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Scapegoating Teachers Masks Funding Gaps and 1%’s Privatization Agenda

Governor Daugaard and certain Republican legislators like to scapegoat teachers. Daugaard and friends say we teachers aren't working hard enough. We need both incentives and kick in our collective bargaining pants to improve our performance.

Governor Daugaard and his legislative yes-men are tricking you. University of Illinois at Chicago professor Kevin Kumashiro explains what's really behind the effort to blame teachers for problems in public education:

...the singular focus on teachers prevents us from seeing how the system itself needs repair. Those who lead the so-called “education reform” movement are scapegoating teachers because they want to mask the real problems, the systemic problems that lead to poor performance and problems in education [Kevin Kumashiro, interview with Cindy Long, "Stop Blaming Teachers," National Education Association, November 2012].

What real problems are Daugaard and fellow teacher-blamers avoiding?

One of those problems is funding. One of those problems is funding. Our neighborhoods are even more segregated by income and race than ever before, and because so much of school funding is based on local property taxes, the historically vast wealth gap in our nation makes it easy to see why funding is not equitable, and therefore neither is the quality of education being provided.

Another problem is the narrowing of the curriculum as we place more emphasis on high-stakes testing. Research consistently shows us not only that tests are neither valid nor reliable for the spectrum of consequences (student graduation, teacher evaluation, school turnarounds) that we tie to them, but also that schools should have a rich curriculum for kids to achieve more academically.

Finally, schools do not operate in a vacuum. An enormous challenge is the massive number of children living in poverty who come to school hungry and without access to health care, and who often live in neighborhoods plagued with violence. You can’t focus when your stomach is growling or you have a toothache or you’re afraid to walk to and from school, and you certainly can’t perform well on tests [Kumashiro, 2012].

Recall that the Governor's failed effort this year to "reform" the schools with House Bill 1234/Referred Law 16 completely sucked the oxygen out of the school-funding-formula debate. It overshadowed the discussion of increased standardized testing the state is adopting to satisfy its NCLB waiver. And it went on as South Dakota continues to tax food and resist the Medicaid expansion offered by the Affordable Care Act.

What else is up Governor Daugaard's sleeve as he tries to convince you your teachers are lazy moochers and union thugs?

Public education is now a $500 to $600 billion enterprise, being outsourced and privatized more and more each day. By pointing to low test scores and blaming teachers for them, there’s a justification for dismantling public school systems and outsourcing education, and a lot of profits to be made by doing so.

One way that “the 1 percent” can stay at the top is by making schools for the 99 percent look vastly different than their own. When a school is failing, they say we need to take more tests, spend more time preparing for those tests, and narrow the curriculum further so students focus solely on the test material to raise their scores. In contrast, the most elite schools with highly successful students have a rich curriculum with far less testing and with a strong teacher voice in developing curriculum and assessment – why would we go in the opposite direction in our struggling schools? [Kumashiro, 2012]

The public school system stands as proud counterexample to the vulture-capitalist narrative. The public school system provides the greatest check possible on the power of the elites by making every citizen smart enough to recognize threats to democracy and economic fairness. And it could be a big profit center, the same way McKennan Park could if you bulldozed the trees and gardens and let developers put up fancy mansions and coffee shops.

When you hear Governor Daugaard and his lieutenants resume the anti-teacher drumbeat this coming Legislative session, lift their skirts. Look at decades of negligent state funding for K-12 education. Look at the broader social issues they won't act on to help education. And look at all the tests they are buying right now so corporations can get more of your money while your kids spend more time filling bubbles than learning, creating and growing.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have some French vocabulary to teach.


  1. Steve Sibson 2012.11.16

    "The public school system stands as proud counterexample to the vulture-capitalist narrative."

    No Cory, the vulture capitalists are controlling the schools. And the Marxist based solutions of more government power is how they are doing it. Daugaard is fooliong us, and so is Obama. After all, Daugaard's education plan is the same as Obama's, same as GWB's and the same as Clinton's. The focus is on providing human resources for the centrally planned global economy. And that is why more money is needed, for control, not for learning.

    [CAH: Sibby's vision of reality is completely detached from what I do in my classroom every day.]

