March 19, 2024

Nora De La Cour: State Legislatures Are Waging War on Public Schools

Published by

Writing for Jacobin, Nora De La Cour looks at the NPE report for states and public education. 

State-level legislation shapes the societies in which kids live and schools operate. For this reason “Public Schooling in America,” the latest data-packed national report card from the Network for Public Education (NPE), focuses on the extent to which each state legislature protects young people, both in and out of public school systems.

While the previous two NPE report cards have focused primarily on school privatization, this one goes further, connecting the dots between seemingly distinct attacks on public schooling that are advancing as part of the push for Christian nationalism: charter and voucher expansion, publicly funded homeschooling, defunding of public schools, and illiberal restrictions on kids and educators.

Using a points system based on how statehouses treat the above topics, NPE awarded “A” grades to five states, both red and blue, that demonstrate a strong commitment to students and democratically governed public schools: 1) North Dakota, 2) Connecticut, 3) Vermont, 4) Illinois, and 5) Nebraska. Seventeen states — all but two of which are governed by a Republican trifecta — earned “F” grades. The poorest scoring of these “F” states will come as no surprise to anyone paying attention to school privatization or the anti-LGBTQ laws curtailing kids’ and educators’ rights: 47) Arkansas, 48) North Carolina, 49) Utah, 50) Arizona, and 51) Florida.

Ultimately the report underscores a critical point: while schools are directly tasked with prioritizing child well-being and student safety, they don’t perform these duties in a vacuum. State legislatures play an enormous role in making public school systems functional and safe — or, in many cases, severely undermining them.

De La Cour looks at several areas considered by the report, including the use of vouchers.

Vouchers are a preferred tool of religious extremists seeking state-funded Christian education, but most state constitutions have clauses prohibiting public funding of religious institutions. ESAs and TTCs are designed to evade these restrictions by funding families rather than schools (ESAs), or allowing people to donate to private school scholarships instead of paying their taxes (TTCs). Generally speaking, voucher-funded private schooling is rife with discrimination that would be illegal in public school systems. A 2023 report by the Education Voters of Pennsylvania, for example, found that 100 percent of surveyed voucher schools have policies that overtly discriminate against kids based on LGBTQ identity, disability status, academic ability, religion, pregnancy or abortion history, or other factors.

Read the full article here.

Share this:

Readers wishing to comment on the content are encouraged to do so via the link to the original post.

Find the original post here:

View original post