Monday, November 30, 2020

In Case You Missed It – November 30, 2020

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.


DO WE REALLY NEED A BIG SPRING TEST THIS YEAR?

No, There Really Doesn't Need To Be A Big Spring Test In 2021

Opening schools and closing schools repeatedly during the current pandemic has made things more difficult for teachers and students. Do we really need an annual achievement test to tell us how things are going? Peter Greene, who blogs at Curmudgucation, has a better idea.

From Curmudgucation
Finn is sure that there's a disaster brewing, and there's no question that schools are having a rough year of it and consequently students are not getting the kind of educational year that would better serve everyone. Testocrats like Finn are certain that we can't possibly address this without testing measurements. "America," Finn says, "won't know how bad the damage is or what needs fixing." Well, "America" is a pretty broad, unclear term. It's teachers and parents who are actually doing the work, and they've mostly been left on their own to do it.

And in a year when time is going to be a precious commodity, every single element of the school year has to be questioned--does this help my students move forward? BS Testing does not meet that measure. There are better, more important things for teachers to be doing than getting students prepped for the test and then administering it. And if "America" wants to know how things are going, I suggest that they ask the people who are doing the work. In fact, I suggest that state and federal leaders (and thinky tank gurus as well) get out of their offices and go ask teachers and parents, "What do you need? What can I do to help?" I am betting that nobody is going to answer, "Please, oh please, can you make sure that we give the Big Standardized Test this spring."

DENVER SUPER LEAVES ABRUPTLY

Denver: Turmoil Over Superintendent’s Exit

Why did this superintendent leave? Was it for personal reasons, or is it because of local "reformers"?

From Diane Ravitch
The superintendent of Denver Public Schools, Susana Cordova, resigned abruptly, and her departure was followed by finger pointing. Denver has been a hot spot for “reformers,” and it’s school board elections attract DFER, “Education Reform Now,” and other big-money donors from out of state.

I asked Jeanne Kaplan, a former DPS board member, to explain what’s going on. She sent me her comments and a statement released by the Colorado Latino Forum.

HOME SCHOOL OR DROPOUTS?

New Indiana law puts pressure on high schools to reduce home-school withdrawals

Hoosier legislators avoid the obvious solution of creating a state registration and accountability tracking for homeschoolers. Instead they seek to punish schools.

From Chalkbeat*
One in five Indiana high schools are facing scrutiny that could lead to lower graduation rates because they marked a large number of students who didn’t graduate as leaving to home-school.

The state will review over 100 schools under a new law that aims to stem the tide of students who leave without diplomas but are not counted as dropping out. Schools under audit must show that they have properly documented each withdrawal and that the students who withdrew were on track to graduate. Students who were behind on credits when they left will be re-categorized as having dropped out.

Statewide, schools claimed that about 3,200 Hoosier students who were expected to graduate in 2020 instead withdrew to home-school. The total reflected a dip from the prior year. A Chalkbeat investigation found that because the state does not track or oversee home schooling, it’s impossible to say how many of those students continued their education.

NPE LEADS EFFORT FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION

Defenders of US Public Schools Call on Biden to Ditch Trump's Disastrous Education Policies—and Obama's Too

NEIFPE was proud to join the coalition supporting public education highlighted in this article. Click here to read the Keep Your Promises letter.

From Common Dreams
"50.8 million children who attend real public schools need a secretary of education who will be their advocate, not an advocate for privatization," tweeted Carol Burris, a retired teacher and the executive director of the Network for Public Education (NPE), which led the effort to demand pro-public leadership in Biden's Department of Education.

In order to build a stronger and more just public education system, NPE penned a letter—which readers may sign—urging the Biden administration to pursue the following objectives:
  • Rebuild our nation's public schools, which have been battered by the pandemic, two decades of failed federal policy, and years of financial neglect;
  • Reject efforts to privatize public schools, whether those efforts be via vouchers or charter schools;
  • End the era of high-stakes standardized testing—in both the immediate future and beyond;
  • Promote diversity, desegregation (both among and within schools), and commit to eliminating institutional racism in school policy and practices; and
  • Promote educational practices that are child-centered, inquiry-based, intellectually challenging, culturally responsive, and respectful of all students' innate capacities and potential to thrive.


FWCS NEWS

FWCS superintendent tests positive for COVID-19

From WANE.com
Fort Wayne Community Schools Superintendent Dr. Mark Daniel has contracted the coronavirus.

The district confirmed Tuesday that Daniel tested positive last week for COVID-19. He reportedly began experiencing symptoms on Nov. 17, and he was tested that day.

He received a positive result on Wednesday and has been working from home since, the district said.

Daniel has fever, headache, cough and loss of taste and smell.

Daniel plans to remain at home until he is fever-free for 24 hours without fever-reducing medication and has diminishing symptoms, the district said.

FWCS turning to remote learning for all: Starting today; staff shortage prompts move

A free article from the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
A severe staff shortage in Fort Wayne Community Schools' transportation department is prompting a temporary shift to remote learning for all students beginning today.

