Monday, April 6, 2020

In Case You Missed It – Apr 6, 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.


ARE CHARTERS PUBLIC SCHOOLS OR SMALL BUSINESSES?

Carol Burris: Charter Schools Ask for Federal Money Though They Suffered No Loss

From Diane Ravitch
Charters claim to be “public schools” when that’s where the money is. But when the money is available for small businesses, they claim to be small businesses. Public schools aren’t eligible for the federal money. But charter schools are.

Public schools are not small businesses. Charters just defined themselves: Not public schools. Small businesses.

NEIFPE ENDORSEMENT

NEIFPE Endorsement: John Stoffel for District 50 State Representative

From NEIFPE
Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education proudly endorses John Stoffel, Republican, for State Representative for District 50.

Since NEIFPE’s inception, John Stoffel has been a friend and fellow advocate of ours. John’s leadership in the fight for public education continues as he battles for a seat in the Statehouse.


"WE'RE ONLY IN IT FOR THE MONEY," SAID NO TEACHER EVER

Of Pandemics And Teacher Motivation

From Curmudgucation
Remember that time that schools were shut down because of a pandemic, and all the teachers said, "Yippee! Extra vacation! I am out of here" and all jumped in their Porches and drove to their beach homes?

Yeah, neither do I.

Here's what I'll remember. Teacher after teacher, from the ones in my Twitter feeds to the ones in my email to the ones that I know personally, sharing how miserable and worried they are, how they can't sleep for worrying about their students. Teacher after teacher frustrated about a lack of clear direction and leadership-- can we work? how can we work? what resources are we going to be given, or do we just have to hunt down the right tech ourselves?

...If you think the only reason anyone ever does anything is to get paid, then I am sad for you. But keep your sad hands off education policy. When this storm has passed, sit down, shut up, and let the teachers work.

INDIANA PLAN FOR THE REST OF THE 2019-2020 SCHOOL YEAR

Verbatim: Gov. Holcomb, Superintendent McCormick Outline Education Changes for the Remaining School Year

A free article from the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
“Students are the future of our state and teachers are the heart of our schools,” Gov. Holcomb said. “While COVID-19 is impacting every classroom, our teachers, administrators, school board members and school staff are going to extraordinary levels to deliver quality learning to students all across our state, even while school buildings are closed. We'll continue to do everything we can to empower educators and parents, while protecting students' health.”


WANT STABILITY? CHOOSE PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Two brothers to care for. Little classwork. SAT worries. For this 16-year-old, days now feel like weeks

Chalkbeat ignores the bigger headline- Students/Parents/Taxpayers Cannot Depend on Charter Schools

From Chalkbeat*
For so many students who already struggled to manage the many stresses in their lives — whether due to poverty, community violence, or caregiving responsibilities — school is the glue helping to hold it all together. Now, as school buildings across the country shut down, students and families like Sarah’s are forced to go without the layers of structure and support that schools provide, making existing inequities even more pronounced.

In Chicago, students’ uneven access to the internet and computers means the school district has been slow to transition to remote learning. Officials say they will formally launch their plan in mid-April, which includes distributing devices and offering both paper and digital assignments. Charter schools like Sarah’s are making their own decisions, though the state now says schools must offer digital or other remote instruction.

STANDARDS FOR NEW HOME SCHOOLING PARENTS

WE, THE HARD-WORKING, NEWLY HOMESCHOOLING PARENTS OF AMERICA, HAVE REWRITTEN THE COMMON CORE STANDARDS

From McSweeneys
Domain 1: Snack Time
GRADES K-5
1-A. Students will learn not to ask for a snack every five minutes, or in the thirty minutes directly following a full meal.

1-B. Students will learn the elements of a healthy snack, and in particular, that consuming one’s body weight in goldfish crackers is not a healthy choice.

GRADES 6-8
2-A. Students will learn to get their own damned snacks.

2-B. Students will learn that consuming every edible item in this house within the first day of home confinement is not compatible with sustaining life in this house.

GRADES 9-12
3-A. Students will learn to make a mean bowl of Rice Krispies.

3-B. Students will learn that you cannot cook a hot dog in a toaster.

3-C. Students will learn to hunt and process squirrels for food.

Domain 2: Screen Time
GRADES K-5
1-A. Students will learn that screen time is the only time during the blessed day when the grown-ups caring for them can get some peace.

1-B. Students will learn to solve computer problems on their own, rather than yelling for a grown-up. This is called “inquiry-based learning.”


QUESTIONS FOR INDIANA STUDENTS

How Indiana high schools are trying to keep students on track to graduate amid coronavirus closures

From Chalkbeat*
Schools in Indiana are closed through at least May 1 in response to the novel coronavirus, which raises concern about all students’ academic progress. But it creates a significant complication for high school juniors and seniors, who need to meet a strict set of requirements in order to graduate.

QUICK...NAME A SECRETARY OF EDUCATION WHO USED TO BE A TEACHER...

Where Is Teaching's Dr. Fauci?

From Curmudgucation
...teachers have always been boxed out of all leadership positions. Which sucks, and explains a lot, and not just the last thirty-five years of reformster baloney.

Other professions are in charge of their own professions. They're in charge of their training; you can't hand out medical degrees unless you're certified by a bunch of doctors. Ditto for training lawyers or nurses or physical therapists. But any college that wants to start cranking out teachers just has to satisfy some bureaucrats at the state capitol. And these days, you can even set up an "alternative pathway" to teaching and all you need to do is convince some lawmakers to let you do it.

Training for the profession? Done by other members of the profession. Entrance to the profession? Lawyers and doctors and physical therapists have to convince other members of the profession to certify them. But teacher schools include many professors who wouldn't last five minutes in a real K-12 classroom, and the gatekeepers of the profession include folks like the notably non-teacher folk running the bogus edTPA test.


TEACHERS RISE TO THE OCCASION

Teachers staying creative to bond with students

A free article from the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
The closure has highlighted the power of the bond between teachers and students, who normally spend seven hours a day together, said Emily Oberlin, director of New Tech Academy at Wayne High School. Suddenly, she said, that consistent structure has disappeared.

“In our case at New Tech Academy, our students have been seeking connection with us because the closure has placed a void of those adults they interact with every day,” Oberlin said by email.

New Tech Academy has held Zoom meetings – video conferences – with staff and students to connect with each other, she said.

“I believe we as educators have the ability to really help our students get through this time,” Oberlin said.

*Note: Financial sponsors of Chalkbeat include pro-privatization foundations and individuals such as 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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Sunday, April 5, 2020

NEIFPE Endorsement: John Stoffel for District 50 State Representative

Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education proudly endorses John Stoffel, Republican, for State Representative for District 50.

Since NEIFPE’s inception, John Stoffel has been a friend and fellow advocate of ours. John’s leadership in the fight for public education continues as he battles for a seat in the Statehouse.

John is an educator as well an advocate. He has taught in Huntington Community Schools since 1999. He comes from a civic-minded family that includes teachers, police officers, small business owners, and farmers.

We know that John will be a true representative of his constituents. Because John is genuine and caring, we know he will listen to their concerns. He will continue his advocacy for public schools and do what is best for our children, our teachers, and our community.

Stoffel for State Rep


Monday, March 30, 2020

In Case You Missed It – Mar 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.


NEWS FROM FWCS

FWCS shifting to new measure of achievement

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Fort Wayne Community Schools is investing in a new way to measure student progress.

Replacing two existing internal assessments with the Northwest Evaluation Association's MAP/Skills assessments will benefit teachers and parents, Superintendent Wendy Robinson told the school board this month.

“We can't rely on the state accountability, and we have to stop adding things that aren't aligned to our curriculum that won't help teachers with instruction,” Robinson said...

The school board March 9 approved the testing purchase at a cost of $235,986, which will be paid from the 2019-20 formative assessment grant awarded by the Indiana Department of Education. The licenses are for reading/language arts and math, according to documents provided to the board.

FWCS teachers will continue to receive paychecks

A free article from the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Members unanimously endorsed a resolution authorizing Superintendent Wendy Robinson to carry out actions necessary for the safety and well-being of the FWCS community during the unprecedented school closure. This includes – but isn't limited to – authorizing continued paychecks.

Robinson commended the board for its support. Some FWCS employees work multiple jobs and have lost their other sources of income, she said.

“It was the right thing to do,” Robinson said.

Anne Duff, board secretary, called it an “easy decision.” Board President Julie Hollingsworth agreed, describing it as “very easy.”


FWCS approves pandemic preparedness measures

From WANE.com
The Fort Wayne Community Schools Board of School Trustees approved a resolution granting the Superintendent and/or her designee to carry out any action deemed necessary for the safety and well-being of the school community during the closure of schools because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes, but is not limited to, authorizing the continued payment of employees.

