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October 24, 2014

The Anti-Public Education Agenda Comes to Alaska…

…And Hardly Anybody Knows It

Many of us have heard the stories: new Republican Governors and Tea Party majorities in state legislatures across the country have been targeting public employees and their salaries, pensions, health benefits, etc… Along with this, there has been a major push at another budget-cut target — public school systems.

Public Education faces massive cuts in Texas ($4 bil), huge cuts in Wisconsin ($900 mil), more cuts in North Carolina, budget cuts and a removal of the school districts’ tax authority in Pennsylvania (inhibiting individual districts from raising property taxes), and a governor-declared “financial emergency” in Detroit, MI which means the Detroit School Board and parents are not entitled to see the draft 2010-11 budget.

These are just the stories making the top of the news. Many other states are facing cuts to school services as well as other plans to seemingly undermine public education on many levels.

Take the first GOP debate between the 2012 presidential candidates (so far) held in South Carolina. The above photo is the sign stuck to the front of a booth located at the debate. The booth was sponsored by right-wing religious group Frontline Ministries Inc./Exodus Mandate Project, whose website sports the unnerving motto “Taking Every Thought Captive.”

This combination of influences at the GOP/Fox News sponsored debate shows the unholy Tea Party alliance of Koch Brothers money (as reflected in Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker) and the Religious Right, now superfueled with unlimited money thanks to the the Citizens United ruling. The result may make the push for policies to gut public schools more plausible in states that had previously rejected them.

For example, while the idea of school vouchers (now rebranded “school choice”) has never achieved widespread popularity with voters, the current political environment is making it more likely that Republican/Tea Party dominated states may push these bills through, public support or not. The US already has voucher programs in some states with specific criteria (usually for lower-income students) that has caused the US Supreme Court rulings in the last 10 years to allow them. However, Indiana’s Governor Mitch Daniels has signed into law the most expansive voucher program so far, allowing even the richest families to receive thousands of dollars in school vouchers. Also, more restrictive state constitutions (39 of them) have been a barrier to many voucher programs that provide funds to religious private schools. However, the massive influx of Conservative money and influence is giving hope to many religious right extremists that they can overcome even the most restrictive of state constitutions.

…like Alaska.

I was first made aware of this when I listened to one of the right-wing radio hosts talking about “school choice” and “scholarships” to go to private, religious schools. I happened to know that this particular host’s children were all homeschooled through a charter program until they reached middle-school age, when they then would attend private school. I remember thinking that his family demonstrated quite nicely the wide variety of choices already available in the Anchorage School District and it seemed he was exercising his choice quite effectively. However, he encouraged his listeners “not to worry about how” we would be able to achieve “school choice” (vouchers) in Alaska…that we should just “go for it.”

Now, it seemed to me that just “going for it” when it comes to a complete change in education strategy without any type of plan was like putting in a bid to build an office building without any kind of studies or blueprints. It wasn’t until much later that I discovered how little of an actual plan they had and they really were trying to “go for it” anyway…through HB 145 and companion bill, SB 106.

SPONSOR(s): REPRESENTATIVE(s) KELLER, Millett

TITLE: “An Act establishing the parental choice scholarship program to be administered by school districts for the purpose of paying the cost of attending grades kindergarten through 12 at public and private schools; and providing for an effective date.”

This bill never made it out of the House Education Committee, but one has to wonder how it made it there in the first place. Its presence sets an alarming precedent, even by Alaska standards.

1) The “scholarship program” is not based on need at all. It designates that the school districts’ student allotments be used to send a child to private school no matter what their income. Since those who support this bill claim to be fiscal conservatives, I’m trying to figure out how they can reconcile that.

2) It also doesn’t matter if that child never attended public school and was always in private school, that student would get counted in with the school where they are zoned and the district would still give them their allotment. So, that school would give up that chunk of money even though that student was never there.

Rep. Wilson (a Republican) voiced that concern the best during the April 6 meeting of the Education Committee. Her comment reflecting the members of the public actually pushing for this is also rather telling:

9:44:10 Representative Peggy Wilson (R-Wrangell):

“Almost, I would say, probabaly 95% of the comments we got when we had testimony came from people…their kids were already in private school. So those people don’t want to have to pay anymore, they want the State to pay and I can understand that. But, you’re asking the schools to do something that they never had anything to do with before.”

3) The bill infers that the State must dictate to those districts who also have local tax contributions that they must provide the student allotments out of those taxes to the private schools.

My understanding is that there are legal minds who believe that may not be feasible under the State Constitution.

However, there is one thing that is definite under the Alaska Constitution as it stands now…one thing that should have prohibited the introduction of this bill at all:

4) These bills themselves are, without question, unconstitutional.

