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One Conservative Parent’s Thoughts on School Choice

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This is a very long, but very important post. I hope you will read and consider it as our current legislative session rolls forward. Yes I wrote it.

Most of you know my political leanings. I’m not shy about sharing them. Most of you are shocked when you hear me say I am against school choice. I want to first say that this is a political issue only because it has been made one. In reality, it is a family issue, a parent issue, and most importantly a child issue. That is what matters and it matters far more than politics.

In it’s current form – or at least the form that is being bantered about in Texas in recent days, ESA (or voucher) funds would be used to provide money to charter schools, private schools and even some homeschoolers. These funds would be derived from public money – your tax dollars. There is, theoretically, a limited amount of tax dollars available to entities for the public good. ie: hospital districts, school districts etc. They operate under budgets constrained by the amount of tax money they have available to them.

Some people want to divvy these funds up, taking them away from public schools and redistribute them to private entities for the purpose of educating kids. On the surface this sounds like a phenomenal idea. Maybe some underprivileged kids could go to private schools. Maybe we can have great charter schools in our communities that will do a better job than the public schools. And even homeschoolers could afford to spend more on curriculum and online education, or hire private teachers with that money. Admittedly there are some low performing public schools, so privatizing schools will force them to compete for students, thereby shutting down the bad schools, and providing alternatives. Please bear with me here, I really want you to understand why so many think this is a great idea. It all sounds wonderful.

Before we go on – please name any instance in history where acceptance of money from the government (dug directly out of taxpayer’s pockets) has not been accompanied with strings or conditions. It does not exist. There is no free government money without restrictions, rules or regulations. Even the money you overpay to the IRS has some condition attached in that you must file a return to get it back. They don’t just hand it back willingly.

Let’s talk about charter schools first. There are some great charter schools. Now suppose that those charters will accept vouchers or ESA funds. Now they are subject to additional rules, regulations and restrictions. What might those strings look like? Limits on curriculum choices for one. Subjecting of charter students to whatever standardized testing the government deems best, and a school grading/rating system for another. STAAR. Sound familiar yet? Salary caps on teachers, excess administrative personnel. Charter schools – even the best charters with the greatest of intentions – would soon start to be just like the public schools we already have. If you love your charter school, you do not want school choice. You want it left alone. So now charter schools have rapidly narrowing profit margins. Eventually charters will begin to go belly up, as regulations increase overhead and decrease profit margins. How will that benefit our kids, or education or the public at large? And how will it benefit the taxpayers who are funding all of this? Are we to bail out these private entities with more tax dollars?

Private schools will not be left out of the red tape either. They don’t have to take the ESA funds – at least not now. EEOC, ACLU, et al will likely come into play at some point, how could they not? The funds are government funds after all. Someone is bound to deem themselves slighted. You have chosen a private school in keeping with your families religious or cultural beliefs. You have paid dearly in tuition and fees, it would be great to have some help with that. But now your carefully chosen private school will be limited to certain curriculums, chosen by the government of course. Add STAAR testing or some iteration of it to that formula. And now what of the separation of state and religion? Here we go again. Furthermore, what family who can’t afford a $16,000 a year private school can now afford it on $3000.00 to $4800.00 in voucher or ESA funds?

Homeschool? Many families do it successfully if not exceptionally well. The Texas State Homeschool Association won’t tell you this as they jump through the hoops of school “choice”, but homeschool families do NOT want government controls, interference or regulation. And the majority of them don’t want voucher or ESA funds either. The tax money paid into schools that they don’t use is frequently thought of as “just leave me alone” money. They don’t have it back now, they don’t want it back later. They simply want to be left alone to keep doing what they are doing. They do not want the state’s involvement and resultant oversight of home education. They do not want any infringement upon a child’s right to learn in a way that works for THAT child. They don’t want anyone to step on their rights to teach their kids whatever they darn well please, without the interference of entities who have no real interest in their kids or families. Furthermore, is 4k in voucher funds the deal breaker in being able to not work so you can homeschool? There are many families who do both successfully.

