Tuesday, April 2, 2013

In Virginia, the Right Wing Tries To Take Over Schools

Will the Virginia General Assembly drown our schools?
If you believe that the Texas school board's screwing around with textbooks is the most egregious example of government interference with education (and with accuracy) in the country, you're probably right ... at this moment. A group of Virginia right-wingers is challenging that dubious achievement with what is being called the Opportunity Education Institution. Under that arrangement, the governor's appointees--and remember who the governor is--would take over schools with low test schools on tests that can easily be manipulated by the right to reflect its valueless values.

Blogger Rachael Levy (here) tells us that this legislation, creates an educational public nightmare. Funding would be provided for the board with the usual range of taxes and even the schools' local governing bodies would be represented on the board, but they would not have the power to make decisions. Current teachers would have to apply for teaching positions if they wanted them, but teachers at these schools would not have to be licensed. They wouldn't be entitled to benefits, pay or job protections the state's teachers receive. On the flip side of that, the people who run the program--but don't teach--would get the benefits of the Virginia Retirement System.

Levy says the schools' tests are being changed and made more difficult to pass, pushing more schools into the takeover domain. Levy says the New Orleans model for charger schools (which generally are rated D or F) would be the Virginia model.

Writes Lvey: "Finally, eliminating democratic institution and processes in a democratic society is not a cure for dysfunction or low test scores. Certainly, mass failure on the SOL tests signals a problem, but before the state blames and disenfranchises school communities, it really needs to figure out what that problem is and then target its resources accordingly. While many majority poor schools do just fine on standardized tests, I think we all know that the schools with low standardized test scores are often majority poor."

Those against the bill, which will come up tomorrow as the General Assembly gathers again in Richmond, are many and varied, but my experience with the right is that it doesn't give a hairy bear's butt what opposition thinks. Everybody needs to pause and look at this blatant attempt by the right to take over the schools and their young minds.

(Photo: ohiohistory.org)

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