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My Book, A Practical Guide to Digital Research, Is Now Available!

I just received the news in a congratulatory email from Denny Taylor of Garn Press:

My latest book, A Practical Guide to Digital Research: Getting the Facts and Rejecting the Lies, is now available for purchase on Amazon.

Garn Press will have the book available for purchase on March 03, 2020.

About the book:

In A Practical Guide to Digital Research, Schneider draws on her years of experience as an educational researcher to offer an easy-to-read, easy-to-digest, concise tutorial for equipping both novice and more experienced researchers in navigating numerous research sources. These include nonprofit tax form search engines, newspaper archives, social media sites, internet archives, campaign filings/ethics disclosures, teaching credential search engines, and legal filings. Also covered are tips on conducting both email and in-person interviews, filing public records requests, and conducting pointed, fruitful Google searches.This powerful, practical text is built upon a foundation of actual examples from Schneider’s own research in education—examples that she dissects and explains as a means of teaching her readers how to effectively make these valuable lessons their own. Though Schneider’s own research is chiefly in the education reform arena, the resources, skills and techniques offered in A Practical Guide to Digital Research transcend any single research field and are indispensable for confronting a variety of research queries. Useful as a classroom text or for independent research study, the book provides foundational learning for those new to research investigation as well as surprising, valuable lessons for more experienced researchers challenging themselves to learn even more.

For those interested, Amazon allows readers to view the book, including its table of contents.

The the idea for this book stems from a presentation I participated in with colleagues Andres Gabor and Darcie Cimarusti on tracking the funding related to the promotion of market-based education reform titled, “Where Did All This Money Come From??: Locating and Following the Dark Money Trail” at the 2018 Network for Public Education (NPE) conference in Indianapolis.

In preparing for our presentation, Darcie asked me to send her the information I wished to include on my presentation slides. In a moment, I thought, “To do this information justice, I would need to write a book.”

A Practical Guide to Digital Research is that book and then some.

Many thanks to Denny Taylor and Garn Press for their support and belief in the value of my work.

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One-Time, Two-Year Teacher Jessica Baghian Wants to Be LA’s Next State Superintendent

Jessica Tucker Baghian wants to be Louisiana’s next state superintendent. No surprise here.

According to the February 27, 2020, Advocate, Baghian, who currently holds a state assistant superintendent position, officially applied for the state superintendent job being vacated by John White effective March 11, 2020. The application window closes on Friday, February 28, 2020.

Baghian’s resume is part of the Advocate article, and in true market-ed-reformer fashion, it is light on classroom experience: two years (2006-08). She holds two degrees: a bachelors in mass communication (LSU, 2006), and a juris doctorate (Harvard, 2011).

Louisiana native Baghian started teaching in 2006 under a one-year provisional certificate (2006-07). (To see Baghian’s teaching certificate, click here and search “Jessica Marie Tucker.”) Her highest teaching credential is an expired Level 1 teaching certificate that was issued for three years (2007-10). The note on her certificate indicates that “teacher assessment required for higher certificate,” which means in her top-heavy ed career, she has no experience in completing necessary requirements to renew a permanent teaching certificate.

Baghian holds no administrative certifications. She has no experience even as an assistant principal.

Baghain told the Advocate, “I have spent my career working on behalf of the children of Louisiana,” she said. “I just believe so deeply in the potential of our children.”

Baghian believes so deeply in children that she holds no teaching degree, and she exited the classroom permanently after only two years, and she lacks experience in school-level administration.

Baghian’s resume reveals her to be the usual ed-reform hollow shell of experience.