  2. Dougal 2012.11.16

    Remember the ‘Why Johnny Can’t Read’ columns and editorials from the 70s and 80s? Trumped up by the conservative “think” tanks and mailed off to lazy newspaper editors who would copy them as their own, this was the GOP tactic to issue blame and coddle up to taxpayers to tell them public education is a lousy investment. After all, those teachers, who are guaranteed a job and are paid for not working three months every year and make more than the local average salary, are the problem. They are “s-e-c-u-l-a-r h-u-m-a-n-i-s-t-s” and trying to take God out of the classroom.

    “All we gotta do is fire the bad teachers and ignore the increasing costs for educating children.”

    Blaming is always easier than working on a solution. Being a sucker for this low brow sales pitch gets easier if you’re nearing retirement and your own kids have come up the ladder of the public school system. The GOP answer is “let’s destroy the ladder.”

    Here in South Dakota, the dumb rubes in our State Capitol, conveniently located in an isolated, low populated part of our state which gets even more remote during the first three months of the year, represent the “destroy the ladder” population in our state. Election after election, these boobs claim they support education. Then, session after session, they fail fail fail to live up to their moral and constitutional obligation to fully fund the state’s education formula and invest a competitive amount of money in the state’s universities (which they upgraded several ago by renaming them universities instead of colleges – got a lot done then, right?), making South Dakota the state with the lowest percentage of state investment in higher education. South Dakota is the state with the lowest paid teachers (by the way, Daugaard says move to South Dakota).

    This ought to be the source of grave embarrassment to the fools in Pierre. But it ain’t.

    The ballot box defeat of Daugaard’s HB 1234 is the first sign in a long time that people no longer support the “destroy the ladder” alternative. Daugaard is having the same problem as Romney these days accepting he lost because his ideas were too stupid to pass the sniff test.

    Now that “destroy the ladder” is currently a failed political alternative, does this mean the legislature will stop blaming teachers for their own failure to do their job of adequately funding education? Heck no. The legislature and the governor are still deadbeats. You can expect more dumb ideas.

    And I say, hand the rubes more rope and they’ll hang themselves, just as the GOP hanged itself in 2012 election with stupid ideas and stupid statements. People used to say that national trends take a couple years to finally arrive in South Dakota. If so, keep it coming, you dumb rubes. Keep it coming!

  3. Steve O'Brien 2012.11.16

    The advent of a national curriculum or national standards - even voluntary like Common Core - is a way for outside actors to not only influence education in all places, but also to assume the role of instruction more easily. Once everyone is teaching to the same test, then anyone, anywhere, can provide that instruction. Ironically enough, this standardization re-enforces the very industrial model that schools are now striving to shed. Pearson/Benchmark is poised on the brink of providing a national test for many grades and subjects through Common Core. The provision of on-line instruction can become the foothold for outside venders to provide education to students (for a fee). Many schools are being influenced by the "mass customization" reform that potentially allows private providers to get their foot in the door.

    The one element that I believe will stop any private take over of education in SD is the funding issue. With what is spent on education here, I don't think there is money to be made by a for-profit entity. South Dakota teachers (and administrator and education service providers) may not be willing to accept the nation's lowest pay if that sacrifice goes into the pocket of a CEO elsewhere. Teachers in other regions certainly will not be willing to work for the comparatively far lower wages SD is willing to put toward education.

    Education is being set up for privatization in the US much the same way prisons have been. The national right-wing movement is clearly setting into our state (as seen in many legislative arenas over the past years - the erosion of collective bargaining for example - the question remains if profit can be made to have us see the real expansion.

    The consolidation debate made small towns aware of the impact of losing a school. The loss to both the economy and to the spirit of a town is huge. Privatization puts that threat on the doorstep of every school - no matter the size.

  4. Steve Sibson 2012.11.16

    "Privatization puts that threat on the doorstep of every school - no matter the size."

    Privatization puts the decision of consolidation into the hands of the parents, and out of the hands of special interests and governmental officials. For it to work we have to remove government regulations, in other words...the standards. Then watch costs drop, achievement rise, and options increase. The bad side, a large number of experts and control freaks will lose their jobs.

  5. larry kurtz 2012.11.16

    Childless Sibby commenting on education is like bishops commenting on birth control.

  6. Dougal 2012.11.16

    Steve, comparing the privatization of prisons with privitizing schools is right on the money. Generally, privatization reduces transparency and accountability to the people it is intended to serve. In education -- especially in higher education, students are not viewed as "pupils" as much as "clients," and that chills the relationship between mentors and students. Institutional goals are forced to serve two masters in a private school: A quality education experience vs. the profit wishes of the host corporation.

