School’s out forever
October 22, 2017 6:06 PM   Subscribe

Schools Without Rules: An Orlando Sentinel Investigation (Leslie Postal, Beth Kassab and Annie Martin, Orlando Sentinel): The Orlando Sentinel spent months reporting on Florida’s scholarship programs, which will send nearly $1 billion to private schools this year. The Sentinel also reviewed thousands of pages of Florida Department of Education documents, court records and other materials in addition to interviewing dozens of people, including parents, students, school operators and policy experts.

Part 1/3: Florida private schools get nearly $1 billion in state scholarships with little oversight, Sentinel finds: Florida private schools will collect nearly $1 billion in state-backed scholarships this year so weakly regulated that some schools hire teachers without college degrees.

Part 2/3: Orlando private school with troubled history took millions of dollars in state scholarships: Agape Christian Academy took $5.6 million in state-backed scholarships during the past five years as the private school repeatedly violated the few rules that govern Florida’s scholarship program.

Part 3/3: After student alleges abuse, principal shutters one private school, opens another: How one Brevard County private school operator was able to continue benefiting from public vouchers and tax credits even after one of his schools was shut down.

Florida's school voucher and scholarship programs face little oversight [video]: Florida provides little oversight of its scholarship programs for private schools, often called school vouchers, that some schools hire teachers without college degrees, hold classes in aging strip malls and falsify fire or health records.

Florida private schools: Readers share their experiences, views: Parents, educators, advocates and others have responded to the Orlando Sentinel’s investigative project on Florida’s scholarship programs, which will send nearly $1 billion to private schools this year, by sharing their own experiences and views.
posted by Room 641-A (6 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
I remember my parents telling me that one reason they decided not to stay in Florida after moving there when I was very young was how proudly the newspaper proclaimed that the state’s schools had moved up to no. 49 in the country. Shame that things still seem to be kind of a mess down there.
posted by DoctorFedora at 6:31 PM on October 22, 2017 [6 favorites]

It's interesting: there's a NYT profile today of Susan Fowler, who wrote that blog post about how working at Uber was sexual harassment central, and it turns out that she was the victim of really extreme educational neglect. Her extremely religious parents supposedly homeschooled her, but it sounds like they basically didn't bother, and she spent a lot of time at the library trying to learn things on her own, which eventually led to her fighting her way to a physics degree at the University of Pennsylvania. And it struck me, reading that, that I've heard about a fair number of victims of extreme educational neglect who end up being really kind of intellectually amazing. You probably don't hear as much about the kids who never learn to read, but some kids seem to really thrive when they're basically told to go to the library and educate themselves. But the schools described in the first article are the worst of both worlds. They're extreme educational neglect, in the sense that kids aren't being taught a real curriculum and aren't being taught by qualified teachers, but they also bog kids down with a ton of busywork, so they never get any chance to learn anything for themselves. I almost wonder if they'd be better off being dumped at the library and told to do what they pleased or dropped off at a babysitter's with no pretensions towards being school.

I don't blame parents, because they're choosing between terrible options. But there has to be something better than either terrible public schools and private schools that teach creationism and employ teachers who haven't graduated from college.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:14 PM on October 22, 2017 [11 favorites]

Take heart, Florida! Your number 49 is about to become the national standard.
posted by homerica at 9:12 PM on October 22, 2017

You know, many of Florida's public schools provide a good education. It isn't a choice between fundamentalist neglect and learning nothing in a zoo where your kid is going to be stabbed at least twice before graduating high school.

The entire voucher program exists to enrich sleazebags and give religious people state money to teach their kids "biblically," as well as to kneecap public school funding so Republicans can say they are failing. Its entire purpose is to make things worse.
posted by wierdo at 5:43 AM on October 23, 2017 [6 favorites]

The entire purpose of any voucher system or any other system that takes funding away from public schools and gives it to alternatives is to make things worse.

Remember that one of the goals many conservatives explicitly endorse is ending public education entirely.

Texas state Rep Debbie Riddle put it most bluntly:
"Where did this idea come from that everybody deserves free education, free medical care, free whatever? It comes from Moscow, from Russia. It comes straight out of the pit of hell. And it's cleverly disguised as having a tender heart, [but] it's ripping the heart out of this country."
Most aren't quite so open in their utter hatred of public education, but it is a sentiment shared by a huge number of Republican voters and government officials. Including our current Secretary of Education, who seems to view her job as destroying public schools.
posted by sotonohito at 6:04 AM on October 23, 2017 [2 favorites]

You know, many of Florida's public schools provide a good education.
Of course they do. Many of the kids who use vouchers don't have access to those schools, though. One of the huge virtues of newly-certified official genius Nikole Hannah-Jones is to put school vouchers into a larger context of a wholesale abandonment of the public in public education, which includes not just formal privatization but also increased racial and economic segregation; the rise of selective-admission public schools; and magnet and school-choice programs that favor parents with the time and know-how to work the system, who in practice tend to be middle-class-and-above. Vouchers are only available to low-income children and children with disabilities, and they're a shitty escape from a shitty situation, very much unlike the options that the system is designed to give to more-privileged families. And if your kid goes to a lovely, successful, well-resourced public school, then maybe it's worth thinking about the bigger picture, rather than blaming less-fortunate parents for doing the best they can in a comprehensively rigged system.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:59 AM on October 23, 2017

« Older Lick your own cat   |   The bloody rise and frightful fall of Fangoria Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments