MinED & BlockED
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The Ominous Draconian Other Shoe Drops, Privatization, the Trump Budget, & How Blockchain Could Save the Day, AGAIN

I am at a loss after reading the article on the Trump Education Policy and the proposed De Vos policy itself. I will address my viewpoint from a neutral stakeholder that everyone, whether parent, student, teacher, or taxpayer, should be, as we all should be on the same side, the side of the children. The areas on the chopping block which concern me most, oh, yes, every one of them listed, because what it represents is the largest fear of educators to date. Something that was akin to the same sucker punch after the November election of Gov. Walker in 2010, the De Vos nomination and subsequent appointment.

The anticipation of this budget, the poster child for privatization, has kept countless educators up long hours as something that we have all been waiting for; I choose to call it the Ominous Draconian Other Shoe Dropping; you may know it as privatization. While I have alluded to this in my earlier articles many times, it is only fair to restate that this is about Education, not Unions. Further, it is not about the union salary, it is about what the union gave the professionalism of teaching. Here, again, we have an annihilation of public education monies, which are then funneled to private unproven models that can ignore federal laws because they are just that, private.

On Bended Knee How Privatization & Precarious Purpose Unknowingly Promulgate Education

For a clear example of this, think of On Bended Knee, the Divisive NFL Quandary, ironically also a Trump stirred controversy. Now, it does not matter if you are for or against the NFL players kneeling during the Pledge, I am using this to illustrate a larger point regarding the difference between public and private education rights.

What would happen if we forced public school children to stay standing during the recitation? A quick look into the history of the law and the Supreme Court rulings demonstrate this is Unconstitutional, because of the nature of public entities, and the intersection of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment. In short, the same actions would have very different rights afforded, in public schools, we would be violating students’ rights, and most likely there would be a lawsuit, or several filed, because the federal laws of anti-discrimination are tied to public entities.

Herein lies the problem, the Trump budget funnels the public monies to the private sector. Therefore, budget sentiment such as this have pervasive implications beyond the mere assault on education as cited in the article, The Trump-DeVos Budget Would Dismantle Public Education, Hurting Vulnerable Kids, Working Families, and Teachers,

The Trump budget would slash $9 billion — 13 percent of the U.S. Department of Education’s funding — while investing $1.4 billion of new money in school choice, including private school vouchers, sending a clear signal that the Trump administration prioritizes ideologically driven voucher schemes over great public schools.

At this point, you may be perseverating on the impact of the Pledge & the Knee, however you feel, again, I am using this issue to demonstrate the difference between public and private entities. Multiple Courts have upheld the Unconstitutionality of these conformative policies thereof in public schools dating back to the 1940’s, and as summarized in the article, Flag Salute from the New Jersey Public School Administration.

In 1943, the United States Supreme Court ruled on a landmark case, West Virginia v. Barnette, where the Court found that a requirement by a State Board of Education or a local Board of Education that all pupils salute the flag is unconstitutional,

“We think the action of the local authorities in compelling the flag salute and pledge transcends constitutional limitations on their power and invades the sphere of intellect and spirit which it is the purpose of the First Amendment to our Constitution to reserve from all official control….

If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.”

Even today, and as evident above, these issues are still prevalent. In March 2017, a Chicago student was told by a teacher to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, that teacher was fired, but as typical, there is more to the story, see, ’ Eisenhower teacher fired over allegedly ‘bullying’ student into standing for Pledge, while the teacher allegedly gave the student a simple choice, that is not how the parent took it because of a compilation of factors and history of ‘bullying,’ which fueled the fire. Per the article, the same student was cited for same earlier in September 2016. According to the student, he acted out of ideological dissidence just as the students in Tinker v. Des Moines (1969), the ultimate reason why the NFL players protested.

See, Student Reprimanded for Sitting During the Pledge of Allegiance. See also, Tinker v. Des Moines (1969), where the Court found that non-disruptive ideological protests cannot be censored in public entities such as schools. While there are many caveats, this article speaks to the general themes that complicate the matter.

Constitutional & Private, Do Freedoms Ring Synchronously?

While the first Amendment seems quite clear in public schools, the same is not true in private institutions. The legislative rationale for these protections is rooted in the Constitution’s Establishment Clause, and the substantive, procedural, and due process rights afforded to the students hereunder.

