Betsy DeVos Confirmation Hearing

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“Our nation deserves a Secretary of Education who is a champion of kids, parents, state and local control and outcomes and a champion of public education.” We deserve significantly better than Betsy DeVos.

 

School choice advocate Betsy DeVos says a one size-fits-all model of learning doesn’t work and that she would promote charter, magnet, religious and other alternatives to public schools, if confirmed education secretary.

Source:  Betsy DeVos confirmation hearing

The Center for Tax and Budget Accountability (CTBA), a bi-partisan, nonprofit research and advocacy think tank based in Chicago, released the results of its study into Indiana’s school choice (voucher) program.

The study’s key findings include:

  • None of the independent studies perform found any statistical evidence that children who used vouchers performed better than children in public schools.
  • Students who attend traditional K12 public schools outperform students who attend charter schools or private religious schools.
  •  Indiana’s voucher program may actually diminish student achievement in the state over time because it diverts public taxpayer dollars away from the state’s public education systems.
  • Nations that have been most successful in improving student achievement over time have a) focused on systems-based reforms that build the capacity of the overall education system and b) [avoided] reforms based on competition and choice.
  • Because the Indiana Choice legislation prohibits the state from regulating curriculum content at private schools that accept vouchers, public taxpayer money is being spent on education of uncertain quality.
  • Because white children as a percentage of voucher recipients in the 2014- 2015 school year exceed the next largest racial group by more than 44 percentage points, Indiana’s voucher program will likely lead to increased racial stratification within Indiana’s K-12 public schools.
  • The school expenditure deduction will cause local governments across Indiana to lose up to $1.4 million annually in Local Option Income Tax revenue.

While the notion of school choice is nothing new—Adam Smith discussed it in his seminal text The Wealth of Nations—when the data on the correlation between school choice programs and student achievement are examined, they consistently point to the same conclusion: there is little to no evidence that voucher programs enhance student achievement.

This research and analysis were done to answer the simple question posed at the outset of this report:

Will the Indiana Choice Legislation lead to better educational outcomes for my and/or my neighbors’ children, and be an efficient use of our taxpayer dollars, at a time when public budgets are stretched as thin as they currently are?

As it turns out, the answer is NO!
(emphasis added)

240 Candidates to Run for Lake County School Board Seats

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Undoubtedly, there’s a heightened concern revealed in the record turnout of candidates running for school board positions, myself included.

 

 

Why the sudden interest in school board candidacy?

Interest may be sparked by President Trump’s recent nominee for Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, who was described in a Washington Post article as, “a former Republican Party chairwoman in Michigan and chair of the pro-school-choice advocacy group American Federation for Children, and a shining light to members of the movement to privatize public education by working to create programs and pass laws that require the use of public funds to pay for private school tuition in the form of vouchers and similar programs.”

Another reason could be  House Bill 229, legislation recently signed by Governor Rauner that grants to the McHenry and Lake County Boards the same consolidation powers as granted to DuPage County three years ago under a pilot program.

Perhaps it’s our governor’s Turnaround Agenda, which also gives more power to local governments along with a proposal that “explicitly authorizes” a municipality’s ability to seek relief under Chapter 9 of the Bankruptcy Code with “no requirements, pre-conditions or other limitations.”

Moving more authority in decision-making over to local school boards isn’t a new conversation.  In a 2013 Daily Herald interview, Kathy Brown, an incumbent running for Lake Zurich Unit District 95 Trustee stated, “The most significant budgetary issue facing our District is the Illinois pension crisis. The shifting of the pension burden to local districts will have a significant financial impact on all school districts.”

Then, of course, there is the federal, state, and local debt problem.  Our Federal government, for example, spent $4.3T on expenses, collected $3.7T in revenue, and carried $18.3T of debt in 2015.  Illinois spent $75B on what should have been a $71B budget addressing $141B of debt.  Lake County paid approximately $405M in expenses, collected $444M in revenue, and carried $247M in debt.  In 2015, 27% of the State budget provided funding for education, and only 2% of Federal funding was used to support educational services.

While all of this may certainly be enough to get educators “rattled,”  they can only speculate at this point what the future holds for public education.  Undoubtedly, there’s a heightened concern revealed in the record turnout of candidates running for school board positions, myself included.

This could possibly be one of the most important, if not THE most important, school board race I’ve witnessed in my lifetime.  I strongly urge voters to scrutinize candidates and make sure they represent local attitudes. One helpful tool is Illinois Sunshine, which tracks political donations that may influence a candidate’s agenda.  MapLight also offers a variety of voter resources.


Post By:  Daily Herald

Concerns over state school revenue may be one of the reasons 240 Lake County residents have decided to run for school board positions in the spring election, school officials said.

The large turnout of candidates shows up in races through the county but is particularly evident in several particular districts. For example, 11 candidates are seeking five board seats at Woodland Elementary District 50, nine have filed for four seats at Grass Lake Elementary District 36, and eight candidates have filed for two board seats at the College of Lake County.

Lake County Clerk Carla Wyckoff said her office is trying to determine if the number of candidates makes the April 4 consolidated election the largest school election in county history.

Roycealee Wood, the Lake County Regional Superintendent of Schools, said concern over state revenue seems to be one of the driving forces behind the large turnout.

To read article in its entirety, view:  240 candidates to run for Lake County school board seats