Hear ye Hear ye. Will Trump’s proclamation embolden the Coalition to destroy public education?
President Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, has not delighted the education community, particularly those in her home state where many say that her push for school choice and a free market for charter schools has not worked for Michigan kids.
DeVos and her husband are major political power brokers. The couple contributed $50,000 dollars to the campaigns of senators whose votes she needed to be approved as a nominee and, since 2015, members of the DeVos family have given more than $2.6 million dollars in contributions to the Michigan Republican party and other candidates and political organizations in the state alone.
In 1994, the DeVos family was instrumental in passing legislation that attached funding to the student instead of the school district.
The idea that money follows the student began to fail when the student population started to decline, but the number of schools kept rising. Now schools — public and charter — are in bidding wars to attract kids and the money they bring, leading to campaigns to attract students with iPads, bicycles, and gift cards, often times in poor neighbourhoods around the holidays.
In 2010 Ms Devos opened up her own charter school on the grounds of the Gerald R. Ford Airport in Grand Rapids which kids from 40 different districts attend.
In 2011, the DeVos’ education advocacy group — the Great Lakes Education Project — successfully lobbied for legislation that removed the cap on the number of charter schools and the organisations that could operate them.
Detroit is the lowest performing big city in the country, but over the last 15 years, the entire state of Michigan has declined when it comes to student performance. And many say the push to deregulate charter schools — who can open them, close them, and where they can be placed — has played a major role in that downward turn.
“When I hear her name and I think about education, I think about choice without quality,” said Tonya Allen, president and CEO of the Skillman Foundation, and a member of a coalition to help fix Detroit schools.
“Nearly half of charter schools here are ranked in the bottom of American schools, according to the Education Trust Midwest. Twenty percent were given a “D” or “F” grade. And 80 percent of charter schools in the state are now operating as for-profit institutions.
“We focused on the proliferation of choice and creating as many charters as we could as quickly as we could, rather than focusing on whether the schools that we were going to open were going to be high quality,” Allen said.
“In Michigan DeVos is viewed as the architect of the Detroit system for better or worse and obviously I and many others believe it’s for worse,” said Aaron Pallas, professor of sociology and education at Columbia University’s Teachers College, “I think it’s very much a market mechanism argument.”
According to billionaire DeVos, “If a school is troubled, or unsafe, or not a good fit for a child…we should support a parent’s right to enroll their child in a high-quality alternative.” That “alternative” could mean allowing states to use federal money to provide vouchers to families who want to enroll their children in public charter schools or private schools.
And it seems, despite the poor results of her experiment so far, DeVos has prevailed. Trump has issued “A Proclamation”.
NATIONAL SCHOOL CHOICE WEEK, 2017
– – – – – – –
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
The foundation of a good life begins with a great education. Today, too many of our children are stuck in schools that do not provide this opportunity.
Because the education of our young people is so important, the parents of every student in America should have a right to a meaningful choice about where their child goes to school.
By expanding school choice and providing more educational opportunities for every American family, we can help make sure that every child has an equal shot at achieving the American Dream. More choices for our students will make our schools better for everybody.
With a renewed commitment to expanding school choice for our children, we can truly make a great education possible for every child in America.
As our country celebrates National School Choice Week, I encourage parents to evaluate the educational opportunities available for their children. I also encourage State lawmakers and Federal lawmakers to expand school choice for millions of additional students.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 22 through January 28, 2017, as National School Choice Week.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-fifth day of January, in the year of our Lord two thousand seventeen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-first.
DONALD J. TRUMP
It would be timely to point out that, in his maiden speech to parliament, our Education Minister Simon Birmingham expressed similar views.
“It is time that at least one state, in at least one region, trialled the implementation of school vouchers – affording all families the opportunity of choice, the opportunity to allocate the government funding for their child to pay the fees to the school of their choice.”
He also showed an interest in performance-based pay for teachers as a way to boost student results.