    The best bargain for educating youth is still the public school system and the state college and technical school system. It requires public investment, but the payback is immense.

  7. Steve Sibson 2012.11.16

    Daougal, who says private's only option is for profit corps. There are non-profits and home schools. Any number of parents could set up a non-profit and fund it with their education tax vouchers.

  8. Steve Sibson 2012.11.16

    Sorry about the misspelling.

  9. Dougal 2012.11.16

    I am including non-profit corporations in my commentary. I will make an exception for church-based schools because they can get support from the religious institution. I will say, however, that you get far more transparency and direct accountability in a public school system.

    As to vouchers, when our state does its duty to fully fund the education formula every year, I would strongly support the education tax voucher system -- even for religious schools. We are light years from achieving that as long as the deadbeats in Pierre keep underfunding our public schools.

  10. Steve O'Brien 2012.11.16

    Steve: "Privatization puts the decision of consolidation into the hands of the parents, and out of the hands of special interests and governmental officials."

    I have to disagree. Because of the tightest of budgets schools run in SD, it does not take much loss in revenue to make school, any school, incapable of continuing. You idea of choice with the accompanying loss of revenue from public school to private providers will take away choice for all when it causes the collapse of already strained public options. We have open enrollment now that allows schools to try to bring in students (and their funding), to the demise of the school losing those students.

    Choice will also become meaningless when outside providers try to give a quality education for the pittance SD public schools provides that service for now. In a way, I hope you get your way and there is choice - for I know that it will not take long for parents, students, and communities to realize the only viable option is public education. The rub is that public schools will be destroyed by the time that realization is made and choice will be lost.

    Remember, our obligation is to teach ALL the students - not just skim the cream to teach.

  11. vikingobsessed 2012.11.16

    And for those of you advocating privatization, how exactly would this work on our reservations? What kind of market based solution would work there? And for those students who live 20-30 miles or more away from a larger public school? In more populated areas with a larger tax base the theory might work, but it clearly doesn't work for ALL of South Dakota.

  12. Douglas Wiken 2012.11.16

    Privatization of government services almost always promise a lot before the government system is destroyed and then the prices escalate. The benefits are non-existent and the costs greater.

    Even garbage pickup fits this formula.

  13. Steve Sibson 2012.11.16

    "You idea of choice with the accompanying loss of revenue from public school to private providers will take away choice for all when it causes the collapse of already strained public options."

    Not so, the voucher could still be used to attend current public schools. The corporatists already control the public schools, they don't need or want privatization. Removing their control via no-strings-attached vouchers would free public schools of the costs to implement their (the corporatists) standards. They are getting away with this because the public schools have a monoply. Breaking monopolies by definition would mean more choices for consumers. It is intellectually dishonest to argue against monopoly capitalism while supporting government monopolies.

  14. larry kurtz 2012.11.16

    Streamlining bureaucracy by adding more bureaublicans: looks like wealth redistribution to me.

  15. larry kurtz 2012.11.16

    Israel is on the brink of extinction, Sibby: got your hole dug?

  16. Bree S. 2012.11.16

    Public schools will run better with some competition from private schools. The problem is bloated administrative costs and the overpaid Board of Regents not the teachers. Allowing poor students to attend accredited private schools with a voucher or tax credit will not only give parents and students more choices and control over their education but will save taxpayers money because the per student cost at a private school is significantly less than the per student cost at a public school.

  17. Steve O'Brien 2012.11.16

    Steve: "Not so, the voucher could still be used to attend current public schools."

    You presume the survival of the public school after the outflow of money for those who choose to go. As I said before, many schools are so close to the bone that the loss of even some students stops the economic viability of the whole school. Small schools now receive a funding bonus because they cannot exist on the economy of small scale.

    Once that collapse happens then ONLY the rich who can afford the extra costs to cover education beyond the voucher get educated. Or do you believe that you can really educate kids for $4K a year without the benefit of large scale backing that up? That is getting 10+ 2nd graders together just to pay the expenses of a teacher and NO other costs (or benefits for that teacher for that matter).

  18. larry kurtz 2012.11.16

    Augustana is in free fall: it only survives because of its tax-exempt status and donations from wackos like Sibby.

