Monday, December 9, 2019

In Case You Missed It – Dec 9, 2019

Here are links to last week's articles receiving the most attention in NEIFPE's social media. Keep up with what's going on, what's being discussed, and what's happening with public education.

Be sure to enter your email address in the Follow Us By Email box in the right-hand column to be informed when our blog posts are published.


MAYOR PETE ON EDUCATION

Buttigieg's Education Plan Released

Pete Buttigieg releases $1 trillion-plus plan for early-childhood and K-12 education

First a comment from Facebook about this article from Cathy Fuentes-Rohwer of ICPE...
I, along with several public school teachers, administrators, & supporters, met with Mayor Pete's husband on Friday to discuss public education just before this came out. First of all, I am glad that Democrats are (finally) moving in the right direction when it comes to education policy--something that was never discussed when this attack began. I am glad for much of Buttigieg's platform here (like early childhood). BUT (yes, there's a but):

1) It's easy to say you will fund things but without a plan (and taxing the uber-wealthy billionaires who keep meddling in public education--like Reed Hastings, privatizer/enemy of public ed who held a big fundraiser in July for Pete's campaign, would be reassuring to me. I worry about the company he keeps. )

2) He is not joining the national NAACP, nor Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, with a moratorium on federal funding of charter schools. This is hugely problematic. You cannot say you are helping fund equity all the while funding charter schools (which are NOT public schools--they are PRIVATELY run and not accountable to the public thru a publicly elected board!) which take away engaged families and funding from public schools. You cannot support a competition for resources while saying you care about equity.

3) Saying you will ban "for profit" charter schools shows a lack of understanding on how charter schools profit off of our most vulnerable children and the tax dollars siphoned away from public schools.

"The more than $1 trillion in Buttigieg’s plan would be spent over 10 years and would come from “greater tax enforcement” on the wealthy and corporations, according to a Buttigieg campaign spokesperson, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. He would not impose a new tax on the super-rich, said the spokesperson, who did not detail how much money the mayor believes he can realize from uncollected taxes."
From the Answer Sheet
Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg is unveiling a broad new education plan on Saturday that pledges to spend $700 billion over a decade to create a high-quality child care and preschool system that he said would reach all children from birth to age 5 and create 1 million jobs.

The 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Ind., also promised to spend $425 billion to strengthen America’s K-12 public schools, targeting federal investments and policy to help historically marginalized students. He would boost funding for schools in high-poverty areas as well as for students with disabilities, and promote voluntary school integration. And he said he would ensure that all charter schools — which are publicly funded but privately operated — undergo the same accountability measures as schools in publicly funded districts.

With Buttigieg rising in some polls in the early state races for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, new scrutiny is being given to his proposals and his efforts to win over African American voters, who constitute a key part of the party’s base but who have not largely warmed to his campaign.

His newly released education plan shows that Buttigieg, like the other Democratic candidates, would move the country’s federal education policy away from that of the Trump administration. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has put her focus not on the traditional public school districts that enroll the vast majority of American schoolchildren, but on expanding alternatives to them, such as charter schools and programs that use federal funding for private and religious school tuition.

Mayor Pete on Education in South Bend

From Diane Ravitch

The following two articles go together. In the first, Diane Ravitch shared a blog post from Fred Klonsky in which he takes Democratic Presidential Candidate Pete Buttigieg to task for being slow to discover that South Bend Schools are segregated.

In the second article below, Diane Ravitch issues an apology to Buttigieg on the basis of a response by some South Bend readers who explain in more detail how the city schools have been working to keep their schools integrated. Be sure to read both.

Fred Klonsky: Pete Buttigieg Discovers Segregated Schools in His Hometown
Fred Klonsky writes with amazement that Mayor Pete Buttigieg just realized that there are segregated schools in his hometown of South Bend.

He acknowledges that he was slow to come to this realization.

CORRECTION: An Apology to Pete Buttigieg and the Racially Integrated Public Schools of South Bend, Indiana
Several readers of this blog who live in South Bend, Indiana, wrote to say that Fred Klonsky is wrong about Pete Buttigieg and the status of racial integration in the public schools of South Bend.