The problem isn't a lack of bus drivers, district spokeswoman Krista Stockman said Monday. Rather, she said, it's a matter of too many office employees absent due to coronavirus illness or quarantine. She couldn't immediately quantify the shortage but said it affects most of the office staff.

“We don't have enough staff members in routing and dispatching to safely operate,” Stockman said by email.

FWCS buses transport more than 14,000 students each day, transportation Director Frank Jackson told the school board last month. This adds up to more than 6,000 daily stops along more than 1,000 routes, he said.


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

**Note: The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette has changed its online access and is now behind a paywall. Digital access, home delivery, or both, are available with a subscription. Staying informed is important, and one way to do that is to support your local newspaper. For subscription information go to fortwayne.com/subscriptions/

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Monday, November 23, 2020

In Case You Missed It – November 23, 2020

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.


ISTA CALLS FOR SCHOOLS TO GO VIRTUAL

'Unsustainable and unsafe': ISTA calls for schools in red counties to move online

From IndyStar
The Indiana State Teachers Association is calling for schools in counties hardest hit by COVID-19 to return to virtual learning.

The state’s largest teachers’ union issued a statement Friday, urging local school districts to adhere to state recommendations for school operations and for state officials to require compliance. So far, the state has not forced schools to follow guidance for when to limit or pause in-person instruction.

“This situation is unsustainable and unsafe,” said ISTA president Keith Gambill. “If your county is red, ISTA recommends districts move immediately to virtual learning for all students.”

RESTORE TEACHER BARGAINING RIGHTS

Indiana teachers union calls on lawmakers to expand bargaining rights amid COVID

It would be nice if our legislators decided to care about and listen to teachers.

From Chalkbeat*
At a time when educators’ jobs have become more difficult because of the pandemic, Indiana’s largest teachers union is calling on lawmakers to restore the right to bargain over working conditions, such as hours, prep time, and class sizes.

The Indiana State Teachers Association, which represents nearly 40,000 educators, said that some districts are deciding how to respond to the coronavirus without substantive input from educators. If unions had the right to bargain for better working conditions, more teachers would have a voice in those decisions.

“The right to come together to negotiate the terms of our work allows us to create better learning conditions for our students and better workplaces for ourselves and those who will follow us as educators in the future,” ISTA President Keith Gambill said at a union press conference Monday ahead of the start of the legislative session.


THE PROMISE OF PUBLIC EDUCATION

Johann Neem: Restoring the Promise of Public Education

From Diane Ravitch
The last four years have taught us just how fractured America is. After a decisive but divisive election, President-elect Joseph Biden now begins the most difficult work ever: trying to weave back together a social fabric that has, after years of neglect, come unraveled. Biden has promised “to restore the soul of America.” At the heart of his vision must be a reinvigorated and renewed commitment to the democratic purposes of public education.

To restore the soul of America, we need to restore the soul of our schools. This means being committed to public schools as sites of integration, where students learn in common, equally, in the same classrooms. This means rejecting the privatization agenda of choice and vouchers, where the logic of the market instead of the commons dominates. It means remembering that public schools are not just serving individuals or families, as our current Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos argues, but all of us. It means finding real solutions to the ways in which residential segregation divides us by race and family wealth. Our public schools today reflect our divided soul, with whiter and richer Americans segregating themselves into exclusive neighborhoods with their own schools. All Americans must go to school together.

PRESIDENT-ELECT BIDEN'S EDUCATION TRANSITION TEAM

Laura Chapman Reviews the Biden Transition Team for Education

From Diane Ravitch
...Our reader, retired arts educator Laura Chapman, reviewed the members of the education transition team...
I have looked into the biographies of Biden’s 20 experts in education – entries from LinkedIn, their current organizations, and less often Wikipedia.

Of these
15 have no documented Pre-k to12 teaching experience.
14 held positions in Obama’s administration with nine of these in the US Department of Education (USDE). Two worked at USDE before Obama.
10 are lawyers.
7 have supported charter schools...
Also lurking here are Billionaire supporters of failed educational reforms.


INDIANA'S NEW "SECRETARY OF EDUCATION"

Katie Jenner named Indiana’s first education secretary, replacing McCormick

Will Indiana’s new appointed Secretary of Education be pro- PUBLIC education?

From Chalkbeat*
Katie Jenner will serve as Indiana’s first appointed education secretary, the beginning of a new era for a state where the top education official has been elected and often vocally independent.

Her appointment was announced Thursday by Holcomb’s office.

An adviser to Gov. Eric Holcomb, Jenner formerly served as a vice president at Ivy Tech Community College. Jenner has experience in school administration as an assistant principal and assistant superintendent in Madison Consolidated Schools in southern Indiana. Jenner is also on the governor’s commission tasked with making recommendations for how to improve teacher salaries.

SCHOOLS SEE INCREASE IN COVID CASES

Indiana's schools see 38% rise in new cases

A free article from the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Indiana K-12 schools reported a 38% increase in COVID-19 cases in the past week, and LaGrange County is leading the state in positivity, according to Monday's updated state coronavirus numbers.

