Thursday, February 02, 2023

"Vouchers Are Not About School Choice. Here's How We Know," by Peter Greene

I like how Peter Greene lays his argument against vouchers bare: 

"It's about not having to pay taxes to educate Those People's Children" (while using those people's tax dollars to cover their children's private school education). 

Thanks to Diane Ravitch for sharing.

 -Angela Valenzuela

Wednesday, January 25, 2023 | Curmudgucation

The new wave of voucher bills being rammed through red state legislatures all demonstrate a truth about school voucher policies-- vouchers are not about choice. They're about peeling people away from the public school system in order to defund and dismantle that system.

What makes me think so? Here it is. Sometimes it's not about what people say, but about what they don't say. If the concern were really and truly choice for every student, then voucher fans would be addressing some of the real obstacles to school choice. 
This door doesn't lead where they told you it would. 

 For one, they would be addressing discriminatory and exclusionary policies. Yet when have we ever heard a voucher supporter say, "These discriminatory policies have to stop. LGBTQ+ students deserve just as much school choice as any other students." The closest thing we ever get is "Well, then they can start an LGBTQ-friendly school of their own." Yet when that happens, pro-voucher politicians target that school with terms like "perversion." And of course in some states, such a school can never happen because talking about LGBTQ students or Black history has been outlawed. And voucher laws are written to hold the private school right to discriminate as it wishes inviolable. 

If someone were serious about voucher based choice, they would also address cost. Vouchers are typically far too small to pay for tuition to top schools in the state. If voucher supporters were really interested in making sure that, as Jeb Bush says, "each and every...student can access the education of their choice," there would be a robust discussion about how to bridge the gap between meager vouchers and expensive schools. 

 Yet we never hear voucher advocates saying, "We need to find the way to fully fund vouchers so that they provide a real choice to students." 

Choice advocates like to point at the inequity of the public system--parent choice is limited by their ability to buy an expensive house in a wealthy neighborhood. But the current crop of voucher programs doesn't change that a bit--a voucher offers little to change the fact that how much "freedom" you get depends on how wealthy you are. It has been done. 

But when Croydon, NH set up a school choice program, a voucher-like system that bore the full cost of sending a student to the school of their choice, local libertarians tried to shut it down because they wanted lower taxes. 

 Voucher fans love the idea of school choice; they just don't want to actually pay for it. If these folks were serious about school choice via vouchers, we would have calls for oversight and accountability. It would make a choice system that much more attractive for parents to know that all the available options have been vetted and screened and will be held to some standards, just like shopping in a grocery store where you can rest easy in near-certainty that whatever you pick, it's not going to actually poison your family. And yet not only do voucher fans not call for oversight and accountability, but they actively block it with language that hammers home that nobody can tell vendors what to do or how to do it.

Voucherphiles like to call their system child-centered, but in fact it is vendor-centered, with "protections" for the service providers written into the law, and protections for the students non-existent. Parents are left to navigate an unregulated system of asymmetrical information that favors the businesses-- not the families. 

 If we were really talking about school choice, we would be talking about these ideas. Choice advocates would be demanding we talk about them. But we're not. 

 Vouchers are not about choice. They're about saying, "I'll give you a couple grand to sign away your rights to a free and appropriate public education." 

They're about using that deal to get one step closer to Milton Friedman's dream of education being a cost shouldered by parents, not society. In other words, not just privatizing the delivery of education, but also privatizing the responsibility for it. 

 It's about not having to pay taxes to educate Those People's Children. If at the same time we can use some taxpayer dollars (collected from Other People) to also further some "Kingdon Gains" and fund some private religious schools (just the Right Ones), that's a win-win. 

 I'll end with my usual caveat--there are undoubtedly some folks out there who sincerely believe that vouchers are a good way to a pursue real school choice. Believe it or not, I myself can imagine what a true functional and beneficial school choice system would look like. And it wouldn't look anything like what has been ramming its way through state legislatures in the past few years. 

 Posted by Peter Greene at Wednesday, January 25, 2023 Email This BlogThis! Share to Twitter Share to Facebook Share to Pinterest

The University of Texas System Rules and Regulations of the Board of Regents Rule: 31004 on Academic Freedom

UT System Friends and Colleagues:

Time to dust off the UT System's Academic Freedom policy as per the University of Texas System of Rules and Regulations (Rule 31004). 

Academic freedom is the kind of policy area that we all take for granted until we realized that there are some in power that want to take it down. The legislature is in session right now and here are the bills that have bearing on the matter as follows:

HB 1607 and 1006, Here is a cool link furnished by to every bill that's been filed to date in the House and Senate in context of the current 88th (2023) Texas Legislative Session. HB 1033 and HB 1046 have negative implications for all higher education Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion positions, together with DEI training.