So lets say this all passes, and that the ESA or voucher system is a great success. We have kids learning great things in charter schools and private schools, homeschool families are scoring great on those tests. Are those charter and private and home schools required to provide special education services? If so, to what percentage of their students? At what cost? Who bears the additional cost? What if the charter (and only) school close to you can’t provide the special education services your child needs? What if the nearest one that can, is 48 miles away? Rationing special education services worked well for kids in Houston, no? So many great charters though. Specialized schools like Winston or Shelton school are only 20k a year – give or take a few thousand. Well there are so many great charter schools that your local public elementary school is now down to 72 students on campus. All in special education programs. Mainstreamed. Like a boss.

If you have not figured it out by now, I am pretty straight forward about it. I am a very conservative leaning libertarian for the most part. That means I want less government involvement in my life wherever I can get it. I find it absurd that our Republican representatives are making this a hill to die on. What part of being a true conservative involves redistributing our money and turning it into other people’s money in a card game? I am still trying to figure that one out. It has the very smelly appearance of a sham that results in the hiding or transfer of tax dollars under the tables of private entities without transparency or accountability.

Why do I care about public schools? If I am so libertarian, why do I care at all about public education? Why should the state even be allowed to educate kids at all? Less government, right? So let’s say the entire public education system – including current charters and public schools, shut down tomorrow. Would people just stop educating their children? There would be some period of chaos and confusion. Some kids would fall through the cracks for certain. But at some point, communities would work together to come up with their own solutions. It would happen. Eventually. How does that serve our kids now though? Oh – and does that mean they will then give us back our tax money? They will. Right?

I can go all the way to the conspiracy theories – Bill Gates, Pearson and the rest. It’s a conspiracy to make society obedient, dumb, dependent blah blah blah. Honestly, if we allow school choice to weasel its way in, in the way it appears to be planned, none of that will matter. What will matter is the absolute and total loss of parental input into the education of our children. Our school rating system and STAAR testing is already a glaring case of the emperor’s new clothes. Parents are beginning to remember THEY have control of their kids – they are waking up. It appears at this point however many of our legislators are resolutely and deliberately blind to these issues. They are doing a great job of creating the biggest elephant in a room I have ever seen. They are choosing instead to focus on the diversion of school “choice” instead of focusing on fixing the things that are actually wrong with our public schools. And data collection on our kids, social emotional learning… I could write an entire OTHER diatribe on these issues but they aren’t what we need to address right now. By pouring the concrete foundation first, those things get eliminated on their own, for lack of merit.

School choice is a misnomer because it is not choice at all – it is more control and intrusion in schools, it is the definancing and debasing of the public school system. It is the dumbing down of the kids in our society who most need to NOT be dumbed down. It is the overarching infiltration, like a cancer, of common core and agendaized education. There is nothing Grassroots about this school choice movement, don’t be fooled. It is being heavily funded by the entities who have a stake in getting their hands on your tax money – YOUR KIDS education money. I don’t know of any better way to say it than that. And for those who are proponents of this “free market” school “choice” solution – how is anything that the government or tax dollars is involved in, a free market, ever?

If you know me, you also know that I don’t mind speaking up about a problem, call it griping if you will. If I gripe about a problem, I also like to propose solutions. So let’s think about this. What could be the fallout if we did the following instead?

– Find a way for public schools within a district and neighboring districts, to compete against each other based on types of curriculum, innovative course offerings, sports or other activities limited to this school or that school. (Does every high school need a drama department?) and gasp – yes – even test scores and graduation rates. A real, validated, proven and experienced test like the IOWA test – not STAAR.

– Do away with federal funding in Texas schools. It is 9% of the budget. It is 100% handcuffs.

– Do away with most standardized testing – this would eliminate the need for the federal handcuff money

– LET TEACHERS TEACH. Teachers are the trained and experienced experts in this equation. Administrators and self-important small time politicians are not. Great teachers do not need a standardized test to know where their students are and what they need – this is even more true when you have smaller classes

– Privatize extracurricular activities and sports. Seems the YMCA and the local leagues are pretty good at that. Let’s let them do it. We don’t really need more coaches or million-dollar football stadiums. We need more teachers. Let’s get our priorities straight. Sell bonds to pay for those things if the place you live desires to do it. But the schools and taxpayers don’t need to fund the rest of the infrastructure and equipment. Not every sport needs to be select or elite either. What happened to fun? Teamwork? Camaraderie?