In a 2012 opinion piece, Senator Birmingham said, “Parents should be free to choose the education that best suits their child, with government funding appropriate to the students’ needs moving with that student, regardless of the type of school they attend”.
He also expressed support for US-style charter schools
Is this another area where we will follow the failed model of the US and abandon public education in favour of big profits for political donors who want to make a motza from deregulated private colleges?
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Speaking of failed models,
Exclusive: Brandis bound for London, Porter to take Attorney-General
Christian Porter is set to become attorney-general in a post-budget reshuffle, with George Brandis likely being sent to London as high commissioner.
It seems incompetence is rewarded again.
Good grief! Do LNP politicians live under rocks? Do they come out only to make retarded statements then go back to their dark holes?
Performance-based pay was discredited ages ago. It only looks like a good idea if you don’t bother to think the ramifications through. Troublesome or under-performing kids get rejected because a teacher can’t earn a living on teaching them. Results get fiddled to make it easier to get high grades by parroting stuff rather than learning the more difficult, but much more useful, art of thinking. Performance-based pay for teachers has been a dismal failure anywhere it has been tried.
We need recognition that using money as incentive for any complex problem-solving work actually impedes that work. Unfortunately it won’t come from our terminally avaricious politicians.
Dan Pink’s TED talk on motivation is extremely relevant to this.
And charter schools… Kaye put it well.
A recent picture associated with this story illustrated the smugness in the mug(shot) who expects his incompetence to be thus rewarded.
Turnbull is addressing the National Press Club this week.
“Turnbull’s speech this week will emphasise moves to cut business tax and push on with stalled legislation for childcare assistance.
Also high on the priority list will be a proposed restructuring of schools funding and, with it, an overhaul of teaching standards to ensure that money spent is achieving results in education.
And in line with Treasurer Scott Morrison’s visit to Britain last week to examine moves to lower housing costs, the government is expected to bring forward a package of measures, possibly before the May budget, to address housing affordability and encourage the states and territories to take steps of their own.”
It is interesting that we have addressed all these issues in recent articles and discussions. I doubt we will be inspired by Turnbull’s thoughts but I hope the journalists are well-prepared with their questions.
Thanks for this piece, Kaye. It’s a pity that George’s incompetence had to be rewarded to get him out of our hair and off to the other side of the world, where maybe they won’t tolerate his nonsense.
Back in dark ages when my kids were at very small PS in a tough area, we had a teacher who trained as mature age student. Each year they were assessed by education department inspectors, some younger than her. She never did better than just scraping through.
Trouble is, this teacher was one best my four kids ever had. Kids loved her, behaved in her class.
Trouble with assessments, is that they are always subjective. Popular teachers are not always the best.
I spent many hours weekly at the school, as mothers did in those days.
Is that the same Birmingham, the one trying desperately to defund the Malek Fahd school, whilst sitting ever so quietly in the corner, in complete (appropriate) ignorance of ‘Catch the Fire’ ministries being deregistered as a charity? You know, Catch the Fire. Andrew’s liked them so much, he wanted to address their audience.
That Nalliah bloke became unpalatable, even by Andrew’s standards.
“In principal I think it’s a very wrong thing to [say that] our organisation, because we’re a charity that we don’t have a political opinion. That’s discrimination.”
So, back to Birmingham. Is he the one restoring our faith in the education system?
Apparently, the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission (ACNC) has a bit longer to go.
“The regulator said it was currently investigating 37 complaints regarding political lobbying and warned charities not to fall foul of laws that forbid promoting or opposing political parties.”
Yoh, IPA, feeling threatened yet? Yoh, ACL, do what you do best? GFY.
In my defence, Ms Lee, (the three worst words with which to start a sentence), I didn’t swear.
Grateful, as always. Take care
America already has the highest rate of incarceration in the world. This policy and perhaps all others to date, must lead to much more crime, and the resulting misery, death and additive public economic costs such as policing, courts, community damage, health and imprisonment.
