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Which States Value Public Education? A New Report from NPE Says “Pretty Much None of Them”

The Network for Public Education, an Organization with values and beliefs that align with us here at The Progressive Educator, released a report yesterday that evaluated our 50 states and D.C. according to the value each state places on public education.  In writing the executive summary, Diane Ravitch describes the purpose of the report:

Our report, Valuing Public Education: A 50 State Report Card, evaluates how well each of the fifty states and the District of Columbia support their public schools, based on objective and measurable factors aligned with our values. We promote specific policies that will help make our public schools vibrant and strong—a well-trained, professional teaching force, adequate and equitable funding wisely spent, and policies that give all students a better opportunity for success.

The report then goes on to evaluate each state based on the following criteria:

  1. No High Stakes Testing
  2. Professionalization of Teaching
  3. Resistance to Privatization
  4. School Finance
  5. Use of Taxpayer Resources

Readers of this blog won’t be surprised to find that applying these five criteria to the current status quo of “test-punish-close-privatize-and-profit” results in 8 states with failing grades and no state with a grade higher than a “C”.

We find this report to be interesting because it is an example of how a common education reform strategy can be turned on its head.  In order to perpetuate the myth of public school failure, many organizations that promote education reform produce report cards for states based on criteria with narrow visions of accountability or appropriate disciplinary content.  Not surprisingly, many or most state fail these evaluations.  This makes headlines and results in a renewed rush to find solutions (many of which cost prodigious amounts of money) for the “problems” our schools face.

With the NPE report, you see a different take.  If states were to align their values towards public education with the NPE criteria, they would not only see far less demand for external solutions (i.e. testing regimens, expensive gifts to Teach for America, tax payer supported private charter schools), but more importantly, they would actually align themselves with decades of research that shows the “test-punish-close-privatize-and-profit” status quo simply doesn’t work.

We encourage you to check out the entire report here.