  19. Bree S. 2012.11.16

    They're "close to the bone" because they overpay their Board of Regents members, overpay administrators, waste money on administrative costs - on the backs of teachers and students.

    What extra cost per student? The cost per student at an accredited private school is usually significantly less than the cost per student at a public school. And studies show higher graduation rates and college attendance across the country. Wisconsin says they saved $52 million last year, and the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program saw a 7% higher rate of on time student graduation.

  20. larry kurtz 2012.11.16

    BS: engaging in class warfare is hardly a strong defense.

  21. larry kurtz 2012.11.16

    This is The Right's way of protesting property taxes in a state where an income tax is long overdue.

  22. larry kurtz 2012.11.16

    Rev. Hickey: do the right thing. Repeal video loottery and put the fringe bankers out of business.

  23. Bree S. 2012.11.16

    I'm talking about improvements in achievement and graduation rates among poor urban students, the group these programs are generally targeted at. I don't know what class warfare you're talking about.

  24. JoeBoo 2012.11.16

    If private schools were the answer it would already have been implicated in more areas. In some areas it can work, but rural South Dakota is not one of those areas.

    Too many people are ignorant and arrogant when it comes to education, thinking that anyone can be the teacher. And yes some parents can teach their kids as well as the teacher. But as I recall in my college SPED class, between 60-80% of students learn in spite of the teacher, maybe not quite as much or quite as well, but they do quite well. The common area with the majority of these kids is their home life. Their parents read to them, they have books and learning games available at home, their parents make them do homework, etc. Studies have shown that much of education comes from their home life. So I believe that most elementary students could be home schooled. You know if parents wanted to do that. (South Dakota ranks towards the top if not the top when it comes to 2 parents working). The issue with home schooling comes in high school. Yes there are online programs, and some parents who can achieve it, but how many parents can teach a high school curriculum to their kids? not many. And knowing home schooled elementary kids, who then went to high school, many of them were socially awkward in high school and most never truly adapted. So I'm not big on home schooling.

    As far as private schools, I've actually done some research (nothing major, or publishable) but from what I've found if a student is having problem at public school, he is more then likely to continue having problems at private school. Private school is not the savior of everything.

    So how do we improve education and ultimately cut cost because those in Pierre will never truly fund education? Some of it has to be administrative, the two areas would be Superintendents and Business Managers. Though many hate principals they are needed, as they do much more then people realize, and many double as coaches, teachers and/or athletic directors. The other area is when we construct new schools we need to focus more on making them technologically advanced. I hear a lot of schools spent so much on buildings, but if they do it right they can ultimately save money. Studies show that when you get above 22-24 students per classroom productivity goes down, but there are ways, making classrooms larger, making them easier to move around, making the video board easier to see, using audio system (microphone/speaker) can allow you to get upward to 30 with out a major fall off.

    So I guess what I'm saying is we don't need to blow up the system, and though I think we need to fund it better, there are some things the state needs to do. I would push towards 2 tier larger school districts. What that means is above the current school district would be a larger one where 2-3-4 schools would share a superintendent, secretary, business manager, they can chose to co-op sports, or school boards but don't have to. And the other thing is I would put some requirements towards newly constructed schools, most of the newer schools do this, but still. it would look nice.

    [CAH: Joe, a minor technical note: anyone who needs a microphone in a classroom needs to take some vocal training.]

  25. Bree S. 2012.11.16

    You guys keep bringing up rural South Dakota. Give a good reason a program like this shouldn't be implemented in urban Sioux Falls. There are no cons that I can see - saves taxpayers money, gives parents and students more choices and control over their education, improves graduation rates, improves college attendance rates, has been working in several other states for years with quantifiable results... where's the con?

  26. larry kurtz 2012.11.16

    Physical student attendance in a central building is a dinosaur: like Israel it will soon be gone.

    Universal health care is the foundation on which the future will be built replete with telemedicine.

    Rep. Nelson: reach out to the rez.

  27. Donald Pay 2012.11.16

    The fact is the "school reform industry" has a problem that they've created for themselves: lack of credibility. After 25 years they've had a succession of costly "school reforms" that they have to finally admit have never improved education much in terms of their favorite measurement tool, standardized tests. Whether it be charter schools or vouchers or computers in the classroom or small schools or small schools within larger schools or any other fad, they just don't seem to move test scores any. Why does anyone bother to listen to them anymore?