Per Article VII, Section 1 of the Constitution of the State of Alaska:

Section 7.1 – Public Education.

The legislature shall by general law establish and maintain a system of public schools open to all children of the State, and may provide for other public educational institutions. Schools and institutions so established shall be free from sectarian control. No money shall be paid from public funds for the direct benefit of any religious or other private educational institution.

It doesn’t get any clearer than that. It’s so clear, in fact, that the most recent amended version of the bill has the most insane addition I’ve ever seen:

* Sec. 2. The uncodified law of the State of Alaska is amended by adding a new section to read:

CONTINGENCY. Section 1 of this Act takes effect only if an amendment to art. VII, sec. 1, Constitution of the State of Alaska, deleting the prohibition on the payment of public funds for the direct benefit of a private educational institution, is approved by the voters before July 1,2013.

* Sec. 3. If, under sec. 2 of this Act, sec. 1 of this Act takes effect, it takes effect on the effective date of the constitutional amendment described in sec. 2 of this Act.

So, this unconstitutional bill basically states that there will be an attempt to change the Alaska Constitution by July 2013. While this Legislative Session is thankfully done for the year, this bill will still be around next year for one more shot at passage. I believe they think they have a shot at accomplishing this.

Also, there are plenty of other things going on locally that could be a threat to our Anchorage School District, including something called “The Mayor’s Education Summit.” I’ll cover these issues in the next several posts.

Comments

comments

Comments
77 Responses to “The Anti-Public Education Agenda Comes to Alaska…”
  1. Irishgirl says:

    “Andrew Sullivan, of The Dish blog, which chronicles Palin’s weaknesses, wrote : “As usual, the tired old bigoted comedian Rush Limbaugh took offence that anyone could call Sarah Palin ‘nuts,’ even though she is quite obviously a few sandwiches short of a picnic, and her grip on reality is, shall we say, tenuous. And as usual, Limbaugh blamed it on the left, ie the Guardian’s Wintour/Watt blog.

    “What he doesn’t understand is that Palin’s nutsiness is not a partisan matter in Britain, or anywhere else in the world. It is an obvious truth marvelled at by all. Palin’s emergence as a serious figure in American politics has made the country a laughing stock across the world. The idea that a stateswoman like Thatcher, in advanced dementia, would be used by such a crackpot is simply unseemly.”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jun/09/margaret-thatcher-sarah-palin-meeting

    • Irishgirl says:

      I’m rilly, rilly hoping that the British media will embarrass the American media into doing their job!

  2. ks sunflower says:

    Well, here’s a couple of tidbits about what the state GOP legislature almost got through here in Kansas. These two bills passed the House, but were stopped in the Senate.

    Both bills were intended to keep the public from knowing where candidates stood as regards public school issues.

    1. The first bill wanted to prevent teachers from joining committees to interview and recommend pro-public-school candidates.

    2. The second bill wanted to limit how much the public could find out about conversations about candidate’s record on school funding.

    In effect, these bills would have silenced any public discussion on public school education.

    There was also a move to end KPERS, the Kansas Public Employee Retirement System. For years, the legislature has failed to fully fund the pension fund. The move to dismantle KPERS was mostly the work of politicians elected in 2010 – GOTPers.

    Anyone, I mean, anyone who votes for the GOP or Tea Party candidates in 2012 is voting to ensure the death of public education. Please work to convince anyone you know regardless of their resident state to stop this madness. The future of our country is at stake. Thank you.

    • ks sunflower says:

      P.S. Please encourage everyone to vote in 2012 – and that includes yourself. Too many of us who complain fail to vote. Voting is what matters.

      Remember, in 1980, only 28 percent of the registered voters bother to vote and then Reagan got the majority of vote out of only that total percentage. His administration was key to instigating many of the problems we face today and most of the attitudes the GOP/TP hold. Had more moderates and progressives voted way back then, perhaps our country would have avoided wars, retained more basic freedoms and our privacy and not undermined public education. Every vote is important. Don’t let the far-right fundamentalists destroy what so many people have worked and died to achieve. Vote. – though be sure you vote for mainstream or progressive Democrats, the only ones who are looking out for the middle class and for the future of our children.

    • mike from iowa says:

      I can understand part of this as rwnj don’t want you to know or believe that “public” actually means public. They want an all-inclusive definition until religious groups get control and they can redefine public to suit themselves.

