Tuesday, November 28, 2023

How Bad Can It Get? Diplomas For $465

I just added a post at Forbes about how the school choice movement has abandoned the old "grand bargain" in which autonomy was tied to accountability, and I want to add a little PS to that piece.

We've seen the idea of accountability scrapped, with some of the most committed choicers declaring that, when push comes to shove, having a free market choice system is more important than making sure it's a system that protects the students' rights to a quality education. For some, the belief is that a free market system is how you get to a quality system, but there's a sector of the choicer movement that seems unconcerned about even that part.

So how bad can it get? How low can choice providers go?

We've seen that voucher schools are largely religious, and sometimes very discriminatory in their religious operation. We've seen that these choice schools can teach some highly questionable content (eg Satan created psychology). We know that all those taxpayer dollars attract a huge amount of fraud, failure, and scammage. And John Oliver just did a scary piece about the unregulated world of home schooling

Do these all seem like the lowest the accountability bar can be dropped? Louisiana says, "Hold my beer."

Sharon Lurye reports today for the Associated Press that Louisiana's wide open world of home schooling has produced a great new service-- for $465 and a double pinky swear (less if you don't want to walk in a ceremony wearing cap and gown), you can have a high school diploma.

That's courtesy of Springfield Preparatory School, one of many home school umbrella schools in Louisiana. Louisiana offers two home schooling approaches-- you can register with the state board and seek approval for your home study program, or you can register with the state as a non-public school which is not seeking state approval. Mostly they are just a single family "school" but last year 30 of them had more than 50 students. Over a dozen states allow the call-your-homeschool-a-private-school model (California had one such school that turned out to be the site of horrific child abuse), but some at least require some sort of proof that education is happening. Louisiana's non-public schools operate in a black box, with no oversight or accountability at all.

Louisiana's system (Lurye calls it an off-the-grid school system) enrolls over 21,000 students in Louisiana, and there is zero accountability or oversight. Lurye's article includes this paragraph:

To supporters of the system, avoiding state oversight is entirely the point. Advocates say Louisiana's unapproved schools are a natural extension of the doctrine of parental rights.

Springfield Prep's principal will grant a diploma to anyone who's not actually enrolled in her school, but whose parents say they were homeschooled at some point in their life.

And if all of that sounds cut very much from the right wing parental rights branch of the choice movement, it also taps into a more lefty/mainstream idea. Here's Lurye talking to Springfield Prep's principal about those gifted diplomas:
She says the diploma recognizes the value of educational experiences outside the classroom.

“I think you’re working the oil field, you’re working the McDonald’s, all of that is just as valid as what the classroom was,” Sibley Morrison said.

That's the same "credits for anywhere, anytime learning" idea beloved by folks like the left-leaning Center for American Progress. Only fused with this parental rights, we get "credits for any learning your parents claim you ever got, verification not necessary."

School-flavored operations like Springfield Prep aren't eligible for taxpayer-funded vouchers yet. And, I suppose one could argue that a diploma for nothing at all is better than a diploma for Nazi homeschool. But it's clear that when it comes to unaccountable, unregulated schooling, we haven't gotten to the bottom yet. 

1 comment:

  1. That's horrible. Diploma's ought to be earned, not bought. One can get degrees from Toptierschool.com without being shady.