Starting this week we would like to try something new. Instead of just sharing individual stories on our social media pages of what we see impacting us, STOs and School Choice in general, we collected a few of them into this blog post with links to the full stories and a brief description.
A lot has been happening lately related to school choice all throughout the country, but maybe most importantly, Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Accounts recently came under attack by Save Our Schools Arizona and other groups. After the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that the collection of signatures for ballot proposals had to be done in person and could not be carried out online, the groups have suspended their efforts to attempt to severely limit access to Arizona’s ESA program.
In addition to our AZ news, we’re still waiting on a ruling from the Supreme Court in the Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue case that should arrive by the end of the month.
On May 8th the Cato Institute published their first private school closure related post. Since then, the number of schools that have closed down because of the economic effects of our fight against COVID-19 has grown from 11 to 52 nationwide. As far as we can tell only 1 school did not have pre-existing financial difficulties and 1 other school does not have publicly available information regarding their finances prior to closing down.
Several of the schools on the list have parent communities fighting to bring back the schools by leading fundraising efforts and some of them are still operational, although have cut down most of their activity to only serve pre-K and K kids.
If every student going back to school in September were to enter the public school system and previously hadn’t received any funding through tax-credits, vouchers, etc., Cato’s Center for Educational Freedom director Neal McCluskey estimates that the taxpayer cost of educating these students would be
7,042 x $15,424 = $108,615,808
(total enrollment) x (total expenditure per pupil in average daily attendance).
The private school closure tracker has moved to its new, permanent place and it gets updated weekly.
The Center for Education Reform is holding their next “The Future of School Action Series Event” on June 9th centering around Catholic private schools. More specifically, the event is looking to be an honest conversation about why Catholic schools appear to have been disproportionately impacted by the economic downturn that the novel coronavirus caused and what we can do to prevent more school closures. Here’s the event’s description from their Facebook page:
The coronavirus has had a disproportionate impact on Catholic Schools, most of which serve under-served populations and minority students. Learn what’s happening in both Boston and Los Angeles to improve the prospects for this critical option to remain open for those most in need. Register: edreform.com/covid-action/events/
In New Mexico we saw another instance of a school dedicated to helping and empowering kids, be brought back to square one on an issue that ultimately should be a no-brainer. The objectively successful Mission Achievement and Success Charter School (MAS)‘s efforts to expand their operation to accommodate their ever growing (and currently standing at a 1000 student) wait list had to be put on hold after a group started complaining about the noise pollution and potential safety issues the expansion would bring with itself to the Public Education Commission, the state authorizer for charter schools.
No independent body, including the schools insurer, local law enforcement or the NM Public Education Department Transportation Bureau found evidence for the school in its current setup being anything but safe and the Public Education Transportation Bureau has even “found arrival/dismissal to be one of the safest they had seen”.
And last but not least, the Arizona Department of Education came out with guidance on reopening our schools.