    The only way that their record of failure can be repeatedly
    repeated with slight variations every five years is if there is a lot of taxpayer money to be skimmed and a lot of corrupt or incredibly dumb people, particularly in high places in government, to fleece.

    I can't go into all of Sibson's spewage, but he's ignorant of what has happened over the years in education. Janklow ended most of the mandates in the 1990s when the school aid formula changed. Milwaukee choice programs have been mostly failures. So Sibson's reforms have been tried in South Dakota and out of South Dakota, and have failed. He just wants to try them again, just to watch them fail again. The problem is children are the victims of all this failure.

    Let's be clear about this. No one is talking about real privatization, which would mean there would be no tax revenue to share with anyone---not to school districts, not to contacting education consultants or private schools, and not to parents. Real privatization would tell parents this: you are on your own. What everyone is talking about is not privatization, but distributing the revenue collected through state and local property taxes a different way. Sibson wants my taxes to go to him---a gift to him to pay for his kids' education. Sibby, if you want real privatization, get your hands off my tax money and educate your own kids, you worthless 47 percenteer.

  28. Steve Sibson 2012.11.16

    "Or do you believe that you can really educate kids for $4K a year without the benefit of large scale backing that up?"

    The education tax is greater than the state aid amount. If you can get 10 students that means the class size is half of the public school's class size, so quality goes up. One teacher making 10 times $5,000 is $50,000. You don't have to pay for a principle, you don't have to pay for a superintendent, and you don't have to provide all the fluth the federal government requires because you are no longer taking their money.

    If you think this thing through, it will be a win win win for parents, teachers, and the students, The losers will be the control freaks and social engineers.

  29. Steve Sibson 2012.11.16

    Somebody want to explain the tota cost of controlling "school climate" now that this state took Obama's bait and now will be fully implementing the NCLB waiver? I asked Senator Mike Vehle that question after he approved the rules to implement the waiver and he had no clue.

  30. Bree S. 2012.11.16

    What are you talking about Donald? Let's see - "failure" at least three times, and then there's "fail" there, and "failed" there... do you think you can just "spew" nonsense without any evidence and that makes it so? You're not giving an abstract opinion here, you're saying (against all evidence) that charter schools and voucher programs have failed. Must I post the pages and pages of studies which demonstrate improvement in many categories in several states through school choice programs? How has Milwaukee failed? Is saving taxpayers $52 million and improving on time graduation rates by 7% a "failure?" What about all the testimonies from grateful poor mothers who were given the opportunity to put their child in a performing school, where their child is now happy and doing well? Yes we're talking about redistributing tax revenue to poor families who are unable to afford private schooling on their own - why exactly are you against this? Do you have a problem with taxpayers have a tiny bit of control over the money they pay into the system? Must the working middle class continue to support the bloated Educracy just because you say that school choice is a "failure?"

  31. Steve O'Brien 2012.11.16

    Steve: "You don't have to pay for a principle, you don't have to pay for a superintendent, and you don't have to provide all the fluth the federal government requires because you are no longer taking their money."

    I am not sure how you got to SD students being given 5K each for their education, but even at that rate, my point is that you pay a low salaried teacher - and do not cover any benefits/insurance, social security, sick leave expenses . . .
    You have not provided a place for this schooling, equipment, books, materials . . . You have not ensured the poorest have access to meals at this new school. You have no extra-curricular opportunities at this school. There is no transportation to/from this school. The meager amount the state gives to education used as a voucher is powerless unless put together on a large scale.

    Still, after you remove the families who care enough to make this choice, who can create the opportunity to exercise this choice, what wasteland do you leave behind?

    All of this still skirts the real issue: adequate funding. I say education reform in SD should be two fold: 1) increase funding to adequately pay all teachers, principals, and support staff. Use the market to draw the best people and create a pool to allow schools to be selective. 2) Using research, find what makes teachers and school better - what do they need to do; what do they need to know? Then provide ADDITIONAL resources to create incentives for teachers/schools to learn those things to help their students. Really, I am talking about fixing education by providing opportunity.