– Cut down class sizes. Send early elementary kids to class for half a day instead of all day so there can be classes of 10 or 12 kids instead of 22? Or 28, or… 30? In any case, the schools should be focused on education, not on providing taxpayer funded daycare. Schedule high school classes like college classes. There can still be afterschool care programs for parents who work, but kids should have time to be kids. More recess, fewer worksheets.

– Toss the TEA out on it’s ear. defund it, unlegislate it, sundown it, whatever it takes. Leave school districts alone to choose their curriculum and manage their affairs. After all, if they have to compete with bordering or neighboring districts, they will find a way to perform and be cost effective about it. They won’t survive if they don’t. Understandably, some will need some help to do so, and there should be a way to do that, but there should not be endless funding of nepotism, corruption or negligence. A little more stand and deliver, on all levels, a little less pomp, would go a long way towards improving the real foundations of our public schools.

– On the stand and deliver note – give teachers the tools, resources and backing they need to be THAT kind of teacher. There are a lot of them out there. It is the reason why they teach. They can’t be THAT teacher when their hands are tied and test scores are being held over their heads.

In Texas – we already have school choice. We can charter, public, private or home school without anybody telling us which of them we are required to do, and we can currently do it without a lot of government interference. The current public school system has been strangled by over regulation and the handing over of tax money to corporations who provide NO benefit to kids or education. Why do we want MORE of that? Without school “choice”, charters can be free to do what they do, private schools can carry on in private, and homeschoolers can do as they please. Parents can choose for their children whatever they think best. That is true choice. I don’t stand for “School Choice”. I stand for freedom.

PS. I am not a teacher or school administrator, I am a nurse practitioner and I am not employed in education. I am a mother of 5 kids, 4 of whom went to public schools and 1 of whom is home schooled. I have 2 grandchildren in public schools. My interest is personal, not political.

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TEXAS HOME SCHOOL COALITION FLIP FLOPS ON STUDENT TESTING

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FLIP FLOP

In April 2005 Tim Lambert president of the Texas Home School Coalition was contacted by homeschool mother, Kim Hartman with concerns that the passsing of UIL legislation had negative effects on Texas Home School Freedom through testing.  Mr. Lambert responded and assured Mrs. Hartman that there would not be any testing requirement and that they the Texas Home School Coalition would work in killing any such legislation. Unfortunately the Texas Home School Coalition has taken a political flip flop position regarding policy.  The organization has shifted away from protecting Texas Home Schoolers from state testing mandates and data collection to promoting such policies.

 

Tim Lambert’s response letter below….

 

no tebow

 

The Texas Home School Coalition fought unsuccessfully during the 2015 legislative session to pass HB 347 referred to as the TEBOW bill that would require homeschooled students participating in UIL to adhere to state testing. Along with state testing comes Data Collection. Most are not aware of the Texas Student Data System that collects an enormous amount of data on all Texas public school children. This data is available to 3rd parties and is worth big bucks.

Again this past week on January 26th, a Tebow was filed by Texas Senator Van Taylor  SB 640 and the house version was filed by Rep James Frank HB 1323. Once again we now have legislation filed and if passed placing Texas Home School Students under state testing mandates and data collection of home school students for those that choose to participate in UIL. This is a slippery slope to reigning in Texas Home School Students. It is quite unfortunate that Texas Home School Coalition has lost their way.

The home school grassroots are working in forming another group, TEXANS FOR HOME SCHOOL FREEDOM.

Here is their website

Join the Facebook group page…..TEXANS FOR HOMESCHOOL FREEDOM.

follow on Twitter

 

Photo below from Taylor’s SB 640. tebow testing

 

 

 

 

 

 

Below Tim Lambert equates College Placement testing with State Mandated testing of public school students. Seriously?

 

 

Please call your Texas Senators Representatives and tell them to vote NO on the TEBOW bill.

WHO IS MY TEXAS REP?