SCHOOL CLOSURES DISRUPT SPECIAL NEEDS SERVICES

‘I don’t have a clue what to do’: What Indiana’s coronavirus school closures mean for special education

From Chalkbeat*
Katie Vescelus has resigned herself to the idea that, with schools closed statewide in response to the coronavirus outbreak, her son, Matthias, will likely fall behind his fifth-grade peers. For Matthias, who is blind, working remotely means relying on technology his parents aren’t very familiar with and losing some critical real-time help from his teacher.

Schools in Indiana are closed until at least May 1, and campuses may shut down through the end of the school year amid the global pandemic. While some schools could cancel classes altogether, the push toward teaching students remotely leaves educators trying to figure out how to best serve students from afar.

School closures place a burden on families and raise concerns for all students’ academic progress. But the closure creates a particularly difficult challenge for the more than 173,000 students in Indiana who receive special education services, ranging from extra time on exams to one-on-one classroom aides.


PUBLIC SCHOOLS ARE VITAL

Stephen Sawchuk: This Was the Week We Learned How Vital Our Public Schools Are

From Diane Ravitch
This is one of the best articles I have ever read in Education Week. It is not an opinion piece. It is a news article by veteran journalist Stephen Sawchuk.

He begins:

This was the week that American schools across the country closed their doors.

It was the week that our public schools—often dismissed as mediocre, inequitable, or bureaucratic—showed just how much they mean to American society by their very absence.

*Note: Financial sponsors of Chalkbeat include pro-privatization foundations and individuals such as 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, March 23, 2020

In Case You Missed It – Mar 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.


STUDENTS NEED TEACHERS

Nancy Bailey: Online Learning Can Never Replace Human Teachers

Diane Ravitch comments on Nancy Bailey's post titled Disaster Capitalism, Online Instruction, and What Covid-19 Is Teaching Us About Public Schools and Teachers

From Diane Ravitch
Online learning can never adequately replace public schools and teachers. In such a desperate time, closing public schools due to this pandemic is showing Americans how reliant we are upon those schools to fulfill, not just an educational purpose, but the real social and emotional needs of children and families.

We’re left with stark revelations about this country’s shortcomings, while at the same time we witness the heroism of teachers and staff who care for all children at this dark time. It is that caring and love that have always been the hallmark of what teaching and public schools have been all about. It is and will continue to be what saves public education and the teaching profession.

This crisis will not throw students into a future of nothing but online learning. It will instead remind parents and students of how much their public schools and teachers mean to them.

LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICTS PROTECT EMPLOYEES

EACS staff to be paid in shutdown: Board unanimous in approval of resolution

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
A few East Allen County Schools employees waited for a text from Superintendent Marilyn Hissong on Tuesday night, eager to know the outcome of the school board meeting.

Their curiosity was understandable. The agenda included action on a resolution addressing payment during a pandemic-related emergency closure.

They needn't have worried about the board's vote. The seven board members readily endorsed the item, which authorized wage payments to employees – salaried and non-salaried – who are instructed not to report to or perform work at the direction of the superintendent.


TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF AND YOUR CHILDREN

It's Okay. You Don't Have To Homeschool.

Maybe schools and teachers and parents should take a reasonable approach during the current school closures!

From Curmudgucation
Like most teachers, I've had those student requests. End of the period, usually, they stop by the desk, usually looking downhearted. "Could I have the assignments for the next week or so," they ask. And then the cause. Death of a relative. Family emergency. A non-elective operation. A family tragedy. Some sort of unavoidable crisis that would take them away from school.

My answer was usually something along the lines of, "Just worry about taking care of yourself. We can sort out the work when you get back." On the occasions when the absence might cause extra falling-behind stress, I would offer some general direction ("We're going to be finishing the novel, wrapping up the rough draft, working in groups for the project"), but always with the same caveat-- take care of yourself first.

TIME TO CANCEL THE TESTS

Washington State: All Standardized Tests Canceled for Students for Spring 2020

From Diane Ravitch
As of March 13, state assessments are canceled statewide for the remainder of the 2020 school year. These include: Smarter Balanced Assessments (English Language Arts and Math) for grades 3–8 and 10; Washington Access to Instruction and Measurement (WA-AIM) English Language Arts and Math for grades 3–8 and 10; English Language Proficiency Assessment (ELPA21); Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science for grades 5, 8, and 11; Washington Access to Instruction and Measurement (WA-AIM) Science for grades 5, 8, and 11; WIDA Alternate ACCESS for English learners; and WaKIDS for Transitional Kindergarten.