According to this February 14, 2020, BESE press release on the superintendent search, the process moving forward is as follows:

The Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) has announced the launch of a national search for next State Superintendent of Education. The Board published the official applicant information packet on its website and set a submission deadline of February 28, 2020 for individuals who wish to be considered for the position. …

The next State Superintendent will inherit a system that has made significant strides in recent years including raising academic expectations, increasing access to quality early childhood education, expanding career education opportunities, and strengthening educator development, but will also face considerable challenges. As such, the Board hopes that the opportunity will attract a bold, new leader. Describing the task ahead, Orange Jones said, “The work group is committed to casting a wide recruiting net and facilitating an open and efficient selection process in order to attract the most competitive and diverse pool of applicants we can.”

The work group will oversee the administrative process of reviewing submissions, screening candidates and conducting interviews. Promise54 will assist the work group in managing the process. By early spring the work group anticipates facilitating possible interviews and proposing one to three applicants to the Board for the appointment of the next State Superintendent. Serving with Orange Jones on the Superintendent Selection Work Group are District 1 BESE member Jim Garvey, District 6 member Ronnie Morris, and At-Large member Doris Voitier.

Individuals wishing to apply for the position are invited to visit the BESE website at https://bese.louisiana.gov, where an applicant information packet is posted and available for download. The packet includes a job description that outlines qualifications, preferred experience, educational requirements, key responsibilities, as well as the process for submission of materials.

Applicants can submit their information until 5:00 p.m. Friday, February 28, 2020, with the work group beginning their Board-delegated responsibility of reviewing candidate information in March. The work group may conduct interviews and facilitate the interview process with individual BESE members in accordance with the state’s Open Meetings Law. Finalists could be named as early as March or April 2020. The resignation of current Superintendent John White is effective March 11, 2020.

The Board appoints the position of State Superintendent by a two-thirds vote of its total membership, requests confirmation by the Senate, and requests approval of the salary by the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget. Compensation will be commensurate with the selected candidate’s experience. BESE is an equal opportunity employer.

I understand why some believe that BESE will hand the job to Baghian. However, I don’t think Baghian as next state superintendent is a given. One reason I hold this view is that White supporter, James Garvey, is the BESE member who pushed for usage of a recruitment agency to conduct the superintendent search. Garvey appears to want to shop around.

One more point: The BESE announcement includes the following (underlining mine), which appears at first to sing Baghian’s praises but then seemingly pulls back a bit:

The next State Superintendent will inherit a system that has made significant strides in recent years including raising academic expectations, increasing access to quality early childhood education, expanding career education opportunities, and strengthening educator development, but will also face considerable challenges. As such, the Board hopes that the opportunity will attract a bold, new leader.

So, yes, Baghian is in the race (an unsettling albeit expected reality), but I don’t think her winning that race is somehow in the bag.

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Jessica Baghian

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Book four coming in March 2020!

From Garn Press:

“A Practical Guide to Digital Research: Getting the Facts and Rejecting the Lies”

An easy-to-read, easy-to-digest, concise tutorial for equipping both novice and more experienced researchers in navigating numerous research sources. More bit.ly/2Sz6F6I

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TFA Is Expanding Its “Pipeline of Philanthropists.” Interested?

Teacher temp org, Teach for America (TFA), is adding two “leadership gifts officers,” or fundraisers focused on enlisting more “seven- and eight-figure” philanthropic donors, or “ensur[ing] that Teach For America’s pipeline of philanthropists is ever-expanding and increasingly diverse.”

Interestingly, TFA’s corresponding “VP, Leadership Gift Officer” position requires “at least 10+ years of fundraising experience.” TFA specializes in tossing inexperienced college grads with degrees outside of education into America’s classrooms in the name of “building champions of education and equity,” but when it comes to schmoozing high-dollar donors, 10+ years of experience required.

Below is the job posting, in full.