 

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LT GOV DAN PATRICK THROWS TX HOME SCHOOLERS UNDER THE BUS!

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caution-under-bus

Unfortunately our “supposedly” conservative Texas Lt Governor Dan Patrick and many of our Texas Senators and Representatives are throwing the future generation of Texas Home School families under the bus.  For months now Lt Gov Dan Patrick and other senators and representatives have been making their rounds across the state in hopes of selling their legislative priority of “School Choice” which will ultimately change the landscape of home schooling in Texas.  Though the words “School Choice” sound great please do not be deceived. This “School Choice” initiative should alarm any freedom loving home school family.

 

dan-patrick

Texas Lt Gov Dan Patrick

The proposed Legislation that has yet to be filed intends to set up a State Funded Education Savings Account (ESA) for any student approved. NOTE: This is not you saving your own money like a Health Savings Account. This is the state funding quarterly an undetermined dollar amount to your (ESA) account. This money can be used to attend private school, purchase “STATE APPROVED” curriculum, classes, computers, etc, etc.

 

WHY HOME SCHOOL FAMILIES NEED TO BE CONCERNED

 

  1. With state funds comes govt control and STRINGS with yearly mandated state or norm reference testing. “What if they fail the test are they still eligible for funding”?
  2. ***With testing comes the Data Mining of your child. For those unaware there is a TEXAS STUDENT LONGITUDINAL DATA SYSTEM where public school students personal information is stored and available to 3rd parties. Billions of dollars have been spent from the federal level in collecting student data across the US. Most parents are unaware of this un-nerving fact. Due to a change in the FERPA law there is no longer student privacy.
  3. The funds can only be used to purchase state approved material. Will we able to continue to purchase Christian material in educating our children? If “yes” how long will that last? BELIEVE ME THE LIBERAL ACLU WILL BE ALL OVER THIS!                                                                                                                                                                                                  NOTE:  In 2011 the state passed SB 6 allowing School Districts to purchase any curriculum they wanted being text books, online learning, etc WITHOUT STATE APPROVAL.  With THE SCHOOL CHOICE program you can only purchase  TEACHING MATERIAL FROM STATE APPROVED VENDORS. Who are these approved vendors and who is approving them?
  4. Current home school or private school students will not be eligible to apply for the program. Students would have to enroll and attend public school for and undetermined amount of days prior to being eligible for the funds. Rumor has it would be 100 days. (They have to get you into their student data system first.) Remember this is DATA. DATA DATA DATA!!
  5. ESA accounts will be audited annually (randomly) by a State office to review the “educational expenses” parents pay for with the account in an effort to prevent fraud and abuse. (talk about up front and in your business)

 

Just a few thoughts.

  1. This is just another Socialist liberal wealth redistribution plan under the disguise of “School Choice” More SOCIALISM.
  2. Many of the same state legislators  that have our public schools in shambles today are now pushing school choice. Check out this blog about Senator Larry Taylor who chairs the Texas Senate Education Committee and the role he has played in Texas Education. He did read my blog and left the following comment for me. I did ask hoping he would respond why was my post  considered a conspiracy and that he thought I created in my own mind. I have yet to receive a response. larry-taylor-school-choice
  3. Our legislators have been spending months with paid lobbyist promoting this agenda. Seems to me they are more concerned with funding their pockets and not with their constituents.
  4. You will hear repeatedly the verbiage “This will EMPOWER THE PARENTS to become more involved in their child’s education. I don’t know about you but I was empowered to pull my kids out of the public school without state $$$. Parents who are going to be involved in their child’s education do not need state funds to empower them.

 

 

A MUST SEE… THE REAL GOALS OF SCHOOL CHOICE!!

 

Action Needed

 

  1. Find out who your local Senators and House Reps are and tell them NO to School Choice. Here is a link to find out who they are. http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/Home.asp
  2. Call Lt Governor Dan Patrick’s office @  (512) 463-0001   EMAI: @ LTGConstituent.Affairs@ltgov.state.tx.us
  3. Join this facebook group TEXAS FOR HOMESCHOOL FREEDOM.
  4. I will talk about this more later but I have been very unhappy with the position that Texas Home School Coalition has taken on this initiative. They have come out supporting it and have censored those of us that do not agree by blocking us on their facebook page. I personally left a message for Tim Lambert and have yet to hear from him. I finally called and asked them to refund my membership money which they did. Call and let them know your concerns as well. Ph# (806) 744-4441
  5. Educate your friends and family as to what is taking place.

