Sunday, December 4, 2016

Trump Voucher Plan

From Laurie

Donald Trump’s huge, ambitious school voucher plan, explained

The title one portability could have a large impact on my school, though it is much too complicated for me to understand what it would be. We have nearly 100% students who would qualify for these vouchers. If they choose to stay at my school would we wind up with more or less money for title one intervention teachers? We currently have 3 in a building with about 350 students, so there are a great many students not getting the academic support they need. More intervention teachers funded by federal dollars would be great, or on the other hand we could lose students and dollars. I think there may be Somali private schools that families could choose with a really expanded voucher program, but I am not sure about this.


John said...

As we have discussed dozens of times, vouchers are doomed to fail many many children unless the amount is varied by the level of need of each student.

Who these will help are the good responsible parents who are financially poor who have good healthy smart well behaved children. It is no different than Open enrollment and Parents moving out of questionable neighborhoods. It helps a few and dooms the old neighborhood to failure.

Simple business concepts dictate that the private schools will only take students that can make them money or at least break even.

The only upside is that it may break the Union strange hold on the US Public school system.

jerrye92002 said...

Good news: it can be used at any school-- public, charter or private-- and it pays for it by taking away the money now going to failing schools that allows them to continue to fail.

Bad news: The federal voucher would be entirely inadequate in most cases, so it would require states to add state funding to that voucher in order to enable actual choice. Not all states would agree.

Good news: States could tailor their part of the voucher to Special Ed or higher-cost districts, and lower the amount given to the "normal" or "gifted" kids, so those decisions might be made on more of an individual need basis.

Questionable: This will go only to kids in poverty. So most of the help will go to those who most of us agree have not been able to choose a school until now, but are those the ones who most need it? [NCLB was supposed to give them to ALL kids in "failing schools."] Still, I find it curious that anyone would object to this program because the "poor but responsible" parents would get benefit that others might not. Why insist on a form of "fairness" that brings the top down rather than what brings some, or everybody, up?

Logically speaking: The argument here is that there is insufficient "evidence" that private schools or charter schools do any better than public schools. I suggest that this is bureaucratic and elitist hubris. Let us give out the vouchers and let them be used at any school, as is being suggested. Give parents the means to make choices, and accept that they will choose what is "better," whether our academics can make a study and find it or not.

Laurie said...

about "most of us agree have not been able to choose a school" - I have no idea who "most of us" refers to but the fact is parents in Mpls can choose from 40 charter schools as well as a great deal of choice within the Minneapolis school district.

mpls charter schools

When it comes to education and a very vague voucher proposal I think my time is better spent reading articles online written by people who research this issue and try to get the facts right, rather than read the views of people here spouting off on a topic which they know little about.

John said...

I am with Laurie, there is tons of school choice in Minnesota... Unfortunately the Parent(s) of the unlucky kids are often too immature, irresponsible, unmotivated, neglectful, busy and/or uninformed to take advantage of them. Some of the same reasons why their kids get little or no support at home in their studies, social education, etc.

For the most part, they are "child(ren)" trying to raise child(ren). (ie age and/or maturity level) The big risk will be holding the "for profit schools" accountable for performing the same or better than their Public peers. And to ensure they stay financially stable and in business.

John said...

Just be careful who you read.

Remember that the adults involved in the status quo Public Education system have hundreds of billions of reasons for working hard to ensure that no one rocks their boat full of money and influence.

Anonymous said...

Do people who don't have kids in schools get vouchers?


jerrye92002 said...

Laurie, help me here. You yourself have said your charter gets starved for funding. With a voucher system you would get as much per child as all the other public schools. Therefore, John, I don't believe you when you say there is lots of choice in Minnesota, because there are extra costs of one kind or another to all the public school alternatives. It's proven by the number of people who, when they can afford it, choose something different. Vouchers would be an improvement on that score, enabling true choice. I refuse to blame parents for not making good choices until they actually HAVE a choice between equal-cost alternatives.

Laurie, the other thing I suspect is that the reason "choice" schools do not fare better is because they use the same educational methods, standards, textbooks, etc. as the publics do, either because of "habit" (the way teachers were trained) or mandates of some sort. So tell me, IF the administration and teachers were given a "free hand" to do "whatever works best" and assuming that funding was adequate (no gold-plated pencils involved), are there things you COULD and WOULD do that now are not being done because of said habits or rules? [What I've always proposed is that vouchers should be usable at the public schools, but that for true competition the public schools would need to be free to innovate how they teach.]

John said...

Please elaborate: "there are extra costs of one kind or another to all the public school alternatives"

The only one I can think of is transportation... And hopefully we are not going to start paying for cross metro busing...

John said...

Also, are you willing to share the name of that "super school" that works miracles on a small budget yet. I am itching to do some analysis.

jerrye92002 said...

"super schools": Any of 100 or so of the 340 Minnesota public school districts which produce above average results with below average expenditures. Some of them produce TWICE the achievement at HALF the costs, and they are "ordinary" public schools. You know, the kind of schools people with money move to, leaving the poor with no choices.

Extra costs: transportation, lack of funding, extra fees, poor performance, lack of resources (like a library), non-neighborhood, ...

John said...

You mean those 100 schools that have >80% of Lucky kids and <20% of Unlucky kids? How about a specific 50/50 or worse school? Preferably with >10% special needs?