On the other hand, private schools are not under same. They are under their own governance. Generally, the handbooks and other materials form a contract or expectation not a Constitutional Basis. In some cases, private institutions may be held to similar standards dependent upon passing the State Action test, or demonstrating the ill was due to the state, not the private school. However, if the student is utilizing a voucher, schools are not mandated to refrain from Constitutional discrimination as evident in Dollars to Discriminate: The (Un)intended Consequences of School, where multiple schools retain exemptions, 2017.

Further, in a recent Supreme Court Case, Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, 536 U.S. 639, 122 S.Ct. 2460, 153 L.Ed.2d 604, 70 U.S.L.W. 4683 (U.S. 2002), the Court held that despite public subsidies used for these private entities, since the funds do not directly going to the institution, along with the element of parental choice, the Establishment Clause is therefore not applicable.

This has far larger implications, as we enter the realm of disability law, see, (FAPE & Funding Liability, Funding the Unproven), where in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris cites,

We further remarked that, as in Mueller, “[the] program is made available generally without regard to the sectarian-nonsectarian, or public-nonpublic nature of the institution benefited.” 474 U.S., at 487. In light of these factors, we held that the program was not inconsistent with the Establishment Clause. Id., at 488–489.

Perhaps you are in the camp where you do not believe children should not have Constitutional Rights, read on my friend.

There are many more rights than the standard censorship, freedom of speech or the mere life, liberty or even the pursuit of happiness verbiage, promised by the Constitution and further, protected within the realm of public schools. This overlooked distinction is what I fear will become the red herring that is distracting from the fundamental issue of voucher schools, the afforded right of, Free and Appropriate Public Education.

FAPE & Funding, Liability, & Funding the Unproven

Moving on to Disability law, the guarantees of Free and Appropriate Public Education, (FAPE), are a key protection of students with disabilities in public schools that is afforded under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA, See 20 USC § 33 1400–1482 and Section 504 of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973, See 28 CFR 35.104. — Section 504 Of The Rehabilitation Act Of 1973, however, it is only applicable to those entities that take federal funding. In cases where 504 is applicable, it is to a lesser extent, again, generally speaking.

Since vouchers as cited in the budget have not stood the test of federal funding, via the Establishment Clause, the applicability is unclear. See Zelman v Simmons-Harris, (2002), where the Court held that the voucher schools do not violate the Establishment Clause, as they are not partial to religion, and further in Witters v. Washington Dept. of Servs. for Blind, 474 U.S. 481 (1986), the monies going to the parents did not constitute federal monies going directly to the schools, for further reasoning see below. It would likely be this rationale that would determine applicability, in Witters,

“[a]ny aid … that ultimately flows to religious institutions does so only as a result of the genuinely independent and private choices of aid recipients.”

Even if private schools are mandated under Section 504, the implications are lesser than public schools. See, The National Association of Independent Schools, (NAIS), See also, 34 C.F.R. § 104.39(b), 34 C.F.R. § 104.34, 34 C.F.R. § 104.37, and 34 C.F.R. § 104.39.

If a school receives federal funding, which as cited above, vouchers do not appear to clearly be categorized thereof because the monies are filtered through the parent, or further, if there is religious affiliation, the schools are exempt from the law as stated; but if Section 504 is found to apply, then, the regulations are much more lenient, and private schools can charge reimbursement, “if the provision of services to the disabled student results in a “substantial increase in cost” to the private school.” See, 34 C.F.R. § 104.39(b), according to the law private entities only must

comply with the least restrictive environment [LRE] mandate and comparable facilities requirement, 34 C.F.R. § 104.34, provide an equal opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities, 34 C.F.R. § 104.37, and provide minor adjustments to accommodate students with disabilities. 34 C.F.R. § 104.39

The protection of these rights in private schools, such as voucher schools is up to subjective interpretation because in choosing private, you are choosing private governance; therefore, there is no state action that the Constitution or most Federal laws protect. While private schools are mandated to follow Titles I and III of the ADA, 42 USC 126 §12101, as there is no federal funding caveat, religious entities and private clubs are exempt. Further, there are no monetary damages that can be awarded to individuals if these laws are violated.