One native of South Bend wrote as follows.

Fred Klonsky’s article is simplistic and wildly inaccurate and Mr. Buttigieg’s statement about “school districts” is absolutely correct.

First, South Bend Community School Corporation is under a desegregation consent decree, and for many years, almost all of its schools have had black student enrollments within plus-or-minus 15 percentage points of the district-wide average. That is a common, court-accepted standard for a racially integrated school.

Second, South Bend is a diverse school district, with overall enrollment around 35% black, 10-15% Hispanic and about 50% non-Hispanic white. In contrast, suburban Penn Harris Madison school district is more than 90% non-Hispanic white. So, that is the context of Mayor Pete’s context.


ALEC LOSES THIS ONE IN COURT

Justin Parmenter: NC Software Giant Pays to Send State Legislators to ALEC Meetings

From Diane Ravitch
NBCT high school teacher and blogger Justin Parmenter discovered a shocking fact: a company in the state called SAS pays to send state legislators to the annual conference of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a far-right anti-public school organization that writes model legislation. SAS sells software to districts and states to evaluate teacher effectiveness. The SAS software is very controversial because it’s algorithms are secret and proprietary. Teachers in Houston sued and won a court judgement against SAS, when the judge ruled that its secret processes were arbitrary and denied due process to teachers, who had no way to know how they were judged or if the calculations were accurate.

INDIANA TEACHERS -- STILL NO RAISE

Pay raise touted for educators: But no action to be taken in 2020 session, Holcomb says

Note...there are no teachers on the seven member teacher pay commission. There are education professionals on the non-voting committee which advises the panel.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
Gov. Eric Holcomb said Wednesday he wants Indiana teachers to have salaries in the top three in the Midwest. But not any time soon.

“It's dollars and cents. I want to adequately and fairly compensate our teachers but I also want to steal some teachers from other states,” he said during an annual Legislative Conference hosted by Bingham Greenebaum Doll.

He said a teacher pay commission that is currently working on recommendations could have a report on how to fill the gap in the spring – after legislators have ended their session. Discussion could begin then for crafting the next two-year budget in 2021.

This is despite thousands of teachers coming to the Statehouse several weeks ago to fight for a number of initiatives.


Did the Red for Ed rally affect the governor’s upcoming agenda?

From Fort Wayne's NBC
As for education, and that massive Red for Ed rally last month that featured about 14,000 teachers and supporters on the lawn of the statehouse?

"What does that say to you, that so many that gathered supported that one cause? Well it underscores what we know and that is education is a priority at every level," Holcomb says.

The son of a public school teacher, Holcomb says he doesn't want teachers to leave schools for jobs in the private sector, even though he says the state already spends more than half of its total revenue on education -- which is why he says he set up the teacher pay commission to study the issue and make recommendations.

"I understand about the salaries, but what about issues that the legislature has imposed like additional hours for continuing education? Or tying student performance to how much money is allocated for schools or teachers?Those are some burdens as teachers would call it. I think they're tired of lip service and they want to see some action," Corinne Rose says.

"They're going to see some action. They're going to see some action, and you'll hear some recommendations from me incorporated into my agenda that I'll release next week. They've not only been heard, they'll be acted on," Holcomb replies.

SHADES OF TONY BENNETT

IPS finds a powerful charter ally in its 11th hour bid to win back takeover schools

Will IPS schools, getting out of the bad deal with the shady Charters USA, now team up with Christel House- the bunch that Tony Bennett changed the grades for?

From Chalkbeat*
Indianapolis Public Schools has a powerful new ally in its last-minute campaign to win back control of three schools taken over by the state — and prevent a Florida-based charter manager from running the schools indefinitely.

Christel House Academy, a politically influential Indianapolis charter network, wants to relocate its southside school to Manual High School if oversight of that campus is returned to the district, IPS and Christel House officials told Chalkbeat Tuesday. Christel House would take over the campus through an innovation partnership, allowing the network to manage the school while the district monitors performance and gets credit for its enrollment and academic results.