CDC GUIDELINES FOR ADMINISTRATORS AND SCHOOLS

Interim Guidance for Administrators of US K-12 Schools and Childcare Programs

This is a good place to reference often as information changes. How should schools handle the coronavirus pandemic?

From the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
Plan, Prepare, and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Who is this guidance for?
Why is this guidance being issued?
What is the role of schools in responding to COVID-19?
How should schools prepare for, and respond to, COVID-19?
When a confirmed case has entered a school, regardless of community transmission
When there is no community transmission (preparedness phase)
When there is minimal to moderate community transmission
When there is substantial community transmission

CORRECTIONS

My Failed Effort to Correct News about the CDC’s Advice to Schools

Diane attempts to correct some misunderstandings.

From Diane Ravitch
As soon as I saw Laura’s comment, I read the CDC guidance and promptly posted the full CDC guidance.

**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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Friday, March 20, 2020

Coping in the time of COVID

NEIFPE member Stu Bloom wrote this op-ed for the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette about the importance of face-to-face education and teacher-student relationships.

Coping in the time of COVID: Crisis helps reaffirm the central role teachers, schools play in our public life

Friday, March 20, 2020

Naomi Klein, in her book “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism,” described how natural and man-made disasters open the door to privatization. During the COVID-19 disaster, we must ensure that doesn't happen to public education.

Schools have been starved over the past few decades. The underfunding of public education has opened up schools to vulnerability under the Shock Doctrine.

“When it comes to paying contractors, the sky is the limit; when it comes to financing the basic functions of the state, the coffers are empty,” Klein writes.

The education technology industry is ready to dump its items on schools (for a price, of course), especially now that many schools have closed and are using technology to connect with their students. Teachers, students and parents should all remember, however, that computers, phones, iPads and similar digital devices are tools, not ends in themselves. No digital tool can replace the human-to-human interaction of a teacher-student relationship.

“(It's) an assertion that rests on the assumption that ed-tech is good, that it can replicate at home what happens in the classroom,” writes Audrey Watters in her Hack Education Weekly Newsletter. “ 'This may be our moment,' ed-tech folks exclaim, giddily sharing lists of their favorite digital learning tools (with little concern, it seems for questions of accessibility, privacy, or security) and tips for quickly moving 'to the cloud.' Of course, education technology – as a field, an industry, a discipline, a solution, what have you – has had decades and decades and decades to get this right. It still hasn't.”

As of this writing, schools are closed for more than half of America's children. But public schools, and public schoolteachers, are about more than academics.

Teachers care about their students. Friends of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos may think teachers are only in it for the money, but public schoolteachers care about the whole child. Teachers are first responders when it comes to taking care of the nation's children.

Schools feed and house (and sometimes clothe) students every day. Those students who have little or no home resources will suffer most from the lack of open school buildings.

“The coronavirus pandemic has laid bare something that educators have always known,” writes Glenda Cohen at “We Are Teachers.” “Schools, side by side with hospitals, are the most important institutions in our country's social safety net. Of course, we've said this since the era of school shootings, where teachers have placed their bodies (literally) in front of students to keep them safe.

“But the coronavirus pandemic has put this into even sharper focus, as we grapple with the domino effects of closing entire school districts for prolonged periods at a time. Some public schools will be closed anywhere from a day to a month.”

Cohen writes that coronavirus has highlighted four important things about our nation's schools:
  • Schools are key to keeping the economy running.
  • Schools provide respite housing for homeless students during daytime hours.
  • Schools help to prevent large-scale child hunger every day.
  • Schools are the primary source of public health information for many families.
Nancy Flanagan, who blogs at “Teacher in a Strange Land,” notes schools and teachers have stepped up.

“Teachers are like those firefighters in Kirkland, Washington, who came to transport extremely ill nursing home residents to the hospital, without gloves and masks. Just doing our jobs, just following directions,” Flanagan writes.

“Thank you to the hundreds of thousands of teachers who organized take-home packets and figured out how to get coursework online, even if they didn't have a clue about how to do it before last week. And thank you to those who pointed out, with considerable asperity, how incredibly inequitable virtual instruction will be, but went ahead and made plans to do it anyway. Thanks to all who sent home food or arranged for food pickup – or even made a single call to a single household, to make sure an adult was home.

