Posts tagged ‘Private school subsidies’

October 8, 2013

Diane Ravitch: Charter Schools Are a Colossal Mistake. Here’s Why

The campaign to “reform” schools by giving public money to private corporations is a distraction from our system’s real problems: poverty and racial segregation.

By Dianne Ravitch | Published October 2, 2013 by Alternet

Los Angeles has more charter schools than any other school district in the nation, and it’s a very bad idea.

Billionaires like privately managed schools. Parents are lured with glittering promises of getting their kids a sure ticket to college. Politicians want to appear to be champions of “school reform” with charters.

But charters will not end the poverty at the root of low academic performance or transform our nation’s schools into a high-performing system. The world’s top-performing systems – Finland and Korea, for example – do not have charter schools. They have strong public school programs with well-prepared, experienced teachers and administrators. Charters and that other faux reform, vouchers, transform schooling into a consumer good, in which choice is the highest value.

The original purpose of charters, when they first opened in 1990 (and when I was a charter proponent), was to collaborate with public schools, not to compete with them or undermine them. They were supposed to recruit the weakest students, the dropouts, and identify methods to help public schools do a better job with those who had lost interest in schooling. This should be their goal now as well.

Instead, the charter industry is aggressive and entrepreneurial. Charters want high test scores, so many purposely enroll minimal numbers of English-language learners and students with disabilities. Some push out students who threaten their test averages. Last year, the federal General Accountability Office issued a report chastising charters for avoiding students with disabilities, and the ACLU is suing charters in New Orleans for that reason.

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September 19, 2013

Diane Ravitch: School privatization is a hoax, “reformers” aim to destroy public schools

By Dianne Ravitch | Published Sep 15, 2013 by


If the American public understood that reformers want to privatize their public schools and divert their taxes to pay profits to investors, it would be hard to sell the corporate idea of reform. If parents understood that the reformers want to close down their community schools and require them to go shopping for schools, some far from home, that may or may not accept their children, it would be hard to sell the corporate idea of reform. If the American public understood that the very concept of education was being disfigured into a mechanism to apply standardized testing and sort their children into data points on a normal curve, it would be hard to sell the corporate idea of reform.

If the American public understood that their children’s teachers will be judged by the same test scores that label their children as worthy or unworthy, it would be hard to sell the corporate idea of reform. If the American public knew how inaccurate and unreliable these methods are, both for children and for teachers, it would be hard to sell the corporate idea of reform. And that is why the reform message must be rebranded to make it palatable to the public.

The leaders of the privatization movement call themselves reformers, but their premises are strikingly different from those of reformers in the past. In earlier eras, reformers wanted such things as a better curriculum, better-prepared teachers, better funding, more equitable funding, smaller classes, and desegregation, which they believed would lead to better public schools. By contrast, today’s reformers insist that public education is a failed enterprise and that all these strategies have been tried and failed.

They assert that the best way to save education is to hand it over to private management and let the market sort out the winners and the losers. They wish to substitute private choices for the public’s responsibility to provide good schools for all children. They lack any understanding of the crucial role of public schools in a democracy.

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September 5, 2013

Quebec teachers’ federation rejects PQ’s vision for Charter of Values

Government should stop funding private religious schools and take the crucifix out of the National Assembly but leave individuals be: FAE

By Catherine Solyom | Published September 4, 2013 by the Montreal Gazette

If the Parti Québécois government really wants to secularize education in the province, it should stop funding private religious schools — not prohibit teachers from wearing overt religious symbols.

That was the message sent Wednesday by the Fédération autonome d’enseignement — which represents about 32,000 teachers, or one-third of the teachers in Quebec — to the government as the PQ prepares to table its controversial Charter of Quebec Values, rumoured to be set for Monday.

Warning against a polarizing debate that could easily get out of control or be taken hostage by extremists, the FAE urged Pauline Marois and her government to concentrate their efforts on making the state and its institutions secular, not necessarily inpiduals.

Take the crucifix out of the National Assembly’s Blue Room, where any new charter will be debated and turned into law, the FAE said, but respect teachers’ right to freedom of expression and religion (or atheism, as the case may be).

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August 21, 2013

What we know about schools — but choose to ignore

By P.L. Thomas | Published August 19 2013 by The Answer Sheet


This comprehensive analysis of research from Brunsma replicates the message in Flock of Dodos—political, public, and media messaging continues to trump evidence in the education reform debate. Making that reality more troubling is that a central element of No Child Left Behind was a call to usher in an era of scientifically based education research. As Sasha Zucker notes in a 2004 policy report for Pearson, “A significant aspect of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) is the use of the phrase ‘scientifically based research’ well over 100 times throughout the text of the law.”