  3. cindy b in Alaska says:

    I have seen several people on this forum disparage homeschoolers. I would like to remind people that not all homeschooling parents do so to protect their kids from people of other beliefs or to brainwash their kids. I am a homeschooling parent. I left the public school system when a kindergarten teacher yelled at my son for reading ahead in a book that she was reading aloud. The kids were supposed to follow with their fingers in their own copy of the book they had and not actually try to read on their own. First we tried a private school, then we joined a half homeschool/ half school program. When we moved back to Alaska we continued to school part time in the public school and part time at home. It has been great for my family. I get to spend more time with my kids. I had to develop a closer bond with my kids and develop way more patience than I did when I was “just” a parent, and my kids learned that I wasn’t just a house cleaner/ meal preparer/rule maker. I am very very thankful that homeschooling is respected and supported by our school district (small town, Alaska). In high school the teachers have to sign off on the grades and content of the classes we do at home (in exchange for a stipend for materials). I have one kid with a significant disability and is gifted. Our public school is really great, but way too small to offer gifted classes. Because we are in the homeschooling program, my son gets to take classes through a distance learning program at Johns Hopkins, from university professors and professional writers. He gets to learn at his own level and doesn’t have to be bored in a classroom with kids who learn at a different rate than himself. He does take 1-2 classes at school a year, and my youngest kid goes half time to school /half at home. Public school can’t meet everyone’s needs, especially special needs when school budgets are tight. I have met parents who homeschool for religious reasons, some I respect very highly, others whom I do not. Homeschoolers are a very diverse group that should not be branded in entirety as a bunch of nuts. I would say the fanatical ones are a vast minority, at least in the areas I have lived. I have shared lots of details, to show that even progressive parents who appreciate public schools can end up as homeschooling parents for one reason or another.

    Our homeschooling stipend pays some of the cost of these classes, but the school must approve each expense…and no money can be spent on religious materials or training. The school gets to list my kid as a student and we get part of the money. I am opposed to voucher systems, since I see them as potentially draining the public schools of money and I do not want public money to be used for religious learning. On the other hand, people who want to send their kids to private church schools pay taxes for public education. Perhaps the fairest thing would be to allow them a similar stipend as homeschoolers, but that it could only be used for non religious subjects (for example, math). The stipend homeschoolers recieve is only a small portion of the cost it takes to educate a kid in public school. It feels equitable to me, but only if the public schools do not lose out on funding. I would still homeschool without a stipend, but it would be hard to pay for the very expensive gifted classes (they are great!!! classes).

    • Really? says:

      Cindy b: I admire your choice of schooling your children. Our daughter was homeschooled thru our local public school system in fourth and fifth grade. We felt she needed the attention she was’nt getting in public school. It was a very memorable 2 years. and I would not do it again. It was hard to be the teacher and the mom. That was when she was 10 and now she is 40. The greatest benefit was she now loves to read., and teaches children. We still have the set of encyclopedias (Websters 1980) the science kit, and the globe. Please stick with what your heart says to do about your children’s education choices. Keep being a proactive parent, you won’t regret it.

  4. GoI3ig says:

    Why should my taxes go to vouchers? These mega churches (political machines) get off pretty darn easy. It took me a while to find Jerry Prevo’s house since he has 28 tax free properties in Anchorage. His 6600 square foot house has a tax assessment of zero. What a bunch of crap!

    http://property.muni.org/cics/cwba/gsweb

    • GoI3ig says:

      My mistake. It’s only 6200+ square feet not counting the garage. Here’s the legal description once you get to the search page. Anyone who just paid 4-6 thousand for a modest sized house should sleep well knowing you’re supporting Jerry’s palace.

      ANCHORAGE BAPTIST TEMPLE INC SHERWOOD ESTATES
      LT 5
      6401 E Northern Lights Blvd
      Anchorage AK 99504 Site 3136 Baxter Rd

    • Pinwheel says:

      Is it just me or could the tax thing be changed/simplified. For profit, pay taxes. Not for profit, taxes & SS paid for employees.

      One of you financial gurus: Is it because of the Federal Tax Code that the municipality cannot collect real estate taxes from churches.?

      Hey, we have cooperating US CongressPeople. We can deluge them and all the others who might be sympathtic. Constitutional imperative; division of church and state.

      nem

      • John says:

        It is not the Federal Tax Code. It is a local decision to exempt non-profits from taxes. They use the federal definition of non-profit, and it is limited (I think) to 501(c) non-profits. I don’t think political organizations qualify.

  5. leenie17 says:

    So many of these religious and conservative right wingers are salivating at the idea of having more control over education, both through the increased religious/conservative control of the public school system and educational materials, and through the increased support of home schooling and private/religious schools. They imagine that it will help push the entire country to the right and towards the narrow-minded perspectives they hold.

    What they don’t seem to understand is that the real financial and political support behind this movement comes from the uber-rich who want poorly educated and easily manipulated citizens to provide them with two things: cheap labor and low information voters who will elect candidates who reduce government regulations, cut taxes on corporations and the wealthy, and provide a corporate- friendly/consumer-hostile business environment. They are being used and they don’t even know it.

    Why should we support public education which encourages free thought, skepticism and investigation when it’s SOOOO much better if we have a few generations of people who just follow what their corporate leaders tell them to do.

    • leenie17 says:

      And, oh yeah, much of the support for charter and private schools, standardized testing, and new, more conservative curricula and materials comes from people who are licking their lips and readying their bank ledgers in anticipation of a nice, tidy profit.

      Public schools don’t make anyone wealthy. Charter and private schools often do. New textbooks do. New curricula do. Lots of new widescale standardized tests do.

      Like most things, you find the truth when you follow the $$$$$$$.

  6. Really? says:

    In 2009 our school district had low test scores and because of that were able to receive a competative grant through Alaska Department of Education & Early Development. This grant was for Gateway After-School Programs (GAP). On the schedule the school district prints are various classes the children can choose from. One is “Kids Club (Faith Youth Group) Grades 1 & up, Kids Club will be like vacation bible school hosted by Faith Chapel, Students need permission to participate.” This class is from 3:30 -5:00 on Wednesdays. The Alaska Gateway School District pays community members to organize, set up, schedule and teach classes and help teach classes offered on the GAP schedule. This “Kids Club (Faith Youth Group)” is taught by the person who runs the Faith Chapel Church. The church meets every Wednesday at their building because they have an a.w.a.n.a. Club there. The same person teaches the GAP class in the same way. I think the children in this district should be treated fairly with the grant monies , meaning academic classes. I feel the reason the district got the grant was to make sure the children have some extra care so they could get help with homework and take a couple classes afterschool. The grant made it possible for the children to be driven home after the classes were over at 5. They also received a snack after school. I corresponded with Terri Campbell at the Alaska Department of Education & Early Development, she wrote back stating “Funds shall be used solely for the purposes set forth in this grant program. No funds provided pursuant to this program shall be expended to support religious practices , such as religious instruction, worship, or prayer. Faith-based Organizations should comply with generally applicable cost accounting requirements to ensure that funds are not used to support these activities.” The class has been on the GAP schedule for 2 years now. The district continues to pay staff to do the job they want done. We live in an unorganized bureau and the school monies come from the state. There are some confused parents here that really don’t want to “get involved” because they don’t want their children to “suffer”.

    • Pinwheel says:

      Really:

      It’s about committment to education. One must review the Grant opportunities, and develop an alternar tive that is more appropriate to an individual community. For Rural Alaska this challenge may seem overwhelming. Remember, it was these insidious missionaries who disrupted your community in the first place.

      Regardless of your unorganized borrough, public funds are at issue. Get an audit. Scream out for review. Gather your fellow parents.

      nem

      • Really? says:

        Pinwheel: Thank you for the input, and also the “new word for me” insidious. You are so right. In this case I wondered what religion, since there are 12 churches advertised in our local paper, The Mukluk News. and how was it being taught ,at the GAP program. I googled awana . It stands for “approved workers are not ashamed”. I think the religious places should apply for their own grants . These school children deserve to have class choices within the academic realm of the grant.

    • mike from iowa says:

      It is probably a good thing these young kids get some after school training now,because of Rethuglicans dumbing down education and revising history,many more students will need extra after-school time to graduate.

  7. sali says:

    And Rep Keller is from where?

  8. WakeUpAmerica says:

    The next tell-all book should be “Sarah Palin and the Dumbing Down of America.” After all these are her people, right?

    • NMJ says:

      I guess she doesn’t know the Constitution. In Article I, Section 8, Congress is tasked with the power (my emphasis):

      “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”

      Somehow this doesn’t square with the whole “keep ‘em stupid” and “faith trumps science” themes around the country.

    • Pinwheel says:

      It is difficult to admit, but I was in WalMart this afternoon. In their abbreviated book section, there were no books on ‘all sarah all the time’. None, nadda!y

      Is “Blind Allegiance” too new. I’m off to Costco Thursday. I know they mark down their stuff. Anyway i’ll check. I just hope that you all are having great sales!

  9. Lacy Lady says:

    It is unbelievable Alaska would want to destroy public education. what I see in “home-schooling” is children that are being “brain-washed”. Sad!

