Wednesday, November 23, 2016

My Thanksgiving Wish for Everyone...

Here is my Thanksgiving wish for everyone. It's possible for Democrats and Republicans to work together and say respectful things to one another. I pray we can reach that point again. Soon.

Ohio's Largest Campaign Finance Violator named Trump's Education Secretary

Well, this is something. Amway Billionaire Betsy DeVos was named as Donald Trump's Education Secretary choice today.


DeVos has a bad history here in Ohio. In 2006, she allowed David Brennan to launder campaign cash through her All Children Matter PAC. That led to the largest fine ever levied against a candidate or PAC by the Ohio Elections Commission -- $5.2 million. By all accounts, that fine was larger than all fines put together.

DeVos is an avowed school choice champion. She has been politically active to elect pro-school choice candidates around the country. And there is little question she would continue to push for more vouchers and charter schools as Secretary.

However, there's not a great track record with federal charter school investment. Just in Ohio, we found that about 1/3 of all the money sent to grow high-quality charters went to charters that closed shortly after receiving the federal funding, or never opened in the first place.

In all other federal grant programs, only 2% of the entities failed or failed to open.

I hope DeVos is focused on quality rather than choice for choice's sake. But combining this news with the crazy, unwarranted and clearly politically motivated attacks against state Sen. Peggy Lehner and her family (which will be the subject of a standalone post form me later), one starts to think that perhaps the quality-based choice advocates are about to be crushed.

And that would be terrible for our nation's kids.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

What Happens if Trump Blows Up USDOE? Folks in Trump Country get Hammered.

Now that we have to contend with a President Trump, I thought it might be useful to look at one of his only concrete policy proposals: Eliminating the U.S. Department of Education and replacing the funding with a voucher program.

Killing off the USDOE has long been a dream of the conservative movement, with Texas Gov. Rick Perry remembering he wanted to eliminate it, even as he famously stumbled over the other agencies he wanted to whack.

But what would this mean for local communities? What would it mean for Ohio's school districts?

Well, it would not be good if federal funding disappeared. Every district in Ohio but 5 received federal funding last year. The largest recipients are urban districts. But the most disproportionately impacted are the poor, white, rural districts in communities that overwhelmingly voted for President Trump.

That's because they have the least amount of local tax revenue to make up for the lost federal funding, and they have among the lowest incomes in the state. Below, you will see the top 25 Ohio School Districts that would need to have residents sacrifice the largest percentages of their incomes to pay for lost federal revenue. While Youngstown, Warren and East Cleveland are the top 3, about 1/2 are from the rural, red counties that overwhelmingly put a guy in office who would force them to consider serious income tax increases to keep their schools going. The districts best able to withstand a federal funding loss? You guessed it -- the state's wealthy, suburban districts.

Overall, Ohio school districts received $1.5 billion in federal funding last year, which would force districts to seek an overall property tax increase of about $220 per $100,000 home.

While I have certainly disagreed with federal education policy, especially when it comes to some of the competitive funding it's come to be defined by, Title I, IDEA and other federal programs have sought to bring equity and adequacy to our nation's most struggling schools. The evidence that these programs help kids is pretty clear.

Will Trump eliminate these programs that improve kids lives while keeping property taxes down in communities that can least afford to raise them? We'll see.

But elections have consequences. And if one of this election's consequence is the elimination of federal education funding, it appears that those who made Trump president will suffer among the worst outcomes.