{HR 610} School Voucher Bill introduced in House-first scan tells me it excludes IEP kids

HR 610

Please note! September 2018 Update: There is a viral post going around on Facebook about HR 610. This is old news. This bill died in committee in March of 2017. Some politicians are using it for the upcoming 2018 elections. As in, “And my opponent supported HR 610.” But one of our FB group members called her representative and nothing has changed as far as the status of this bill.

Now, on to what you need to know about it.

betsy devos swagbucks
An oldie but a goodie. People were paid to support her.

Thanks to a Facebook group member for bringing this to my attention–

And I am updating it Feb 13: On Friday, apparently, she put out a Dear Colleague letter.

You can read it here: U.S. Education Secretary DeVos Issues Letter to Chief State School Officers

A bill was introduced by House members for school vouchers. I think it’s time to circle the wagons, but not necessarily time to panic.

Here is a link to HR 610. And another, click this one to sign up to follow updates of the bill.

Reasons I am concerned

  • It no uncertain terms, it is a voucher bill.
  • It takes federal education dollars and puts them to other purposes.
  • Doesn’t clearly define who qualifies for vouchers
  • makes no mention whatsoever of FAPE or IDEA
  • Repeals ESEA (which is the Education Act of 1965 and then became NCLB)
  • Page 9-it says “ages 5 to 17” which means it does not include all kids umbrella’d under IDEA
  • the current administration has made it clear that they are pro-voucher
  • no mention anywhere of special education
  • this bill, combined with the Dear Colleague letter is concerning-and obviously in the works for some time
  • the funding for this will most certainly be all block grants, which is code for “funneling money to private interests”

Reasons I am not panicked

  • It was merely introduced, doesn’t yet have a lot of co-sponsors or momentum
  • it will be met with HUGE resistance, you think people reacted to DeVos? that was nothing
  • it will likely face lawsuits from civil rights’ groups
  • our legislators are in for a TON of battles, I’m not sure this is one they wish to fight
  • we’ve won other battles–think of how they are backpedaling on ACA
  • It has to go from committee to House to Senate and back and forth until approved
  • I didn’t see any language that says that a state would NOT receive funding if they did not participate; in other words, states can choose not to participate so we can also put pressure on our individual state legislators
  • we still have the pending SCOTUS decision on FAPE
  • I don’t panic because my mantra is “focus on what you can control.”

So, for now, that’s all I got, as far as opinions. It’s quite a simple bill, since it is in its early stages. We have to keep an eye on it for changes. And, it will be up to the states to regulate (or de-regulate) privates and charters, so we have to keep pressure on the state legislators.

I would expect an increase in TV commercials and other advertising for privates and charters in the coming weeks and months. I don’t care if privates pay for advertising, but kind of annoying that charters that receive tax dollars can then go pay for expensive TV ads.

Action steps for HR 610

  1. Write a letter to your legislators–all of them. Both of your Senators, your Congress rep, and your state people. It can be the same letter, just change the heading. Tell them about your situation and why your child needs FAPE to be guaranteed. How most charters and private schools do not accept harder to educate kids, and your child will be left out.
  2. Engage with local agencies and non-profits, public education supporters and so on. Really educate yourself on the issue of school choice and vouchers, and how they could possibly decimate the public schools as we know them.
  3. Call your legislators–ask them to explain this to you. That in 2-3 days, we got a pro-school choice Secretary, a Dear Colleague letter that puts responsibility on states, and a voucher bill. What will this mean for your state? For your child? Ask them to explain it to you.
  4. Consider writing a letter to editor or op-ed to your local paper about this.
  5. Keep following this blog–lots of options from email to social media…you know I will have action items as it progresses. Or doesn’t.

Read more about school choice:

Please read this–and don’t be afraid to copy and paste some of the sentences or paragraphs for your letters. Steven Singer has some great ideas and has a way with words too.

Sample letter ideas:

Dear {insert legislator’s name},

I am a constituent of yours and my family and I live in city, state. I am writing to you about the confirmation of Betsy DeVos and her commitment to “school choice” as well as the recent bill (HR 610) presented in our House.

I feel that vouchers will have a negative effect on our public schools because:

(Pick and reword or use what you like)

  1. In the case of vouchers, tax money goes to pay part of the tuition at a private or parochial school. In the case of charters, we’re diverting tax money to a school that’s public in name but privately run. I do not believe anyone should profit from public education, as then it’s likely they will put profits before students. (as they did with private prisons)
  2. It increases the cost and reduces the services for everyone.
  3. When you start adding additional layers of parallel schools, you increase the costs even if you somehow divided the children evenly between the two systems (which hardly ever happens). You buy less with the same money. That translates to fewer services for the same kids, larger class sizes, narrowed curriculum, etc.
  4. It’s about allowing schools to choose students, not the other way around.
  5. In many cases the child needs to meet the requirements of admission – good grades, well behaved, no learning disabilities – otherwise they boot him back to the traditional public school he came from.
  6. If administrators don’t want to accept my child, they don’t have to, nor do they ever have to explain why, nor do I get a public forum where you can question them, nor does anyone have any power to vote them out.
  7. Many charters and private schools would balk at public involvement. They are not run democratically and are not beholden to the public, the way public schools are.
  8. I agree that in many ways, our public schools could improve. However, taking away even more funding will not accomplish this.
  9. My child has special needs which likely cannot be met at most private and charter schools, nor are they required to do so.
  10. Why are privates/charters allowed to receive tax dollars if they will not guarantee to educate ALL the students.

You can tell a little bit about your child, your situation. Include a picture!

Ok, I hope that helps, again, please read Steven’s things and gather ideas and talking points there!

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