Vice President, Leadership Gifts Officer

TEAM: National Development
REPORTS TO: Vice President of Individual Giving
LOCATION(S): Flexible; NY/NJ/CT, Houston, Dallas, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and Boston are highly preferred

THE ROLE
Teach For America is expanding our Leadership (seven- and eight-figure) Gifts portfolio.  We are hiring two new Leadership Gifts Officers, in thriving philanthropic markets across the country, to help grow the number of donors supporting Teach For America at the highest levels. Each Leadership Gifts Officer (LGO) is responsible for setting the advanced strategy to raise national and regional revenue for their portfolio, and supporting the behind-the-scenes activities required to identify, cultivate, solicit, and steward high net worth private philanthropists.  LGOs work in very close partnership and act as strategic thought partners to our CEO, executive management team and regional Executive Directors/Heads of Development, to position them as the primary frontline fundraisers at this level of giving.

This is a fantastic opportunity for individuals with extensive and sophisticated donor-centered fundraising experience, a demonstrated ability to collaborate effectively with internal partners, and a deep commitment to Teach For America’s mission. The ideal candidates will bring an entrepreneurial spirit and be enthusiastic contributors in setting the vision, strategy, and direction for the collective Leadership Gifts portfolio. They will also support an evolving national fundraising campaign and strengthen internal operating systems and approaches, as Teach For America continues to build a sophisticated, best in class fundraising operation. LGOs will report directly to the Vice President of Individual Giving on the National Development team.

THE ORGANIZATION
There are more than 16 million children growing up in poverty in the U.S., and less than 10 percent of them will graduate from college. These statistics are not a reflection of our children’s potential; we know that children growing up in poverty can and do achieve at the highest levels. Rather, these statistics reflect the systemic lack of access and opportunity for children in low-income communities.

Teach For America’s (TFA) mission is to find, develop, and support a diverse network of leaders committed to expanding opportunity for children from classrooms, schools, and every sector and field that shapes the broader systems in which schools operate. We are seeking individuals who align with our mission, core values and commitment to Diversity Equity & Inclusiveness and are ready to join us in this global movement.

Qualifications:

THE PERSON
The Leadership Gift Officer is responsible for:

  • Managing a portfolio of 100 7- and 8-figure donors and prospects at the national and regional levels, which could include:
    • Setting ambitious annual portfolio fundraising goals (in partnership with VP and regional leaders) and defining the pathway to meet them
    • Serving as a primary strategist and central relationship manager of donors in the portfolio, in partnership with regional and national senior leaders
    • Overseeing, strategizing, and/or executing on general fundraising operations and stewardship of donors and prospects using management infrastructure
    • Serving as primary liaison to Teach For America’s senior leaders in preparing for high-stakes donor engagements
    • Identifying new prospects in partnership with the Prospect Strategy and Research team to bring into the portfolio to ensure that Teach For America’s pipeline of philanthropists is ever-expanding and increasingly diverse
    • Capturing relevant donor and prospect information in Salesforce system
  • Building exceptionally strong, collaborative relationships with regional partners and national teams, promoting an org-wide development orientation by:
    • Forging and fostering deep partnerships with regional colleagues to understand their unique educational ecosystems and funding needs and being fully committed to making regions within the LGO portfolio strong and sustainable
    • Partnering and advising executive directors and regional development teams to steward key leadership donors in the portfolio
    • Partnering closely to contribute to strong donor-centered strategies and enterprise-focused development mindsets and instincts across the organizations
    • Leveraging people and resources within the TFA network (program team leads, senior leadership, national board members) that enable strong engagement opportunities for donors and prospects
    • Strategically aligning unique funding opportunities with donors’ interests and including, at times, playing a key role in the design and execution of key events
    • Attending regional events and board meetings (as appropriate)
  • Contributing toward building a collective culture of excellence, teamwork, and Core Values leadership on the Leadership Gifts Team by:
    • Enhancing prospecting, cultivation, stewardship, goal setting, strategic planning and progress management approaches, together with other LGOs, the Vice President of Individual Giving, the Individual Giving team and the broader National Development team
    • Surfacing ideas and connections in support of broader team prospecting and stewardship efforts, events and engagements
    • Deeply understanding and being able to articulate national fundraising needs and opportunities including supporting the development of a new national fundraising campaign