Brunsma’s conclusion about school uniform policies, I regret to note, is not an outlier in education reform but a typical representation of education reform policy. Let’s consider what we know now about the major education reform agendas currently impacting out schools:

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June 29, 2013

Why America’s Teachers Are Going Badass and Why Canada’s Need to Consider Doing the Same

By Robert Green

This article appears in the Fall 2013 edition of ‘Our Schools / Our Selves’ published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

Following in the tradition of the Arab Spring and ‘Idle No More’, the latest political movement to come to life through the internet’s social networks features a growing number of America’s teachers. Calling itself the Badass Teachers Association (or BAT for Bad Ass Teachers) this Facebook group has shot up to over 17,000 members in a little over a week. It also organized its first mass action: a phone-in campaign calling for the removal of Arne Duncan as federal secretary of education.

Created by Priscilla Sanstead, a parent activist in Oklahoma, Dr. Mark Naisson, an African American Studies professor at Fordham University in New York and Marla 1002816_4381114426306_418079495_nKilfoye, a teacher and parent activist from Long Island, BAT’s mission is:

To give voice to every teacher who refuses to be blamed for the failure of our society to erase poverty and inequality. BAT members refuse to accept assessments, tests and evaluations created and imposed by corporate driven entities that have contempt for real teaching and learning

On his blog, Dr Mark Naisson begins his description of what it means to be a badass teacher as follows:

Badass Teachers teach, love and nurture children everyone has given up on, in good times and bad, children with disabilities, children who have been kicked out of their families, children who can’t sit still, children who have seen unimaginable horrors, children who are homeless, children who are under constant stress, along with children who have happy lives, and happy families. They teach and love them all, and protect and defend them from physical threats and the threat of tests and assessments which humiliate them and destroy their love of learning.

While some may be surprised to see so many teachers speaking out in such a direct fashion, for those that have been following the horror show of corporate education reform that has transformed the US education system over the last decade, such action seems long overdue. This corporate education reform agenda was first introduced on a national scale by George Bush’s ‘No Child Left Behind’ and has since been accelerated by Obama’s ‘Race to the Top’ legislation. It has been promoted vigorously by various foundations financed by millionaires and billionaires like Bill Gates and through slick high budget documentaries like ‘Waiting for Superman’. Though its particular manifestations vary from state to state it tends to feature the following three elements:

  1. attacks on the collective bargaining rights of teachers
  2. use of standardized test results (‘performance indicators’) to determine school funding and/or teacher pay (‘merit pay’)
  3. promotion of semi-private charter schools with non-unionized teachers, usually via a discourse focused on the notion of ‘school choice’

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April 12, 2013

Some private school teachers unqualified

By Laura Casella | Published April 4 2013 by CJAD

If you are paying for private school, you probably expect a higher quality of education than what can be found in the public system. But a report shows some private schools are employing teachers who aren’t qualified for the classroom.

The most recent report by the Commission Consultation de l’Enseignement Privé, a provincial body that oversees private education in Quebec, finds that there are unqualified teachers in at least 40 private schools in Quebec. In some of those cases, more than half of the teaching staff, do not possess a teaching diploma.

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January 28, 2013

In North Carolina, Nation: School Resegregation by Charter?

by Sue Sturgis | Published January 27, 2013 by Facing South

North Carolina could soon see a dramatic increase in the number of charter schools, with as many as 150 of the public-private hybrids opening across the state next year.

But new research from Duke University suggests the charter school boom will result in greater racial imbalance in the state’s public education system — and that can have negative educational consequences for students.

North Carolina limited the number of charter schools that could operate in the state to 100 until 2011. That’s when the General Assembly — with Republicans controlling both the House and Senate for the first time since Reconstruction and embracing a school-choice agenda — lifted the cap.

Charter schools are K-12 schools that are publicly funded but privately run, are exempt from some regulations that traditional public institutions must follow, and are attended by choice rather than by assignment. Though operated as nonprofits, some are managed by for-profit corporations.

Since North Carolina lifted its cap, applications for new charter schools have soared, with one charter advocate recently telling The News & Observer of Raleigh, N.C. that the cap removal was “sort of like seeing a dam break.”

Charter school advocates, whose ranks include President Obama as well as North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R), tout them as bastions of educational innovation and excellence. But research raises questions about those claims.