DEFENDING DISCRIMINATION

Trump Administration Defends Christian School That Discriminates Against LGBT Students and Teachers

From Diane Ravitch
Politico Morning Education reports that the Trump administration has joined a court case on the side of a Christian school in Maryland that was removed from the state’s voucher program because it discriminates against LGBT students and teachers.

This is not surprising. The DeVos family has funded anti-gay organizations and state referenda for many years. The Trump administration takes the view that if religious organizations discriminate, that is no one’s business, even though they are receiving public funds.

*Note: Financial sponsors of Chalkbeat include pro-privatization foundations and individuals such as EdChoice, Gates Family Foundation, The Walton Family Foundation, and others.

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Monday, December 2, 2019

In Case You Missed It – Dec 2, 2019

Here are links to last week's articles receiving the most attention in NEIFPE's social media. Keep up with what's going on, what's being discussed, and what's happening with public education.

Be sure to enter your email address in the Follow Us By Email box in the right-hand column to be informed when our blog posts are published.


WHO'S RESPONSIBLE?

Teachers Are Not Responsible for Student Growth or Achievement

While teachers are the most important in-school variable for student success in school, a variety of out-of-school factors can have a much greater impact on student achievement. Legislators should look at their role in those out of school factors.

From Gadfly on the Wall Blog
It doesn’t make that much difference whether you look at growth or achievement. If you’re holding teachers accountable for either, you’re expecting us to be able to do things beyond our powers as mere mortal human beings.

I hate to break it to you, but teachers are not magical.

We cannot MAKE things happen in student brains.

Nothing we say or do can cause a specific reaction inside a human mind.

That’s just not how learning and teaching works.

We can INFLUENCE learning.

We can try to create some kind of optimum condition that is most likely to spark learning.

But we cannot make it happen like turning on a switch or lighting a candle.


TRADING "FAILING" PUBLIC SCHOOLS FOR "FAILING" CHARTER SCHOOLS

Charter Schools USA finds support for charter applications as critics stay silent at public hearing

What IPS has done in the past (pairing up with charters/innovation) has come around to haunt them, and now these parents trust IPS even less than they trust a failing charter company. Very sad.

From Chalkbeat*
Howe, Manual, and Emma Donnan Middle School are expected to exit state takeover at the end of this school year. With that transition about six months away, the futures of the schools are still in limbo.

Monday’s hearing focused on whether the state charter board should grant approval for the schools to continue under the management of a group tied to Charter Schools USA, which would essentially cement their separation from Indianapolis Public Schools. The state charter board is expected to vote on the matter at a December 13 meeting.


NEW ORLEANS: THE COMPLETE CHARTER DISTRICT

New Orleans: Parents and Students at Two Low-Performing Charter Schools Fight to Keep Them Open

From Diane Ravitch
The subtext of this is that there a few charters that began early on that were controlled by black former OPSB teachers and administrators that were islands of local control (MLK in particular) in a white-dominated, outsider controlled charter system. These schools have struggled in part because they would not cherry-pick and force out challenging students (Treme in particular) and have always been resented by the NSNO (New Schools for New Orleans) people. They have also moved toward unionizing lately.

But it is a good example of how some charters build their own constituencies, even if they are failing, because they are perceived as more locally and black controlled. I imagine the school board will give them a pass just to avoid the conflict.

NEIFPE Members in Indy, November 19, 2019. L-R Cathy Fuentes-Rohwer (ICPE), Michelle Smith (ICPE),
Terry Springer (NEIFPE), Jennifer McCormick (Indiana Ed Superintendent), Donna Roof (NEIFPE),
Jenny Robinson (ICPE), Kay Maren (ICPE).

MORE ON INDIANA'S #RED FOR ED RALLY

Teachers' rally exceeds expectations

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
Vicky Lomont, a former FWCS teacher who is now an EACS instructor, sat not far from Thiele. Lomont said she is frustrated with lawmakers, who for years have supported voucher systems while neglecting traditional public schools.

“I would like to see my representative listen to me, rather than his party,” Lomont said.

At the rally, Kathleen Cagle, a math teacher at New Tech Academy at Wayne High School, said testing has become an omnipresent force in schools.

“Every year, we're asked to do more and more and more, and none of it is to help the students,” she said.