More than 3,300 new COVID-19 cases hit Indiana schools – bringing the total to 11,873. Of that, 8,217 are students and the rest are teachers and staff. The state's school dashboard updates on Mondays.

East Allen County Schools announced Monday an influx of confirmed COVID-19 cases is prompting a switch to virtual learning for grades seven through 12 beginning Wednesday.

...Northwest and Southwest Allen County schools announced similar moves last week.


FWCS NEWS

Middle school teams to resume: FWCS leaders recognize social activities' importance

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
school, so he was sympathetic when parents voiced dissatisfaction about reduced offerings this fall at Fort Wayne middle schools.

The Fort Wayne Community Schools leader even shared an encouraging update last month – middle school sports should resume with basketball season.

Academic teams, including Spell Bowl and Math Bowl, also should start second semester, adding to the middle school clubs and intramural sports already taking place.

Daniel described athletics, performing arts and clubs as essential.

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

**Note: The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette has changed its online access and is now behind a paywall. Digital access, home delivery, or both, are available with a subscription. Staying informed is important, and one way to do that is to support your local newspaper. For subscription information go to fortwayne.com/subscriptions/

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Monday, November 16, 2020

In Case You Missed It – November 16, 2020

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 DAMAGE DONE

Covid-19 Has Eroded My Faith in Public Schools

A teacher talks about trust after the pandemic.

From Gadfly on the Wall Blog
I am a public school advocate.

I teach at a public school.

My daughter goes to a public school.

I have spent most of my professional career fighting for public schools against every form of school privatization imaginable.

But since the beginning of this school year and the incredibly reckless way many public schools have dealt with reopening and keeping students and staff safe, I feel much of that enthusiasm drying up.

It’s not something I’m proud of feeling.

I’m actually kind of embarrassed about it.

But there are so many people I will never be able to look at the same way ever again.

COVID/SCHOOL IN ALLEN COUNTY, IN

Officials assure schools are safe: Cite off-campus cases; NACS grades 6-12 going remote

A free article from the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Despite rising coronavirus case numbers – including 400 new cases Thursday in Allen County – the risk of catching the virus at schools remains low, local health officials said.

“We are not currently seeing a lot of transmission within schools,” said Megan Hubartt, Allen County Department of Health spokeswoman.

“In fact, schools seem to be one of the safest places for kids to be right now because the districts have done such a great job working to ensure preventative measures like masking and physical distancing are being consistently followed in their facilities,” she said in an email.

Local health officials are seeing transmission in some sports settings, however, Hubartt added.

And some schools continue to make adjustments due to the coronavirus.


BIDEN CHANGES TO THE US EDUCATION DEPARTMENT

What Biden’s new education transition team tells us about his agenda — and what it doesn’t

A new president will bring new national education policies. What to expect...

From the Answer Sheet
Some progressives are worried that the list of members is heavy with former members of the Obama administration, whose controversial education policies ultimately alienated teachers’ unions, parents and members of Congress from both major political parties. Some conservatives are concerned that four of the team’s members come from national teachers’ unions. And others wonder what it means that Biden chose Linda Darling-Hammond — the first Black woman to serve as president of the California Board of Education and an expert on educational equity and teacher quality — to lead the team.

When it comes to policy, such concerns are probably misplaced. This transition team is not charged with writing big policy papers or selecting a new education secretary. The campaign set Biden’s education agenda, and there is a separate, smaller committee working on domestic policy.

Let The Disappointment With Biden's Ed Department Begin

From Curmudgucation
If you have been holding your breath, waiting and worrying about whether or not Biden is going to take us back to the days of education under Obama--well, there's not a lot here to set your mind at ease. It is probably best to hold judgment and wait to see what they come up with, who the new secretary will be, what actual policies are going to be supported by the new administration. This week's news is just another reminder that just because Betsy DeVos is on her way out doesn't mean public ed supporters can stop being vigilant. For what it's worth, these people are volunteering to do a difficult job that is even more difficult than usual given the mess being created by President Hissy Fit, and for that, they do deserve some thanks. And it's hugely unlikely that we won't end up in a better place than we are now. In the meantime, you can choose to be either disappointed or hopeful, depending on how you're inclined. Whatever your inclination, keep both eyes open.

On COVID and schools, President-elect Biden has promised a different approach

From Chalkbeat*
For the last several months, President Donald Trump has had a simple message for schools: reopen your buildings.

President-elect Joe Biden has a more complicated one: the federal government is on the way with better guidance and — hopefully — money, but no mandates.

“Schools need clear, consistent, effective national guidelines, not mixed messages and political ultimatums,” the Biden campaign plan for reopening schools says.

The race has been called, and the incoming Biden administration is set to inherit a country still struggling with the coronavirus pandemic. Though more schools are reopening their doors, COVID cases are still rising. Schools will still be grappling with exactly how to balance public health and education concerns for months to come.


