West Virginia’s War on Public Schools

The West Virginia legislature is continuing an unprecedented assault on public education. Just days after pulling back the largest expansion of school vouchers in the country, the House of Delegates passed a new version of a voucher plan.

Here’s more on that effort from the Charleston Gazette-Mail:

The West Virginia House of Delegates passed Thursday legislation providing an estimated $4,600 per student, per year to every family for every child they remove from public schools to home- or private-school them.

That near-universal eligibility for these non-public school vouchers is likely unprecedented among these types of programs in other states.

Parents would be required to spend these vouchers on educational expenses, like tuition at religious or other private schools, online schooling, tutoring or textbooks, though the list of allowed expenses would be nearly unlimited.

Additionally, over time, the bill would subsidize more and more families who never had their children in public schools at all.

It seems that school privatizers are working around the clock around the country to funnel public money into private hands.

A story out of Indiana notes that state is struggling to find new teachers. This is in part due to a severe loss of funding for public schools over the last decade.

More from Chalkbeat on the teacher crisis:

Only 1 in 6 students who pursued bachelor’s degrees in education at state colleges and universities ended up working as teachers, according to a new report on Indiana’s teacher pipeline that followed students who entered college from 2010 to 2012.

The Education Law Center notes that the state lost $8 billion in investment in schools from 2008–2019 due to the aftermath of the Great Recession and an unwillingness to make up the funding gap. That means schools there are now underfunded by about $1 billion annually.

The state does have a robust voucher scheme, however. In fact, as I noted over at The Education Report:

A report indicates that a proposed expansion of that state’s voucher scheme will eat up 1/3 of all new investment in schools in the state budget. That’s right, Indiana’s voucher scheme, already the source of massive local property tax increases, may now become like a hungry monster eating away at state funds for public schools, even as lawmakers tell voters they’re “fully funding” the education formula there.

Tennessee is facing its own crisis in finding teachers. There, a Nashville school board member (Abigail Tylor) is calling it out:

Although Gov Lee finally followed through on a teacher raise, it amounts to .10 on the dollar. TN has $3.1 billion in our reserves. $2 billion of that could easily be used to increase teacher pay w/out raising taxes 1cent. He’s choosing not to pay our teachers living wages.

In a final note, Peter Greene points out Arizona’s continued assault on public school teachers:

Arizona has lost its damn mind, this week passing some of the stupidest, most aggressively anti-public ed laws anywhere, including an absolutely insane law requiring teachers to file lesson plans a year in advance.

All of this serves as a stark reminder that public education advocates must remain vigilant in our efforts to both defend public schools and also encourage further support for and investment in them.

For more on education issues, follow Andy Spears

Writer and policy advocate living in Nashville, TN

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