    • Pinwheel says:

      Lacy Lady:

      One must understand “Big Oil” pays the Alaska State’s bills, to the tune of 80% to 90%, depending on whose paying the economist. I happen to agree with you that home schooling allows for ‘brain washing’. My observation is that home schoolers are racist, sexist, abusive, controlling, and like the recently exposed Michelle Bachman, sustain a culture of ignorance and intolerance.

      Public education has huge challenges. I regret I can offer no suggestions. Perhaps reenforcement of individuality, self acceptance, self esteem. A consideration could be reviewed. Do teacher unions drive education in the classroom or does the community drive that education?

      Maybe Alaska, like many States in the Union, want an ignorant populace. They don’t vote. In Alaska more people are registered to receive the Alaska Permanent Fund Divident than appear on the US Census. As long as the ‘Oil’ money flows, Alaska will draw an inordinate number of unproductive drains on the ‘system’.

      nem

  10. NMJ says:

    The Founders would be horrified at what is happening in America. They would see the Republican Party and the religious Right as wholesale attack at the very foundations of the country and the democracy they worked so hard to establish.

    If you want to control a group of people, keep ‘em barefoot, pregnant, and ignorant. I read recently that, if trickle-down economics worked, aristocratic societies would lift peasants and slaves into prosperity, and that in an eco-system the large species eliminate the middle species. The only thing left are the large species and the small species; the small species don’t become large…they put their energies into procreation. They have to procreate because they support the large species which feed on them.

    Republicans only care about Republicans; Democrats care about the Republic.

  11. fishingmamma says:

    LKB,
    The three most frightening words in your post:

    “Mayor’s Education Summit”

    • John says:

      “Superintendent” Sullivan has lots of ideas. We need to make sure lots of people who support public education participate in the community dialogues so those ideas don’t become the final recommendations.

      • akglow says:

        Sullivan’s wife is a teacher. She was even given the BP Teacher of Excellence award one year. ??? Go figure ??? Maybe she needs to educate her husband a bit, a lot bit.

  12. nDjinn says:

    isn’t getting vouchers taking tax payer money and putting it in private hands? isn’t that what the tea bagzerz are fighting? I straight up don’t get it.

    • fishingmamma says:

      You are missing the point. The tax money is invisible because it is called a “voucher”.

      Kind of like when a toddler covers his face and says “you can’t see me”

    • Pinwheel says:

      I just don’t get either one of these comments. nDjinn, this is a great conundrum. Vouchers, such as food stamps or housing subsidies, college tuition loans, are an established committment to t he citizens of our country. I regret I don’t know all details, although I do know that housing support does cross state lines. Private hands?? If one is receiving vouchers that person is not a private hand. Voucher receipients sign releases of confidentiality which can expose all information about this individual. From my point of view this individual is no longer private.

      Who knows what the baggers want. It changes with each news cycle.

      nem

  13. ks sunflower says:

    The GOP: intent upon producing low information voters and unskilled workers so they and their corporate donors and fundamentalist churches can dominate society. Women will be relegated to stay-at-home breeder status and minorities will serve their white masters as in the past. At least that’s what their policies seem to be trying to achieve.

    What these men do not understand is that the world has changed. You cannot put the genie of rights, free will, and dignity back into the bottle. People might be duped for a while, but the GOP is setting up society for a nasty battle in the future. This kind of repression has never worked long-term. Trying to turn back the clock is an exercise in futility. Time moves on and so have we.

    Holding on to a status quo is difficult enough, but to remove rights, privileges and opportunities is truly a misguided dream. When Soviet leader Nikita Kruschev said during the infamous “kitchen debate, “we will destroy you from within,” who knew he was talking about using the GOPas the means?

    • Pinwheel says:

      KS Sunflower:

      There doesn’t seem to be any doubt that teabaggers and gop alike have choosen an assault on women and education. Ironic combination. Rachel Maddow, this evening, reported about 8 States’ Legislatures are considering outlawing birth control and require rape victims who become pregnant by that rape to carry that product to term.

      We have a great deal to do.

      nem

      • Dagian says:

        Which 8 states are these?

        Outlawing birth control and forcing rape victims to carry to term that’s…heinous. I can readily imagine women crossing state lines, perhaps several state lines, to change the outcome.

        How in the world can you outlaw birth control? And given that you can order things online, how are they going to enforce these proposed laws?

        Warrants for home inspections.

        *knock knock*

        “Ma’am/sir, I have a warrant to search your house (for illegal birth control). What’s this? Illegal condoms/progesterone pills; ma’am/sir you have to come with me.”

        Not to mention the whole “if it’s prescribed by a physician and it’s accepted by the FDA, why in the H LL would anyone make it illegal” angle. Dumb @sses.