According to the United States Department of Education ADA guidance, the goal is to pre-empt

discrimination on the basis of disability and requires private schools to accept students so long as only “minor adjustments” are needed to accommodate them. But it exempts religiously run private schools,

Just Follow the Funding

This is a major concern, all you need to do is follow the FUNDING. What is so gravely concerning is that every topic we have discussed to date in our course, is governed by FUNDING. Student behaviors are steadily out pacing the training of our teachers, as we discussed in the module on Least Restrictive Environment, IDEA 20 U.S.C. 1412(a)(5)(A), these teacher training initiatives are supplemented by Title II, which is on the chopping block per the Trump Proposal. This lack of teacher training was one of the main considerations of our discussion when extending the definition of Trauma and the broader ADA application to PTSD.

Innovative, supplemental instructions mandated within IEPs to meet both the needs of students with disabilities while balancing the regular education, population needs, depend on training and resources, See Fed. Reg., Comments to 34 C.F.R. 300.116 at 46,589.

The IDEA, or law that guarantees education to students with disabilities is measured through a variety of pronged tests offering direction for the judicial standards, which must weigh the needs of both types of students and the LRE, such as the portability of LRE test in Roncker v. Walter (1983) (6th and 8th Circuits), and the Daniel Test, See, Daniel R.R. v. State Board of Education (1989) (2nd, 3rd, 5th, 10th, & 11th Circuits).

The LRE is implemented through FUNDING, and every program that assists our youngsters in staying engaged, which we discussed when balancing accountability versus creativity, sadly, relies on FUNDING. The FUNDING is an incentive to follow the law as stated. If you do not follow the law, you lose your FUNDING. But, private institutions can avoid same, and do whatever they so choose. This is the ultimate issue with privatization, there simply is no accountability for the coordinating FUNDING in terms of Constitutional Rights nor academic rigor.

Further, you are taking a small, unproven model, vouchers, and expanding it to the masses with no efficacy.

Never mind that pesky accountability of evidence-based practices, pshh, who needs that?

And, if the public schools did same, they would lose FUNDING. Since FUNDING is at the heart of the matter, what if there were a better way?

What if the public powerhouses of resources and accountability, worked in concert with the private schools who claim to have the innovative answers, and in collaborative transparency these entities worked to create a new entity, which was responsive to the diverse needs of students, and which transcend the traditional brick and mortar schoolhouse, and used innovative methods of technology to engage students intrinsically, to further create a genuine, trusted, educational alternative on the Block…[Chain]?

A Better Way: Blockchain to the Rescue, AGAIN

A crazy notion, I know, but here is why this would be the best course of action. The conflicting stakeholders are crushing the morale of the entire field of education, not to mention they are crushing the spirit of students through high-stakes test scores that have little efficacy. Times have changed, why has education not?

We cannot take any more pendulum swigs circa the 1990’s Reading Wars. This Atlantic article offers background as to what happens when a blended, responsive approach is not followed. If you are unfamiliar, the famed reading wars epitomized an all or nothing approach to whole Language v. Phonics,

California’s new state reading test, administered in 1993 and 1994, was a political disaster….But it had been administered, so the scores were released. Like the NAEP scores, they showed disastrously low levels of reading proficiency: 77 percent of fourth-graders were below their grade level.

Just look at the awesome accountability that demonstrated. We, as a society, must ban together, and just Say NO to privatization. If you use vouchers as the research in Indiana shows, you get negative results. Further, if you create a climate aberrant from accountability of federal code, like those trivial federal laws that prevent Civil Rights, discrimination, you create an unfair advantage that favors the private schools, yet these schools are not accountable to the law. The model is not holding up, and further, punitively punishes the public institutions, which must follow the laws as stated to guarantee their FUNDING, and survival.

Here is an except from the efficacy of the Indiana Voucher program, Dismal Voucher Results Surprise Researchers as DeVos Era Begins,

The first results came in late 2015. Researchers examined an Indiana voucher program that had quickly grown to serve tens of thousands of students under Mike Pence, then the state’s governor. “In mathematics,” they found, “voucher students who transfer to private schools experienced significant losses in achievement.They also saw no improvement in reading.

This dynamic only pits private v. public schools against each other in a race for resources. In this scenario, what you have then, is an epic disaster, denial of education, and a Hunger Games mentality where all the students wanting a better school are in a pool hoping to be chosen by the Almighty Trump “Claw” a la Toy Story 1.