NACS teacher Kristen Bowland arrived at the Capitol building around 8:30 a.m. Nov. 19.

“We felt like we were part of history,” she said. “It's worth the fight. I'm doing it for our kids.”


Red for Ed rallying cry: Kids deserve more

The last elected Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction reminds us that we need to support our public schools through the ballot box. Every time you vote for the governor, a state representative, or a state senator you're voting on school issues. Support public education!

From Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction, Jennifer McCormick in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
Kids deserve educators who take a stand against Indiana's disconnected education policy and the issue of inadequate funding. While many, including myself, have been champions for public education for decades, it took a red wave crashing into the Statehouse to finally catch the attention of the lawmakers inside. Frustrations regarding funding inequities, compensation shortfalls and policies void of practitioner input were vocalized by constituents from all 92 counties.

*Note: Financial sponsors of Chalkbeat include pro-privatization foundations and individuals such as EdChoice, Gates Family Foundation, The Walton Family Foundation, and others.

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Sunday, December 1, 2019

Lawmakers receive an education

This letter to the editor by NEIFPE co-founder Terry Springer appeared in the December 1, 2019 edition of the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette.

Lawmakers receive an education
The Nov. 19 Red for Ed Rally was an inspiring day. Motivated teachers, parents, administrators, retired teachers and students donned red and gathered at the Statehouse to express their frustration over the conditions the legislature has imposed on them and the children of Indiana.

To be clear to those who think teachers should not have left their classrooms and districts should not have closed, this rally has been a long time coming. It has taken nearly 10 years for the legislation inspired during Mitch Daniels' administration and enhanced during Mike Pence's and now Eric Holcomb's to create the conditions that finally led teachers to say enough is enough. Most teachers would rather be in class with their kids than standing outside for hours on a chilly November day.

Teachers don't rally and protest at the drop of a hat. It has taken nearly 10 years of the punitive system developed by the legislature to push teachers to the point that they pushed back. It has taken nearly 10 years for parents and the community to understand the destructive impact on their public schools and the negative impact on their children.

Public schools are struggling to provide the best education for all children. No matter how the governor and legislators extol the “historic” funding for education in Indiana in the latest budget, the spin does not accurately reflect how little relief it provides to replace the dollars communities around the state are losing because of vouchers or the millions spent on ineffective and harmful testing.

The conditions that inspired Red for Ed won't change unless we take action – everyone who went to Indianapolis, everyone who demonstrated in Fort Wayne, everyone who participated in a walk-in at a school, everyone who wore red on Tuesday in support of teachers and schools must keep the legislators' focus on education in Indiana.

We need to get informed and educate our legislators about the consequences of their lawmaking.

Terry Springer

Fort Wayne
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Monday, November 25, 2019

In Case You Missed It – Nov 25, 2019

Here are links to last week's articles receiving the most attention in NEIFPE's social media. Keep up with what's going on, what's being discussed, and what's happening with public education.

Be sure to enter your email address in the Follow Us By Email box in the right-hand column to be informed when our blog posts are published.

The Red for Ed Rally in Indianapolis filled NEIFPE's social media this week. Normally we post items with more than one-thousand hits and the most popular pieces will hit four or five thousand. This week's most popular post topped 24 thousand hits.

We've grouped articles together, and just linked to some to save space.


BEFORE THE RALLY

We asked Indiana teachers why they are rallying. Here’s what they said.

Why are teachers rallying tomorrow? It is NOT all about pay!

From Chalkbeat*
Better working conditions, higher pay, increased funding for public school classrooms, less emphasis on standardized testing and more respect — these are some of the things teachers say they will be fighting for Tuesday at a massive Indiana Statehouse rally that’s expected to draw as many as 12,000 educators.

Another Reason Why I March #RedforEd

From NEIFPE member Donna Roof
Phyllis would be proud of this Day of Action, yet she would also understand the difficult decisions public school officials would face and the effects of such decisions on parents and students. She would know that teachers would be conflicted about taking the day or not out of concern for their students. However, she believed so strongly in public schools that she would see the urgency and necessity of having a Day of Action. Like one of her favorite quotations goes: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; in fact, it’s the only thing that ever has.” (Margaret Mead)

Despite all her worries, she would greatly appreciate all that administrators, teachers, support staff, parents, community members, and students are doing to save public education. Her heart would be filled with pride because she loved teaching.