UNDERSTAND RURAL VOTERS

Montana Teacher: Try to Understand Rural Voters

A teacher from Montana asks that you try to understand her red state neighbors.

From Diane Ravitch
I am sitting in the middle of a bunch of RED STATES right now. In fact, Montana went completely red after years of a Democratic governorship and other Democratic officials. It is a sad, sad day for us. Our beautiful public lands will be desecrated and potentially sold off. We don’t have charter schools yet, but we will. A sad, sad day.

But here is the deal: Not all Republicans are racist. And by calling them that, we stop all conversation with them. To understand why they vote the way they do, we must listen. To win in the elections, as Democrats, we must understand our opponents who, actually, are our neighbors.

Many Republicans certainly are racist. But if you analyze the U.S. voting map, the main difference between blue and red states is the URBAN/ RURAL difference. So when people say Republicans are racist, they are indirectly saying that RURAL people are racist. That is a generalization.

DEVOS IS LEAVING

Betsy DeVos Will Be Leaving. Prepare To Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Be happy- but be wary!

From Curmudgucation
DeVos is almost certainly not going away. She has devoted her entire adult life to the pursuit of privatized, Christianized education, to a system that aids the Betters and keeps the Lessers in their proper place, to a world in which the wealthy can hold onto their well-deserved piles of money without having to use any of it to pay for nice things for Those People. She is not going to stop now.

She is far more experienced and suited to the life of a billionaire political operative than that of a government bureaucrat. That is what she knows how to do (hell, Secretary of Education is the only actual job she's ever had). In some ways, she did more damage as a private citizen then a government functionary. Ask any education advocate from Michigan--the DeVos family has mastered the art of checkbook advocacy, of backing politicians who will do their bidding and threatening those that won't...

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

**Note: The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette has changed its online access and is now behind a paywall. Digital access, home delivery, or both, are available with a subscription. Staying informed is important, and one way to do that is to support your local newspaper. For subscription information go to fortwayne.com/subscriptions/

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Monday, November 9, 2020

In Case You Missed It – November 9, 2020

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.


MORE PRIVATIZATION FOR IPS

Charter allies sweep IPS school board election to win four seats

A sad Election Day for IPS students and communities...and for public education.

From Chalkbeat*
The victories in the hard-fought campaigns all but ensure that the district will expand partnerships with charter schools. The strategy has won it attention from national observers and advocates for “portfolio” districts, where the central office runs its own schools and also oversees the quality of independently managed schools.

Charter-friendly political action committees invested heavily in the IPS board election, and the four winning candidates raised over $390,000 combined — nearly 10 times as much as their opponents did.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR TEACHER EVALUATIONS

New Teacher Evaluation Report Released by the Network for Public Education

It's way past time to stop using student test scores to evaluate teachers.

From VAMboozled Blog
1. We recommend an immediate halt to the use of test scores as any part of teacher evaluation.

2. We recommend that teacher collaboration not be tied to evaluation but instead be a teacher-led cooperative process that focuses on their students’ and their own professional learning.

3. We recommend that the observation process focus on improving instruction—resulting in reflection and dialogue between teacher and observer—the result should be a narrative, not a number.

4. We recommend that evaluations require less paperwork and documentation so that more time can be spent on reflection and improvement of instruction.

5. We recommend an immediate review of the impact that evaluations have had on teachers of color and veteran teachers.

6. We recommend that teachers not be “scored” on professional development activities nor that professional development be dictated by evaluation scores rather than teacher needs.


EACS SCHOOL BOARD ELECTION

Bid for 3rd term dashed

Read more about the EACS School Board Election results.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Voters in East Allen County Schools apparently wanted a change despite a candidate's wish for a third and final term.

But they also endorsed the board's pick for the District 4E seat, which became vacant last fall and required an appointee to carry out the remainder of the term.

Scott Garner challenged incumbent Steve Screeton for the District 4E seat, viewing the election as a chance to let the voters – not the school board – decide who's best for it.

Garner got 2,397 votes, not enough to upset Screeton, a retired teacher who received 2,955 votes – about 55%, according to unofficial election results released Wednesday.

In District 5R, newcomer Jennifer Blackburn won more than half the votes in a three-way race.

Her 10,968 votes led incumbent Bob Nelson's 7,415 and Lee James Wilson Jr.'s 1,670.

Nelson, who has served as board president, sought his third and final term.

Blackburn, a mother of four EACS students, thanked everyone who took time to vote.

FWCS SCHOOL BOARD ELECTION

FWCS seat fate unclear: Smith, 78, gets reelected despite planning to resign

Read more about the FWCS School Board Election results.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Voters in Fort Wayne Community Schools apparently didn't listen to a candidate's insistence that he doesn't want the job.

They also overwhelmingly supported the board's longest-serving member in a race against a college student and ousted a two-term incumbent in favor of a parent with students in the district.

Board President Julie Hollingsworth doesn't know how incumbent Tom Smith's narrow win against Bill Critell will play out.