But Wait, Unproven Model? Oh, No, Vouchers Work, Just Look at the Research…. Um, Wait…

Unproven is no oversimplification, according to the 74Million.org article, Ohio Study Latest to Show Poor Voucher Results: 7 Theories Dissect The Trend, as documented in the Fordham Institute study,

Students who receive school vouchers to attend private schools in Ohio, see significant drops in achievement, according to a study released today by the Fordham Institute, a conservative think tank. The study finds that public schools improved in response to competitive pressure from vouchers.

And, according to the Fordham article, Evaluation of Ohio’s EdChoice Scholarship Program: Selection, Competition, and Performance Effects, commenting on these three findings,

Student selection: The students participating in EdChoice are overwhelmingly low-income and minority children. But relative to pupils who are eligible for vouchers but choose not to use them, the participants in EdChoice are somewhat higher-achieving and less economically disadvantaged.

Competitive effects: EdChoice modestly improved the achievement of the public-school students who were eligible for a voucher but did not use it. The competition associated with the introduction of EdChoice appears to have spurred these public-school improvements.

Participant effects: The students who used vouchers to attend private schools fared worse on state exams compared to their closely matched peers remaining in public schools. Only voucher students assigned to relatively high-performing EdChoice eligible public schools could be credibly studied.

Voucher efficacy can be summed up here, from The 74 Million commenting on a study at the University of Illinois,

Christopher Lubienski and Sarah Theule Lubienski of the University of Illinois have found that public schools actually outperform private schools on standardized math tests when differences in student demographics are controlled for.

This result is quite surprising, because it appears to violate simple price theory. Public schools are free; [independent] schools often charge substantial tuition, making them noticeably more expensive than the alternatives. Yet some percentage of parents systematically chooses [independent] schools despite high cost and mediocre performance…

Wait, what was that line, oh, yes, if variables of inequality the very things that the public schools seek to address are followed.

Accountability is Calling, But Not Who You Think: POTUS and the Missing Math Facts

Even the mathematics of the policy appear to be amiss, where

$9 billion in education, [of cuts, are cited, but] only about $7 billion of cuts are specifically mentioned, raising the question of what other cuts the Trump administration is planning to make.

Is the federal investment in career and technical education at risk, for example?

It mentions a $1 billion increase in Title I but provides virtually no details about this proposal and implies that the funding would not run through the Title I formula, which provides more resources to high-poverty districts.

It is time to check the egos and politics that clearly are not adding up in more ways than one. It is time to use the resources that we currently have in a more efficient and shared method. How can we do this, oh, it is quite simple, the Blockchain, of course.

Why? Because the trust and transparency, we as a society so desperately need and which is inherent to the Blockchain. The innovative technology along with accountability can revolutionize every issue that we have studied. The decentralized nature of the Blockchain allows for greater accountability in statistics and interventions. We have successfully shifted the accountability finger to the students, but as my mother always told me,

Every time you point a finger at someone, three more are pointed right back at you.

We DO need accountability, but not in test scores. We need it in administration, intervention, and policy. Such as where exactly has all this voucher money gone and what has it actually done, because to date, it appears per the research like it has done more harm than good, and yet comes at astronomical costs both tangible and non.

Yes, there is a finite amount of money. Therefore, we cannot afford to scrap everything. Adversarial systems must be replaced with a synergistic, disruptive, system of efficacy, not in student scores, but efficacy in funding and impact.

Again, this does not mean we need more high-stakes tests, but rather, evidence-based, peer-reviewed studies on what works, because as we clearly have seen, No Child Left Untested is not a solution, and further, appropriating funds into unproven models of vouchers is also not working.

There are numerous creative ways to collectively use resources for maximum impact. For example, anything that is purchased with public monies is then listed on the Blockchain, where we can combine resources together such as texts, and tech; educators can transcend their own classrooms and realms of education, thereby inspiring the public and private edu-verses alike to join together and further disrupt education through research and innovation that will power the next generation of AI, protocols, and entrepreneurial spirit, all in concert as we grow an ecosystem of change, versus allowing it to erode to nothing.