Indiana governor won’t see big Statehouse teacher rally

From WANE.com
Holcomb’s office says he will be in Florida on Tuesday for a Republican Governors Association conference that was scheduled months ago.

His trip comes as teacher unions say more than 100 school districts around the state will be closed while their teachers head to the Indianapolis protest.

Ed rally expected to draw throng

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
“It's our presence that matters,” said Sally Sloan, executive director of American Federation of Teachers Indiana.

“We are collectively committed to fighting for the investments our children need to thrive, as well as the professional freedom of our teachers to serve individual students in a way that honors our years of specialized training and experience.”


OPPOSING EDITORIALS

Teachers' rally plans disruptive, necessary

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
If lawmakers thought additional funding would appease teachers, they were wrong. Teachers' dissatisfaction is about far more than paychecks. It's about the legislature's insistence on a failed and punitive standardized testing program. It's about policies that favor charter schools and taxpayer-supported private and parochial schools. It's about baseless licensing requirements and the general disrespect the General Assembly has shown to the teaching profession.

EDITORIAL: Canceling class isn't the best way for teachers to be heard

From NWI.com
Make no mistake: There are a number of serious issues teachers are trying to spotlight in this demonstration.

Average teacher pay in the Hoosier state is behind that of neighboring states, meaning some of the best teachers don't stay here — or never even consider teaching in Indiana.

A statewide teacher shortage results.

Many schools must turn to voters every few years via referendum to generate enough funding for needed expansion or renovation in our public school infrastructure or programming.

But is shuttering schools and walking off the job for the day the best way to drive home these very real concerns?

Is leaving student instruction up to eLearning via computer the best way for teachers to reinforce their worth to the public?


AFTER THE RALLY

Jennifer McCormick: Red for Ed eclipsed politics as usual at Statehouse

From Pal Item
Kids deserve more. Kids deserved this mobilization of professional solidarity. Given the state mandate of 180 instructional days for traditional public schools, parents can be assured schools will meet this obligation despite many district closures on this unprecedented day. Responsible citizenship is not easy and often requires difficult decisions. Kids deserve purposeful inclusion of educator’s voices into our state’s decision making. Without a doubt, educators and supporters will continue to advocate for Hoosier students, as our kids deserve nothing less. Championing public education cannot be just a moment; it must be a movement.

NEIFPE Members in Indy, November 19, 2019. L-R Cathy Fuentes-Rohwer (ICPE), Michelle Smith (ICPE),
Terry Springer (NEIFPE), Jennifer McCormick (Indiana Ed Superintendent), Donna Roof (NEIFPE),
Jenny Robinson (ICPE), Kay Maren (ICPE).

Ball State students, professors hold 'Red for Ed' protest on campus

From the Ball State Daily News
Alison Schwartz, EEJ member and senior elementary education major, said it’s important to advocate for public education.

“This is important because our teachers are important, and our kids are important,” Schwartz said. “If you can’t fully fund your teachers and your schools and support them, then how are you supporting your kids?”

As part of her major’s concentration, she said she works with students who don’t speak English as their first language.

“Those students don't always have somebody who's standing up for them and rooting for them,” Schwartz said. “And those people who are standing up and rooting for them aren’t getting the resources that they need to do it well.”

147 Indiana school districts cancel classes as teachers protest at the state Capitol

From CNN
Indiana State Teachers Association President Keith Gambill said teachers spent the day outside the Capitol with the intention of showing them they are at a crisis point.

"We believe that we have made a point and have put legislators on notice that it is time to change the way they are legislating public schools in Indiana and to remind them that there is an election in November," Gambill said.

NEIFPE members also rallied in Fort Wayne.

‘This can’t start and end today’: Thousands of teachers flood the Statehouse in Red For Ed rally

“Teachers rally because other methods of telling their story have been “ignored, dismissed or discouraged,”

From Chalkbeat*
Republican leaders largely laid low during the rally, with the notable exception of State Superintendent Jennifer McCormick.