A total 7,021 voters – or about 51% – reelected Smith to the District 3 seat, while 6,782 supported Critell, a retired principal, according to unofficial election results released Wednesday.

Smith, who turns 78 in January, decided after the August filing deadline that a second term isn't best for him or District 3. He has said he plans to resign at the end of his current term even if voters thought otherwise.


DEVOS BASHES PUBLIC SCHOOLS ONE MORE TIME

DeVos New NAEP Baloney Sandwich

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos jumped at the chance to bask public schools one more time before she leaves office. January 20th can't come soon enough for the US Public Schools.

From Curmudgucation
Betsy DeVos would like you to know--again, some more--that public schools are failing.

Her exhibit this time is the newly-released NAEP results for 12th graders in 2019. And as usual at NAEP time, her brief exhortation is riddled with baloney.

America is the greatest country on the face of the earth, and we should deliver our rising generation the greatest educational opportunities possible. Sadly, today’s results confirm America’s schools continue to fall far short, and continue to fail too many kids, especially the most disadvantaged.

Wave that flag. But recognize that the NAEP 12th grade scores did not break out students by low-income levels, so DeVos has no idea which students, exactly, are holding the fuzzy end of the test score lollipop. Also, let's not lose sight of the fact that the NAEP is administered to public and private schools, so the same schools that she wants a voucher-paved path to for students--those beloved private schools are in this mix, too.

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

**Note: The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette has changed its online access and is now behind a paywall. Digital access, home delivery, or both, are available with a subscription. Staying informed is important, and one way to do that is to support your local newspaper. For subscription information go to fortwayne.com/subscriptions/

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Monday, November 2, 2020

In Case You Missed It – November 2, 2020

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.


DEVOS DOESN'T GET IT

Betsy DeVos Still Doesn’t Get the Connection Between Democracy and Our System of Public Schools

A must read before you vote tomorrow (if you haven't voted already). DeVos hates public education. That's a good reason to deny her and her administration another four years. When you vote, vote to support public education.

From Jan Resseger's Blog
A week ago, at one of the nation’s most conservative Christian colleges, Betsy DeVos delivered a vehement attack on the idea of public education. With the election coming up next week, we can hope it was the final attack on the institution of public schooling DeVos will deliver from her perch as U.S. Secretary of Education.

PACS TRY TO BUY INDY SCHOOL BOARD POSTS

Political groups give over $200,000 to charter-friendly candidates for IPS board

The PAC money for these candidates comes from folks who are not interested in the community or the students; they are interested in the money to be made in a pro-charter city with the pro-charter candidates they support. Do we need to divert even more money from Indianapolis Public Schools to private pockets? Support public schools and pro-public school candidates.

From Chalkbeat*
Deep-pocketed political action committees have thrown over $200,000 into four races for Indianapolis Public Schools board seats, helping candidates who support partnerships with charter schools to far out-raise their competitors.

With significant donations from PACs for Stand for Children Indiana, RISE Indy, and the Indy Chamber, District 4 incumbent Diane Arnold, District 1 hopeful Will Pritchard, and at-large challenger Kenneth Allen have each raised between $57,000 and $123,000, according to pre-election campaign finance reports due Friday. The filings include contributions through Oct. 9.

Those school choice-friendly groups also endorsed Venita Moore in the District 2 race. Moore raised $55,000, according to reports she filed Sunday. She told Chalkbeat that she missed the deadline due to technical problems.


REPUBLICAN SCHOOL CHIEF BACKS DEMOCRATS AND PUBLIC EDUCATION

Indiana education chief bucks party politics to try to oust officials who stood in her way

In the last four years Jennifer McCormick has shown that she supports public schools and the 90% of Indiana's children who attend them.

From Chalkbeat*
Four years ago, Jennifer McCormick was a triumph for the Republican Party — a public school superintendent who snatched back Indiana’s top education office from a pesky Democrat.

Now, the Indiana GOP considers McCormick a traitor.

She’s siding with the Democrat trying to unseat the Republican governor. She’s endorsing Democrats in hotly contested races for state lawmaker seats, attorney general, and Congress. She’s betraying the party that got her elected.

McCormick does not care.

“They want me out. That doesn’t hurt my feelings right now,” she told Chalkbeat. “What is alarming is the direction, from the federal level on down, that Republicans are going regarding education. I just simply do not agree with it… I believe in public education. That’s just who I am, and I make no apologies for that.”

McCormick would protect funding, oppose discrimination

From School Matters
Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick is calling on the state legislature to protect public schools from funding cuts and to protect students and school staff from discrimination.

Her proposals come in a 24-page document targeted to the Indiana General Assembly, which will begin its 2021 session in January. McCormick, Indiana’s last elected state superintendent, will leave office at the end of this year – unless Dr. Woody Myers pulls an upset in the governor’s race and reappoints her.

“I leave this document to outline the critical policy actions that must be taken, regardless of who fills the seat of Indiana’s top education leader,” McCormick writes. “Our students deserve it, educators demand it, and our communities need it to ensure Indiana’s future success.”


