Education Liberty Watch: On Grading Schools and its Impact on Freedom of Setting Standards   3 comments

Education Liberty Watch Introduces New Freedom Grading Scale for Private School Choice Laws

The concept of trying to rescue poor and minority students from failing  public schools is a noble one.  However, if the private schools are  forced to teach the public school standards, which are at grave risk of  becoming nationalized via the Common Core and its accompanying tests in  45-1/2 states and the District of Columbia (Minnesota accepted the  English standards but not the math), in order for their students to pass  the state tests, private schools will no longer be a meaningful  alternative to the public schools.

This danger was detailed in our 2011 alert Imposing a Federal Curriculum on Private Schools – Why Voucher Programs that Require State Tests Are So Dangerous. At that time, we mentioned Minnesota’s proposed law that has not yet  passed (that would have received a D grade on our scale) and Indiana’s  enacted law (that did receive an F grade) that both require state tests  to be given to private school students receiving vouchers or to the  entire private school.  Since then, I have reviewed the testing  accountability requirements for all of the 30 school choice laws that  have passed in 18 states and the District of Columbia through 2012 based  on the Alliance for School Choice’s annual report  and looking at the  newest 2012 laws passed since that report was written.

And, since grading scales are becoming de rigeur,  I though that Education Liberty Watch should join in on the trend and  provide a freedom grading scale based on how well each statute protects  private school autonomy.  My hope is that you will see where your state  falls and contact your policymakers to either improve your own state law  if needed, make sure that any school choice bill offered in your state  is as strongly pro-freedom as possible, and if nothing else, warn the  private schools in your area what may be coming and urge them to speak  up as this type of legislation is considered.

Before the table  with the grades is presented however, it is important to also mention  the education plan of presidential candidate Mitt Romney on this issue.   Thankfully his plan is a just a plan right now that was likely mostly  written  or at least heavily influenced by former Governor Jeb Bush.   Mr. Bush, whose organization is funded by the Bill Gates Foundation, is a  huge fan of the Common Core to the point of trying to prevent model legislation against the standards from being supported by ALEC. He also seems to be completely tied in with the corporate interests such as the US Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable, and the  Business Partnership and the Gates Foundation, which has funded his own organization, that seem not at all concerned or even determined  to bring about the usurpation of private school curriculum with the  national standards. The Romney plan, A Chance for Every Child, speaks of the federal government promoting and paying for both public and private school choice.  It says on pages 23-24:

Romney  Administration will work with Congress to overhaul Title I and IDEA so  that low-income and special-needs students can choose which school to  attend and bring their funding with them. The choices  offered to students under this policy will include any district or  public charter school in the state, as well as private schools if  permitted by state law… To  ensure accountability, students using federal funds to attend private  schools will be required to participate in the state’s testing system. (Emphasis added.)

Aside  from the fact that the federal government has no constitutional  authority to be involved in education, a fact both parties have  completely forgotten, this would be an utter disaster for education  freedom.  It would bring the full force of the federal government to  impose the federal curriculum of the Common Core on private and  religious schools.  It would also negate the laboratories of democracy  in the states that have passed good state laws that do not require this  public school testing accountability.  On Education Liberty Watch’s Freedom Grading Scale, the Romney education plan, as currently written,  would receive a D grade for requiring students to participate in the  state tests.  If the plan is meant to require that all of the students  in a private school attended by voucher recipients take the state  (Common Core) tests, we would give it a failing grade.

However, the good news is that Governor Romney has recently made some important and very good statements opposing the Common Core and government expansion of preschool, which we  will outline in our next alert. It is therefore hoped that the more  pro-freedom members of his education team are beginning to hold sway and  that Governor Romney can be educated about the perils to private  schools in his plan.

 

EDUCATION LIBERTY WATCH FREEDOM GRADING SCALE FOR PRIVATE SCHOOL CHOICE LAWS:

The chart form of the grading scale with more detail is available here. Here is the scale broken down by grade:

 

A+= NO testing requirements & accountability is specifically to PARENTS.

-Georgia (2001 – special needs voucher)
-New Hampshire (2012 – means tested tax credit scholarships, including for home schooled students)
-Oklahoma (2012 – special needs voucher)
A = No testing requirements for special needs vouchers or scholarships -Arizona (2011 – education savings accounts for special needs children)
-Florida (1995 and expanded in 2011) -Louisiana (2010) -North Carolina (2011) 

-Ohio (2003)
-Oklahoma (2010) 

A = No testing requirements for corporate or individual scholarships, including scholarships for foster children

-Arizona (2006- corporate scholarship tax credit) -Arizona (1997 – individual scholarship tax credit)
-Georgia (2008)
-Iowa  (2006 & expanded in 2011)
-Pennsylvania (2001)
-Rhode Island (2006) 

B+  = Private schools with voucher or scholarship recipients must  administer a nationally norm-referenced test but report only to parents  &/or the state in aggregate

-Virginia (2012)
-Washington, DC (2004) 

B  = Requiring private schools with voucher or scholarship recipients to  administer a nationally norm-referenced test & reporting results to  the state.

-Arizona (2006)
-Utah (2005) 

C  = States that require private schools to offer either the state tests  or nationally norm-referenced tests to voucher or scholarship recipients

-Florida (2001 and expanded in 2011 & 2012 – Corporate tax credit scholarship)
-Indiana (2009) 

D+  = States that require the state tests to be administered to voucher or  scholarship recipients in private schools & scores are reported to  parents or other entity beside the state

-Louisiana (2012 – statewide means tested voucher)
-Wisconsin (1990 – means tested voucher in Milwaukee) -Wisconsin (2011 – means tested voucher in Racine) 

D = States that require the state tests to be administered to voucher or scholarship recipients in private schools

-Colorado (2011 – means tested voucher in Douglas County)
-Louisiana (2008 – means tested voucher in New Orleans)
-Ohio (2011 – special needs voucher) 

F  = States require the state tests to be administered to ALL the students  in a private school that have any students that receive a voucher

-Indiana (2011 – means tested voucher)
-Ohio (1995 – Cleveland voucher) -Ohio (2005 – failing school voucher)

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3 responses to “Education Liberty Watch: On Grading Schools and its Impact on Freedom of Setting Standards

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  1. Thanks for the A+ for NH!! It was an uphill battle, but we managed to make it happen. Rep Hill and former Rep Bedrick get most of the credit.
    Sen Forsythe
    NH State Senate District 4
    Sponsor of the Education Tax Credit Bill

  2. I have beautiful bumper stickers which say ‘SCHOOL CHOICE/CHARTERS WILL KILL PRIVATE EDUCATION.” If you want some, email me back or give me a call at 207-737-4730. Charlotte Iserbyt, 519 River Road, Dresden, ME 04342, dumbdown00@yahoo.com, http://www.deliberatedumbingdown.com

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