“Indiana kids deserve to have adequate and equitable funding,” she said during a press conference. “It’s easy to shift the blame. It’s easy to blame local superintendents … It starts upstairs in the Statehouse.”

McCormick made an unscheduled appearance at AFT’s gathering, surrounded on stage by Democrat lawmakers. She and Democrat gubernatorial candidate Eddie Melton walked out together to greet the crowd Tuesday morning.

“This is Day One of many days,” McCormick said when addressing teachers. “This can’t start and end today.”

Thousands of Indiana teachers convene for massive 'Red for Ed' rally

From ABC News
Nearly half of Indiana's public schools will be closed on Tuesday as thousands of teachers descend on the state's capital for a "Red for Ed" protest.

Over 100 school districts in the state have closed after the massive amount of teachers took the day off for the rally, according to the IndyStar. This equates to approximately 45% of public school students -- or more than half a million children -- getting the day off from school.


Thousands of Teachers Pack Indiana Statehouse, Calling for Increased Pay and More School Funding

From Time.com
Several thousand teachers wearing red surrounded the Indiana Statehouse on Tuesday to call for better pay and more respect from the Republican-dominated state government in a protest that closed more than half of the state’s school districts for the day.

The union-organized rally represented Indiana’s biggest such teacher protest amid a wave of educator activism across the country over the past two years.

Teachers chanted, “Fund our schools,” and “Put kids first,” as hundreds of them lined entrances to the Statehouse, many holding handmade signs with sayings such as, “Less Money on Testing, More Money on Students.” Teachers with marching band instruments played “We’re Not Gonna Take It” from the Statehouse steps.

IN OTHER NEWS

Indiana Superintendent of the Year Phil Downs

Voucher programs hurting rural school districts like Lakeland, Westview and Prairie Heights

From The News Sun
Downs maintains that his research shows the school voucher program took away nearly $1 million in funding from LaGrange County’s three school systems last year alone, despite the fact that vouchers aren’t being used by local students. Instead, that money is used to fund education for students at private schools in larger metropolitan areas like Indianapolis and Fort Wayne.

Downs said one of the biggest myths about school vouchers is that students use that program to escape failing public schools. The program was touted as giving children and their parents a choice in education. Indiana educates more than 1 million students a year, yet according to the state’s own numbers, only 274 students statewide used the vouchers to leave a failing school system. Lawmakers have changed the original requirements that students needed to have first attended public school to qualify for a voucher. Downs said state statistics show nowadays that 57% of all vouchers used in Indiana fund education for students who have never attended a single day in a public school.


Speaker of the House Bosma Announces Retirement

House Speaker Brian Bosma announces plans to step down at the end of 2020 session

From WTTV TV CBS4Indy.com
House Speaker Brian Bosma will step down from his position.

Bosma, who’s served in the state legislature since 1986, made the announcement Tuesday. He’ll end his time as Speaker of the House at the end of this session and has no plans to run for re-election. He will move to a “national legislative campaign role.”

*Note: Financial sponsors of Chalkbeat include pro-privatization foundations and individuals such as EdChoice, Gates Family Foundation, The Walton Family Foundation, and others.

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Monday, November 18, 2019

Another Reason Why I March #RedforEd

NEIFPE member Donna Roof posted this on Facebook.
Another Reason Why I March #RedforEd

Back in 2011, Phyllis Bush and I began to notice that things were changing in public education due to education reform—and not necessarily in good ways for teachers and students. It was at a town hall meeting where Phyllis had her first “Norma Rae moment.” And as the saying goes, the rest is history.

We attended the Save Our Schools March in Washington, D.C. that summer. We became fan girls of Diane Ravitch. We realized that things happening in Indiana were the exact, same things happening in other states, too. We brought back what we had learned there and then organized with like-minded individuals to form Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education (NEIFPE). If someone had told us then that 8 years later the same fight for public education would be going on, we wouldn’t have believed him.