Most cops are republicans – instead of their workload being made less difficult, it will be made more difficult.
He’ll soon run out of labour for his infrastructure plans and have to get some Mexicans, no strike that, Russians. With a severe budgetary decline due to company tax cuts, he may decide to go on a fast-track ‘criminal’ killing spree like Rodrigo Duterte.
The problem is the time lag between policy and having the causes of the negative social outcomes accepted by the more punitive republicans in control, who often don’t respect reasoned evidence unless made to.
Neoliberal governments do not believe in Public Education! That goes for both Republicans and Democrats! Betsy DeVos does not give a toss about public education, she is of course a big privatiser just like Cory Booker, just like Rahm Emanuel, just like Arnie Duncan.
The new appointee has no education degree, no teaching experience, she never attended a public school, or put her children through one and supports for profit education, believes public school teachers are overpaid, invested 200 million in christian schools and education, doggadly believes in funneling money out of public education and into for profit christian based education.
The sad thing is many of those attributes could be attributed to Obama’s chief star education secretary Arnie Duncan, he was a privatiser, Arnie Duncan pushed Charter schools, Arnie Duncan wanted to have constant testing and have teachers pay tied to those tests and used proficiency instead of growth. The undermining of Public Education, your taking public dollars and giving it to a private corporation. These Charter Schools do not have any requirements to open up and lack of regulation means people who work in them are exploited and if they fold the workers loose any benefits that might be owing, there are no unions so no protection.
Both the Democratic and the Republican Party are a sham and I will add the Coalition into that mix, the only thing stopping them from being as pathetic as the United States is we have had a stronger commitment to public education written into our culture but that is constantly under threat!
I believe Charter Schools were a UK invention, courtesy of the Conservative Party of course. Same twisted logic of parental “choice”, same degree of failure in the long term.
That article in the Saturday paper was interesting. Particularly the statement that Porter has shown a “strong performance”, whilst the rest of thinking Australia simply sees the Centrelink debacle. Or that Brandis is “accident prone” and that the British Ambassador’s role is “one well suited to Brandis’s skills” (perhaps an accident prone Ambassador is what is required). Jeez these mainstream journo’s assessment of capability is really just sucking up. Middleton must be angling for a job with Murdoch.
What Trump said was crude propaganda. He used the word ‘choice’ as proxy for ‘private profit’.
It is a deceit ridden proclamation – how many times does he say ‘choice’?
Choice is the pivotal deceit – parental choice is more important than a student’s quality of education – choice means one thing and one thing only – corporate profit, parent and student loss. That is how the capitalist education system operates.
The Trump choice has nothing to do with real education, nor anything to do with student opportunity, nor has it any interest in a relevant student centric curriculum – no, it’s simply the capitalist’s chimera of choice.
And when Americans are offered this chimera of choice and their kids fail to gain anything other than a lifetime of debt, well, they made a choice didn’t they – its their fault isn’t it? Very Trumpian.
Therein sits the lie that is capitalist America – profit Trumps all – and the people just suck it up.
The LNP will push this dirty little trick as far down our collective throats as it can get it – we would be wise to resist now rather than later. Public education stands as the beacon on the hill.
In 2010 Australia ranked as 6th best educated in the world. The USA ranked as 14th! Finland and South Korea ranked as first.
In 2012 Australia had slipped to 13th and USA had fallen further to 17th. Finland still ranks as first.
In 2016 I don’t know where Australia is. Finland continues to top the lists.
Why in heaven’s name would we voluntarily opt for a worse system??? We should instead be striving toward Finland and Canada to improve our educational system. What kind of blinkered idiot wants to screw our kids over for the sake of ideology???
Note this description of Finland’s education system, the most successful system in the world:
The Finish education system is free, including university.
Australia is headed in exactly the wrong direction. The LNP ideologues would destroy our education system and ruin the future of goodness knows how many kids based upon a stupid, outdated, belief system which has been proven to be wrong. If they ever bothered to read or learn anything they would understand this.
