***Embargoed Press Release until Thursday, June 21, 10:30 a.m. EST***
Janet A. Dickerson
New National Education Report Card Identifies States That Are
Privatizing Public Education
The Network for Public Education and the Schott Foundation for Public Education Issue Strong Recommendations for Governors and Policymakers on How to Recommit to Public Schools and Restore Civil Rights Protections for Students and Transparency for Taxpayers.
New York City, New York — Today national nonprofit education advocacy organizations Network for Public Education and the Schott Foundation for Public Education released a new report, Grading the States: A Report Card on Our Nation's Commitment to Public Schoolsthat evaluates to what extent the 50 states and the District of Columbia are funneling public money away from community public schools to privately run schools. The report also measures the consequences of school privatization on students’ civil rights and taxpayers’ rights to know how their dollars are spent. The findings were unveiled at a morning presentation and press conference held today at Open Society Foundations in New York City.
Grading the States is the first in-depth nonpartisan report card to measure each state’s commitment to democratically governed public schools. It also includes state by state measurement of whether each state’s charter schools and voucher-funded private schools protect student civil rights and guard taxpayers from fraud and the misuse of public funds.
Nebraska, North Dakota and West Virginia received top scores for remaining true to the ideals of democratically governed public schools and for resisting all efforts to put public school dollars into private hands. The three states with the lowest scores are Arizona, Florida and Georgia.
The laws and regulations of each state were graded according to five key criteria based on objective, measurable factors: 1) Types and Extent of School Privatization; 2) Civil Rights Protections for Students in Voucher and Charter Programs; 3) Accountability, Regulations and Oversight; 4) Transparency of Voucher and Charter Programs; 5) Other Factors Related to Charter School Accountability.
Each state was originally assigned 100 points. States lost points on the five criteria, resulting in a letter grade of “A+” to “F.” Each state’s voucher and charter program also received separate letter grades. Three states received an “A+” while 17 states received a grade of “F.”
An interactive map with all grades can be viewed HERE
This report card stands in stark contrast to report cards released from conservative political organizations like The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the American Federation for Children (AFC) and EdChoice that narrowly rank states based on their willingness to privatize public education and weaken the laws around accountability, oversight and transparency.
What follows are comments on the report.
“The most important takeaway from this report is that choice programs—whether vouchers or charters—drain resources from the public schools that educate the vast majority of America’s children, 85% to be exact. In Indiana, for example, vouchers are widely available, but only 3.5% of the state’s students use them. More than half of voucher users are private school students who never attended public schools. This program costs the state $153 million annually, reducing funding to the state’s students in public schools. This is bad public policy.” -- Diane Ravitch, President of the Network for Public Education (NPE).
“Our democracy requires that every child has access to a free, public school system, any effort to privatize local systems not only threatens millions of students opportunity to learn and to succeed but ultimately threatens our democracy.” -- John H. Jackson, President of the Schott Foundation for Public Education.
“The opportunity for all children, particularly children of color, to have access to a quality public education is fundamental and should not be pre-determined by the color of one’s skin, ethnicity, disability, religion, sex, income, LGBTQ status or frankly any immutable characteristic. The proliferation of privatization laws across this country is once again advancing a separate and unequal system in education by exacerbating the socioeconomic and cultural divide, undermining the progress of generations of students, and posing an infinite risk to our democracy.” -- Tanya Clayhouse, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary for P-12 Education, U.S. Department of Education.
“Report cards are most worthwhile when grounded in transparent, well-sourced criteria and explanations of the reasons for each state’s grades--as we see in this new report. People who care about accessible and fair schools will find the information and recommendations in their report enormously useful.” -- Kevin Welner, the Director of the National Education Policy Center and Professor of Education Policy, University of Colorado Boulder School of Education.
About the Network for Public Education
The Network for Public Education (NPE) was founded in 2013 by Diane Ravitch and Anthony Cody. We are an advocacy group whose mission is to protect, preserve, promote, and strengthen public schools for both current and future generations of students. The goal of NPE is to connect all those who are passionate about our schools – students, parents, teachers and citizens. We share information and research on vital issues that concern the future of public education at a time when they are under attack.
About the Schott Foundation for Public Education
The Schott Foundation is a national public fund dedicated to equity in public education and creating the healthy living and learning communities that allow students to learn. Schott works to strengthen broad-based movements that seek to provide all students a fair and substantive opportunity to learn. Schott bridges advocacy and grassroots organizations with the strategic resources, networks and collaboration needed to create systemic change. www.SchottFoundation.org