“Nobody knows how to do this well. Nobody. But schools and teachers are still trying.”

Stu Bloom is a retired teacher and a member of Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education.


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Monday, March 16, 2020

In Case You Missed It – Mar 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.


TESTING IS A WASTE OF TIME

Time to cancel state tests

With all the school that will be missed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the last thing our students need is to come back to school and waste their time taking standardized tests. It is an easy call...cancel Indiana's tests.

From School Matters
Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick and the Indiana Department of Education are calling for standardized tests to be canceled in response to the COVID-19 outbreak that is closing schools across the state. It’s not an easy call, but it’s the right one.

The department asked Friday for schools to be excused from state and federal requirements for standardized assessments for the 2019-20 school year. The requests go to Gov. Eric Holcomb and to the U.S. Department of Education.

Indiana has yet to make the choice for children

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Our students aren't numbers, statistics to be categorized for government reports. Education can't be measured by blanket questions that only serve as checks in the boxes for self-serving policy makers. Every student walks the path of knowledge in their own unique way; we should encourage them to embark on this journey rather than force them all on the same road.

Standardized testing such as ILEARN/ISTEP acts against this very idea. The current government believes that questions created by an analytical construct are more indicative of student success than trusting educators to do their job.

Indiana staggers behind in education, failing our students, our teachers and our community. As a community, we must work together to forge a future our next generation can be proud of. A future where the teachers have decent wages, a future so bright no student is left in the dark, and a future where our administration is reflective of the society they come from. The promise of an education system that guarantees equal opportunity for every child.


RED FOR ED

Teachers plan walk-in protest for lawmakers

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
“While some of the lawmakers did listen to public school supporters and some positive changes were made, there is still work to be done,” the union leaders said. “We hope this walk-in will remind lawmakers that we are not giving up and still expect more for our Indiana public schools!”

AFTER SCANDAL CHARTERS GET LEGISLATIVE REWARD

Unaccountable: Amid scandal, lawmakers still favor charter schools

Instead of strengthening the oversight of charter schools, the Republicans in the Indiana General Assembly decided to reward charters with the chance to grab more dollars from real public schools.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
The biggest public spending scandal in the state's history came to light in a State Board of Accounts report halfway through the current legislative session. As much as $85 million was misspent by online charter school operators funneling taxpayer funds to connected companies, including $65 million collected for students who were not enrolled in the schools. The investigation has been turned over to federal authorities.

If you expected lawmakers would scramble to tighten spending rules and oversight of your tax dollars in the wake of this mess – think again. The Republican supermajority not only rejected attempts to hold virtual charter schools more accountable, it's now ramming through a last-minute measure to allow charter schools a cut of property taxes from referendums conducted by traditional public schools. Gov. Eric Holcomb, through a tie-breaking vote cast by his lieutenant governor, chose to stand with charter schools and against 291 public school districts.



DEVOS -- STILL UNFIT

DeVos Defends Trump’s Education Budget. Will Democrats Stick to Promises for Something Better?

This is who the current administration thinks is qualified to lead America's public schools. It's definitely time for a replacement. Remember in November.

...a must read.

From Jan Resseger
DeVos’s recent Congressional appearances have featured her standard rhetoric trashing public schools. She claims that federal spending has skyrocketed but student achievement, as measured by test scores, has not increased over the decades. Richard Rothstein addressed this myth in a 2011 brief for the Economic Policy Institute: “When properly adjusted for inflation, K-12 per pupil spending has about doubled over the last four decades, but less than half of this new money has gone to regular education (including compensatory education for disadvantaged children, programs for English-language learners, integration programs like magnet schools, and special schools for dropout recovery and prevention). The biggest single recipient of new money has been special education for children with disabilities. Four decades ago, special education consumed less than 4% of all K-12 spending. It now consumes 21%… American public education can boast of remarkable accomplishments in special education over this period. Many young people can now function in society whereas, in the past, children with similar disabilities were institutionalized and discarded. But it is not reasonable to complain about the increase in spending on such children by insisting that it should have produced greater improvement in the achievement of regular children. The increase in regular education spending has still been substantial… But in light of the actual achievement improvements documented by NAEP, it is not reasonable to jump to the facile conclusion of a productivity collapse in K-12 education. A more reasonable story is that spending has increased and achievement has increased as well. Perhaps we have gotten what we paid for.” Federal programs under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act were launched as part of Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty. These programs were designed to address the needs of groups of children historically left out and underserved.

