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Keeping an Eye on the Education Landscape

Stacy Bogard

By Stacy Bogard, CAE, MASB Assistant Director of Communications, PR & Marketing

DashBoard, July 19, 2017

Vouchers expanding; charters being funded at a higher level than public schools and outside influence in school board elections; school boards becoming partisan and lack of civility/respect for process—these issues and more currently are being faced in Florida, Texas and Minnesota, respectively. A few members of MASB’s Communications team recently had an opportunity to meet with their counterparts from other school board associations around the country for professional development and idea sharing where we learned about these issues and more.

Florida

Earlier this year, the Florida Legislature voted to expand the scholarships, or vouchers, made available to low-income families or students with disabilities through the Gardiner program to attend private schools, receive therapy, home school materials or other services not provided by public schools. While there are many positives associated with this program, the bill expanding the pool of students eligible for the scholarships also included a dollar-for-dollar tax break for businesses that donate to the program, lowering the amount of funds set aside for the public school system.

Texas

A report from Moak, Casey and Associates found that, generally, charter schools with more than 1,000 students receive more state funds than traditional public schools of the same size. Because charter schools receive a per-student allotment based on the average of what public schools receive, the funding received by larger charters is inflated. Additionally, an area for which charter supporters have been requesting funding for—facilities—was approved earlier this year. Texas also experiences a number of contentious school board elections with partisan organizations investing money and time into supporting or opposing candidates.

Minnesota

So far this year, three school boards have experienced board meetings where members of the public have been extremely disruptive. Protesters at a Richfield Public Schools meeting in May 2017 surrounded board members who were sitting on a dais and yelled at them following a board vote to dismiss a bilingual outreach worker at the district’s STEM elementary school. The meeting was recessed and reconvened at least twice before formally ending and board members being escorted to their cars by police officers. Anecdotally there has also been the sense that individuals serving on boards have been aligning their views and desired actions along the traditional Democratic and Republican party lines even though school board service is nonpartisan.

As we continue to have our own issues and “battles” to fight in Michigan, MASB will continue to work with and learn from the experiences of other state associations in order to best serve you and your district. Let us know if there's anything in particular you’d like us to be working on by sending an email to webmaster@masb.org, or posting on our Facebook or Twitter social media accounts.

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