An authoritative 2009 study by Stanford University researchers found that 37 percent of charter school students showed poorer academic gains than their counterparts in traditional public schools. Only 17 percent of charter school students experienced academic gains that were significantly better than their traditional public school students, while 46 percent showed no difference.

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October 25, 2012

Pour la fin des subventions au privé

By Françoise David | Published 24 octobre 2012 by Le Devoir

“Au moment où un débat refait surface sur le financement des écoles privées, il est urgent de se dire une ou deux choses. D’abord, que l’école publique est vraiment sous-financée et que le personnel de ces écoles commence à en avoir assez. Y compris les directions. Deuxièmement, que dans beaucoup de ces écoles, la générosité et la compétence du personnel sont au rendez-vous.

Il serait grand temps que le ministère de l’Éducation revalorise l’école publique et la fasse mieux connaître, surtout aux parents de la classe moyenne traumatisés par certains palmarès. Troisièmement, que la population québécoise finance à la fois un système public et un secteur privé, celui-ci au moins à 60 %. Pourquoi ? Je propose plutôt de diminuer progressivement le financement des écoles privées et de rapatrier la majorité des élèves au public. Et de proposer aux parents de la classe moyenne de s’engager aux côtés des enseignantes et enseignants pour que toutes les écoles publiques, primaires et secondaires, répondent aux besoins de tous les enfants.”

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October 20, 2012

CHRY ‘News Now’ Interview with Robert Green on the Problems with Quebec’s 4-Tiered Education System

CHRY is the York University campus/community radio station. To listen to the ‘News Now’ feature interview with Robert Green on the problem’s with Quebec’s 4 tiered education system  click here. (To download as mp3 right-click and select ‘save link as’)

October 19, 2012

The Conflict in Context: A Québec high school teacher’s perspective on the movement for accessible education

By Robert Green

This article appeared in the Fall 2012 edition of ‘Our Schools / Our Selves’ edited by Erika Shaker and published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

I teach a secondary five level course called ‘The Contemporary World’ at a public English high school in Montreal. One of the messages I am constantly trying to pass on to my students is that in attempting to understand world events, we should always be wary of overly simplistic formulations. Events do not occur in a vacuum. The historical and political context in which an event occurs always matters.

In recent months, as the student strike in Québec has come to dominate the headlines, I have found myself repeating a very similar message in discussions with students, friends, neighbours and colleagues. The mainstream media has been very successful at framing this conflict in the narrowest of terms; as being strictly about students not wanting to pay a $1,625 tuition increase. With such a simplistic framing of the issue it has been very easy for people to agree with commentators who characterize Québec students as irrational and entitled because they already pay the lowest tuition in Canada.

The problem with this analysis is that if indeed this movement is merely about irrational, entitled students, how does one explain the series of historic demonstrations of between two and four-hundred-thousand people? How does one explain the fact that these demonstrations were filled not just with students, but with teachers such as myself, university and Cégep [college] professors, parents, senior citizens groups, union members, etc.? There’s something missing from the simplistic picture the media is offering us.

In examining the student strike within its broader historical and political context, I hope to offer a more complete picture of the issue. In so doing I also hope to articulate why, as a public school teacher and as a citizen of Québec, I find it important to actively support the movement for accessible education.

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October 18, 2012

Op-ed on Private School Subsidies and Two Letters in Response

Opinion: For my son, English high schools failed

By Juliet Waters | Published October 12, 2012 by the Montreal Gazette

MONTREAL — I always expected my children to follow my educational path, more or less: French elementary school to develop a good accent, English high school to develop writing.

Every time I went to alumnae dinners at Sacred Heart School, it seemed tuition had doubled from what it had been at the time of the last dinner. So I figured, no problem: it will be public school for my children. Back in my day, education at a Catholic confessional school was pretty close to that. I had schoolmates from hard-working immigrant families, neighbouring suburbs, Kahnawake (Sacred Heart was once a boarding school) and the wealthiest parts of Westmount. When I went to Marianopolis, I made friends from great public schools.

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Letter: Private schools are out of reach for most families

By Robert Green | Published October 15, 2012 by the Montreal Gazette

While I certainly respect Juliet Waters’s decision to do what’s best for her child, her assertion that Quebec’s private schools are meeting the needs of the “lower middle class” is something of a stretch. The average Quebec household enjoys just $53,000 in disposable income. For single-parent households that number drops to just $28,400. It is therefore hard to imagine that, even with some form of subsidy, an average Quebec household could afford the $3,000 per student per year fees charged by many French-language private schools. These numbers illustrate the reality that private schools subsidized by the taxes of all Quebecers are out of reach for the majority of families.