  14. beth says:

    Family member went the home-schooling route. She objected to the classics on the grade-separated summer reading lists for high-school students — the books contained “sexual themes” (or undertones), “curse words”, and/or were “disrespectful and questioning of authority” (G_d, parents, government, religion, etc.)

    Her children were still in elementary school, but she didn’t want them to be part of a system that encouraged the reading of such materials by “impressionable minds.” She made multiple presentations to the local school board on the issue — she did not want her children, OR the children in the district, to be exposed to materials she deemed inappropriate. The board refused to either modify the reading list(s) or remove the books from the school’s library. She yanked her kids and ‘home-schooled’ them. 24/7, she taught them what was pure and good; 24/7 they were exposed to only what was pure and good.

    It might be sheer coincidence that her eldest will make her a grandmother before this year is out. And although marriage is not a prerequisite to having a baby, there has been none nor is there any talk of one. Her grandchild will be born, as they say, outside of holy matrimony.

    I often wonder how her children would’ve turned out had they been part of the rough-and-tumble public school system where ideas and (societal) interactions are bantered about and discussed on their merit, rather than being strictly confined to the filtered ‘lessons’ as taught by my family member’s ‘sensibilities’. beth.

    • Linda says:

      Once again, home schooling is being painted with a singular religious brush. It shouldn’t be. There are many people who home school because they want their children to have a different kind of education – not necessarily a religion-based education.

      I have twin daughters each with 3 elementary school-aged kids. One family is home schooled. The others go to public school. I don’t see a great deal of difference between the kids – book-smart-wise. What I do see are hs kids who are non-regimented and more creative, calmer, are outside learning about nature first hand, incorporating “homework” into their daily activities. I see ps kids who are exposed to bullies, peer pressure, get sick regularly, and who spend over an hour a day on a bus. (I’m trying to think of something positive to add.)

      There are pros and cons to both systems. Home schooling can be done to educate children in lieu of a public school. Both sets of parents have well-educated and well-rounded kids as their priorities – they are getting there by different routes is all.

      • Actually, I totally support homeschooling. Alaska has the most friendly laws for homeschooling in the country and for good reason — most of the state lacks a road system.

        That actually makes my point for me. Homeschooling is a great option and is funded by the State, charter schools are created and funded under the umbrella of the Anchorage School District and private religious schools are available to those who make that a financial priority. I’m not really sure what other “school choice” we need. There is still so much unexplored territory that can be done with the options we already have within the system.

      • beth says:

        Linda – I appreciate that there are many reasons parents home school. I also appreciate that if *well done,* home schooling can be wonderful…if it isn’t, though, like anything else, it can be worse than nothing at all.

        That said, I don’t know the stats for those who hs their kidlets for ‘religious’ reasons v. ‘other’ reasons, but in normal situations (ie – not in extreme remote AK, etc.,) I’d hazzard the number is waaaaaaaaaay greater for the former, than for the latter. And I have a sneeking suspicion that that is the reason why so many look askance at the whole idea of home schooling and guffaw at the notion that home schooling is superior and benefits kidlets over-all; that that is the reason folks don’t buy the parent’s line that home schooling is much better, all the way around, ‘for the children.’

        BTW, my family member has an undergrad degree –and is certified in — elementary education. FM taught in school systems for over 10-years and is 5-hours shy of a masters in education. One would *think* FM would be the ideal candidate to home school; that the kidlets would be getting the absolute best of both worlds… the results were otherwise, though — kidlets got the mediocre-to-abysmal of each and the best of neither. beth.

  15. Dale says:

    The ASD general issues survey for 2010 found that the public, on average, believes the high school drop out rate is worse than 20%.

    The actual rate is 3.6%, less than a fifth of the perceived value.

    http://www.asdk12.org/surveys/2010_11/General_Issues_11_10.pdf (page 22-23)

    The lies are winning.

    • Yup…and our “leaders” who have access to the accurate information are still spreading them.

    • UgaVic says:

      We deal with that kind of drop-out rate out here in the bush schools and I am sure why ASD is getting painted with it.

      Between all this and the Right Wingnut 20+ year attack on our text books we will definately end up with a mess and third world educations…only for the rich!

      • Jeff says:

        Even in the rural schools the dropout rate is not 20%. The drop out rate is not the opposite of the graduation rate. It can be confusing, but after you explain it to a legislator a couple of times, they should get it right.

      • Pinwheel says:

        UgaVic:

        Your observation feels correct to me, third world education for most of Alaska. This condition is based, of course, on the reality that Anchorage controls the State purse strings. After reapportionment, rural Alaska will only be relevant. When the Bush has many representatives/senators who can represent the extended family and live in the urban areas, we may get a fair game in State Government.

        nem

    • mike from iowa says:

      According to Lou DuBose and Molly Ivins, Texas schools under G Dubya and Rod Paige were allowed to count dropouts an graduates and kids that performed poorly could be transfwerrwed to another school,and not be charged as a failing student at the school that shoved him/her out the door.

