US Education Policy is Screwed Up

To back that blanket statement, consider these two pieces of evidence found on the interwebs just today.

First we have a new report showing that “fraudulent charter operators in 15 states are responsible for losing, misusing or wasting over $100 million in taxpayer money”.

We found, as stated in the introduction, that at least $100 million in public tax dollars has been lost due to fraud, waste, and abuse. These instances of fraud and mismanagement, which are catalogued in appendixes A-F, fall into six basic categories:

  • Charter operators using public funds illegally for personal gain;
  • School revenue used to illegally support other charter operator businesses;
  • Mismanagement that puts children in actual or potential danger;
  • Charters illegally requesting public dollars for services not provided;
  • Charter operators illegally inflating enrollment to boost revenues; and,
  • Charter operators mismanaging public funds and schools.

Charter schools, of course, are the cornerstone of many school reform plans, including those from the current federal administration, many states, and billionaire education “experts” like the Gates and Walton Foundations.

This report is on top of other studies showing that student learning at charters is no better, and often worse, than the districts from which they are taking students and money. And, contrary to the claims of supporters that the competition provided by charters will improve schools for all kids, are actually undermining public education.

With all this data to review, what’s a politician to do? Why, push for more charters, of course.

A bipartisan group of senators plans to introduce a bill Wednesday meant to encourage the growth of charter schools across the country, mirroring legislation expected to be taken up in the House later this week.

Building on the “success of charter schools”, according to one Senator.

Congress critters must not use the same set of web-based tubes that I do.

Then there’s the matter of how to assess the quality of teachers.

Many states and districts have begun using some variation on the Value-Add Model, about which I’ve ranted recently, that assesses teachers based in part on the increase in student learning (aka standardized test scores) over time. In other words, how much value did the teacher add.

Some teachers in Florida objected to the system used in that state in which they would be “evaluated on the scores of students they haven’t taught and on subjects they don’t teach”. Seems like an unfair process, one that might even violate “the Equal Protection and Due Process Clause of the Constitution”. And a District Judge agreed that the process is ridiculous.

However, he also said it was legal.

“This case, however, is not about the fairness of the evaluation system,” Walker wrote. “The standard of review is not whether the evaluation policies are good or bad, wise or unwise; but whether the evaluation policies are rational within the meaning of the law. The legal standard for invalidating legislative acts on substantive due process and equal protection grounds looks only to whether there is a conceivable rational basis to support them,” even though this basis might be “unsupported by evidence or empirical data.”

Obviously I’m not qualified to be a judge because I cannot see how an unfair system can have a “conceivable rational basis” to support it.

Anyway, bottom line, the political posturing represented by these examples, not to mention the tens of millions wasted, does nothing to help students get a better education.

Nothing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *