The debate over school choice is heating up as state legislatures and governors respond to the increasing pressure from parents who are angry about the racism, transgenderism and Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) in taxpayer-funded schools.
Iowa and Utah recently joined Arizona in passing a universal education savings account (ESA) while Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced his plan for a universal ESA, and Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders promised a universal voucher.
To attract supporters, proponents deceptively describe school choice as the way to “fund students, not systems.” Federal Republican lawmakers and high-profile nonprofit organizations tout the merits of having the “money follow the child,” implying there will be no government regulation. Yet they are strangely silent when pressed about regulations attached to public money. History proves that, either immediately or gradually, strings will be attached to this “free money” as a requirement of government accountability.
It is generally assumed that, other than government schools, we have a free market in education with private schools and homeschooling. However, these are controlled in varying degrees by state governments through compulsory schooling laws, mandated registration with local or state officials and various curriculum and evaluation requirements. A few states, such as Iowa, mandate accreditation by the state department of education or one of a limited number of state approved accrediting organizations.
For private schools in Texas, there are no government requirements for registration, licensing or approval requirements, and accreditation is optional. On the other hand, if the state legislature passes school choice bill SB176, that will change.
Private schools that accept students using the ESA funds must be accredited by an organization recognized by the Texas Education Agency or accreditation by Texas Private School Accreditation Commission. The school must submit documentation about its curriculum, student-to-teacher ratio, assessments and annual administration of a nationally norm-referenced assessment instrument.
SB176 also requires that private tutors, therapists and teaching services are 1) certified; 2) licensed or accredited by a state, regional, or national licensing or accreditation organization; or 3) teaching or tutoring at an institution of higher education.
Texas parents can use their ESA funds only with state approved education service providers and vendors, including companies selling online courses. Homeschool curriculum also must be state approved for state funding.
The Texas bill sounds eerily like the 1990s federal legislation mandating that, to receive federal funding, state were required to develop state curriculum standards and standardized testing. More government strings came with the 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which required states to demonstrate they have adopted standards aligned to “College and Career Readiness Standards” – a euphemism for Common Core that was codified in ESSA.
Will there be other Texas government strings on state-funded private and homeschools in time? Texas already requires Social and Emotional Learning for public schools, despite the fact that it is the vehicle for fusing Critical Race Theory, Diversity Inclusion and Equity, and transgenderism into academic lessons and throughout the school environment.
For years critics have warned that publicly funded school choice is the camel’s nose in the tent of government control over private and homeschools. State control of “non-state actors” is clearly the vision of the communist United Nations of which the United States is a member. According to a 2021 report commissioned by UNESCO, the United Nations educational agency, governments should use tax subsidies, including vouchers, education savings accounts and scholarship tax credits, to impose government control and regulations on private schools, to require “equity” and other goals.
The report, “Regulating Public-Private Partnerships, governing non-state schools: An equity perspective,” assumes that the State is primarily responsible for a child’s education – not parents who are described as “stakeholders” and “vested interests.” Citing the U.N.’s “Sustainable Goals” (SDG 4 and the related “Education 2030 Declaration and Framework for Action”), the report claims the “State remains the duty bearer of education as a public good.”
The report argues that the “State should play a more important role in establishing stricter rules and concrete goals, as well as in actively monitoring private providers.” This role creates a “need to establish appropriate governance and regulatory frameworks” over government funded private education. Any “collaboration with the private sector requires regulatory and accountability measures to ensure it is in line with the principle of education as a public good.” Regarding accountability, the “OECD tends to emphasize traditional forms of bureaucratic and administrative accountability, rather than managerial or market approaches.”
Noting that UNESCO has pointed out potential risks of private schools regarding the U.N.-backed goal of equity, the report makes frequent references to the need for regulation of government-funded private education to ensure that equity is achieved.
The report details the adoption by different countries of Public Private Partnerships (PPP) between private education providers and the State. Because of the increasing global demand for education and government commitment for a universal system, public funding through taxes is no longer realistic. The solution is private funding through PPPs, which will not be “exempt from complying with centrally defined curricula, learning standards or student admissions criteria, among other public regulations.”
States will be expected to develop accountability systems for personal student data collection to analyze how private providers are ensuring educational “equity.” This will allow the collection of social and emotional data to ensure student compliance for a future social credit score system.
School choice sounds like a fantastic solution for parents who want to exit government indoctrination centers. Yet, given the strings attached to state funded school choice and the U.N.’s scheme to impose global control over all education, will government-funded private schools really be any different from traditional public schools?
Government control of private education through regulation and accountability is the linchpin for global control of all education and, thus, all of civilization. Parents must say no to government-funded school choice and adopt one or more of the truly free market education choices.
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