1 South Korea
4 New Zealand
3 South Korea
4 New Zealand
2 South Korea
3 Hong Kong
8 New Zealand
9 New Zealand
No. 40 on the IPA wish list: “Introduce a voucher scheme for secondary schools”
Miriam, is there no ranking available for China?
In end of year results in Australian schools, Chinese students seem to frequently appear in the top achiever’s group.
China shows greatest improvement in global ranking of higher education systems
A fifth annual ranking of 50 national higher education systems finds that China is among the most-improved countries again this year, particularly in terms of the outcomes generated by Chinese institutions
When ranking variables are adjusted for economic development levels in each country, and price levels in particular, both China and India surpass the US
Overall, China is among the most-improved countries over five years of global rankings
this year, for the first time, Shanghai is included in a wider figure for China, based on schools in four provinces.
This combined Chinese ranking is in the top 10 for maths and science, but does not make the top 20 for reading.
Hong Kong and Macao also appear among the high-achieving education systems.
The US has again failed to make progress.
Thank you, Miriam. I have written about Finland’s excellent education system on other sites, only to be abused by other commenters, so I have stopped doing it.
I have ‘gently’ suggested that we ought to look at the Finnish system instead of always going to America and Britain when wanting improve anything…
I even offered to pay one ‘expert’s’ fare to Finland, his silly answer was: I don’t trust Aeroflot. 🙂
May I add that there are practically no private schools in Finland.
FINLAND – Children do not start school until the age of 7, there are no tests and exams until Gr 9, no more than 30 mins of homework. An excellent model to follow.
My home state of Tas has just lowered the starting school age to 3 and a half for those parents who wish to start their child in kindergarten – simply cheaper childcare in my opinion, which many will choose leaving kinder teachers with a class of babies who need care not school.
I seem to recall something called Gonski which was designed to improve all students outcomes, and TA promised the LNP was totally in lockstep with Labor on this.Malcolm clearly wasn’t listening to those ads. Or (more likely) TA was just spouting something he knew would get him elected.
They won’t be happy until all children of priviledge are in private schools heavily funded by the government and the rest will be at the barely scraping by public schools, leaving at 14 to join the unemployment lines. Sounds like the system that was in place when my mother was a child in the 1920s.
Thank you Kaye Lee, you are a wealth of information.
A great read but in my town, the schools in the elite suburbs have elite teachers, elite out of zone students, elite parents on boards and are deeply in love with ‘charterisms’. They have egos, at the top of range of believers that the ‘problems involved in overseas schools’ will not happen in our school.
They are right because, in my grandchildren’s primary school, they already select students, charge service fees that can total higher than, at least one private church school and have are in a senior politician’s electorate. So not much chance of falure.
Helvityni,- (a bit over simplified)
50 years ago there were societies and education systems in Australia that gave respect to teachers. The high school teachers were given a higher status and paid more than primary teachers.
The students were selected by 3 exams at years 10, 11, and 12. With those rejected filling yr10 worker/apprentice , yr11 bank johnnies yr12 uni entrance, scholarships for the children of workers.
A casual look at the Finland system and its concentrated monocultural traditional base. an extremely rigorous teacher selection process with gives the population an enormous status and respect suggests that, even with curriculum comparison, there is very little application to Australia for their system.
Trump’s education plans are about as well thought out as his military strategy.
“Donald Trump has issued an executive order for a military plan to defeat Islamic State that’s likely to see the Pentagon revisiting options for a more aggressive use of firepower and American troops.
‘It is going to be very successful,’ Trump said as he signed the order in the Oval Office at the White House on Saturday.
In a briefing with reporters on Saturday, a senior administration official said the order would ask the joint chiefs of staff to submit a plan in 30 days for defeating Islamic State, fulfilling one of Trump’s campaign trail pledges. ”
Well there ya go. Simples.
