Louisiana is one of more than 30 states to be graded “F” on our support for public education in a new report from the Network for Public Education and the Schott Foundation for Public Education.
“Grading the States: A Report Card on Our Nation’s Commitment to Public Schools,” tracks the growth of private, for-profit charter and voucher schools that divert funding from public schools.
Louisiana earns “F” grades in our overall Approach to privatizing education, in our approach to privatization by voucher schools, and in our approach to privatization by charter programs.
The report says that Florida has the most K-12 school privatization, “followed closely by Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Nevada and North Carolina…”
It claims that, “our nation has embarked on a troubling course that steers us toward school privatization, exclusivity and division. The present Department of Education under the leadership of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, promotes privatized programs and choice, and has a decidedly hostile view towards the support of students attending public schools.”
Lead author Carol Burris told District Administration reporter Tim Goral that the study shows how state support for private schools, vouchers, and for-profit charter schools has eroded financial support for public education.
“Although parents always have a right to send their children to private schools at their own expense,” she says, “they are not and never can be the model for educating all of this nation’s children, nor should they be supported by public dollars.”
Privatization of schools creates what Burris calls “stranded costs” whenever a child leaves a public schools for a publicly funded, non-public school. The public school must still provide the same services for the remaining students, but without that student’s per-pupil allocation.
“So then what happens?” she says. “You have to cut programs, you have to cut sports or you have to raise taxes.”
The study cites Milwaukee, Wisconsin schools as an example, saying the district “has been disproportionately burdened in a statewide voucher funding scheme. The city has raised property taxes several times to ensure adequate funding for the city’s schools.”
Burris traces the origin of the assault on public education funding to a right-wing campaign aimed at enriching investors with money that should go to our schools.
“There’s a lot of money behind privatizing education as a market-based commodity funded by taxpayers,” she says. “We’ll be struggling with these issues for quite a while.”