Sunday, April 16, 2017

Education the DeVos way: Results for kids matter less than sending public money to religious schools (laura Clawson) · Wednesday, April 12, 2017, 8:09 pm
The state of Florida is all about using standardized test results to judge its public schools. But the private, mostly religious schools that get tax dollars through the state’s voucher program—the kind of program Education Secretary Betsy DeVos wants for other states? Not so much.

… there is scant evidence that these students fare better academically than their peers in public schools. And there is a perennial debate about whether the state should support private schools that are mostly religious, do not require teachers to hold credentials and are not required to meet minimal performance standards. Florida private schools must administer one of several standardized tests to scholarship recipients, but there are no consequences for consistently poor results.

What are we talking about here?

Private schools do not need to be accredited to participate. They must show only that they’ve been in business for three years; that they comply with anti-discrimination and health and safety laws; and that they employ teachers who have gone through a background check and hold a bachelor’s degree, three years’ experience or “special skills.”

About 82 percent of scholarship recipients attend religious schools, according to state data. Many teach creationism instead of evolution and require students and parents to adhere to certain principles of religious doctrine.

The Family Life Academy in Archer, Fla., requires parents to subscribe to “corporal correction,” according to its handbook, and to sign a form giving the school permission to paddle their children. Colonial Christian School of Homestead, Fla., makes clear in its handbook that students will be expelled if they engage in homosexual conduct.

If parents want to send their kids to an unaccredited school where their kids are going to be “paddled” or will be expelled for being gay … that’s on them. But public money should not go to that, especially at the expense of schools that serve all the kids, including the LGBT ones.


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