Monday, March 20, 2017

TRUMP AGENDA - Killing Public Education

"Are school vouchers good for education?  That debate is playing out in Indiana" PBS NewsHour 3/14/2017

REMINDER:  Many of the 'Charter Schools' that receive payment are for-profit companies.  These companies exist to make money for the owners, NOT for providing good education.  Do not confuse method for purpose.


SUMMARY:  Indiana is one of nearly 30 states that offer vouchers or similar programs with the goal of allowing parents to use public funds for private schooling.  When the state launched the program, it was designed for low-income students.  But enrollment skyrocketed when the program was dramatically broadened by then-Gov. Mike Pence.  Special correspondent Lisa Stark of Education Week reports.

LISA STARK, special correspondent:  It's the start of the day at Emmaus Lutheran School in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where chapel is held once a week.

About 20 miles away, this is how the day begins at Fairfield Elementary, the city's largest public elementary school.

Fairfield is warm and welcoming.  So is Emmaus.  Fairfield get top grades from the state for academics.  So does Emmaus.  But one is a public school, the other a private school that accepts vouchers.

They symbolize opposite sides of the heated voucher debate, only likely to intensify, given the administration's strong support for school choice.

At the heart of the debate, money, and how education dollars are divvied up.  Normally, the state distributes tax dollars to public schools to educate students.  In Indiana, that's about $5,800 a student.  Vouchers change that.  A portion of the money, the tax dollars, follow the student instead, allowing parents the use those dollars to pay tuition at the private school of their choice.

That's the voucher program.

Robert Enlow is an advocate.

ROBERT ENLOW, President, EdChoice:  We have seen over time our traditional school systems, because they're based on zip code assignment and where you live, not providing always the best options for families.

Let's put the money in the backpacks of the parent and let them choose where they want to go by giving parents the best options for their kids.

LISA STARK:  Indiana is one of nearly 30 states that offers vouchers or similar programs.  All have the same goal, allowing parents to use public funds for private schooling.

Jerry and Miriam Lunz use vouchers to send their children to private Lutheran schools, rather than their local public schools.

JERRY LUNZ, Parent:  I would say the schools in our particular area are not the best from the academic standpoint.  That played into some of it, but mostly the moral aspect is what we wanted, the Christian aspect, same taught at the school as at the home.

LISA STARK:  Without vouchers, private high school was mostly out of reach.

MIRIAM LUNZ, Parent:  We looked at the financial aspect, and we had no idea how we were going to cover the cost.  Jerry is the hardest-working truck driver I know, but that doesn't pay a lot.

LISA STARK:  More than 300 private schools in Indiana accept vouchers.  The vast majority are religious schools.

Keith Martin is the principal at Emmaus Lutheran.

Why does this school participate in the voucher program?

KEITH MARTIN, Principal, Emmaus Lutheran School:  Simply because it allows us to serve more students and more families.

LISA STARK:  In fact, nearly half of the 193 students at Emmaus rely on vouchers, bringing in about $400,000 for the school, more than a third of its budget.

KEITH MARTIN:  It's obviously very helpful, but you know, our school was here 100 years before the voucher program, and I'm confident that we will have it here 100 years with or without the voucher program.

LISA STARK:  At Fairfield Elementary, a drop in students and resources due partly to vouchers has strained budgets, according to principal Lindsay Amstutz-Martin.

LINDSAY AMSTUTZ-MARTIN, Principal, Fairfield Elementary:  I do know I have lost teachers every year.  I have lost allocations of teachers every year, because we're losing students, and sometimes that makes — certain grade levels' class sizes are large.

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