  32. Bree S. 2012.11.16

    According to the U.S. Department of Education, between 1992 and 2009 the number of students in public schools has decreased 4%. The total number of teachers has increased only 4%, which would lead to a marginal improvement in the student-teacher ratio. But from 1992 to 2009 total school personnel has increased 25% - not because the state has hired significantly more teachers but because the number of administrators and other staff has increased by 55% over the same time period! Let us pause for a moment and digest this information - a 55% increase in the Educracy in 20 years while barely hiring anymore teachers. So you can make excuses about bussing and school lunches but these issues have been addressed satisfactorily in other states - and they aren't the problem with the budget. The problem is the fat cat Board of Regents making $350,000 a year and their overpaid administrator friends living off the hardworking backs of parents and teachers.

  33. Bree S. 2012.11.16

    I should say those numbers are specific to South Dakota.

  34. larry kurtz 2012.11.16

    So...'educrats' aren't entitled to earning above the mean but generals enjoy motorcades. How is that not class warfare, BS?

  35. Steve Sibson 2012.11.16

    Thanks Bree, now we should know that the higher costs of education are due to the Educrats who are creating, establishing, and enforcing governmental standards which are getting into the way of teachers' doing their job. NCLB waiver will only make that worse as would have RL16. In fact the NCLB waiver will be the reason why the Educrats will implement much of RL16 in a piecemeal fashion.

  36. larry kurtz 2012.11.16

    The costs of cannabis interdiction and 'corrections' in South Dakota affords mid-level managers in state government pecuniary comfort at the peril of non-whites.

    If the chemical toilet was truly serious about education, it would embrace Medicaid expansion so people at the margins could emerge from despair.

  37. Bree S. 2012.11.16

    Sure the bloated mess in the Military Establishment is a problem too Larry. Anytime you get a large self-serving inefficient bureaucracy living off the hardworking public while returning little value for the cost it's a problem. I don't know why you keep bringing up "class warfare." I think you just like the way it sounds. You just need to quit drinking that Kool-aid ;).

  38. larry kurtz 2012.11.16

    Your side used it against us as the TEA wing helped to precipitate the collapse of Karl Rove's party. Get used to it: it's coming to a caucus near you.

  39. Bree S. 2012.11.16

    I like the subsidized HSA medical insurance model that Indiana came up with better for solving the problem of affordable health insurance for poorer families without access to Medicaid or employer-sponsored medical insurance. It was a state level solution completely funded by a vice tax on cigarettes and gave the insured more control over their healthcare. It was set up in a way to reduce inefficiencies and corruption, unlike Medicaid.

  40. larry kurtz 2012.11.16

    Clearly not happening in SD: it's just another way the State and tribes compete for resources while propping up the fringe bankers capitalized through video loottery.

  41. Donald Pay 2012.11.16

    Nonsense, Bree. Get into the fact-based world. You seem to think this is all increase in administration. You're wrong. In the time frame you cite, we took students with disabilities out of the state warehouses we had them in or out their parents' homes where they got little or no education and put them into public schools. That required significant increases in teaching staff and other professionals. Then we added lots of technology, which required new instructional and other staffing. Neither the federal nor the state governments have adequately funded either of these significant costs dumped on local districts.

  42. Donald Pay 2012.11.16

    The Milwaukee choice program was sold on the basis of taking students out of poor performing public schools and providing a voucher to go to supposedly better private schools. The key, some said, was cutting bureaucracy and red tape. For a number of years the state was prevented from requiring these students take the same test that public school students take, and there was no accountability for the money spent, unlike in public schools, which require public disclosure.

    So, there was no way to determine how these schools were performing, and where the taxpayers money was going.

    Under a Democratic Governor and Legislature, the state decided it needed to have some accountability put back into the voucher system. It became clear that there was a lot of corruption occurring--schools were taking the money, but not educating the students. Several voucher schools ended up being shut down and the superintendents prosecuted. Over the last several years the voucher schools have had to take the same tests that public schools students do. The results are showing voucher schools are performing worse than public schools in the Milwaukee area.

    The results are in---vouchers are a failure.

  43. Bree S. 2012.11.16

    Sigh. First of all the the percentages I listed were for increases in the NUMBERS of personnel not the monetary FUNDING of any programs. Significant increases in teaching staff? So the 4% increase in the number of teachers REQUIRED a 55% increase in the number of support staff? New technology REQUIRED a 55% increase in the number of support staff? Did each computer come packaged with its own butler? Your argument is ridiculous and I could spend all day pointing out fallacies and holes and you would still ramble on, talking in circles and ignoring facts and statistics. I need to "get into the fact-based world?" What a hilarious pronouncement.

