05.23.12

The continuing right-wing assault on public education in Texas

Posted in 2012 Primary, Around The State, Education, US Senate Race at 12:09 pm by wcnews

Yesterday Progress Texas released a report on virtual “so-called” education.   It’s a report on how bad privatized schools – thanks to the corporations in ALEC – are at education.  Here’s a snynopsis from Progress Texas, Progress Texas Releases Report on ALEC and Virtual Schools in Texas.

With the support of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) – which serves as a home away from home for ALEC here in Texas – for-profit education companies are attacking Texas public schools, promoting virtual schools, and putting profits ahead of the education needs of Texas children. These virtual schools are largely unaccountable to Texas taxpayers, despite the fact that their students receive the exact same amount of funding as students who attend traditional public schools. In fact, virtual school students are funded at the same level of traditional public school students thanks to a law passed by Republican Senate Education Chair Florence Shapiro, who sits on ALEC’s Education Task Force which is Co-chaired by employees of private companies that own and operate virtual schools in Texas.

The virtual school movement is a $24 billion industry with zero accountability. Virtual schools provide unregulated financial windfalls to a few insiders by shortchanging our children’s education. To help combat the enormous influence of these companies, ALEC, and TPPF, Progress Texas has published a new report, titled Invisible Schools, Invisible Success.

The Texas Tribune also did an article on this issue, Virtual Schools Failing.

In 2004, the American Legislative Exchange Council, made up of businesses and nearly 2,000 legislators, created a bill that supported online learning in classrooms and virtual schools. The measure initiated a wave of virtual schools across the country. In 2007, Texas approved Senate Bill 1788, similar to the ALEC model, which created a state-operated virtual school network and supported integrating online learning in Texas classrooms. Tax dollars help fund virtual schools, but businesses run them.

One of the only full-time virtual schools in the state, Texas Virtual Academy, was ranked academically unacceptable by the Texas Education Agency in 2009 and 2011, yet enrollment in the academy increased 3,203 percent in those years — from 254 students to 8,136, according to the Progress Texas report.

The report cites a study by Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes, which found that all of the virtual schools in Pennsylvania “performed significantly worse” than traditional public schools in reading and math. Because Texas Virtual Academy and other virtual schools like it across the country have high dropout rates, high student-teacher ratios and poor performance, the report argues, they are not accountable to taxpayers.

But the TPPF claims that these schools have academic potential, and that they can cut costs at a time when the state needs funds to make up for an expected budget shortfall in the 2013 legislative session.

“We do consider virtual education a positive thing. There are a lot of perks in improving access and quality education in rural areas, and we think there could be fiscal benefits as well,” said James Golsan, education policy analyst at the TPPF.

In the 2013 legislative session, Progress Texas’ Political Director Phillip Martin said the organization’s goal is increased investment in public schools, which have worked and are held accountable to voters.

“If we continue to fund virtual schools, we need to hold them to the same level of accountability as traditional public schools,” Martin said.

That’s perfectly horrid.

I would encourage everyone to watch the video below of Sean Hubbard, especially his answer to a question about public education funding in Texas (Tip to Brains and Eggs,The traditional media discovers Sean Hubbard).

You know what we’ve been seeing is that we cut education funding, give teachers less resources and then schools get worse and we blame the teachers, and give them less resources, the schools get worse…and I think that’s intentional. I think they’re intentionally trying to move us to a charter school system, or a private school system…or privatize the entire system.

What we have to do is not just give our teachers more resources but send a message to our students that education is important. Because what we do now is every time we have a budget shortfall the first thing we cut is education spending. Well what that says to our students is that your education is not important because it’s the most expendable thing we have.

Read more about Hubbard in this recent HChron profile, Newcomer Hubbard surprises voters in U.S. Senate race.

Of the six top-tier candidates running for the U.S. Senate, only Sean Hubbard may have to worry about being challenged by eagle-eyed poll watchers, suspicious that he is too young to vote. Fresh-faced and slight, the Dallas resident is 31, but looks half that.

The young Democrat likes to remind audiences that Joe Biden was 29 when he was elected to the U.S. Senate from Delaware, and like the current vice president, Hubbard is articulate, engaging and well-versed on the issues. During a Houston debate a couple of weeks ago, he did not hesitate to engage the presumptive GOP front-runner, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who is more than three decades older and who has nearly 15 years more experience in office. Hubbard won the KUHF News live blog poll immediately following the debate.

[...]

Hubbard grew up in a Republican family in the Kaufman County town of Scurry (pop. 705), east of Dallas. After graduating with a degree in political science from the University of Texas at Dallas, he took a sales job for a door company in Garland and worked on the 2002 congressional campaign of Manny Molera, a family friend and a Democrat. The experience led him to switch parties.

Quit job in December

“I found out I agreed with just about everything Manny stood for, but I got just so disgusted how Manny was attacked for being unpatriotic for disagreeing with President Bush,” he said. “I thought, ‘Man, here’s a guy that’s a West Point graduate and he’s served his country and he’s being called unpatriotic just because he disagreed with the president.’ And that was what really turned me completely away from the Republican Party.”

Six years after his candidate lost, Hubbard helped organize Barack Obama’s Dallas outreach effort in 2008. Also that year, he married Jamie Van, a native of Cambodia who works as a hairdresser. The couple has a4-month-old daughter.

He quit his job last December, assured his wife he would share the child-rearing chores equally and declared his candidacy – not for city council or the U.S. House, but for the U.S. Senate. Given the gerrymandered nature of congressional districts, his chance of winning a Senate seat, he calculated, was about as good as winning a House seat. He also had notions of changing the makeup of the Senate.

“It’s the oldest and richest it’s ever been in this country,” Hubbard said one afternoon last week as he sipped iced tea at Sissy’s Cafe in Brownsboro. “Which is great that people can be successful and then run for office, but that’s not very representative of our country. … I thought, ‘What about having a guy that had to work for his paycheck every week run for the U.S. Senate?’?”

He also hoped to jolt his fellow Democrats into action. “I just got tired of watching the Democratic Party being afraid all the time,” he said. “It’s just a theory at this point, but I think part of the reason Republicans do so well here is that they take a stand on an issue. I thought, ‘Hey, let’s try that.’?”

Later that evening, Hubbard shared his populist message with about 15 Henderson County Democrats at their monthly meeting in an Anglican Church on the outskirts of Athens.

“Our Founding Fathers, when they signed the Constitution, they were saying, ‘We are in this together,’?” he told the Athens gathering, “but we have gone from a society that values community to a society that values wealth. And that’s been great for Wall Street, but it hasn’t been good for the rest of us. We’ve gone from pools of liberty and waters of justice to trickle-down economics.” [Emphasis added]

Here’s his web site HubbardforSenate.

1 Comment »

  1. Eye on Williamson » TPA Blog Round Up (Week of May 28th, 2012) said,

    May 31, 2012 at 8:53 am

    [...] This week WCNews at Eye On Williamson posts on The continuing right-wing assault on public education in Texas. [...]

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