  16. Jeff says:

    We already have an amazing variety of school choice in Anchorage. There are even two charter schools that use public money to help support home schooling families. About the only thing you can’t find here is the use of public money to support a religious education. I don’t think even the religious schools would want that since with the public money also comes public accountability and at least some level of public control. The proposed voucher program that failed in the legislature this year would have required the private schools accepting vouchers to submit their budgets to the local school board.

  17. Zyxomma says:

    “1) The “scholarship program” is not based on need at all. It designates that the school districts’ student allotments be used to send a child to private school no matter what their income. Since those who support this bill claim to be fiscal conservatives, I’m trying to figure out how they can reconcile that.”

    I guess they went to the Joe Miller school of fiscal conservatism!

    Here in NYC (where we have some good charter schools sharing space with public schools), we too are facing huge cuts in the education budget, and our billionaire I’m-everyone’s-nanny mayor is almost daily on TV “explaining” why thousands of teachers need to lose their jobs.

    I’ve never known any of the ignorant, fact-free homeschooled children (I’ve seen them in documentaries and TV shows) personally. The one homeschooled child I knew personally has a brilliant mother (MIT grad) who put together a consortium of highly educated parents, each of whom taught a group of children his or her specialty. The mother’s reason for homeschooling had nothing to do with religion. She wanted her daughter raised commercial-free, and the schools (even the progressive one around the corner) were shilling for PepsiCo and the like (this family kept their TV in a box, and brought it out rarely to watch videos). This young girl’s father made a unilateral decision to send her to a private prep school, where she performed superbly. She’s now in university, doing great work. However, this family more resembles the homeschooled kids who always seem to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee; not the creationism-is-science, the only book that counts is the Bible crowd.

    Thanks, Linda. It’s stories like these that make me happy for my decision not to breed. Sigh.

  18. PS I am trying to figure out if there is an analogy here for the road system. We have public highways. They aren’t always the best way to travel and they are sometimes crowded. Does that mean that we can force the state to give us money to build our own road to where we want to go?

    • John says:

      I want my voucher so I don’t have to use the public highway and can put it towards my private jet!

    • I can’t remember which possible Republican Pres. Candidate said this, but there is actually a push right now to privatize the road system…no, really!!

      It reminds me of the US Post Office (another the right has been itching to change). Let’s take something everyone loves to hate but is actually the most effective and dependable mail system in the world and destroy it through privatization!

      • John says:

        We almost lost the USPS when the government gave FedEx a loan when they were just starting up. Yup, government loans to support capitalism.

      • beth says:

        LKB – or look at our Military. The jobs that are now ‘contracted out’ are, IMHO, one of the most asinine things it’s done, ever! I’m surprised the DoD hasn’t imploded over the sheer number of contracts it’s handed out…let alone the incredible cost of them. What our military used to do magnificently with great pride and tremendous dedication, the contractors now do for the [inflated] pay. Something is badly worng with the picture. beth.

      • Pinwheel says:

        Mitch Daniels, Gov of Indiana, leased the Indiana Tollroad, Ohio border to Illinois border, to a Japanese company, soon after he was elected 6-7 years ago.

    • mike from iowa says:

      Several states have sold highways to private companies for billions up front,and the new owners operate the toll booths and set prices. Haven’t heard much about how well it does or does not work. If tolls get high enough,people will squeal like stuck hogs.

  19. Still interested in working with you on research in this area – :)
    Busy summer but not impossible – Let me know – WfAK
    New dog says hi, though she is still shy.

  20. akglow says:

    When the tea party patriots(?) yell “We’re #1, we’re #1″, I am not sure what they’re referring to??? It AIN’T NO education.

  21. Rivrat says:

    I just couldn’t wait on this. Firedoglake has an article about our fav. ex Gov and Margret Thatcher. A new term is born: Palinese Liberation Army.

  22. Ratfish says:

    Don’t worry- just as in other states good “family value Christians” like Love Caucus member Millett will try to amend the Alaska Constitution so that anti-government spending people can sponge off the government and get funds to send kids to private schools.

    At least the Home School Legal Defense Association understands what happens when there are efforts to use government funds for private schools- they know it’s both a bad idea and philosophically inconsistent.

    http://www.hslda.org/courtreport/v18n1/v18n101.asp

  23. GoI3ig says:

    It’s far past due that these religious machines be taxed. They whine about the costs of sending the darlings to their church run schools, while the rest of us already subsidize their existence by paying for their police, fire, and road maintenance for them.