    There was no way to know how the Milwaukee private schools were performing? Your argument is like swiss cheese, I find myself doing nothing but asking you rhetorical questions. How many times in a row must I state that the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program has significantly higher graduation and college attendance rates, as well as a much lower cost per student than the Milwaukee Public School System. That is crystal clear evidence that the school voucher program is working very well in Wisconsin.

  44. Bree S. 2012.11.16

    You keep bringing up test scores while you know perfectly well that the students enrolled in MPCP are largely poor underperforming students from underperforming schools. Not that I think test scores matter that much (did you read the article above?). Graduation and college attendance rates are a much better indication of student success.

  45. larry kurtz 2012.11.16

    Yet tribal colleges were ignored by Jason Gant in his get out the vote push: getting it yet, BS?

  46. Donald Pay 2012.11.16

    Vouchers are a failure in Milwaukee, both from a fiscal standpoint and from an academic standpoint. This is not even in question anymore as data is proving the inferiority of the voucher system. Sure, there are some good schools getting vouchers, but most of the students in using vouchers in private schools are getting worse results than those in the public schools. The corporatists and crony capitalists, led by the rightwing Bradley Foundation, are making a bundle off the taxpayers and buying off the Republican Party. This session Wisconsin can expect Republican sponsored legislation to roll back the accountability provisions, including student testing, for these voucher schools.

  47. Bree S. 2012.11.16

    Donald, since you are clearly wedded to your mantra in the face of all reason (your first statement having been proven false several times over), I would define you as a fanatic - and I don't debate fanatics.

  48. grudznick 2012.11.16

    Mr. Pay, you seem insanely twisted by bad shit in your past. Let the new reality in, sir, you will be calmer and happier.

  49. grudznick 2012.11.16

    Larry, how many voters go to tribal colleges? I'm just wondering. I'm sure Gant knows and made it a keystone point of his malingering and mongering to make sure all the elections for the legislatures went how his puppetmaster told him to.

    But I don't know. How many voters go to the various and vast tribal colleges and were denied the ability to vote by Gant or one of his unibrowed minions?

  50. grudznick 2012.11.16

    If I seem grumpy tonight I'm sorry. My chair and everybody knows it is my chair was taken tonight by this new fellow who obviously didn't need it and there was no more dressing for my salad and I got a bit surly.

  51. Bree S. 2012.11.16

    Lol grudz. It's always food with you.

  52. larry kurtz 2012.11.16

    sorry grudz: i am too weeded to my manta to debate with you.

  53. Donald Pay 2012.11.16

    Bree S., It's clear you don't know what you are talking about. You have your ideology and little else. The supposed increase in graduation rates in voucher schools is not a reality. Three quarters of students who begin voucher schools in ninth grade end up dropping out of the program before they graduate. Either they drop out totally or they drop back into public schools, who have much better alternative programs that help them graduate after voucher schools have failed them.

  54. Jana 2012.11.16

    Pretty good dog whistle you got there Mrs. Gant...I mean Grudznick.

    Does it matter if it's 1 or 10,000? The fact of the matter is that they were not given the same respect and consideration that was given to other colleges and universities.

    Whether Gant did it out of pure racism, some rogue political agenda, direct orders from the Governor, a secret deal with PP or ignorance...his choices aren't great.

    That the Tribal colleges were not afforded the same respect out of the South Dakota Secretary of State's office as the non tribal colleges, should strike all decent people as reprehensible. It should strike any person we entrust with our state's laws as criminal.

    Is this our own version of State/Republican crafted "Jason Crow" laws in SD?

    Impeach his ass Senator Stan!

    This alone should be enough...and I would love to see any elected official attempt to defend Mr. Gant on this one.

    And Republicans wonder why they don't earn the vote from the Tribes or minorities. Hmm...maybe that was Mr. Gant's motivation.

  55. grudznick 2012.11.16

    Ms. Jana, I have no idea about what Mr. Gant planned or who he planned it with. I do not speak for him, but I suspect his response would be to probably ignore you and reach across his fancy threaded table cloth for the biscuit dish with one paw and slap the other meaty ham down to call for another pitcher of gravy.