HOLCOMB REFUSES TO NAME SCHOOL CHIEF BEFORE ELECTION

Voters left uneducated on coming school change

The next governor will appoint the state school superintendent as well as eight of the ten members of the state school board. The current governor has shown that he is not a friend of public education. The fact that he refuses to name who he will pick for state superintendent suggests that his choice will not be someone who supports public education.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
State officials love to point out more than half of the state's budget is dedicated to education. It's the go-to response when confronted with data on lagging teacher salaries or growing inequity among Indiana school districts.

But while many like to talk about how much schools cost, they are much less forthcoming when it comes to disclosing views on how those dollars are spent or who benefits. For Gov. Eric Holcomb, a key player in removing the state's top education post from voter ballots, that extends to revealing whom he would appoint to the new cabinet-level position replacing it.

Having lost the right to elect a state superintendent of public instruction, voters deserve to know whom the governor will choose.

If Democratic challenger Dr. Woody Myers is elected, voters know exactly what to expect. Myers announced during Tuesday's gubernatorial debate he will appoint Republican State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick to the new education post. On Thursday, Libertarian candidate Donald Rainwater said he would appoint Dawn Wooten, a Fort Wayne resident and adjunct English instructor who lost the nomination for state schools chief at the GOP state convention in 2016.

Holcomb has said only that he will appoint someone "that doesn't need on-the-job training," someone who's "creative, innovative and is thinking about education in a holistic sense ... meaning all the above: K-12, charters, choice, home schooling, higher education, career training, etc."

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

**Note: The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette has changed its online access and is now behind a paywall. Digital access, home delivery, or both, are available with a subscription. Staying informed is important, and one way to do that is to support your local newspaper. For subscription information go to fortwayne.com/subscriptions/

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Monday, October 26, 2020

In Case You Missed It – October 26, 2020

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.


NY TEACHER: SUSPEND TESTING

New York Teacher: Suspend Annual Testing and Focus on Student Needs

We would suggest an end to high stakes testing permanently!

From Diane Ravitch
I am a sixth grade teacher in Comsewogue School District, Port Jefferson Station, NY. I have a PhD in Literacy Studies from Hofstra University. You have previously published my writing on your blog as it pertains to 3-8 testing and APPR. This year it is imperative that the state suspend both so schools can focus on meeting the myriad of students needs in the face of this pandemic.

I want to begin by sharing what I see every day when I go to work. Having been a teacher for 20 years, I see the worst teacher I have ever seen. Every day I judge my performance based upon what I know makes a good teacher. I see little to no evidence of a strong teacher performance based upon existing metrics, and what I know are standards of good practice.

This is a heavy burden to carry. I remind myself I am teaching in the middle of a pandemic. I am working in a classroom that is not my own. All of the materials I rely upon to do my job effectively, are outside, locked up in a trailer. I can’t do the collaborative work that has always benefited students. I am teaching an additional subject, one I have never taught before. We try not to handle students’ papers. I do not have the hundreds of novels and picture books we traverse in a “normal” year. Every lesson must be constructed in a way that ensures there is no shared touching of materials.

THE READING WARS

The Reading Wars Are Over! Lucy Calkins Endorses Phonics

This is an interesting discussion for those interested in reading instruction. Be sure to read the comments which express challenging views on the topic. Also, Paul Thomas has written a piece on the subject as well...see Media “Experts” + Parental Zeal + Political Knee-jerk Legislation + Market Forces = Failing Reading, Again

From Diane Ravitch
Lucy Calkins is one of the most influential reading researchers In the nation. She created the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, whose teaching materials have been widely adopted and is a proponent of “balanced literacy.” BL prominently opposed the “phonics first” approach.

In my book Left Back: A Century of Battles Over School Reform,” I described in detail the long-standing debates about teaching reading, which dates back to the mid-nineteenth century. The phonetic approach was the conventional method until the advent of the very popular “Dick and Jane” reading books in the late 1920s. Those readers relied on the “whole word” method, in which children learned to recognize short words (“Run, Dick, run.” “See Sally run.”) and to use them in context rather than sound them out phonetically. In the 1950s, the debate came to a raging boil after publication of Rudolf Flesch’s “Why Johnny Can’t Read,” which attacked the whole word method. Many more twists and turns in the story, which should have been settled by Jeanne Chall’s comprehensive book, Learning to Read: The Great Debate (1967). Chall supported beginning with phonics, then transitioning to children’s books as soon as children understood phonetic principles. Nonetheless, the 1980s experienced the rise and widespread adoption of the “whole language” approach, which disdained phonics. Then came Calkins and “balanced literacy,” claiming to combine diverse methods. Critics said that BL was whole language redux.


DEM CANDIDATE FOR IN GOVERNOR RECIPROCATES ENDORSEMENT

Indiana governor hopeful Woody Myers would pick Jennifer McCormick as education secretary

She endorsed him. He endorses her. Another great reason to vote for Myers!

