Yesterday, Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush made a guest appearance with Mark Johnson at a Q&A session attempting to highlight positively spun educational reforms in North Carolina.
Alex Granados of EdNC.org reported on it in his recent report “New education organization brings Jeb Bush to town.” He opens,
Grow Great NC, Inc., a new group focused on education reform, kicked off its first official day as an organization yesterday by bringing former Florida governor and presidential candidate Jeb Bush to town. Bush took part in a question and answer session with state Superintendent Mark Johnson at the City Club in downtown Raleigh, and spent much of the time highlighting his state’s educational achievements and congratulating North Carolina leaders on taking Florida’s lead.
“There are 50 state Senate presidents in the country,” Bush said to Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, after the senator introduced him. “I can’t think of one who has done more for education reform than you” (https://www.ednc.org/2018/06/27/new-education-organization-brings-jeb-bush-to-town/).
Grow Great NC will garner its own post at a later date, but it is funny to think that the state now has Grow Great NC and BEST NC working separately. Now we as a state can be best and great at the same time!
Ironically the picture associated with Granados’s piece shows Bush and Johnson at a table with water bottles. If you as a teacher with just three years of classroom experience were at that table with Bush and Johnson, then you would be the most informed person to talk about public education.
For those who are unaware, Jeb Bush is the overall architect and champion of the school performance grading system that NC models it’s program after. Those school performance grades are central to the school report card system that Johnson so eagerly wants to take ownership of.
But those school performance grades are helping advance a politically partisan effort to privatize the North Carolina public school system.
Just follow along.
Public Schools First NC (PSFNC.org), an organization that supports advocacy of public education in North Carolina, regularly sends out very informative factoids through social media that give texture to the landscape of the politics associated with public education.
After the last couple of disastrous budget proposals for public education by the North Carolina General Assembly, it takes a lot of eyes to sift through the muck and make sure that all deficiencies are identified and brought to light because those who made this budget did so behind closed doors without political discourse and with partisan agendas. PSFNC.org is invaluable in that respect.
One of those agendas is to help ensure that vouchers will continue to be funded and expanded at astronomical rates.
Public Schools First NC tweets this graphic every once in a while to remind us about the school performance grades:
Those school performance grades are the ones based on the model developed by Jeb Bush when he was in Florida. It’s disastrous and places a lot of emphasis on achievement scores of amorphous, one-time testing rather than student growth throughout the entire year.
It’s part of the “proficiency versus growth” debate that really came to the forefront during the Betsy DeVos confirmation hearings when she could not delineate between whether test scores are used to measure student “achievement” or student “growth.”
The people who made the decision to keep both the school performance grading system formula where it is and still expand vouchers ABSOLUTELY UNDERSTAND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PROFICIENCY AND GROWTH. IT HELPS TO VALIDATE THEIR WANT OF MORE VOUCHERS.
If one thing is for certain, North Carolina’s school performance grades are a confirmation that student poverty levels have so much to do with how schools perform.
With the tweet, PSFNC.org also has a link to a quick fact “sheet” about school performance grades in North Carolina. It is very much worth a look on any person’s part, especially public school advocates – http://www.publicschoolsfirstnc.org/resources/fact-sheets/quick-facts-a-f-school-performance-grades-2/?platform=hootsuite.
There’s a table in the report that talks about the link between these grades and poverty levels from 2015–16 Performance and Growth of North Carolina Public Schools Executive Summary, NC DPI.
You can also refer to another posting from this blog from last year that talks about the correlation between the grades and state poverty levels – https://caffeinatedrage.com/2016/09/05/map-it-and-it-becomes-very-apparent-that-poverty-affects-schools/.
Interestingly enough, in the school year 2019 2020, the school performance grade scale will shift from a fifteen-point scale to a ten-point scale. Do you know what that means?
IT WILL BE HARDER FOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS TO QUALIFY AS PASSING. IN FACT, SCHOOLS COULD HAVE A HIGHER PERCENTAGE OF STUDENT GROWTH AND STILL GET A LOWER SCHOOL PERFORMANCE GRADE!
There will be more failing schools. This comes from a legislative body that endorsed the state board last school year to institute a ten-point scale for all high school grading systems to help ensure higher graduation rates, but now shrinks scales for those schools’ performance grades.
With policies that still hurt the working poor and those in poverty (which in NC affects over 20% of students) and the refusal to expand Medicaid and the other policies that hurt poorer regions, it is almost certain that poverty will have as much if not a bigger role in school performance grades in the near future.
Guess what else is happening in 2019-2010? Voucher expansion! From a recent budget:
SECTION 6.6.(b) G.S. 115C-562.8(b) reads as rewritten: “(b) The General Assembly finds that, due to the critical need in this State to provide opportunity for school choice for North Carolina students, it is imperative that the State provide an increase of funds of at least ten million dollars ($10,000,000) each fiscal year for 10 years to the Opportunity Scholarship Grant Fund Reserve. Therefore, there is appropriated from the General Fund to the Reserve the following amounts for each fiscal year to be used for the purposes set forth in this section:
Fiscal Year Appropriation
For the 2027-2028 fiscal year and each fiscal year thereafter, there is appropriated from the General Fund to the Reserve the sum of one hundred forty-four million eight hundred forty Page 14 Senate Bill 257-Ratified thousand dollars ($144,840,000) to be used for the purposes set forth in this section. When developing the base budget, as defined by G.S. 143C-1-1, for each fiscal year specified in this subsection, the Director of the Budget shall include the appropriated amount specified in this subsection for that fiscal year.”
Read that first line again: “due to the critical need in this State to provide opportunity for school choice for North Carolina students.”
That “critical need” has been created in part by making sure that many schools look bad – i.e., school performance grades. With a shrinking scale, more schools will “fail” and most of those schools will have higher levels of poverty in their student populations.
Those are exactly the students who will be targeted for expanding vouchers, because the Opportunity Grants are supposed to help “low-income” students.
And look when that expansion will start to take place – the school year of 2018-2019 with another 10 million dollars. However, our state budgets go in cycles of two years. That means that the next budget if the powers that be stay in power can come back and expand vouchers even more.
Starting right when those school performance grades change scales.
They know damn well the difference between proficiency and growth – the less proficient public schools look in the eyes of the public through a lens that the NC General Assembly prescribes, the more growth for vouchers in this state.