THE MUST HAVES
Prior Experience

  • At least 10+ years of fundraising experience with a strong record of results required
  • Experience working within individual giving stream is highly preferred
  • 3+ years of demonstrated success in personally supporting senior leaders in cultivating, soliciting and closing philanthropic gifts required
  • Experience working closely with an institution’s president/CEO, other executive leaders both internal and external to an institution, and fellow development professionals
  • Experience launching, growing, and/or managing a portfolio
  • Knowledge of MS Outlook, PowerPoint, Word and Excel is required
  • Experience working in Salesforce systems a plus

Skills

  • Deep commitment to Teach For America’s vision and mission and to the communities in which the Leadership Gift Officer will operate
  • Commitment to understanding complex org-wide budgeting and programming
  • Comfort in managing a portfolio, but not necessarily being the key solicitor/external face of the relationship/organization
  • A high degree of flexibility, optimism, and sense of possibility
  • Exceptional written and verbal communication skills across different media
  • Thrives in a fast-paced, entrepreneurial, goal-oriented environment
  • Very strong at building relationships and influencing others toward outcomes with demonstrated ability to partner effectively with others to reach big goals
  • Highly motivated to be a steward of Teach For America – building champions of educational excellence and equity – and partner with regional leaders to be strong development professionals and stewards of Teach For America
  • A problem-solving orientation – can break down problems, define pathways forward, and invest others in a solution
  • Inclined to want to improve internal team operations and systems

Education

  • Bachelor’s degree required
  • Certified Fundraising Executive designation is a nice to have

Work Demands

  • Travel 5-7 times per quarter
  • Typical work days are 10 hours

THE TEAM
The National Development team builds and strengthens Teach For America’s philanthropic partnerships. Our team inspires donors to invest in the future of our country by investing in TFA’s work with students nationally and regionally. We help educate staff in the knowledge and practices of fundraisers. Our team is responsible for ensuring that our fundraising infrastructure supports and sustains TFA’s ambitious short- and long-term mission.

THE PERKS
By joining staff, you join a network of individuals committed to pursuing equity for all students and developing themselves as professionals in the process. We as an organization value the longevity of our employees and offer a comprehensive and competitive benefits plan. The salary for this position is also competitive and depends on your prior work experience. Please be advised, you will have an opportunity to discuss salary in more detail after you begin the application process.

WE ARE DEEPLY COMMITTED TO DIVERSITY, EQUITY & INCLUSIVENESS
Teach For America encourages individuals of all ethnic, racial, and socioeconomic backgrounds to apply for this position. We are committed to maximizing the diversity of our organization, as we want to engage all those who can contribute to this effort.

Teach For America is committed to providing equal employment opportunities to all qualified individuals and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, age, marital status, veteran status, pregnancy, parental status, genetic information or characteristics (or those of a family member) or any other basis prohibited by applicable law.

*This job description reflects Teach For America’s assignment of essential functions and qualifications of the role. Nothing in this herein restricts management’s right to assign, reassign or eliminate duties and responsibilities to this role at any time.

NEXT STEPS
Interested in this position? Apply now! Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find the link to the online application. Please note that a cover letter detailing (1) your interest in Teach For America’s mission and (2) how your previous experiences relate to this role is required. If you still have questions regarding the role, feel free to contact our recruitment team at StaffHiring@teachforamerica.org or visitwww.teachforamerica.org/about-us/careers.

money in safe

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Book four coming in March 2020!

From Garn Press:

“A Practical Guide to Digital Research: Getting the Facts and Rejecting the Lies”

An easy-to-read, easy-to-digest, concise tutorial for equipping both novice and more experienced researchers in navigating numerous research sources. More bit.ly/2Sz6F6I

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TX’s Kauffman Leadership Academy to Close with One Week’s Notice to Parents

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) will be closing the Kauffman Leadership Academy (KLA) (Cleburne) charter school with one week’s notice, as reported in WFAA.com.