It's a very good thing for us faculty to know our rights, as well as what is at risk across the various bill proposals. Plus, forewarned is forearmed.

-Angela Valenzuela

The University of Texas System Rules and Regulations of the Board of Regents Rule: 31004 

 1. Title 

Rights and Responsibilities of Faculty Members 

2. Rule and Regulation 

Sec. 1 Freedom in Research. Faculty members are entitled to full freedom in research and in the publication of the results. 

Sec. 2 Freedom in the Classroom. Faculty members are entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing his or her subject, but are expected not to introduce into their teaching controversial matter that has no relation to his or her subject. 

Sec. 3 Clarification of Role. Faculty members are citizens, members of learned professions, and officers of an educational institution supported by the State of Texas. When the faculty member speaks or writes as a citizen, he or she should be free from institutional censorship or discipline, but should make it plain that the faculty member is not an institutional spokesperson. 

Sec. 4 Primary Duties. The primary duties of a member of the faculty are to: 

4.1 Teaching. Teach in the classroom, laboratory, seminar, or clinical setting. 

4.2 Research. Study, investigate, discover, create, and develop professionally. 

4.3 Administration. Perform curricular tasks auxiliary to teaching and research, e.g., serving on faculty committees, attending to administrative and disciplinary tasks, fostering intellectual curiosity and integrity in the student body. 

4.4 Contribution to Society. Use their professional expertise to benefit society. 

Sec. 5 Compensation Restriction. Full-time faculty or staff of the rank of instructor or above on 12-month appointments may receive additional compensation for correspondence course and/or extension center teaching, but may not receive additional compensation for summer school teaching. Full-time faculty on nine-month appointments may receive additional compensation The University of Texas System Rules and Regulations of the Board of Regents Rule: 31004  for correspondence course and/or extension center teaching during the nine-month period and also may be paid for summer school teaching. 

Sec. 6 Textbook and Course Materials. The policy of the Board of Regents concerning textbooks and other materials prescribed for the use of students is as follows: 

6.1 Choice of Materials. Individual faculty members or the department should have discretion in the choice of materials to be used in the courses offered by the department. 

Sec. 7 Materials Authored by Faculty. Although the authorship of books, outlines, manuals, and similar materials by members of the faculty and staff should be encouraged, the prescribed use of these for students is a responsibility that goes beyond that of the individual author. Whenever an approved fee includes a charge for such materials distributed through the classroom, the prices should be as low as possible, consistent with the payment of any required royalty to the author or authors. 

7.1 Required Approval. Textbooks, notebooks, manuals, or other materials for the use of students of an institution, written or prepared by a member of the faculty of that institution, shall not be prescribed for the use of students in that institution or sold to such students until approved by the dean, chief academic officer, and president of an institution, pursuant to policies included in the institutional Handbook of Operating Procedures. At a minimum, these policies should provide for consultation with departmental faculty. 

Sec. 8 Nonsectarian. In accordance with Texas Education Code Section 65.38, no course of instruction of a sectarian character shall be taught in the System. 

Sec. 9 Fees. Faculty members without previous and special approval of the Board of Regents, shall not collect from students any fees or charges to be expended for institutional purposes, and shall not sell to students books, notes, or similar student supplies. 

9.1 Prohibited Fees. A member of the faculty may not accept pay for extra instruction or teaching of students registered in the institution where he or she is employed.The University of Texas System Rules and Regulations of the Board of Regents Rule: 31004

9.2 Allowed Fees. With written approval, teaching assistants and other like instructional employees below the rank of an instructor may accept pay from students for extra-class instruction or coaching but only in courses or sections of courses with which they have no instructional connection. The Handbook of Operating Procedures of the institution shall specify the procedure for approval at the institutional level. 

3. Definitions 


4. Relevant Federal and State Statutes 

Texas Education Code Section 65.38– Nonsectarian Courses 

5. Relevant System Policies, Procedures, and Forms 


6. Who Should Know 


7. System Administration Office(s) Responsible for Rule 

Office of Academic Affairs 

Office of Health Affairs


8. Dates Approved or Amended 

December 10, 2004 

9. Contact Information 

Questions or comments regarding this Rule should be directed to: 


At parental rights event, Gov. Greg Abbott sheds light on how he’d implement “school choice” policy

This is harmful policy. There is no permanent, independent funding stream for vouchers. It all comes out of the same taxes that fund public schools. Yes, our taxes. The public's dollars.

Under the guise of "freedom" and "choice," this means that my hard-earned tax dollars get diverted away from funding my neighborhood public school and directly into the pockets of wealthy families who were already sending their kids to private schools.

Members of the Texas legislature should not allow themselves to get arm-twisted into supporting this privatization agenda and focus instead on increasing funding for public schools instead.