I just wonder if we will be dragged into Trump’s mess
In a 25-minute phone call with Malcolm Turnbull, the two leaders committed to work together to improve global instability, defeat Islamic State (Isis sometimes referred to as Isil) and prevent irregular and illegal immigration.
“The ongoing shared objective to defeat Isil was discussed and both leaders committed to continuing to work together to improve global instability, including in the Asia Pacific,” a spokeswoman for the prime minister said. “The leaders acknowledged a common interest in preventing irregular and illegal migration.
Yep, that sounds about right: “both leaders committed to continuing to work together to improve global instability”.
I would prefer that they work to improve global stability instead.
We ignore that Finland has a better welfare system than ours. A country that supports the family. I suspect fewer children living in poverty. Yes they come from more stable environment.
Why is it that we are continually thrashing out the same old argument so that in the end we create re-boiled cabbage every time? I have been following education discussion for more than 50 years and the same matters for discussion have arisen year after year.
One thing I have never understood is how PISA, for example, makes its judgements on the education achievements of numerous countries around the world. I have never met a student or school or teacher involved with PISA or PISA representative, I have never seen a PISA test. Yet the PISA test result is somehow the ultimate indicator of the standard of a country’s education system.
It seems like a system which tries to compare apples with oranges. So the diverse Oz system is compared, say, with Finland’s monocultural system, or with Shanghai’s monocultural system where students study some 16 hours a day, including after-hours cram schools.
So back about 2000 Oz was in the top 5 in Maths, Science and Reading/Writing, now having “slipped” a number of places down the ladder. Yet at the same time we are told that our standard has “flat-lined”; ie, it has stayed the same, but other countries have climbed above us. The reason might in part be explained by the fact the number of countries now assessed has increased from some 30 or so back in 2000 to more than 70 today (from memory). Clearly some of those countries/ systems/individual schools teach in ways that manage particular kinds of testing. What is too easily lost in evaluation are those elements of education which are not easily tested.
Another point to make is that it is very easy to slip in such a testing regime when the assessed “marks” are so close together. I remember being in a Year 8 Latin class in which I was at one stage ranked 27 in a class 63. Clearly, a loss of 1% would have meant a slip of several positions, yet the marks were high and tightly bunched. We can see something of that effect in the list of rankings for 2016 offered by Miriam English (burning the midnight oil @12:46 am). NAPLAN exhibits the same kind of limitations in interpretation.
We have numerous Education institutions, Tertiary education faculties, testing facilities, Education Departments, private institutions, dozens of education pundits here in Oz…and yet, apparently, we cannot get it right, according to some. I blame the ignorance, interference and vested interests of particular education bodies, political incompetence and certain hysterical, sensation-seeking idiot media outlets.
Then we have the expectations of parents faced with the promise of “choices” for what is best for their child. And money has nothing to do with it?
I agree about standardised testing guest. It does not test for initiative, creativity, ingenuity – entrepreneurial skills in which Australian kids do very well. It does not test for emotional intelligence or happiness which are also attributes that help make more productive citizens. It doesn’t help develop teamwork and communication and leadership skills.
You can however do very well if all you ever do is practice the test.
Very, very late to this discussion. So many ‘topics’ and so may ‘issues’. But it started with Charter Schools so that may as well be the beginning.
One suspects that Trump has sympathy with the Charter School movement because of repeated failures. Bankruptcy, in both the financial and educational sense, seems to be a defining characteristic.
Just click on the interactive map.
While the Charter School movement might be ‘new’ to many readers, its ‘history’ in Australia begins with David Kemp. (As most readers would know, the Kemp family has a long history of involvement with the IPA.) Kemp was promoted to Cabinet as Minister for Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs 1997–98 and Minister for Education, Training and Youth Affairs 1998–2001. As a Minister he was very effective – in the sense he was successful in developing an educational ‘common sense’ (read ideology) that persists to this day. It was an ideology that captured a whole phalanx of Ministers since, including Rudd, Gillard and now Birmingham.