Valerie Strauss: Betsy DeVos’s Pathetic Lies

From Diane Ravitch
Valerie Strauss wrote a stunning dissection of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’s lies to Congress in her recent testimony.

Was she lying because of ignorance or a desire to mislead the public? She lied about charter wait lists, about progress over time on NAEP scores, and about the failure of the federal Charter Schools Program, which spends $440 million to launch new charters, entirely at DeVos’ discretion.


**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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Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #345 – March 9, 2020

Dear Friends,

Are you still riled up about the end-of-session legislative sneak attack to divert property tax referendum money from traditional public schools to charter schools?

Please contact legislators in the next 24 hours about House Bill 1065 and House Bill 1066. Nothing was resolved this morning in Conference Committee meetings on these two bills.

Legislators will make decisions on these two bills tonight and tomorrow, before finalizing all bills and adjourning Wednesday evening. Your help is immensely important! If you sent messages over the weekend, send them again with vigor!

ISSUE 1: DIVERTING PROPERTY TAX REFERENDUM MONEY TO CHARTER SCHOOLS – HB 1065

This sneak attack on funding comes when public schools are focused not on legislative cliff hangers but on keeping students and staff safe in the coronavirus crisis.

This proposal should be dismissed until next year when it can get public testimony. Legislative leaders need to hear an earful from public school advocates in the next 24 hours to counter the abundance of paid charter school and private school lobbyists working the Statehouse.

In this morning’s Conference Committee on HB 1065, after Representative Thompson summarized the list of provisions that are likely to end up in his Conference Committee report, six Democrats spoke up strongly against the provision to divert property tax money to charter schools. One Republican defended the proposal. The meeting lasted 25 minutes.

Representative DeLaney (D – Indianapolis) pointed out that making this a “may” provision means that every time a public school board wants to propose a referendum to boost operating funds, they must immediately start negotiating with charter schools regarding the amount of the charter portion or else the charter schools will work to defeat the referendum.

Representative Pryor (D- Indianapolis) explained that including charter schools will raise the amount of property tax that will be requested from taxpayers. If for example the local school board needs $10 million from the property taxpayers, they will perhaps have to ask for $11 million to satisfy the charter school requests.

Talking Points

Your help is needed! Tell the leadership and members of the Conference Committee on HB 1065 listed below that you strongly oppose Sections 31-39 of the bill based on these points:
  • This major change to the content of HB 1065 was passed without any opportunity for public testimony. This subverts the democratic process. It should be deferred to the budget session next year.
  • The shocking and unbelievable response to the horrible $68 million virtual school fraud scandal so far has been this: leave weak audits for charter schools in place and then divert property tax dollars from traditional public schools to unmonitored charter school budgets in a new way. There’s something deeply wrong here.
  • This issue will guide the votes of angry educators next November.
  • Charter schools often enroll students from outside the district. Allowing charter schools to receive referendum dollars from district taxpayers who don’t want to support out-of-district students may make referendum elections more difficult to pass.
  • In addition to tuition support from the funding formula, charter schools already get $750 per ADM that traditional schools don’t get to cover operating expenses.
  • Not one single public school asked for this language. Suggestions that this is being done to give public schools more “freedom” are misleading.
  • There is zero evidence that allowing charter schools access to referendum funds would make the referendum more likely to pass.
  • HB 1065 in Sections 37-39 also proposes TIF districts, originally devised to help distressed areas, to be expanded to residential housing developments, further eroding the property tax levies available to support public schools, libraries and other taxing units. The 935 TIF districts in Indiana already capture $30 billion in Assessed Value which supports TIF projects and not public schools or other governmental units.
Take Action!

In addition to your own Senator and House member, please contact the caucus leaders Sen. Bray-R (s37@iga.in.gov) Sen. Lanane-D (s25@iga.in.gov) Rep. Huston-R (h37@iga.in.gov) Rep. Bosma-R (h88@iga.in.gov) Rep. GiaQuinta-D) (h80@iga.in.gov).