 

 

UPDATE 1/25/17

I attended the school choice rally in Austin yesterday (Tuesday). I stood there in shock as our Texas Lt.Governor Dan Patrick proclaimed to all these children mostly minorities that “You have to be rich to have school choice” (see video below).  Wow. Did he go to Bernie Sanders Training classes? And we wonder why the younger generation today has the give me mentality that the government owes them everything.

 

 

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Home Schooling Families Spoke Out Against Teen Curfew in Magnolia, Texas

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Thanks the mass emails from the Texas Home School Coalition and Home School Legal Defense Association, Magnolia City Hall was standing room only at their regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday night, July 8, 2014.  On the meeting agenda was scheduled a public hearing to reinstate a teen curfew ordinance for the city of Magnolia.  The city let the ordinance lapse after now holding a public hearing to reinstate it in 2010. So reality the ordinance was inactive. Home school families showed up in droves to let their voices heard. Many adults gave public comments as well as some of their children. In attendance also was Texas HR Steve Toth who opposed the ordinance as well.

Unanimously the room was  against the day time curfew. The council asked for a show how hands who was against the night-time curfew as well and the majority raised their hands. The city the voted to let the ordinance die.

 

I would like to personally say I was well pleased with the council and their generosity in allowing any and all who wanted to speak do so. Magnolia  Police Chief, Domingo Ibarra was extremely gracious and showed concern regarding the ordinance as well. MagnoliaCity Administator, Paul Mendes thanked the audience for coming out and for being so well behaved.

 

The Home School Legal Defense Association is against day-time curfews and outlines why HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Home School Mom Demonized by Texas State Board of Education Member

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I never thought I would be doing what I am doing today and that is fighting for the rights of children in Texas to have a good education. I was fortunate enough to home school my girls which afforded us the ability to travel.  Homeschooling was a personal decision for my husband and I and realize some families are not able to do so. Both my girls went on to finish college and plan on home schooling their children. I believe I can say that home schooling for our family was a huge success. I know many home school families and their children are and have been very successful with their education.

Due to the discovery of a hidden progressive/constructionist curriculum called Cscope in Texas schools, has inspired me to get more involved in educational issues rather public or home school.

Texas State Board of Education member Thomas Ratliff obviously thinks a Home School mom is not capable of running for School Board which is absurd.

His behavior is an embarrassment for the state of Texas and totally unethical. Texas can do better!

Thomas Ratliff

Texas State Board of Education Member
Thomas Ratliff

SAY IT AIN'T SO!

www.votegingerrussell.com

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Gov Perry, Dewhurst, Abbott where are you on Cscope?

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cscope curriculum

 

Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                     ~Vladimir Lenin

One would never imagine that for the last seven years students all across the state of Texas have been indoctrinated with a pro communist, pro Islamic curriculum called CSCOPE.  Here is a list of Cscope School districts in Texas.  Why are our representatives so quiet on the subject? Do our children matter? Does our Freedom matter?  I personally met with LT Gov. Dewhurst and showed him some of the curriculum within Cscope. Thankfully he led the Senate Education Committee into holding a Hearing on Cscope. 

At this time it doesn’t look like the legislative session will be able to shut Cscope down. Having the SBOE review lessons does not fix the fact that Cscope is based on a Marxist Ideology where absolute truth is not taught and everything is relative. The Csope Assessments have nothing to do with the lessons that are given and children are frustrated and not doing well. How sad for their self esteem.  At this moment I am with Glenn Beck, take your kids our of the Public School system and home school them. Our Public School system has become nothing but one bureaucratic mess where administrators are concerned with their pocket books and indoctrinating our children. 

Governor Perry, Lt Gov Dewhurst & Attorney General Greg Abbott where are you on

CSCOPE? We conservatives and the tea party want to know! We want to hear from

you!

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