In this February 13, 2020, letter to KLA leadership, TEA cites, “the [closure] order was issued as a result of the financial situation at the charter school having deteriorated significantly, including federal tax liens and levies issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that had frozen all accounts of the charter school.”

KLA filed with the Texas Secretary of State (SOS) as a business entity on August 23, 2010 (search here; KLA’s taxpayer ID# is 32042519895). According to KLA’s charter application dated 02/23/11 and on file with TEA, KLA planned “to open in August 2011 operate as a private school, pending charter approval.” These archived web pages from July 2011 and May 2015 have KLA identifying itself as an “open enrollment private school pending charter approval.”

According to the IRS, KLA received nonprofit status in August 2014, and according to KLA’s website, the school opened as a charter school in August 2016.

What took TEA so long to identify KLA’s suspicious financial situation is a looming question.

According to the IRS, KLA has only ever filed 990-N tax forms, also known as “e-postcards,” because according to KLA, for tax years 2013 to 2017 (the most recent filing,) KLA has reported “gross receipts not greater than 50,000.”

So, for five tax years, KLA told the IRS, “We have almost no money,” and the public– including TEA– had ready access to that information.

Meanwhile, on its website, KLA states, “every employee of the Academy earns the same salary, $35,000,” a statement that has remained consistent on its website since the time KLA received its charter in fall 2016, as evidenced by this October 2016 archived web page announcing KLA’s grad opening celebration.

If KLA had $50K or less per annum in 2016, that would have been enough for only a single KLA employee based upon state funding for perhaps 8 students.

Red flag, no?

This crash-and-burn did not have to wait for an IRS account freeze. Based upon KLA’s anemic tax filings, TEA should have caught this one years ago.

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Book four coming in March 2020!

From Garn Press:

“A Practical Guide to Digital Research: Getting the Facts and Rejecting the Lies”

An easy-to-read, easy-to-digest, concise tutorial for equipping both novice and more experienced researchers in navigating numerous research sources. More bit.ly/2Sz6F6I

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“Purple Lit Book”: A Poem

In a recent creative writing assignment connected to our study of the Romantic period in British literature, I asked my senior English students to compose a poem about an item, object, experience, or person associated with the everyday.

Below is one student’s response, which I offer to my readers for their enjoyment.

Without further ado, and with student permission, I give you “Purple Lit Book,” by Nikolas.

 

Purple Lit Book

 

Oh when I turn the page

how the words change and

they inform me of different people daily.

From Sam Pepys and William Blake

to how King George is crazy.

The Age of Johnson and Neoclassics,

The Church of England and Anglo-Saxons,

they have all been so fun.

Staying awake has been a battle,

but not so much during Gulliver’s Travels.

There’s nothing like Ireland and

how they thought the British were crooks.

For I have Jesus and The Bible

and Dr. Schneider and the purple lit book.

purple lit book

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Book four coming in March 2020!

From Garn Press:

“A Practical Guide to Digital Research: Getting the Facts and Rejecting the Lies”

An easy-to-read, easy-to-digest, concise tutorial for equipping both novice and more experienced researchers in navigating numerous research sources. More bit.ly/2Sz6F6I

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TN Supt. Penny Schwinn Bypasses Legislature with No-Bid Voucher Contract

Teach for America (TFA) alum Penny Schwinn is Tennessee’s education commissioner, a post that she has held for a year as of this writing.

Within ten months of Schwinn’s arrival as Tennessee ed commissioner, the Tennessee Department of Education experienced 250 resignations, including “people with decades of institutional knowledge,” which the November 15, 2019, Tennessee Chalkbeat characterized as “not typical.”

It might not be typical for an education commissioner who does not hail from TFA, but Schwinn’s purgative effect on Tennessee’s ed department is a familiar story to those of us in Louisiana, where another TFA alum, John White, had the same effect on the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE). (For an inside peek of LDOE chaos under White, see this 2014 post by former LDOE employee, Jason France.)