This perverse situation where working class families are subsidizing the education of elites should be opposed by all citizens who believe that educational opportunities should exist for all Quebecers, not just those with above average incomes.

Letter: Public schools serve the common good

By Eric Houde | Published October 13, 2012 by the Montreal Gazette

Education Minister Marie Malavoy has political courage I never thought I would see in my lifetime.

The end of subsidies to private schools that choose their students based on admission tests would allow for the rebuilding of our very damaged public education system. Without the subsidy, much of the ordinary (francophone) middle class will be forced to re-invest their children in the public system. That will lead to a not-so-miraculous rise in its success rates. It will also strengthen the culture of achievement for everyone by having more strong, motivated students in the public classroom and vocal middle class parents as stakeholders in the public system. Let us remember that in Montreal, about 35 per cent of secondary students are enrolled in private schools. Compare that to Toronto’s 6 per cent. This has been a disaster for our public schools and thus for our democracy.

Juliet Waters (“For my son, English high schools failed the test” Opinion, Oct. 13) rightly points out a very frustrating reality in Montreal. The public system has to imitate the private system with exclusive admissions standards if some of its schools were to retain strong middle-class students. Because the private system is so inexpensive in Quebec, it is able to attract the strongest students in its drive for top marks and a marketable reputation of excellence. The elite public schools are as good as anything the private system has to offer except they might have poorer infrastructure, mould or torn books. Their brand is not quite as glamorous. They usually don’t have iPads and Chinese language courses like Regina Assumpta, nor are they as successful in accumulating dollars for a huge, wealthy foundation of private donations (tax deductible) to create beautiful entrance ways and music facilities.

When you do the open house circuit and go from the very good French public school Académie de Roberval to Regina Assumpta, it is a vertiginous culture shock. And it seems bloody unfair. Roberval is an admirable yellow school bus of a school with great results. Regina is a Mercedes-Benz, with even better results and a glamorous name. Both will get your kid where he or she needs to go.

The question of where we send our children is an individual decision. Some are convinced they need a Mercedes for their kid. The government, however, must make decisions in favour of the larger good of society. The decision to no longer subsidize the Mercedes-Benz schools is a sound and just policy decision in favour of that old yellow school bus, the common good.

October 15, 2012

The False Promises of “School Choice”

by Barbara Miner | Published October 13, 2012 by Common Dreams

“Milwaukee’s program has long been a model for other cities and state programs, from Cleveland, to New Orleans, Florida, and Indiana. Beginning in 1990 with 300 students in seven non-sectarian schools, by 2012 vouchers had expanded to almost 23,000 students in more than 100 private schools, most of them religious-based. In size, the voucher program now rivals Wisconsin’s largest school districts, but with minimal public accountability or oversight.

For more than twenty years, supporters of vouchers for private schools have had a chance to prove their assertion that the marketplace and parental choice are the bedrocks of educational success, that unions and government bureaucracy are the enemies of reform, and that vouchers will lead to increased academic achievement.

After two decades and more than $1.27 billion in public funding, however, the Milwaukee voucher program’s enticing promises have not materialized.

The first apples-to-apples comparison between Milwaukee’s private voucher and public schools wasn’t until 2010, a testament to how difficult it is to demand public transparency from private schools. State test results showed that students in private voucher schools performed significantly worse in math and about the same in reading as their public school counterparts. Recent results have been similar.

Nor has Milwaukee’s voucher program met the promise of increased parental satisfaction. A longitudinal study on achievement, in its final report, noted that only17.5 percent of the voucher students remained in a voucher school after five years. The comparable figure for the public schools was 43.5 percent.”

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October 13, 2012

Quebec’s Subsidized Private Schools: The Elephant Lurking Inside the Student Movement

By Katharine Cukier,

The public commitment to egalitarianism alongside a private nurturing of elitism breeds a bizarre kind of schizophrenia’ ‘. Chris Hedges, Empire of Illusion

Progressives everywhere are inspired by the commitment and passion of the red square movement.  The students have insisted that access to quality education is at the heart of any society that takes its democracy seriously.  A few of us, however, have been waiting impatiently for the movement to take on the fundamental cause of unequal access to quality education in Quebec;  it is the elephant in the room, so to speak whenever you talk about education here in Quebec.  Noboby talks about it much: that may be because 30% of the population is riding on top of the elephant all the way to the doors of university.

Many people who get to university in Quebec have   benefitted from   generous subsidies given to a large network of exclusive private primary and secondary .  33% of all Montreal high school students are enrolled in private secondary schools . In contrast, the Canadian  average is 6%. Many striking students, and probably the majority of all francophone university students in Quebec are graduates of this very unfair system. And no one in the student movement is talking about it.