While Minister, Kemp invited and led a delegation of bureaucrats to accompany him to the US to study the Charter School movement in the hope that it would take root and flourish in the Australian educational community. It didn’t. But the ‘rationale’ permeated certain areas of the bureaucracy, in particular the finance and budget divisions.
Before entering government Kemp was a Senior Lecturer in Political Science at the University of Melbourne 1975–79 and Professor of Politics at Monash University, Melbourne 1979–90. Needless to say, Kemp fell on the ‘right’ side of politics. He hated unions. Had a deep distrust for those ‘leftist’ teachers. You get the picture. Charter Schools was a vehicle to achieve a number of his ‘political’ aims.
I cite a recent article (extensively.).
Get the drift? Kemp liked the ‘union busting’ dimensions.You can read much more here.
Principals in NSW have had to take on a lot more responsibility for financial decisions (and everything else). When it was brought up at a principal’s conference that they were spending all their time on administration, they were told they should hire a business manager. Bureaucrats ideas rarely end up saving money or getting better results.
michael lacey re your comment:
So michael lacey you remember Arnie Duncan. You might also remember this re October 19 2009:
When Gillard went to the Education department she was ‘wet behind the ears’ when it came to educational ‘philosophy’. Also Rudd charged her with so many responsibilities that she was constantly ‘under water’. Thus she was an easy target for education bureaucrats who were steeped in kemp’s ‘common sense’. She just followed the script. Hence ill thought out policies like Naplan, promises to lift our performance to be among the top 5 nations – and other cringe worthy nonsense.
The irony is – she is now a world authority. Hilarious. And I won’t mention Joel Klein who after advising Gillard went off to work for Murdoch. Shit we are easy touches.
And as we discuss the problems with standardised testing…..
On Sunday the minister announced a panel of principals, teachers, speech specialists, academics and researchers to implement the year 1 national phonics and numeracy checks – announced before the last election
“This panel will also consider existing examples from Australia and overseas, such as the year 1 phonics check used in England that involves children verbally identifying letters and sounds in both real words and made up words to show a child’s understanding of how language works,” Birmingham said.
Funny, I thought “language” meant a whole lot more than sounding out letters.
This is a red herring so they appear to be saying something about education
“Phonics are already amongst a range of programs used by teachers,” Haythorpe said. “We must remember children have individual learning needs and for the minister to re-announce plans to test six-year-olds in absence of committing to fund schools is walking away from the fundamental issue.”
KL from your link:
Can only agree. Was a strong supporter of public schools and not afraid to speak out. Indeed he was a ‘stand out’ among State Education Ministers. And he was a Nat to boot.
If we want to achieve results akin to those of some of the Asian ‘city states’ like Singapore and Shanghai we should adopt some of their policies. You know, have the kids go to some form of ‘schooling’ for 16 hours a day. And include Saturdays as well. QED. One mother’s plea for help.
Let’s do away with sport on Saturdays and substitute ‘schooling’. That’ll learn em.
Matters Not, Saturday sport will not be replaced with substitute schooling, it will be replaced with Army Reserves activities.
It’s easy to focus on the big orange idiot, but the flurry of crazy decrees Trump’s been signing? They don’t come from him. They’re all written by Steve Bannon, the head of Breitbart “News”. We know he is a racist and a believer all kinds of fruitloop conspiracy theories, but what’s his overall aim? He has said before:
If that wasn’t worrying enough, there’s this disturbing talk he gave via Skype to a conference with some of the most conservative Catholics in the Vatican, where he apparently wants a holy war to cleanse the world of other religions, and in particular, Islam. He speaks of increasing secularism as a threat as well, so perhaps he would extend his holy war to atheists too. His leverage is fear.
At the end of the article is a link to the unedited audio:
There is also a video of it at YouTube:
(Hmmm… I think I may have posted this in the wrong place…)