I first wrote about Schwinn in her previous role as Texas Education Agency (TEA) deputy commissioner of academics in connection to the wrongful termination of Texas special education director, Laurie Kash, who blew the whistle on TEA’s no-bid contract with special education data company, SPEDx. One of Kash’s concerns was an alleged personal relationship between Schwinn and a SPEDx leader.

On February 12, 2020, Schwinn was again in the news related to a no-bid contract controversy, this time in connection with Tennessee’s school voucher program and the ed-fund-tracking company, ClassWallet, as Chalkbeat reports:

Lawmakers who oversee the spending of Tennessee taxpayer money blasted the Department of Education Wednesday for its handling of a no-bid contract with ClassWallet, hired for $1.25 million a year to manage the state’s upcoming voucher program.

Commissioner Penny Schwinn and members of her team were grilled for almost two hours over the decision to bypass a competitive bid process to hire the Florida-based company — and for twice the amount budgeted for work this year on Gov. Bill Lee’s education savings account program. …

“Fiscal Review didn’t find out about this contract grant until Nov. 13 when it was published in Chalkbeat. Do you think that that’s acceptable?” asked Rep. Matthew Hill, the Jonesborough Republican who chairs the panel. …

“To the general public, it looks like you found a vendor, and then created a contract,” said Faison, a Republican from Cosby.

There is a lot more detail to the Chalkbeat article, which is certainly worth a complete read. It seems that Schwinn’s rogue maneuvers have the support of Tennessee governor Bill Lee, and Schwinn justified her no-bid decision by saying it was necessary to begin the voucher program in 2020, a year earlier that the legislature planned, as per the governor’s wishes.

Another major irritation for Tennessee legislators is the ballooned pricetag due to Schwinn’s no-bid: The legislature budgeted $750K for costs associated with the voucher program, but Schwinn blew it up, committing her ClassWallet no-bid to $2.5M for two years.

But there’s more: Schwinn’s chief financial officer said that it decided– without legislative approval– to use teacher-pay funds from an expired program to fund the increased voucher program cost due to the no-bid it awarded. In response, Tennessee House Fiscal Review Panel chair, Matthew Hill, replied, “…We robbed teacher pay. … I can’t stress how bad this looks for us.”

He then ordered Schwinn’s ed department to return on February 19, 2020, to show the Panel that the ed department exercised “due diligence” in contracting with ClassWallet.

Schwinn could be the undoing of Tennessee’s voucher program. Wouldn’t that be something.

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Penny Schwinn

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Interested in scheduling Mercedes Schneider for a speaking engagement? Click here.

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Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

In Budget Snub, Betsy DeVos Treats Charters Like “Public Schools”

In President Trump’s proposed FY2021 budget, charter school funding is lumped together in block-grant fashion with funding once seperately designated for 29 federal K12-related programs. From the US Department of Education (USDOE) FY2021 proposed budget press release:

The budget calls for consolidating nearly all existing K-12 formula and competitive grant programs into one block grant to States, called the Elementary and Secondary Education for the Disadvantaged (ESED) Block Grant. Funds would be allocated using the same formulas as the Title I Grants to Local Educational Agencies program.

Specifically, the block grant includes consolidating these 29 federal programs:

FORMULA GRANT PROGRAMS (9)

  • Title I Grants to Local Educational Agencies
  • Migrant State Grants
  • Neglected and Delinquent State Grants
  • Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants
  • 21st Century Community Learning Centers
  • Education for Homeless Children and Youths
  • Rural Education
  • Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants
  • English Language Acquisition Grants

COMPETITIVE GRANT PROGRAMS (20)

