January 7, 2013


TX: Rick Perry Versus the School Children of Texas

The conservatives of the Texas legislature are about to try again to fool the state’s taxpayers into funding private schools with a voucher program. The Republican argument, which falls apart under scrutiny, has been that no child should be condemned to attend a failing public school. No conservative wants to talk about why the public school system might be troubled, however, nor do they contemplate the even greater long-term damages to be wrought by school choice.  Huffington Post

WA: Advocates decry, Kansas defends welfare cuts

Advocates point to Gov. Brownback’s refusal to expand Medicaid under the federal health care overhaul, which could leave 120,000 to 140,000 low-income Kansans without insurance. They also fret about the administration’s decision to turn the delivery of Medicaid services over to three private health insurers in a system known as KanCare that started Jan. 1. Private insurers, advocates fear, will boost their bottom lines by refusing or restricting services to the 380,000 poor, disabled and elderly Kansans on Medicaid. The state counters that KanCare will be more efficient, and that privatization will stem rapidly growing Medicaid spending and save Kansas close to $500 million over five years.

DC: Frontline’ raises questions about test-score tampering under Rhee

Student standardized-test scores at an award-winning D.C. school dropped dramatically in 2011 after the principal tightened security out of concern about possible cheating, according to a new “Frontline” television documentary to be broadcast Tuesday. The hour-long program raises questions about whether District officials have adequately investigated persistent suspicions that public school employees may have tampered with tests during the tenure of former schools chancellor Michelle A. Rhee.  Washington Post

DC: D.C. charter schools expel students at far higher rates than traditional public schools

The District’s public charter schools have expelled students at a far higher rate than the city’s traditional public schools in recent years, according to school data, highlighting a key difference between two sectors that compete for the District’s students and taxpayer dollars.  Washington Post

MI: Editorial: Michigan right to avoid privatization mandate

Among things lawmakers got right during last month’s lame-duck session was their decision to permit — not require — privatization of one Michigan prison if that will produce adequate savings. Their original legislation would have all but forced the corrections department to create a privately run prison.  Detroit News

FL: Privatization means 60 workers at 2 area prisons to be laid off

Healthcare employees at two areas prisons will be laid off in the next three months as part of a privatization plan, the Department of Corrections announced Friday.  TCPalm.com

FL: Threatened Tortoises Make Way for Central Florida Toll Road

Construction of a 25-mile long toll road that will complete a beltway around Orlando is due to begin in February, but before building on the Wekiva Parkway can start, threatened gopher tortoises have to be moved out of the way.  Transportation Nation

‘Disciplinary fees’ show the trouble with charter schools and privatization

Our neighbors at MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry report that Chicago’s Noble Network of Charter Schools is making some cash on the side by charging “disciplinary fees” to unruly students. The parents of one teenager, writes Traci Lee, had to pay close to $2,000 in fines for infractions including “an unkempt appearance and not making eye contact.”   MSNBC

Students Rush to Web Classes, but Profits May Be Much Later

New companies are partnering with universities to offer online courses, in an effort that could define the future of higher education — if anyone can figure out how to make money. New York Times

12 States Get Failing Grades on Public School Policies From Advocacy Group

In just a few short years, state legislatures and education agencies across the country have sought to transform American public education by passing a series of laws and policies overhauling teacher tenure, introducing the use of standardized test scores in performance evaluations and expanding charter schools. Such policies are among those pushed by StudentsFirst, the advocacy group led by Michelle A. Rhee, the former schools chancellor in Washington. Ms. Rhee has generated debate in education circles for aggressive pursuit of her agenda and the financing of political candidates who support it. In a report issued Monday, StudentsFirst ranks states based on how closely they follow the group’s platform, looking at policies related not only to tenure and evaluations but also to pensions and the governance of school districts.  New York Times