Yet, in Quebec, access to quality education at the secondary level is a significant determinant of who gets access to university. My own young children are in the private primary system, and as I marched and banged pots I, knew that there was something paradoxical if not hypocritical about demanding lower university fees while not giving any prominence to the fact that more and more people are paying fees for primary and secondary schools.  Publically subsidized private schools; this oxymoron describes the financial incentive behind the exodus of the middleclass from public schooling in Quebec. And in Montreal,  it is an emerging societal disaster .

Will Hutton of the Guardian wrote last July, Born poor? Bad luck, you have won last prize in the lottery of life  about how  the growing inequality in many societies is fueled by the weakening of public institutions.  ‘’The rich, dealing themselves out of society’s institutions into ever stronger and sealed ghettoes of their own, become ever more ignorant of the world around them even while they ensure their off-spring scoop life’s prizes’’. He could be describing Quebec when he discusses a major study that singles out private schools as a significant engine of reduced social mobility.  ‘Private schools play a pivotal role in repressing mobility; however good state schools become, private schools’ well-understood job is to stay a step ahead and deliver economic and social advantage’’. The advantage that these subsidized schools offer to Quebeckers  is a classroom free of  ‘problems’ .  Excluding kids with learning and behaviour challenges, or the challenges associated with economic deprivation, allows the private classroom to focus on academics.  Students who don`t perform well in these schools are expelled.  Further, the students flourish with the multiple enrichment activities and a school culture that motivates them to pursue higher education.  Our celebrated student leaders, Gabriel Nadeau Dubois, Leo Bureua Blouin and Martine Desjardins are all graduates of these elite schools.

read more »

October 12, 2012

Le Devoir on the PQ’s “Ultimatum” to Private Schools

Le Devoir is reporting this morning that the PQ intends to deny public subsidies to private schools with selective admissions:

“Schools that accept everyone will receive public funding. If schools want selective admissions, they will no longer receive public funding” – PQ Education Ministre Marie Malavoy

Ultimatum de Québec aux écoles privées

Québec cessera de financer les écoles privées qui font de la sélection. Les établissements, qui sont subventionnés à 60 % par le gouvernement, devront « accepter tout le monde » s’ils veulent continuer à bénéficier du financement, a soutenu la ministre de l’Éducation, Marie Malavoy, en entretien au Devoir. « Oui, la pression est immédiate. Si vous acceptez tout le monde, vous êtes financés. Si vous voulez faire votre sélection, vous ne l’êtes plus », a-t-elle déclaré.

Selon la ministre, il faut que la répartition de la population étudiante soit plus équitable. « L’école publique a hérité de tous les enfants en difficulté. Notre régime privé, avec les modes de sélection qu’il a, fait en sorte que les élèves qui aboutissent dans le privé sont ceux qui ont de grandes capacités et peu de problèmes. Le poids sur le réseau public de tous ces élèves qui ne passeraient pas ce genre de sélection est énorme », a-t-elle noté.

L’idée voulant que le financement des écoles privées soit « lié » à la sélection est l’une des orientations du Parti québécois avec laquelle Mme Malavoy se dit « très à l’aise ». « Je trouve honnêtement que c’est une position qui se justifie très bien, a-t-elle insisté. On parlait des élèves en difficulté dans le réseau public… si on veut améliorer le sort du réseau public, il faut mettre à contribution le privé. »

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October 9, 2012

Opinion: I don’t understand Quebec’s disregard for public schools

By Anne Chudobiak | Published Octobre 9 2012 by the Montreal Gazette

After 19 years in this province, there are still moments when I am reminded that I am not from here, and therefore, I might not share the dominant beliefs. This is true right now as I search for a high school for my daughter to attend next year. I don’t know yet whether she will continue in French or switch to English. But one thing is for sure: whatever school we choose will be public.

“Public for primary, private for secondary.” I first encountered this refrain when my children were benefiting from some of the best care they have ever received, under our province’s generous and inspired $7-a-day daycare program. Call me a dreamer, but I believe that if Quebec can be a world leader in accessible early childhood education, it can be the same for public education at the high school level.

Instead of developing its public system to its fullest, though, Quebec props up its private schools with subsidies to the tune of up to 60 per cent of the cost of a private education.

As Martin Lauzon, chair of the Syndicat de l’enseignement secondaire des Basses-Laurentides, explained to Le Devoir last week, people who can’t afford a private school education for their own children are conscripted into subsidizing it for those who can.