2016 TASH Conference has ended
Each year, the TASH Conference strengthens the disability field by connecting attendees to innovative information and resources, facilitating connections between stakeholders within the disability movement, and helping attendees reignite their passion for an inclusive world. This year’s conference theme, “Gateway to Equity,” explores inclusive communities, schools, and workplaces that support people with disabilities, including those with complex support needs, in living a fair, just, and balanced life. Return to TASH website.
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Thursday, December 1 • 10:20am - 11:10am
How the voucher/charter school movement undermines equity and inclusion: Evidence from Ohio LIMITED

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Limited Capacity seats available

The voucher/charter school movement continues to damage capacity and support for community based public inclusive education. Across the country the development and proliferation of vouchers and charter schools has steadily progressed despite resulting inequities, segregation, poor educational practices, and fraud in this private takeover of education. Ohio, which leads the country in developing charter and voucher schools specifically developed for students with disabilities, provides a particularly useful vantage point for understanding why and how this is occurring. Over 27,000 students with disabilities in Ohio now attend charter schools, many of whom attend segregated "autism units" and alternative schools for students with emotional/behavior issues and learning disabilities. This movement happened relatively quickly, with limited resistance. Opposition is slowly growing, but primarily focused on low achievement scores. More extensive research in Ohio documents how charter development decreases property values and school spending on instruction and teachers (Cook, 2016). In this discussion, we examine the powers, ideology, and Ÿ??rent seekingŸ?? strategies behind this movement including alliances between government, financial, philanthropic, and corporate sectors that are driving it. More specifically, we present empirical and theoretical evidence connecting voucher/charter school movement with the kind of corrupt market practices that caused the subprime mortgage crisis of 2008. While there is now widespread acknowledgement of how financial and banking sectors have weakened the economy and enriched themselves at public expense, few see the same mechanisms driving the school Ÿ??choiceŸ? / charter school movement. We argue that both are manifestations, of what economists call rent seeking (appropriating public recourses for private gain without creating additional wealth, or public benefit). Both subprime mortgages and charters promised shortcuts to provide greater choice, opportunity, excellence, and equity for all. We present evidence that they have, in fact, provided just the opposite in Ohio. Voucher and charter schools have not only failed to provide equity and excellence but actually continue to perpetuate inequality, segregation, while undermining public education and damaging the very communities they claim to preserve. We argue that it is not sufficient to simply point out the excesses and failures of the charter school movement without a grounded theory as to why this is happening and more detailed understanding of the broader implications and economic mechanisms at work. Using Ohio as a reference to understand and resist the process described above, this discussion will be structured to critically examine the charter school industry in terms of: 1) the nature and impact of its rent seeking practices; 2) specific legislative interests, tactics, and outcomes; 3) the seductive nature of the language deployed via terms like "choice;" and Ÿ??free market;" and 4) the challenges and complexities of providing educational options that promote inclusive public education in impoverished and segregated communities. By the end of this session, participants will be able to: a) recognize how the notions of "free market" and "school choice" are being used to cloak the pernicious outcomes of rent seeking deployed by moneyed interests in privatizing education; b) describe how this process is especially relevant to students with disabilities; and c) discuss options and implications for public, democratic, inclusive education

avatar for Frank Fitch

Frank Fitch

Professor emeritus University of Cincinnati Clermont College

Thursday December 1, 2016 10:20am - 11:10am CST
Regency B 1820 Market Street, St. Louis, MO 63103