It is amazing to see so many public education advocates coming together to be at the Statehouse on November 19. Phyllis envisioned such a day when public education advocates from across the state would come together to fight against the reformers and the deleterious legislation that has adversely affected public schools, their teachers, their students, and their communities.

Her public education advocacy was known locally, statewide, and nationally. She also served on the Network for Public Education (NPE) Board of Directors. Despite being retired, she worked tirelessly to inform people about what was happening in/to public schools. When she gave a call to action, she led by example by writing letters to the editor, writing to the legislators, testifying at the Statehouse, and helping and encouraging others to get involved in the fight to save public schools.

Phyllis would be proud of this Day of Action, yet she would also understand the difficult decisions public school officials would face and the effects of such decisions on parents and students. She would know that teachers would be conflicted about taking the day or not out of concern for their students. However, she believed so strongly in public schools that she would see the urgency and necessity of having a Day of Action. Like one of her favorite quotations goes: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; in fact, it’s the only thing that ever has.” (Margaret Mead)

Despite all her worries, she would greatly appreciate all that administrators, teachers, support staff, parents, community members, and students are doing to save public education. Her heart would be filled with pride because she loved teaching.

I am excited to attend this event and see the thousands of people there, yet I have a bit of sadness in knowing she won’t be by my side to experience it, for she passed away on March 19 of this year. However, I know that she will be there in spirit.

November 19 marks 8 months that she has been gone. There will be some of us there wearing a button with her picture to honor her memory and all of her public education advocacy. Over 15,000 people will be there to march on the Statehouse that day! How wonderful is that!

Let’s keep fighting the good fight and keep her legacy alive. It’s the right thing to do for the kids. It’s past time to bring back the joy of learning and teaching!


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In Case You Missed It – Nov 18, 2019

Here are links to last week's articles receiving the most attention in NEIFPE's social media. Keep up with what's going on, what's being discussed, and what's happening with public education.

Be sure to enter your email address in the Follow Us By Email box in the right-hand column to be informed when our blog posts are published.


IT'S ALL RED FOR ED

‘This is a warning shot’: Indiana’s Red for Ed rally isn’t a strike, but it’s closing schools anyway

Hoosier teachers are sending a warning! Will legislators finally listen?

From Chalkbeat*
Indiana teachers aren’t going on strike, but experts say they are putting lawmakers on notice.

Tuesday’s fast-growing rally is expected to cancel school for half of the state’s students while as many as 12,000 teachers descend on the Statehouse to make a list of demands, including more funding and higher pay.

“This is a warning shot,” said Kenneth Dau-Schmidt, a Carr professor of labor and employment law at Indiana University. “This is a sign of how serious the problem is and how unified the teachers are.”

FWCS to close for Red for Ed Day

Fort Wayne Community Schools (FWCS), the largest public school district in the state, has decided it will close to allow its teachers to go to the RedforEd March in Indianapolis on November 19.

From WANE.com
Fort Wayne Community Schools will close schools on Tuesday – Red for Ed Day – as hundreds of teachers plan to rally in Indianapolis.
FWCS Superintendent, Wendy Robinson included the following in her letter to teachers about Red for Ed Day.

From Wendy Robinson
Beyond Tuesday, I ask you to think about what kind of action you will take to ensure this is not just a one day event. What will you do between Nov. 20, 2019, and Nov. 3, 2020, to create a long-lasting change? The State did not reach this point with public education overnight, and it won’t be fixed in a day. There has been a long, concerted effort to systematically dismantle public education through standardized testing, constantly changing accountability systems and pouring money into private schools. We have been sounding the warnings for years. To change things now will require just as much planning and effort, if not more. True change will only come through legislative action, and that won’t happen if the same people continue to have control of the rule book. While I appreciate your passion for Tuesday’s rally, don’t let it end there.


Holcomb shares teacher concerns, doesn’t criticize closings

Governor Holcomb claims to be waiting for the teacher pay commission to make recommendation on teacher pay...a commission which has no active teachers or school leaders included in its members.

From WANE.com
The Republican governor said he was waiting for a teacher pay commission he appointed in February to make recommendations on increasing salaries by the end of 2020.