-Angela Valenzuela

#TxLege #TxEd

At parental rights event, Gov. Greg Abbott sheds light on how he’d implement “school choice” policy

For the first time, Abbott makes it clear which policy he supports. Bills that would allow parents to get state money to send their kids to schools outside of the state’s public education system have been floated previously, but top lawmakers believe the policies will pass this session.

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Watch Alex Wagner Tonight Highlights: Jan. 25 on DeSantis' banning of AP African American Studies

Beginning at 1:38 on the meter of this youtube video, MSNBC host Alex Wagner addresses Florida Governor Ron DeSantis' book banning, policing curriculum, morphed into his banning of AP African American Studies. 

Listen to civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump and Frederick Ingram, Secretary Treasure of the American Federation of Teachers, speak powerfully against this. Note that DeSantis' decision fell flagrantly on the the eve of Black History Month that begins tomorrow on February 1st and on the heels of the commemoration of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday. 

So incredibly offensive and enraging. According to Ingram, these actions have led to many Florida teachers leaving the classroom as a consequence. How can teachers not be discouraged when they fear teaching the truths of history like slavery, reconstruction, civil rights history, and the like—all that "dangerous knowledge" about which we know well.

We have our own fish to fry here in Texas. Everyone should reach out to whoever represents them and express support for Rep. Christina Morales' House Bill 45 that will create a pathway to high school graduation that includes African American Studies, Mexican American Studies, and Ethnic Studies, generally.

Go to this link to find out who represents you here in Texas if you don't already know. This is winnable, but we need everybody involved.

-Angela Valenzuela

Important, must-see CNN documentary titled, "Deep in the Pockets of Texas"

Students, Friends, and Colleagues:

Re-posting this important CNN documentary titled, "Deep in the Pockets of Texas," that might be something to do on this blistery cold day in Texas. 

It's illuminating, to say the least, about the rightward shift of Texas Republican party politics—out of step, incidentally, with most Texans and the nation.

It's about "policy for sale" via the bankrolling of campaigns of extremist candidates—many of them, nobodies—who get funding pending their passage of a litmus test regarding just how much they oppose gays, transgender kids, women's reproductive freedom, and other signature issues of the  republican right in Texas. To wit, according to a June 2, 2022 Navigator poll, Hispanics, who are stereotyped as conservative on such matters as abortion are largely pro-choice (61%) as opposed to pro-life (29%)—8 percent undecided.

Really wealthy evangelical white people on a mission are behind this. Wealthy people. We totally need to reform all this very influential dark money in politics. This begins with voting, as well as the passage of laws that open up the vote to all Texans.

This is the long game. A first step for me today is supporting Blue Texas that represents a collaboration between Power the Vote the proved influential in Georgia, and Every State Blue that has inspired grassroots efforts, providing resources to state legislative nominees together with resources to secure the vote in every district everywhere. Particularly with a great ground strategy, there is always hope. Plus, we really have no choice but to organize.

-Angela Valenzuela



Texas: Two Billionaires Want to Destroy 

Public Education and Replace It With 

Christian Schools

Inside The Online Community Where Home-Schoolers Learn How To Turn Their Kids Into ‘Wonderful Nazis’, by Christopher Mathias

Disgusting, heartbreaking, profoundly racist, and anti-semitic. Using their own words, who the heck are the "Gay Afro Zionist scum" running the schools? A figment of their own imaginations, to be sure.

Geez, "Nazi homeschooling." This is what happens when homeschooling is completely unregulated with zero enforcement mechanisms of any regulations they do have. 

Poor children. They don't know anything different from hating people who are different from them. What a disservice. How irresponsible these adults who live in fear, holding contempt toward those whom they see as "other," less than. What a dystopian world to live in and to create. And for this to be the core of their curriculum is shameless and vulgar. Othering, othering, othering. Dehumanizing the other. So bankrupt. So evil. So sad.

In addition to neo-Nazi homeschooling our free-market-ideology legislatures simultaneously packed with authoritarian, religious-right populists are regelating our youth and society to the Dark Ages with educations that they themselves would never subject their own children to. Such hypocrisy. 

These communities need to wake up and see how they're getting played—and very much to their own, and their children's, detriment. Nothing good will come of this. Exposés like these are nevertheless helpful.

Angela Valenzuela

Inside The Online Community Where Home-Schoolers Learn How To Turn Their Kids Into ‘Wonderful Nazis’  

A Telegram group called Dissident Homeschool has been a resource for neo-Nazis who want to teach their kids hate at home. Now its administrators have been unmasked.

The Dissident Homeschool channel on Telegram shares "Nazi-approved material" for home schooling.

