Issue #6: Obama Administration Targets Private Schools
Several commentators have justly piled on the Obama administration’s craven legal challenge to a Louisiana voucher program that offers a way out of rotten schools for predominantly black, poor children. The U.S. Department of Justice’s charge? Vouchers may change, by minuscule percentages, the ratio of black to white children at some schools. Therefore, it’s better to keep all kids in failing schools. Cato’s Andrew Coulson wryly notes this effectively tells black parents their choices hurt black people.
Furthermore, as The Wall Street Journal writes, “The evidence from around the country is that vouchers enhance racial integration. Public school attendance is mainly determined by geography, so segregated neighborhoods produce segregated schools.”
There’s more at work here, however. The Obama administration’s Louisiana lawsuit is part of a habit of seeking to control states and private institutions. This spring, for example, the DOJ also demanded that Wisconsin impose more regulations on and inspections of private voucher schools, alleging this was necessary to alleviate discrimination against special-needs students although literally no evidence of this exists. And, of course, although no federal budget has existed since the president took office, each time it surfaces he attempts to use it to cancel vouchers for more poor, predominantly black students in Washington, DC.
Consider also the effects of the president’s signature initiative, Obamacare, on private schools, which are largely religious. They’re worried. Depending on how legal challenges play out, the health care law may force religious schools to hire employees whose morality conflicts with their mission, and to pay for medical procedures that violate their First Amendment freedom of conscience. Imagine a Catholic school being forced to hire a Buddhist religion teacher, or a Mormon school being forced to pay for abortions.
It is increasingly clear that, voucher regulations or no voucher regulations, private schools offer no safe place to tuck children as long as the federal government persists in overstepping the bounds of law and rationality to impose autocrats’ wills on everyone.
SOURCES: JayPGreene.com, School Reform News, Wall Street Journal
IN THIS ISSUE
- CALIFORNIA: Parents outside Los Angeles used the Parent Trigger to negotiate cooperative changes at their kids’ school. This week, the children went back to their reorganized school, and parents are hopeful for a good year.
- ALABAMA: A pastor who marched with Martin Luther King Jr. says school choice extends the civil rights movement. Today is the 50th anniversary of King’s “I have a dream” speech before the Lincoln Memorial.
- ALABAMA: An activist group sues to stop the state’s new school choice program, arguing giving some students the ability to leave a failing school is discrimination against those who can’t.
- WISCONSIN: Voucher students may not be able to attend their private schools until October. More than 2,000 students applied for the program’s 500 seats, two-thirds of them students already enrolled in private schools.
- GEORGIA: Gov. Nathan Deal orders a review of Common Core and asks the state education board to immediately ditch part of the program.
- PUBLIC OPINION: A new poll finds 62 percent of the public have never heard of the new national education standards and tests. This is more awareness than the approximately 80 percent who had never heard of the initiative last year.
- FLORIDA: Gov. Rick Scott seems to be reassessing his support for Common Core.
- SURPRISE, SURPRISE: The Miami Herald finally notices all those opposed to Common Core are not right-wing Tea Party activists. In fact, a great many left-leaning teachers and individuals are against the initiative, too. Neither side likes the marriage of big business and big government.
- FEDERAL LOANS: President Obama promises to “shake up” higher education with a new college ratings system. Richard Vedder says the plan will further escalate college costs. Price controls and political cronyism are higher ed’s just desserts for taking hits from the federal crack dealer, says Tim Carney.
- AP TESTS: Taxpayers are paying for more students to take Advanced Placement classes and tests, but that just means more students failing the exams. The nonprofit College Board receives license fees for all AP products.
- NORTH CAROLINA: The state enrolls all public schools in a unified data collection and management system run by the world’s largest education company. It collects everything from student grades to bus schedules to class schedules.
- DISCIPLINE: Are schools hostile to boys? Christina Hoff Sommers says school discipline policies and political correctness are crippling a generation of young fellows.
- PRESCHOOL: The way most states rate government preschool programs does not actually consider whether students learn anything, a study finds. Most Americans believe media reports that preschool is necessary, but government preschool programs still struggle to provide solid evidence of long-term beneficial effects.
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