Thursday, January 26, 2017

Parents’ CHOICE: A strong public school for every child (no to DeVos!) | Parents Across America

Parents’ CHOICE: A strong public school for every child (no to DeVos!) | Parents Across America:

Parents’ CHOICE: A strong public school for every child (no to DeVos!)


PAA faxed the following to every U.S. Senator today:
Parent Voices Education Fax
January 26, 2017
Parents’ CHOICE is a strong public school for every child:
Please vote “No” on DeVos nomination
We write to ask you to vote “no” on the appointment of Betsy DeVos for US Secretary of Education. Our request is based in large part on clear differences between her education agenda and what Parents Across America believes our children and schools actually need to succeed.* We also base our opposition on the insights into Mrs. DeVos’s agenda and activities in Michigan shared by our local affiliate which raise an alarm and deserve your attention prior to any vote on her nomination.
Our affiliate, Michigan Parents for Schools, reports that Mrs. DeVos successfully opposed efforts to hold charter schools accountable, despite the well-reported financial and other problems that have plagued Michigan’s chaotic charter school system.**
Mrs. DeVos’s opposition to charter school accountability calls into serious question
her commitment to the responsible stewardship of public education funds.
MIPFS reports that Mrs. DeVos believes K-12 education should be provided by private entities, because “government” cannot be trusted. We disagree, believing that the communities which built and have supported our local public schools over generations (i.e. local government) should have the authority over and be held accountable for running those schools in the best interests of the community. Mrs. DeVos has lobbied for vouchers for years, including unsuccessful efforts to convince Michigan voters to lift the state constitutional ban on use of public education funds to benefit private and religious schools.
Mrs. DeVos’s relentless promotion of school vouchers and privatization call into serious question
her commitment to public education and the critical role it plays in our democracy.
Please listen to the experience of Michigan parents and to the concerns and wisdom of active public school parents around the nation, who urge you to vote “no” on the Betsy DeVos nomination for U.S. Secretary of Education.
Please see our position paper, “What is a Quality Education?”: http://parentsacrossamerica.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/QualityEdfinal12-2014.pdf
** See, for example, “Michigan spends $1B on charter schools but fails to hold them accountable,” Detroit Free Press, 6/22/16.
Parents Across America is a national network of grass-roots parents from all backgrounds across the U.S. who support quality public education for every child.

Parents’ CHOICE: A strong public school for every child (no to DeVos!) | Parents Across America:

Real Parent Choice: a “Choice Week” position paper


originally posted January 27, 2015
Polls and surveys show that the first choice of most parents is to send their child to a high-quality neighborhood school with adequate resources. Parents know by now that students in charter schools and voucher programs have not shown better academic progress than students in traditional schools. Parents do not want to have to shop around for a good school; consumerism is not the kind of “empowerment” that parents want.
PAA does support the kind of empowerment which involves parents authentically at the ground level and in district-, state-, and nationwide policy discussions about the best strategies for strengthening and supporting schools. These strategies might include smaller classes, more parent involvement, community schools, or other reforms that have been proven to work and are aligned with the individual needs of the school and its students.
The best model for the kind of meaningful, effective parent empowerment that parents actually want is the Chicago local school council (LSC). You can read more about LSCs and PAA’s endorsement of this system at http://tinyurl.com/nyvyydx.
PAA’s position on charter schools and voucher programs: PAA opposes efforts to privatize public education through the expansion of charters, vouchers or other privately-run programs at the expense of regular public schools. Over the years, PAA has shared our concerns that:
  • Overall, students in charter schools and voucher programs have not shown better academic progress than students in traditional schools.
  • Charter school and voucher “choice” too often lies with the charter or private school and not the families, according to growing reports of their selective enrollment, skimming and push-out practices.
  • Some franchises like Kipp and Chicago’s Noble Network use degrading discipline measures and expel students at many times the district rate.
  • Charter schools historically enroll fewer students with disabilities or English language learners.
PAA’s recommendations:
  • We believe in improving the schools we have, rather than shutting schools down in order to expand charter schools.
  • All charter schools should have neighborhood boundaries and accept all children from within those boundaries whose parents choose to enroll their child at the charter school. Charter school enrollment processes should be consistent with and as simple as those of neighborhood public schools.
  • Charter schools should not require fees, charge financial penalties, or otherwise create a financial barrier for students to be in school.
  • Charter schools and all other schools receiving public funds must be equally transparent and accountable to the public.

Real Parent Choice: a “Choice Week” position paper

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