Any reform initiative that does not take a dynamic and cooperative view will fail. Further, we are being unknowingly led to give up the Constitutional Rights of our students with each new Voucher.

The Blockchain will be the tool that facilitates the trust needed so all four identified stakeholders can work together offering true collaborative solutions for optimized resource sharing, a reduction in duplicate antiquated systems of administrative waste, all the while rebuilding our punitive Educational system through the inherent love of learning, or intrinsic motivation that students possess in early childhood, yet we erode through our repeated reinforcement of outcomes and extrinsic rewards.

This folly transforms these nascent, curious learners full of ideololoy, into assembly line learners who are solely extrinsically motivated by what is on the test. These learners lack the skill set most valued by the economies of tomorrow.

Resources Consulted:

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(2018). Gpo.gov. Retrieved 3 June 2018, from https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCODE-2011-title20/pdf/USCODE-2011-title20-chap33-subchapII-sec1412.pdf

28 CFR 35.104. — Section 504 of The Rehabilitation Act of 1973

20 USC §33 1400–1482 | Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

34 CFR 300.101 — Free appropriate public education (FAPE)

34 CFR 300.116 — Placements.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). (2018). Www2.ed.gov. Retrieved 6 June 2018, from https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/hq9805.html

Can N.J. schools punish students for NFL-style ‘take a knee’ protests?. (2018). NJ.com. Retrieved 4 June 2018, from http://www.nj.com/education/2017/09/can_nj_schools_punish_students_for_nfl-style_take.html

Carey, K. (2017). Dismal Voucher Results Surprise Researchers as DeVos Era Begins. Nytimes.com. Retrieved 7 June 2018, from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/23/upshot/dismal-results-from-vouchers-surprise-researchers-as-devos-era-begins.html?_r=0

Chicago Tribune — Eisenhower teacher fired over allegedly ‘bullying’ student into standing for Pledge. (2018). Chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 3 June 2018, from http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/daily-southtown/news/ct-sta-eisenhower-teacher-fired-st-0322-20170322-story.html

Daniel R.R. v. State Bd. of Educ., 874 F.2d 1036 (5th Cir. 1989)

Doe v. Abington Friends School, 2007 WL 1489498 (E.D. Pa. May 15, 2007)

Evaluation of Ohio’s EdChoice Scholarship Program: Selection, Competition, and Performance Effects. (2018). Edexcellence.net. Retrieved 6 June 2018, from https://edexcellence.net/publications/evaluation-of-ohio%E2%80%99s-edchoice-scholarship-program-selection-competition-and-performance

Marshall v. Sisters of Holy Family of Nazareth, 399 F. Supp. 2d 597 (E.D. Pa. 2005)

Ohio Study Latest to Show Poor Voucher Results: 7 Theories Dissect The Trend. (2016). The74million.org. Retrieved 4 June 2018, from https://www.the74million.org/article/ohio-study-latest-to-show-poor-voucher-results-7-theories-dissect-the-trend/

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Student Reprimanded For Sitting During The Pledge Of Allegiance. (2016). Chicago.cbslocal.com. Retrieved 4 June 2018, from http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2016/09/02/school-denies-the-right-to-sit-during-the-pledge-of-allegiance/

Suzanne E. Eckes, Julie Mead & Jessica Ulm (2016) Dollars to Discriminate: The (Un)intended Consequences of School Vouchers, Peabody Journal of Education, 91:4, 537–558, DOI: 10.1080/0161956X.2016.1207446

The Public School Advantage: Why Public Schools Outperform Private Schools (SSIR). (2018). Ssir.org. Retrieved 6 June 2018, from https://ssir.org/articles/entry/the_public_school_advantage_why_public_schools_outperform_private_schools

The Trump-DeVos Budget Would Dismantle Public Education, Hurting Vulnerable Kids, Working Families, and Teachers — Center for American Progress. (2017). Center for American Progress. Retrieved 4 June 2018, from https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/education-k-12/news/2017/03/17/428598/trump-devos-budget-dismantle-public-education-hurting-vulnerable-kids-working-families-teachers/

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West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624, 63 S.Ct. 1178, 87 L.Ed. 1628 (U.S. 1943)

Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, 536 U.S. 639, 122 S.Ct. 2460, 153 L.Ed.2d 604, 70 U.S.L.W. 4683 (U.S. 2002)



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