acceptance rate is 5.2%. That means Harvard made a choice not to accept 94.8% of applicants. That is a lot of disappointed students who wanted to attend Harvard, but traditional public schools accept 100% of the students that live in the area they serve.

Stanford University’s acceptance rate is 4.7% (annual cost to average student is almost $60k)

MIT’s is 9% (annual cost to average student is $58,240)

This is what Ronan means by choice.

What are we getting with those autocratic, opaque, often fraudulent and inferior, publicly funded, private sector, corporate charter schools that have a choice to accept or reject children, a choice the traditional public schools do not have?

Figure 26: Academic Growth of Charter Schools Compared to Their Local Markets, Page 57, credo.stanford.edu

READING:
No Significant Difference – 56 percent
Significantly worse – 19 percent
Significantly Better – 25 percent

Translated: 75 percent are the same or worse than the public schools. What happens when a student takes a high-stakes test and gets 25 percent of the questions right? A 25 percent score is a failing grade.

How many years have the corporate charter schools had to achieve this level of failure?

MATH:
No Significant Difference – 40 percent
Significantly worse – 31 percent
Significantly Better – 29 percent

Translated: 71 percent of publicly funded, private sector corporate charters are the same or worse than the public schools. What happens when a student takes a high stakes test and gets 29 percent of the questions right? A 29 percent score is a failing grade.

How many years have the corporate charter schools had to achieve this level of failure?

Most if not all autocratic, opaque, often fraudulent and inferior, publicly funded, private sector, corporate charter schools are not Harvard, Stanford or MIT or even close, and those three private sector universities are not publicly funded.

In addition, let’s not forget the child abuse taking place in autocratic, publicly funded, private sector corporate charter schools. Jonathan Pelto reports Child Abuse in the form of the “No Excuses” education model and says, “the term ‘No Excuses’ is really a placeholder for a militaristic, highly disciplined, autocratic system in which children are forced to understand that discipline, conformity and following rules is the fundamental cornerstone that leads to academic achievement.”

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Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and disabled Vietnam Veteran, with a BA in journalism and an MFA in writing, who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

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Revealing Uncouth Fraud One-Step at a time among Public Education’s Critics – Part 1/2

I started out looking for a list of countries that use standardized tests as the United States does. Eventually, I found what I wanted and that post will appear another time.

At first, what I found wasn’t what I was looking for but what I learned painted a different picture than the criticism that is often heaped on the public schools by those political/religious groups that want to change the education system in the US to fit their beliefs or achieve their agendas.

Since World War II, America’s public schools have been victimized by so-called expert fanatics that seem to know what is right for the schools. Each time one of these waves has arrived (Whole Language Approach to Learning and the Self-esteem movement are two examples), it resulted in disaster for many public schools.

I’m sure private school choice linked to the voucher initiative will prove the same and will solve nothing.  School Choice and the Voucher initiative that refuses to go away are just another unproven theory that will not achieve the desired results.

From Patty Inglish at Hub Pages, I discovered the TOP 5 REASONS MANY TEACHERS QUIT.  What I did was summarize what Patty Inglish wrote. If you want more details, visit her post at Hub Pages by clicking on the link in this paragraph.

“Many teachers quit because teaching is difficult and, to compound this circumstance, many school and school district administrations practice micromanagement and a lack of support that drives teachers away,” Inglish wrote. “The U.S. Department of Education; National Center for Education Statistics Teacher Follow-up Survey shows these major self-reported reasons among 7,000 teachers and former teachers for why they quit or are likely to soon quit.”

The persons interviewed report “a constant battle with the administration”, including submitting weekly lesson plans for examination and approval…

[Note: I had to do this for one principal between 1986 and 1989. During that time, the school I was teaching at experienced a fifty-percent teacher turnover, and I also transferred to another school to escape this brute of a micromanager.]

Inglish says, “According to this recent report on teacher attrition by the National Center for Education Statistics, in teachers who quit and took non-education jobs, 64% did so to have more autonomy at work, without micromanagement.”

Continued on September 26, 2011 in Revealing Uncouth Fraud One-Step at a time among Public Education’s Critics – Part 2

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Flawed Claims about “Different Kinds of Liberals”

Eric Schansberg lives in Indiana and wrote a post for his “personal” blog about different kinds of liberals.  There is one quote of Schansberg’s that I challenge.