From Chalkbeat*
In a live televised debate Tuesday night, Democratic candidate for governor Dr. Woody Myers promised to keep Republican State Superintendent Jennifer McCormick on as Indiana’s top education official if he is elected.

“She has been and will continue to be an outstanding leader for our state,” Myers said in his opening statement.

While an unusual political move, the show of bipartisanship was not wholly unexpected. McCormick crossed the aisle last month when she endorsed Myers’ campaign, after years of clashing with fellow Republicans — incumbent Gov. Eric Holcomb, his appointed education policymakers, and the GOP-dominated state legislature.

DO WE REALLY NEED CHARTER SCHOOLS?

The Foundational Fallacy Of Charter Schools

If your legislators are supporting charter schools, they are throwing away your tax dollars.

From Peter Greene in Forbes
You cannot run multiple school districts for the same amount of money you used to spend to operate just one.

This really should not come as a surprise to anyone. When was the last time you heard of a business of any sort saying, "The money is getting tight, and we need to tighten our belts. So let's open up some new facilities."

Opening up charter schools can only drive up the total cost of educating students within a system, for several reasons.

Let's imagine a school district that serves 1,000 students. Five charters open up in the district, so that now the public system serves 500 students, and each of the charters enrolls 100. What exactly makes this more expensive?


SCHOOL PRIVATIZATION IS BIPARTISAN

Former Democratic mayor raises big money for GOP

From School Matters
A political action committee chaired by a former Democratic mayor of Indianapolis is one of the top contributors to the Indiana House Republican Campaign Committee.

The PAC, Hoosiers for Great Public Schools, was created in April and is chaired by Bart Peterson. He was mayor of Indianapolis from 1999 to 2007 and is now president and CEO of Christel House International, a nonprofit that operates three charter schools in Indianapolis. The PAC’s treasurer is Caryl Auslander, former vice president of education for the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.

The PAC has contributed $150,000 to the House Republican Campaign Committee and another $50,000 to the campaign of Republican House Speaker Todd Huston, according to campaign finance reports. That’s more than almost any other donor with a couple of exceptions.

PRO-PUBLIC EDUCATION BOOK

A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door

From Have You Heard Podcast
If America’s public schools don’t survive the COVID-19 pandemic, it won’t just be due to the virus. Opponents of public education have long sought to dismantle our system of free, universal, and taxpayer-funded schooling. But the present crisis has provided them with their best opportunity ever to realize that aim. Books like Jane Mayer’s Dark Money and Nancy MacLean’s Democracy in Chains sounded a clear warning about the influence that right-wing plutocrats increasingly exert over American politics. Now, A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door takes their analyses a step further, addressing an urgent question: Why is the right so fixated on dismantling public education in the United States?

NPE Action endorsements for Indianapolis School Board

INDY SCHOOL BOARD RACE INUNDATED WITH PRIVATIZATION MONEY

Political groups give over $200,000 to charter-friendly candidates for IPS board

From Chalkbeat*
Deep-pocketed political action committees have thrown over $200,000 into four races for Indianapolis Public Schools board seats, helping candidates who support partnerships with charter schools to far out-raise their competitors.

With significant donations from PACs for Stand for Children Indiana, RISE Indy, and the Indy Chamber, District 4 incumbent Diane Arnold, District 1 hopeful Will Pritchard, and at-large challenger Kenneth Allen have each raised between $57,000 and $123,000, according to pre-election campaign finance reports due Friday. The filings include contributions through Oct. 9.

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

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Monday, October 19, 2020

In Case You Missed It – October 19, 2020

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.


VOUCHERS AND THE SUPREME COURT

School vouchers and a Supreme Court nominee

From School Matters
Barrett served from 2015-17 on the board of Trinity School at Greenlawn, a South Bend Catholic school, the New York Times reported. Trinity had a policy during Barrett’s time on the board that effectively prohibited same-sex couples from enrolling their children in the school, according to the Times.

That would seem to cast doubt on Barrett’s claim in her confirmation hearing that she had “never discriminated on the basis of sexual preference” and would not do so. It also raises policy questions about whether publicly funded institutions should practice discrimination.

In the two years that Barrett was on the Trinity board, the school received over a half million dollars in Indiana voucher program funding. Since the start of the state’s voucher program, Trinity School at Greenlawn has received nearly $2 million in state support for student tuition.

HOLCOMB STILL "STUDYING" TEACHER PAY

Still no payoff: Teacher salary study unconscionably tardy

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Honors for the slowest study in Indiana history surely must go to Gov. Eric Holcomb's teacher pay commission. Beginning with its closed-door meetings, tardy public input sessions and, now, a delay in the release of its final report until after Nov. 3, the panel's work looks more like a stalling tactic than any real effort to address lagging teacher salaries or inform Hoosiers.

After nearly two years of study, there's no excuse for waiting to release information until after Election Day. What's in the report or recommendations the administration doesn't want voters to see?