    But that's just what I imagine from what my friend Bill has said after going to gatherings of people like Mr. Gant. I could be wrong.

  56. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.11.17

    Bree, let's leave the Board of Regents out of this discussion; they do not run the K-12 system.

    Vochers: I see the final report on the D.C. program finds no conclusive evidence of improved academic achievement. The parents of the randomly chosen voucher kids reported higher satisfaction and student safety at the schools they picked (buyers' rationalization?) but the kids did not. And the "effect" of the voucher transfers may just have been part of the background noise of the large number of kids who move in and out of the system normally.

  57. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.11.17

    Dougal and Steve O'Brien at the top offer some stunning comments. The increased potential for privatization makes me want to boycott the South Dakota Assessment Portal, where we are all supposed to hand over our homemade tests, indexed by standard, free of charge, to the privatizers for their profit.

  58. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.11.17

    Total cost to taxpayers of the SD Assessment Portal: $1.03 million paid over the least three years to E-Metric of San Antonio, Texas (according to three payments listed on

  59. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.11.17

    By the way, you guys are commenting so interestingly, I could easily skip putting up new posts and just keep responding down here. Fascinating. Carry on!

  60. Dougal 2012.11.17

    Scrutiny and questioning the value and integrity of public schools should always be welcome, as long as the intention is constructive. It's when portions of the public reach a conclusion before any objective scrutiny that the wheels come off the track.

    We, the people, are the stewards of our public schools system. We can also let OUR institution be ruined by people who have an agenda for wrecking it because they want the tax dollars for themselves or their religious institution. People like that should be publicly exposed for being frauds and parasites.

    Again, I think there is a time and place for vouchers, but only after the financial security of our pubic schools and universities are secured. The jerks who attack teachers, administrators and school boards do so because they are picking on a target that cannot strike back and call these jerks liars. That would be unprofessional and dignified. The job of protecting the fiscal and public integrity of our public schools and universities belongs to us, the people.

  61. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.11.17

    Agreed, Dougal. The taxes I pay for the K-12 system are not the tuition I pay for my daughter's individual education. Those taxes are a social maintenance fee to ensure that every citizen has access to a free and fair education. Handing me back my taxes wrongly absolves me of my obligation to uphold the state constitution and the general welfare, especially in South Dakota, where, for the most part, there is insufficient market to support private options alongside a public system.

  62. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.11.17

    Charter schools in Pennsylvania are meeting "adequate yearly progress" at a 59% rate compared to the 50% public school rate... but only when state officials measure charter schools by a slacker standard than that applied to public schools. Use the same standard, and PA charter AYP drops to 37%.

  63. Bree S. 2012.11.17

    Leave the Board of Regents out the discussion? Certainly not. They're at the center of this Educracy nightmare. I won't be forgetting about them anytime soon.

  64. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.11.17

    Don't forget them, Bree, and certainly discuss them in the big picture of the state budget and attitude toward education. But let's be clear: the Board of Regents is not driving the standardization/privatization of the K-12 system. The BOR bureaucracy is a separate monster, fiscally and statutorily, from the K-12 bureaucracy. For one salient difference, K-12 administrators are hired and paid by local school districts, while the Regents are appointed by His Honor the Governor.

  65. grudznick 2012.11.17

    You want to talk about fatcat administrators with fancy parking spaces, this Regents bunch puts the fatcat school people to shame with their greedy grubbing teachers and crazy salaries and building of new parking spaces. They are the insanest of the insane when it comes to demanding money and not delivering accountabile. We should vote them all out.

  66. Bree S. 2012.11.17

    How? Aren't they appointed?

  67. Bree S. 2012.11.17

    The pocket-padding legislators are responsible for their salaries.

  68. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.11.17

    Indeed, they are all appointees of the Governor. I'm not sure what they get paid, but it may not be big money. Their exec gets the second-highest state salary in SD, $336K.

  69. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.11.17

    ...but they are still a separate issue from K-12 education.

  70. Bree S. 2012.11.17

    It's the same monster and the same mindset - fat cats first and teachers and students last.

  71. Bree S. 2012.11.17

    I guess that puts the guy who runs the retirement system first - whose salary was raised by legislators who were uninvited by the voters.

  72. Les 2012.11.17

    That's a good pen Bree!

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