Welcome to Cashing in on Kids, a newsletter for people concerned about the privatization of America’s public schools—produced by In the Public Interest.
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Trump to seek private, religious school scholarships in next recovery bill. Word is, the Trump administration plans to demand that Congress devote part of the state and local education funding in the next COVID-19 relief package to a new grant program for private and religious schools. Grants would be provided to states to distribute to nonprofits that disburse scholarships to qualified students who want to attend non-public schools.
Parroting the language of “school choice,” Trump administration counselor Kellyanne Conway said, “We’re trying to give these kids just another opportunity and provide their parents with another option.”
Is the timing just a coincidence? Today marks the anniversary of the signing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which ended racial segregation in schools among other groundbreaking legal changes. Trump has continually connected school privatization with civil rights. He recently called school choice the “the civil rights of all time in this country.”
Meanwhile, public education systems are struggling nationwide, as the pandemic batters state and local government revenues. Mississippi just passed a 2021 budget that cuts more than $70 million for public education. New York City cut arts education in schools by 70 percent. McClatchy DC
The Supreme Court just eroded the separation between church and state. “On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision that was once unthinkable. It required the state of Montana to set aside its own constitution’s ban on direct or indirect funding of religious private schools,” writes the National Education Policy Center’s Kevin Welner. The Washington Post
Enrollment flattens, yet costs rise. A new report has revealed that even though enrollment in Indiana’s private school voucher program remains flat, the overall cost is increasing. Indiana’s Choice Scholarship Program cost $172.7 million in scholarships to 36,707 students for the 2019-20 school year, that’s several hundred additional students and $11.3 million more than last school year. Indiana Public Media
Pennsylvania could save $100 million. A new report from Education Voters of Pennsylvania exposes how charter schools in the Keystone State are using students with special needs to game the system. “The Pennsylvania legislature could fix the problem pretty simply; just apply the same funding system to both public and charter schools,” writes education writer Peter Greene. “The report shows that this would save taxpayers roughly $100 million.” Forbes
DeSantis expands Florida’s school voucher program. Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has expanded the state’s multi-million-dollar school voucher and scholarship programs, which quadruples the rate at which vouchers will grow annually. Tampa Bay Times