    • Dagian says:

      To be honest, I agree. I really do take issue with churches being exempt from (a great deal of) taxation.

      I don’t dislike the church that I attend. I simply do not see why any church, mosque, synogogue or other religious entity should be exempt from paying property taxes, etc.

    • Elizabeth says:

      I agree with the taxing of church buildings. It will be a hardship for my particular church, but we will manage. When I look at the megachurches with all their industries etc. who are raking in the big bucks and using those big bucks to buy politicians, I say, its time to tax all churches period. This is a puralistic society and one group shouldn’t have advantage.

  24. Bearhug says:

    It’s nearly impossible for the Evangelical Christian crowd to brain wash children when the Public schools continue to teach them the facts.

    And what better way to have an unending supply of ignorant, propaganda impregnated or totally uneducated minds to provide cheap labor for the corporations. After all, God did choose them to be the ruling class.

    It also provides an opening for privatizing the education system, so that their cronies can grab their share of the funds used for public schools.

    The “American Taliban” is alive and well!!

    • mike from iowa says:

      Good post. These nutjobs aren’t interested in facts or history,they want the world as expressed in the religious teachings,so they can control minorities and women and kids. They cherry-pick the bible to get the authority to do what they do.

  25. AKjah says:

    Thanks for the post Linda. I am around those who home school and see what they do to jump around for funding. My thoughts are that putting them in public school would be much easier. Teaching religion at home would be not a burden on anyone else.

    These people are pushing for a theocracy. Learning is about facts not beliefs. Math is facts. Literature is facts. Science needs both these things to build a conclusion.

    How are our children going to build a new energy structure.

    Those who push for vouchers for private education. They want a caste system. $%^^& em.

  26. Lilybart says:

    Capitalism: You only get what you can personally pay for. This is the system we defend.

  27. Annonnie says:

    What a disaster. I don’t doubt people will go for it; after all, aligning one children with those of the wealthy is something many people would like, even if they never get a proper education or get rich. Perception and wishful thinking are powerful. Those charter schools haven’t been popping up all over for nothing. They were just the first “shot” at privatizing education, as was home-schooling, even though studies have shown the overall educational level of private and charter school graduates is less than that of public school graduates.

    More dumbing down of America, where money means everything.

    • Dagian says:

      Private schools are business ventures and if they fail the kids (some are great, some open and shut rather quickly [ahem]) the owners are long gone. With the money, naturally.

      Are there bad public schools–sure. But honestly, even bad schools and school districts improve if the parents are engaged and insisting to their reluctant children that education is important and if you say “I know!” at me one more time I’m gonna bring up that D you have earned in mathematics and rub your nose in it again!

      Excuse me, recent conversation with one child who seems hell-bent on working the counter at McDonald’s IF the kid manages to graduate from high school in X years. Not as a manager or an owner…

      Right. Where was I. Oh yes, it’s easy to say that charter schools are more accountable than public schools because bad schools close. But they get paid up front, not at the end of the year and they don’t tend to get shut down until long after the owners have taken the profit and run away.

      It’s harder for public school employees to do that. Not impossible, but harder. The running away with fistfuls of cash.

      In addition, it really bothers me that public schools tend to be funded mostly by local property taxes, etc. If you are well-heeled enough to live in a pricey area, then of course those schools are going to have more money to sling around throughout the county (although the disparity between the funds flowing into Bethesda-Chevy Chase vs. Montgomery Blair [note how many kids in Blair receive subsidized lunches] is noteworthy) in general, plus the constant year-round fund raising drum beat for individual schools, or programs within the individual school… Yes, I fund raise for my kids’ high school music program. Wanna buy some candy? Gift cards (through scrip–which is AWESOME) to hundreds of different retailers? Amongst other things we try to persuade people to buy. And donate–at least any money donated to the program is a charitable deduction for those who itemize.

      http://apps.washingtonpost.com/highschoolchallenge/schools/2011/list/local/

      Sorry. I’m rambling again.

      Not only do the haves, ‘have’, they seem focused on snatching opportunity and education right out from under those who have less, or have not.

      It really chaps my @ss.

    • Dagian says:

      It’s not what you know (or learn), it’s who you know (or can intimidate).

      *points at $arah Palin, “Queen of the Ignorant-by-Choice and Inclination” crowd*

  28. barbara says:

    the republicans have put the USA into a race back to the third world. why would they would want to do that i can only surmise has something to do with endless war. they need huge numbers of uneducated, destitute people to throw at their endless wars. distressing.

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