State (of Emergency) Education Roundup: Charters and Budget Woes

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This week California’s new Superintendent of Public Instruction declared a state of emergency in schools; California, which educates one in eight public school children in America, is staring down a $28 billion budgetary hole. Kristina Rizga has the details on what budget woes mean for educators across the land.

Now that the GOP’s pro-charter school elements have officially landed in the General Assembly, bills allowing the independently run, publicly funded educational facilities have sprung up all over the place this week. Meanwhile, North Carolina tea partiers aim to eliminate caps on the number of charter schools in the state.

On WednesdayThe New York Times hosted a debate on whether Congress should give tax-breaks to parents who home-school their kids, a plan newly elected conservatives are pushing here and here. For more on the tea party’s impending war on schools, read this piece from The Daily Beast’s Dana Goldstein. Tax breaks for home-schoolers raise questions about using public funds for religious instruction, since many parents who homeschool do it for religious and moral reasons. Also at stake is money that could go to public schools, which NY Times commenters note everyone should have a role in paying for since everyone has a vested interest in the greater good. MoJo’s Stephanie Mencimer detailed what Rick Scott’s Florida should expect; in short, privatization. 

How much is a good teacher worth? About $400,000 annually. That’s if you consider the future earnings of 20 students in a class, which a recent study from the National Bureau of Economic Research did recently. According to the abridged, free version of the report:

Replacing the bottom 5-8 percent of teachers with average teachers could move the US near the top of international math and science rankings with a present value of $100 trillion.

The NBER report drives home the point that everyone in the country (people without children included) has a vested interest in the education of kids in their community. HuffPo weighs in with more info.

On Monday, a trial date was set in the case of black children who were improperly placed in Special Ed. Read The Philadelphia Inquirer for more.

Also this week, Kevin Drum reported that teachers now have the option of teaching a censored version of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn that replaces the “n-word” with “slave,”

And, the Advocate reported that a Phoenix-area teenager notified officials at every school in Arizona that if they don’t institute policies prohibiting gay bullying, he’ll file a lawsuit. The emailed letter was sent to more than 5,000 school administrators.

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We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

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