 On Nov. 5, 2021, a married couple calling themselves “Mr. and Mrs. Saxon” appeared on the neo-Nazi podcast “Achtung Amerikaner” to plug a new project: a social media channel dedicated to helping American parents home-school their children.

“We are so deeply invested into making sure that that child becomes a wonderful Nazi,” Mrs. Saxon told the podcast’s host. “And by home-schooling, we’re going to get that done.”

The Saxons said they launched the “Dissident Homeschool” channel on Telegram after years of searching for and developing “Nazi-approved material” for their own home-schooled children — material they were eager to share.

The Dissident Homeschool channel — which now has nearly 2,500 subscribers — is replete with this material, including ready-made lesson plans authored by the Saxons on various subjects, like Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee (a “grand role model for young, white men”) and Martin Luther King Jr. (“the antithesis of our civilization and our people”).

There are copywork assignments available for parents to print out, so that their children can learn cursive by writing out quotes from Adolf Hitler. There are recommended reading lists with bits of advice like “do not give them Jewish media content,” and there are tips for ensuring that home-schooling parents are in “full compliance with the law” so that “the state” doesn’t interfere.

The Saxons also frequently update their followers on their progress home-schooling their own children. In one since-deleted post to Telegram, they posted an audio message of their kids shouting “Sieg Heil” — the German phrase for “hail victory” that was used by the Nazis.

Over the past year, the Dissident Homeschool channel has become a community for like-minded fascists who see home schooling as integral to whites wresting control of America. The Saxons created this community while hiding behind a fake last name, but HuffPost has reviewed evidence indicating they are Logan and Katja Lawrence of Upper Sandusky, Ohio. Logan, until earlier this week, worked for his family’s insurance company while Katja taught the kids at home.

The Anonymous Comrades Collective, a group of anti-fascist researchers, first uncovered evidence suggesting the Lawrences are behind Dissident Homeschool. HuffPost has verified the collective’s research.

The Lawrences did not respond to repeated requests for comment made via phone calls, text messages and emails. A HuffPost reporter also left a message in the Dissident Homeschool channel asking Mr. and Mrs. Saxon for comment about the Anonymous Comrades Collective’s research. That message was immediately deleted by the channel’s administrators, who then disabled the channel’s comment and chat functions.

A short time later, Katja Lawrence deleted her Facebook page.

Although the Lawrences will now surely face some public scorn and accountability, it’s likely their neo-Nazi curriculum is legal. A concerted, decades-long campaign by right-wing Christian groups to deregulate home schooling has afforded parents wide latitude in how they teach their kids — even if that means indoctrinating them with explicit fascism.

Meanwhile major right-wing figures are increasingly promoting home schooling as a way to save children from alleged “wokeness” — or liberal ideas about race and gender — in public and private schools. As extreme as the Dissident Homeschool channel is, the propaganda it shares targeting the American education system is just a more explicit and crass articulation of talking points made by Fox News hosts or by major figures in the Republican Party.

“Without homeschooling our children,” Mrs. Saxon once wrote, “our children are left defenseless to the schools and the Gay Afro Zionist scum that run them.”

Monday, January 30, 2023

“Almost everyone is calling for ‘Mommy’ or ‘Mama’ with the last breath," by Jason Stanford

Yesterday evening, I viewed a video of Tyre Nichols' screams for his mother. It was crushing, bringing me to tears. He screamed in anguish for his mother as police officers brutally and senselessly beat him, taking his life away.

Later, I came across this poignant reflection by Jason Stanford on Tyre Nichols' last words on his blog, The ExperimentStanford mentions this 2018 essay in Der Spiegel where a hospice nurse observes a pattern of ‘Mommy’ or ‘Mama’ being men's last words. 

I can't get past the Der Spiegel paywall to learn more about this, but it sounds plausible. However, why this may be more particular to men than women is curious. After all, as the late Adrienne Rich once wrote, as humans, all of humanity shares in the experience of being Of Woman Born, also the title of her pioneering feminist book on motherhood.

Mom, Mommy, Mama, Mami.  

Lots of feelings yesterday and today, cascading into deep wells of memory filled with acceptance, friendship, affection, and most of all unconditional love—as I remember my own late mother whose birthday is tomorrow, January 31st. 

Happy birthday, Mom. It's so hard to believe that you left us 17 years ago in 2005. A day doesn't go by that I don't think about you.

I wish I could say that the world is in a better place when you left us, but I'm
actually not so sure about that. I think of Nichols' mother, and how her son meant the world to her and vice-versa. What is tried and true is the enduring love, presence and power of our mommies—especially ones like you. 💕

-Angela Valenzuela


“Almost everyone is calling for ‘Mommy’ or ‘Mama’ with the last breath.”

Tyre Williams called out for his mother as the police beat him to death.