So it seems you want to pay for transportation and give schools more money. I thought competition was supposed to be able provide all the above at bargain prices. What has kept all of our charters from doing so?

Apparently Laurie and her peers failed "Miracle Worker" class.

jerrye92002 said...

Now you are just being snarky. How do you know these all the poor schools-- 3/4 of them-- are filled with unlucky kids? Isn't that your presumption? And where do you think "competition" exists right now? Can anybody, in your view, take the same amount of money and educate as good or better than those "failing" public schools, at least for some of those poor but otherwise "lucky" kids? Or even some of the unlucky ones? It does happen, you know.

And I'm asking Laurie if Miracle Worker was ever part of her curriculum in Ed school, or if there is a "miracle preventer" operating in her school.

Laurie said...

At my school I use the term "super teacher" rather than miracle worker to describe our best teachers. Even our super teachers have very limited success on MCA results, as we would need to have a stable student population and super teachers from grades K-8 to dramatically improve out test scores. To get to a really high pass rate we would also need funding for extended school day and extended school year. If we were to get all of these things in place that would be a minor miracle.

John said...

Do kids come to your school socially, academically and physically prepared for Kindergarten?

Do the Parents ensure the following happen?

"Attend Parent Teacher conferences, ensure their child's homework is done, ensure their child comes to school clean, fed and rested."

Jerry and I are arguing about the most basic of Parental responsibilities over here.

jerrye92002 said...

Thanks, Laurie. I really appreciate the insight and the tough sledding of those teachers (the vast majority) trying to do their best in the system as it is. So I'm wondering if you agree with how that system (and results) might change if we:
-- Offered merit pay and a career path for teachers so that "super teachers" not only got paid more, but got paid to impart their "tricks of the trade" to the "non-super" teachers? It would be sort of a master, journeyman, apprentice sort of deal.
-- Gave every kid (or at least every poor kid, to start) a voucher they could take with them for the full cost of their education? Seems to me that would increase funding, stabilize that funding, and the student population (somewhat).
--The freedom from government mandates that (at least should) go with that voucher would let you innovate and fine tune your own methods, calendars, etc. to match the students you had.

Do you think that would help?

jerrye92002 said...

John, I have tutored any number of kids. I haven't had one that wasn't reasonably clean or hungry yet, but I have had a lot who were intellectually unprepared, and one that was suffering from a chronic lack of sleep. That last was the only one I couldn't help. I never complained about the "irresponsible parents" with any of them, because it was my job to bring them "up to speed" from wherever they were, and I did. Don't tell me it cannot be done by actual teaching professionals, so long as they are allowed to innovate and tailor their approach to different kids.

I suspect the reason vouchers and charters don't do better is because you can't take a kid that's 3 years behind and suddenly bring them up to grade level. Like Laurie says you have to have them from K onward, with good teachers all along. Get there, and then we can worry about the few parents not doing right by the kids. Blaming them for "giving up" and not going to school conferences when the only choice they have is a school where the kids aren't even safe, let alone teaching them anything, seems rather doubly cruel to me.

Laurie said...

The kids come to my school poor (lacking in most of the background experiences that privileged kids take for granted), lacking in preschool experience, lacking in kindergarten readiness, and extremely limited in their ability to speak English.

The parents do not ensure that the homework is done because many of them would have difficulty assisting their child in completing the kindergarten homework.

Laurie said...

Vouchers, Home Schooling, Virtual Education -- Conservatives’ Wish List

My link raises many more questions than it answers. I hope the coming changes are not too radical. I hope that traditional schools change and incorporate more technology rather than start to be replaced.

John said...

And Jerry wonders why you can not catch the kids up to the same level of performance as the "Wayzata" type kids who come to Kindergarten with years of Pre-K and fluent academically capable parents who can fund any outside special needs, homework and/or technologies that are required.

I think that Laurie will agree with me that tutoring one or a few students is nothing like having a classroom full of students who barely speak English. And worse yet, a classroom full of students that are changing often because of high family mobility.

I think you are out of touch with what the typical public urban schools face.

jerrye92002 said...

In recent experience, yes, but I think Laurie explains it well, and the kids I see are those with some of the same problems though perhaps to a lesser degree. But I "catch them up" in 15 minutes a week, for 6-8 weeks. Give a trained educator an hour/day for a school year and... Sure, it probably takes longer, and more effort, and the teachers should be paid more for making that happen, but it isn't the parents preventing the schools from doing it.

jerrye92002 said...

Laurie, I guess I sympathize with your concerns, but I don't think you should worry. I am more concerned that useful changes will not occur quickly enough. I lament that every year we lose another "generation" of kids to inadequate education (what they don't get in kindergarten they never catch up with) (from the book of the same name).

My vision of vouchers, now seriously contemplated, is that they can be used at ANY school (though I would include home schools, too), meaning the public schools will have time to better themselves before private competition ramps up capacity. Again, to make that competition fair, a lot of the rules and "standards" and "instructional paradigms" are going to have to be removed so that new teaching techniques and technologies can directly improve education.

I think the biggest obstacle here is the massive vested interest in the public schools, when what we should be funding and supporting is "education of the public" in whatever way works. Vouchers for non-rich students is just the start.