Then contact members of the Conference Committee on HB 1605 to object to this sneak attack to divert property tax money from traditional public schools to charter schools:

Conferees to contact on HB 1065: Rep. Thompson-R (chair) (h28@iga.in.gov), Rep. Porter –D (h96@iga.in.gov) , Sen. Holdman (s19@iga.in.gov), Sen. Melton (s3@iga.in.gov)

Advisors to contact on HB 1065: Rep. Tim Brown-R (h41@iga.in.gov) Rep. Mayfield – R (h60@iga.in.gov), Rep. Cherry (h53@iga.in.gov), Rep. Jordan (h17@iga.in.gov), Rep. DeLaney-D (h86@iga.in.gov), Rep. Hamilton – D (h87@iga.in.gov), Rep. Pierce – D (h61@iga.in.gov), Rep. Pryor –D (h94@iga.in.gov), Sen. Bohacek – R (s8@iga.in.gov), Sen. Rogers –R (s11@iga.in.gov) Sen. Niezgodski –R (s10@iga.in.gov)

ISSUE TWO: REJECT VOUCHER EXPANSION IN HOUSE BILL 1066

The Conference Committee on House Bill 1066 also met Monday morning March 9th and did not mention anything about the private school voucher expansion that had been approved in the House version but taken out in the Senate version. The House included voucher expansion costing, according to the Legislative Services Agency, between $6 million and $12 million to provide private school vouchers for foster students and their foster family siblings. Senator Mishler, in the Senate Appropriations Committee, took out the voucher expansion, saying he didn’t want to open the budget for this purpose when many other requests to open the budget were rejected.

The fact that this part of the bill was not mentioned this morning does not mean it’s off the table. Let the legislators below know that the budget should not be opened for school voucher expansion, especially when it was not opened to address the huge issue of teacher pay!

Conferees to contact on HB 1066: Rep. Thompson-R (chair) (h28@iga.in.gov), Rep. Vernon Smith –D (h14@iga.in.gov), Sen. Raatz-R (s27@iga.in.gov), Sen. Stoops-D (s40@iga.in.gov)

Advisors to contact on HB 1066: Rep. Behning-R (h91@iga.in.gov) Rep. Bacon – R (h75@iga.in.gov), Rep. DeLaney-D (h86@iga.in.gov), Rep. Klinker – D (h27@iga.in.gov), Rep. Pfaff – D (h43@iga.in.gov), Sen. Buchanan – R (s7@iga.in.gov), Sen. Melton- D (S3@iga.in.gov)

Any contacts you can make with lawmakers in the next 24 hours on these two issues will help public education!

Thank you for actively supporting public education in Indiana!

Best wishes,

Vic Smith

“Vic’s Statehouse Notes” and ICPE received one of three Excellence in Media Awards presented by Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, an organization of over 85,000 women educators in seventeen countries. The award was presented on July 30, 2014 during the Delta Kappa Gamma International Convention held in Indianapolis. Thank you Delta Kappa Gamma!

ICPE has worked since 2011 to promote public education in the Statehouse and oppose the privatization of schools. We need your membership to help support ICPE lobbying efforts. As of July 1st, the start of our new membership year, it is time for all ICPE members to renew their membership.

Our lobbyist Joel Hand is representing ICPE extremely well in the 2020 short session. We need your memberships and your support to continue his work. We welcome additional members and additional donations. We need your help and the help of your colleagues who support public education! Please pass the word!

Go to www.indianacoalitionforpubliced.org for membership and renewal information and for full information on ICPE efforts on behalf of public education. Thanks!

Some readers have asked about my background in Indiana public schools. Thanks for asking! Here is a brief bio:

I am a lifelong Hoosier and began teaching in 1969. I served as a social studies teacher, curriculum developer, state research and evaluation consultant, state social studies consultant, district social studies supervisor, assistant principal, principal, educational association staff member, and adjunct university professor. I worked for Garrett-Keyser-Butler Schools, the Indiana University Social Studies Development Center, the Indiana Department of Education, the Indianapolis Public Schools, IUPUI, and the Indiana Urban Schools Association, from which I retired as Associate Director in 2009. I hold three degrees: B.A. in Ed., Ball State University, 1969; M.S. in Ed., Indiana University, 1972; and Ed.D., Indiana University, 1977, along with a Teacher’s Life License and a Superintendent’s License, 1998. In 2013 I was honored to receive a Distinguished Alumni Award from the IU School of Education, and in 2014 I was honored to be named to the Teacher Education Hall of Fame by the Association for Teacher Education – Indiana. In April of 2018, I was honored to receive the 2018 Friend of Education Award from the Indiana State Teachers Association.

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