Schansberg claimed that, “In education, teacher unions want to preserve the monopoly power of the government schools. Restricting competition is a common way to make one group better off at the expense of others,” is misleading.

Teacher unions and public school teachers do not run the school districts in the United States. Teachers are employees and they do as they are told. I should know. I worked in one public school district for thirty years.

Who runs the public schools in America?

Democratically elected school boards do that job.  In addition, policy for public schools is decided at the state level, which means the legislature of each state sets the standards and expectations for the school districts in each state.

There are over 14,000 public school districts in the U.S., and discerning parents may choose where to live, which means 14,000 choices and in some school districts, one school may be better than another.


Crazy Conservatives at the “Take Back America Conference”

Parents that do their homework before buying a home or renting may easily find one school or school district that is better than others and that is a form of choice, which is what my wife and I did.  All the information one needs to make such a decision may be easily found through Google.

We bought the home we live in now in a public school district that was highly rated.  Our daughter attended middle and high school in this Northern California public school district, where she earned straight A’s for six years and then was accepted to UCLA, UC San Diego, UC Davis and Stanford, where she is starting her second year.

When I asked her how many “bad” teachers she had while attending public schools in California K-12, she said only one name came to mind and she must have had at last fifty teachers during those 13 years.

Finland and Singapore, with two of the best school systems in the world, have government run schools.

In fact, in Finland, the best school system in Europe, 97% of students attend public government run schools and the teachers belong to strong teacher unions but teachers decide how to run their schools and parents offer strong support, which is often missing in the US.

Then Schansberg claims teacher unions restrict competition.  Wrong again.

There are 33,366 private schools in the United States, serving 5.5 million PK-12 students. Private schools account for over 25 percent of the nation’s schools and enroll about 10 percent of all students, which is a higher ratio than Finland or Singapore where only 3% of the students attend private schools.

Then there are homeschooled students, which add up to about 1.5 to 1.7 million students.

Parents, if they make an effort, have many choices where their children go to school. The real reason for the school choice movement in America has nothing to do with better schools. This movement is politically/religiously motivated. There is no other reason.

If these conservatives really wanted better schools, they would be studying the countries that already have them instead of reinventing a wheel that would turn out square.

Saying the public schools in the United States are a  monopoly would be the same as claiming the U.S. Post Office is a monopoly without mentioning FedEx, DHL, UPS and e-mail.

There may be two large teacher unions (NEA and AFT) but these unions are broken into 14,000 different branches and each branch negotiates separately with the democratically elected school boards of each of those 14,000 school districts for wages and benefits and the teacher unions do not dictate policy or curriculum—the democratically elected officials at the school district, state and federal level  do that after much debate and lobbying.

In the thirty years I taught, the union branch I paid my dues to, which was a member of CTA/NEA, never told us how or what to teach and never offered workshops in those areas.

Do you really want your children to attend schools run by the CEO of an International corporation such as Wal-Mart, which only answers to its investors?

Discover how to Avoid the Mainstream Parent Trap

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Eager to Learn or Not – Part 8/10

Did you know that the Walton family, which owns a controlling interest in Wal-Mart, is the wealthiest family on the planet with an estimated worth of more than $90 billion dollars. The Waltons are also one of the largest supporters of the school voucher movement.

The last time there was a major initiative in California for school vouchers, the Waltons (WFF) were ready to open hundreds of private storefront schools to accept vouchers and take over the teaching of millions of America’s children. Do you want to turn your children over to Wal-Mart and the Walton family?

Both the Walton family and the company (Wal-Mart) have made education a major funding priority.

Many of the WFF’s education gifts have a distinct ideological tilt, emphasizing a “free market” approach to education reform, a vision the late John Walton embraced with particular enthusiasm. The WFF funds advocacy groups promoting conservative school “reform” — otherwise known as privatization — like the Center for Education Reform and the Black Alliance for Educational Options, as well as the actual programs these groups champion: charter schools and voucher programs.

In fact, the WFF has become the single largest source of funding for the voucher and charter school movement.

The modern movement for school vouchers can be traced to an individual by the name of Milton Friedman, who won the Nobel Prize in Economics.  Friedman wrote a paper on “The Role of Government in Education” in 1955.

The national debate that followed resulted in the use of vouchers in the Southern states as a means to continue the practice of segregation amongst black and white students. Source: School Vouchers

Continued on July 20, 2011 in Eager to Learn or Not – Part 9 or return to Part 7

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

To subscribe to “Crazy Normal”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.

 

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