National teachers’ unions are campaigning for yet more public school funding as results of the assessment known as the Nation’s Report Card, administered in 2019 – prior to the pandemic – found already struggling students from disadvantaged backgrounds have declined further in both reading and math.
Results of the 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which tested grades 4, 8, and 12, showed that just about one in three U.S. 12th graders read proficiently and less than one in four are proficient in math.
Moreover, already struggling students, in the 25th percentile or lower – many of whom come from low-income families – declined even further in both reading and math, compared to four years ago.
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said in a statement:
Sadly, today’s results confirm America’s schools continue to fall far short, and continue to fail too many kids, especially the most disadvantaged. Being a high school graduate should mean something. But when 40% of these graduates are ‘below basic’ in math, and 30% are ‘below basic’ in reading, it’s hard to argue the education system is preparing them for what comes next.
DeVos noted that “results for our lowest performing and most disadvantaged students” show that situation is worsening.
“Education funding flows most heavily to these students’ schools, but these data make clear money to schools alone will not fix the problem,” she said. “It’s a problem of approach.”
All the unions here — @AFTunion, @FloridaEA, @OsceolaEA and others — we need you all to go out and vote. We need funding for our schools and for our public education system. – @FLSenatorTorres #aftvotes pic.twitter.com/lPAsF87InO
— AFT (@AFTunion) October 30, 2020
President Donald Trump and his administration are advocates of school choice, whereby parents can choose the education setting that is best for their children.
“We must start to act like our national security hinges on fixing this, because it does,” DeVos said. “We must start to act like our economic growth hinges on fixing this, because it does. We must start to act like our very future hinges on solving this now, because it unquestionably does.”
The national test results are released just before Election Day and as the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) is ending a 14-state bus tour in Florida to urge Democrat voters to flip the state, as the Florida Phoenix reported.
AFT has endorsed Joe Biden, who is opposed to school choice:
When we divert public funds to private schools, we undermine the entire public education system. We've got to prioritize investing in our public schools, so every kid in America gets a fair shot. That's why I oppose vouchers. #Espinoza
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) January 23, 2020
Biden also echoed the teachers’ unions call for billions of dollars in more funding for public schools in order to reopen during the pandemic. During a presidential debate with Trump, the former vice president said:
Schools, they need a lot of money to open. They need to deal with ventilation systems. They need to deal with smaller classes, more teachers … and he refused to support that money, or at least up to now.
Randi Weingarten, the union’s president, tweeted Friday about the many social justice causes her union has supported. She did not mention, however, the educational progress of disadvantaged students:
If you’ve marched for #LGBTQ equality, women’s rights, black lives matter or for any of the many things we’ve been in the streets about the past for years, it’s time to take that energy and turn it into action.
Yes. If you've marched for #LGBTQ equality, women's rights, black lives matter or for any of the many things we've been in the streets about the past for years, it's time to take that energy and turn it into action. #AFTvotes https://t.co/1eEYq1waqw
— Randi Weingarten (@rweingarten) October 31, 2020
Instead of embracing charter schools, the Democrat Party’s 2020 platform has called for greater scrutiny of them.
“Democrats believe that education is a public good and should not be saddled with a private profit motive, which is why we will ban for-profit private charter businesses from receiving federal funding,” the platform states, adding that Democrats will use “accountability” regulations to ultimately turn charter schools into regular public schools:
We support measures to increase accountability for charter schools, including by requiring all charter schools to meet the same standards of transparency as traditional public schools, including with regard to civil rights protections, racial equity, admissions practices, disciplinary procedures, and school finances.
— Randi Weingarten (@rweingarten) October 31, 2020
Several recent polls confirm black and Hispanic Americans, as well as whites, overwhelmingly support school choice.
One national poll commissioned by the American Federation for Children in January 2019, found 67 percent of voters support school choice, including 73 percent of Latinos, 67 percent of blacks, and 68 percent of whites.
Another poll released in August 2019 by Education Next found black Democrats approve of targeted vouchers, universal vouchers, and charter schools at 70 percent, 64 percent, and 55 percent, respectively, and Hispanic Democrats approve at 67 percent, 60 percent, and 47 percent.
A third poll, commissioned by school choice proponents Democrats for Education Reform, and released in October 2019, found 81 percent of Democrat primary voters, including 89 percent of black Democrat primary voters, support a proposal to “expand access to more choices and options within the public-school system,” including charter schools.
Yet another survey released at the end of September by the Manhattan Institute also revealed 66-70 percent of likely voters in five battleground states either strongly or somewhat supported the concept of publicly funded K-12 school choice. Moreover, support for publicly funded school choice was higher among blacks, at 65-77 percent.
A coalition of black pastors in Kentucky met with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and the Bluegrass Institute (BIPPS) this week to call for “immediate education reform – including school choice,” BIPPS reported.
Pastor Derek Wilson of the Spirit of Love Center, helped found Destiny Academy, which has begun its third year of educating low-income students.
According to BIPPS, Wilson explained his church started the school because they “were tired of seeing so many young African-American children fall through the cracks.”
The pastor added he believes the county public school system has shown a form of “institutional racism” and that its monopoly on the education system has led to much of the devastation in the black community.