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Education: Public

Corporate interests continue to push for ways to siphon tax dollars from public schools to private schools. Is this use of education dollars the best way to provide a quality education for all students?

In this section we'll look at developments in the fight to privatize education and provide a fair assessment of what will provide the best education for the overwhelming majority of American students.

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Trump encourages "Bible literacy" classes in public schools

2019-Jan-28By: (External links)

Trump offers encouragement for state efforts to teach Bible literacy in public schools

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US school uses electric shocks on students

2018-Nov-16By: (External links)

'It's torture': critics step up bid to stop US school using electric shocks on children

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Teachers comprise 10 percent of AirBnB hosts

2018-Aug-17By: (External links)

Another sign of hard times for teachers? They make up nearly 10 percent of Airbnb hosts.

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Florida residents can challenge science-based education

2017-Jul-01  (Updated: 2017-Jul-13)By: Barry Shatzman

As of July 1, residents of Florida can challenge any part of a school's curriculum simply because they find it objectionable.

The new law allows any resident - even if they are not a parent of a student - to contest any material they claim is inappropriate or unsuitable.

The challenge would be heard by reviewers. If the reviewers rule in favor of the challengers, schools would be required to comply.

The law has several nominal safeguards. For example, it states that any educational material must be accurate, balanced, and current. It also must not reflect unfairly on persons because of characteristics such as race, gender, disability, or religion.

However, much of the law's support came from those who typically eschew scientific method, following dogma instead.

They advocate, for example...

o That religious beliefs about how life originated should be taught on the same level as theories for which there is physical evidence.

o That the evidence on Global Warming is inconclusive.

The conservative group Florida Citizens' Alliance, which advocated for the bill, claims it would let the state start "undoing the anti-Second Amendment indoctrination of our kids."

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Bill would terminate the Department of Education

2017-Feb-07By: Barry Shatzman

A bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives that is one sentence long...

"The Department of Education shall terminate on December 31, 2018."

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Voucher programs expand despite lack of evidence


Although evidence shows that students who receive vouchers to attend private schools perform no better than those attending public schools, an increasing number of states are setting up voucher programs or other means of using taxpayer money to pay for children to attend private schools.

Last month, the Indiana Supreme Court upheld the state's voucher program, while Alabama approved tax-credit legislation so families with children in low-performing public schools can enroll them in private schools instead.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that vouchers are constitutional. However, many state constitutions explicitly prohibit spending public money on religious schools, so lawmakers in some of these states have used tax credits to get around the restriction.

New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Virginia established new programs last year, and Arizona and Louisiana expanded existing ones.

In all, 17 states now offer programs allowing parents to use taxpayer money to send their children to private schools. Many of these laws were based in part on model legislation written by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The organization, funded largely by corporations, writes bills advocating free-market principles that are introduced by conservative state lawmakers.

A 2011 report from the Center on Education Policy stated there is no evidence that voucher students perform better than their peers in public schools.

School vouchers first were proposed by economist Milton Friedman in 1955. The concept remained largely an academic one, however, until President Ronald Reagan embraced the idea in the 1980s. Reagan's efforts to introduce federal voucher proposals were rejected repeatedly by Congress, but they remain a mainstay of conservative politics.

For more, read this New York Times story.
To learn more about the history of vouchers, read this 2008 Washington Monthly article.
You can read the full report by the Center on Education Policy by clicking here
You can learn about the ALEC in this Lobby99 report.
You can read more about ALEC's push to privatize American education in this Lobby99 story.

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Enrollment declining in large public school districts

2012-Jul-24By: Barry Shatzman

Enrollment is declining in nearly half of the country's largest public school districts. Because funding for schools often is determined on a per-student basis, schools are finding themselves with less money for teachers and programs such as foreign languages and the arts.

Reasons for the decline include changing demographic alignments due to the economy and an increase in charter schools. But perhaps the biggest concern is that a "vicious cycle" will emerge - where the quality of education declines because top students are leaving, causing more students to leave and evern further decline.

For more, read the New York Times story.

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