  • Comprehensive Literacy Development Grants
  • Innovative Approaches to Literacy
  • High School Equivalency Program
  • Native Hawaiian Education
  • Alaska Native Education
  • Comprehensive Centers
  • School Safety National Activities
  • Promise Neighborhoods
  • Full-Service Community Schools
  • Education Innovation and Research
  • Teacher and School Leader Incentive Grants
  • American History and Civics Education
  • Supporting Effective Educator Development
  • Charter Schools Grants
  • Magnet Schools Assistance
  • Ready to Learn Programming
  • Arts in Education
  • Javits Gifted and Talented Education
  • Statewide Family Engagement Centers
  • Teacher Quality Partnership

Charter school advocates like to refer to charters as “public schools.” Well, now they get to feel more than ever like “public” schools as they have been tossed into a bin of programs that Trump (really, US ed sec, Betsy DeVos) would have states use less money overall (a proposed $4.7B cut) to decide which programs to fund.

In the USDOE press release, DeVos’s centerpiece is a $5B voucher program (same as last year), which she tries to sell as not “do[ing] a thing” to affect public school funding even as Trump-DeVos propose cutting almost that amount– $4.7B– from the 29 programs lumped into the block:

Highlights from the President’s FY 2021 Budget Request include the following:

  1. Expanding Education Freedom for Students
    • Education Freedom Scholarships (EFS) would provide up to $5 billion in additional education funding to help more than 1 million students across the country find their education fit
    • This proposal would dramatically expand the options available to families
    • States, not the Federal government, will design their own programs aimed at serving their students. Each State’s family eligibility requirements and allowable uses of scholarship funds will be aligned with their State’s unique needs
    • Funded by private, voluntary donations, EFS does not do a thing to change any funding amount already allocated to public school students or public school teachers

In funding EFS with “private donations,” what Trump-DeVos is asking is that $5B in potential tax revenue not be collected at all in the name of tax credits. Prior to being collected, the money is given away.

It is highly unlikely that the House will pass the Trump-DeVos education budget as is. (In 2019, the DeVos’ $5B voucher plan was a lead balloon.) Even so, Trump-DeVos try to sweeten the voucher deal by suggesting that the money “could support a range of educational activities such as CTE, special education services, and tuition for private school.” From the FY2021 budget as published by the White House: 

Provides Education Freedom to Families and Students.

Families must have the freedom to choose the best learning experience for their children. The Administration’s Education Freedom Scholarships proposal would provide up to $5 billion annually in State designed scholarship programs that could support a range of educational activities such as CTE (career and technical education), special education services, and tuition for private school. This proposal would make tremendous strides toward the goal of providing all students with the opportunity to receive a high-quality education and achieve future success.

What is not highlighted as a possible “educational activity” on which to spend EFS money is the funding of charter schools. In fact, the FY2021 budget document released by the White House does not mention charter schools by name even once.

Interestingly, funding charter schools via Title I money (as opposed to a separate funding stream) was a key suggestion of the Network for Public Education’s (NPE) second report on federal charter school closure, mismanagement and waste, Still Asleep at the Wheel, a report that underestimated numbers provided by DeVos herself in her testimony before Congress in 2019:

We …strongly recommend that Congress end appropriations for new charter school grants in the upcoming budget and continue funding only for obligated amounts only to legitimate projects. Once those grants have been closed, we recommend that the CSP be ended and that charter schools continue to receive federal support only through other federal funding streams such as Title I and IDEA.

DeVos wants that $5B voucher program to become a reality. One of the criticisms of DeVos federal voucher program is that it “undermine[s] public education.” So, if she can quell additional criticism about charter school fraud even as she seems to promote public school “state-level freedom” via a block grant that throws charter schools under the school choice bus, then maybe (?) Congress will give in to her true school-choice love: school vouchers.

I don’t believe Congress will fund DeVos’ voucher hopes. But one issue is clear:

DeVos is willing to sacrifice charter school funding as she continues to promote her clearly-favored, school-choice centerpiece, school vouchers, and charter school advocates cannot undo knowing so.

Betsy DeVos 3

Betsy DeVos

________________________________________________________________________

Interested in scheduling Mercedes Schneider for a speaking engagement? Click here.

.

Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.