“We are going to have a gap, still, to fill,” Holcomb said. “That teacher pay commission is what I am going to be paying very close attention to, that menu of options on how to bridge that gap.”

Education advocacy groups estimated this year a 9% funding increase was needed to boost average teacher pay to the midpoint of Indiana’s neighboring states. Republican state schools Superintendent Jennifer McCormick has cited a study showing Indiana as the state with the lowest teacher salary increases since 2002.

Indiana education leader tweets about upcoming teachers’ rally

Many school districts in Indiana are using eLearning Days and professional development days to accommodate teachers taking the day off for the Red for Ed March in Indianapolis on November 19. Could that be why state legislators are suddenly interested in how those days are used? "Local control," formerly a Republican talking point, is once again in danger...

From WISHTV.com8
Jennifer McCormick’s tweet read:

“Since Jan. 2017, I have not been asked for data representing IN districts’ local choice surrounding the usage of differing instructional delivery platforms.

“Any idea why policymakers are now asking for data about eLearning Days and sch. cancellation waiver days?”

“Policymakers” appears to refer to state lawmakers and their staff.

Local school districts, not state law, make the rules on how e-learning days are used.


They asked for Red for Ed

Reformers have no problem with private and charter school students taking time off to lobby in Indianapolis...yet when public school teachers take a day to do the same they find it "just horrible."

From The Statehouse File
The reason so many students, parents and teachers are coming to the Statehouse on Nov. 19 is that the reformers gave them no place else to go.

Every move the reformers have made has funneled all the anger and frustration surrounding the state’s schools right back at them.

They might as well have sent an invitation.

Support for teachers benefits all of society

Letter to the Editor from a Fort Wayne parent and public schools advocate.

Printed in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
There are many ways to support public education. If you can't be in Indianapolis to show your support, send your teachers, volunteer to watch their children while they attend, wear red for ed, write your legislators.

You can make a difference. Start by supporting your teachers. I believe our children, our schools and our teachers deserve so much more and you should, too. Educated children are our future.


IPS TEACHERS GET A RAISE

IPS board approves $31M in raises for teachers, staff

From 13WTHR-TV
The Indianapolis Public Schools Board approved a significant raise for teachers and other district employees at their meeting Tuesday.

In all, the board approved $31.2 million in spending for pay increases as they renewed two-year contracts with the Indianapolis Education Association and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

The money will come from $31 million in the operating referendum approved by voters.

All teachers with performance reviews of satisfactory or better will receive the increase, which will be at least $2,600 a year. The maximum raise in the first year of the teachers' contract will be $9,400 and $4,200 in the second year.


*Note: Financial sponsors of Chalkbeat include pro-privatization foundations and individuals such as EdChoice, Gates Family Foundation, The Walton Family Foundation, and others.

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Friday, November 15, 2019

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #340 – November 14, 2019

Dear Friends,

News reports say 8000 teachers and public school advocates have registered for the education rally on November 19th in the Statehouse.

That is truly an impressive number.

I have been watching the General Assembly as a public education advocate for 23 years, and 8000 would make this the largest public education rally the Statehouse has ever seen during all those years.

I offer below a reprint of my education budget analysis issued last May. I thought it would be helpful to all interested in the rally to review the details of the education budget passed last April. The following analysis was issued on May 1, 2019 in “Vic’s Statehouse Notes #337,” which provided:
  • a summary of changes in the 2019-2021 budget
  • a comparison of the new tuition support budget with the six previous budgets
  • a listing of three chunks of new money totaling $763 million over two years
  • an analysis of the 70% voucher for private schools costing $19 over two years
  • an analysis of the $31.5 million going to School Scholarships for private school tuition
Informed discussions with legislators about needed additional funding must start with detailed awareness of the current budget. So, here again is the May analysis, putting the current budget in a context of the last 14 years of education spending. I offer it again below for those who are ready to dig into the details to answer the question of why a 2-year education package of $763 million is insufficient for the needs of public schools in Indiana and diverts far too much money to private schools:

Insufficient and Diverting Money to Private Schools: An Analysis of the Current Education Budget – reprinted from Notes #337 dated May 1, 2019

Click here to read Vic's Statehouse Notes #337.

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