Holcomb announced the seven-member study commission in his 2019 State of the State address, pledging to “make teacher pay competitive with surrounding states.” Data at the time showed Indiana teachers, on average, earned $50,554, but starting pay was as low as $30,000. Neighboring states paid much more: An average $61,600 in Illinois and $57,000 in Ohio, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

A report from the Rockefeller Institute found Indiana educators, on average, made only $6,900 more a year in 2017 than they earned in 2002, for the smallest pay increase in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Adjusted for inflation, Indiana teacher salaries decreased by 15% over the 15-year period, according to the Indiana Department of Education.

In addition to prompting Holcomb to appoint the study commission, the figures compelled the General Assembly to increase education spending in the last biennial budget, although the increased funding also included $37.5 million in new benefits for charter and voucher schools.


HOW ARE TEACHERS DOING?

How Are American Teachers Doing, Really?

From Peter Greene in Forbes
Imagine you’ve got a business, housed in the basement of a single building. A tremendous storm sweeps in, and the basement floods—standing water, four inches deep. Some workers are asked to stay at their station, working ankle deep in water. Others are moved to the first floor, forced to use unfamiliar equipment that they must learn to use on the fly while trying to do something that is kind of, but not really, like their usual work. Nobody knows when the storm is going to end, or when the basement will be pumped dry.

You would think that upper levels of management might send someone in to check up on the workers. To see how they’re doing, what problems they’re encountering, maybe even ask what can be done to help or hire extra people to deal with the extra work the chaos creates.

You would think.

But in the pandemic storm of U.S. education right now, that’s mostly not what’s happening. Across the nation, we have next to no data about how things are working, about how teachers and students are holding up, about what resources schools need.

NACS SCHOOL MOVES TO REMOTE LEARNING

NACS school closes to students: Remote learning instituted after rise in COVID cases

A free article from the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
An influx of COVID-19 cases at a Northwest Allen County middle school is prompting a week of remote learning for that building, the district announced Sunday evening.

Maple Creek Middle School's extracurricular and after-school activities also are canceled, but they could be rescheduled as early as the week of Oct. 19, the district said.

Teachers will work on-site this week, the district said, and custodial staff will thoroughly clean the school.

The pivot from in-person classes followed an increase of confirmed COVID-19 cases at Maple Creek in the past two weeks, the district said.

“Because of the number of students being quarantined at the moment, and because of the number of confirmed cases during such a short period of time, we are taking extra steps to help keep our students safe and on track,” Principal Bill Toler said in a statement.

The COVID-19 cases include students in each grade level and appear to have originated from a variety of sources, the district said.

The number of confirmed cases at Maple Creek – which enrolled about 900 students in grades 6-8 last academic year – represents about 1% of the school's on-site student population, the district said. The district has said about 86% of NACS students opted for on-site instruction this year.


TEACHERS ON THE FRONT LINES

Wisconsin, South Carolina: Two Teachers Die of COVID-19

From Diane Ravitch
Yesterday, I posted an article by an economist who wrote that schools are not super spreaders, and that the rate of transmission of COVID has been very low among students and teachers. Some readers got angry at me for posting this article. Let me be clear that I am not a scientist or a doctor. I do not know whether it is safe to reopen schools. I am as uncertain about the right course of action as many other people.

I am not qualified to offer any guidance. The decision about reopening depends on the community and expert judgment. Everyone should follow the science, wear a mask, practice social distancing both indoors and outside, and wash their hands frequently. It may be safe to reopen schools in some places but not safe in other places. What is important to know is that the COVID is surging again in many states, that the infection rate is rising nationally, and that this is a contagious and deadly disease. Be informed.

The stories below tell what happened to two teachers. They loved teaching; their students loved them. It is not clear where they became infected with the disease.

TEACHER CANDIDATES FOR PUBLIC OFFICE

Science teacher challenges Banks for House seat

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Chip Coldiron is the latest Democrat who will try to end the Republican Party's domination of northeast Indiana's 3rd Congressional District.

It's a tall order: Second-term Republican Rep. Jim Banks captured nearly 68% of all votes cast in the district in the 2016 and 2018 general elections. Among Hoosiers in the U.S. House, only Democratic Rep. Pete Visclosky received a larger share of ballots – 73.4% in the northwest 1st District – over those two elections.

First-time candidate Coldiron won a four-candidate Democratic primary contest in June, while Banks clobbered his GOP primary opponent.

If Banks defeats Coldiron in the Nov. 3 general election, it would be the 14th straight victory since 1994 for a Republican candidate in the 3rd District.

The district consists of Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, Jay, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben, Wells and Whitley counties and parts of Kosciusko and Blackford counties. House terms are for two years, and the job pays $174,000 a year.

The Journal Gazette recently interviewed Banks and Coldiron. Their answers have been edited for clarity and space.

Why voters should elect each candidate to Congress...

**Note: The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette has changed its online access and is now behind a paywall. Digital access, home delivery, or both, are available with a subscription. Staying informed is important, and one way to do that is to support your local newspaper. For subscription information go to fortwayne.com/subscriptions/

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