Monday, January 25, 2021

In Case You Missed It – January 25, 2021

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.

Suspend High Stakes Student Testing Webinar - January 26, 2021
Register now - National Town Hall on Suspending High Stakes Student Testing on 1/26 at 6 p.m. EST with Congressman Jamaal Bowman, NPE Board Member Dr. Julian Vasquez Heilig, and many more. The event will be MC'd by Bob Schaeffer of FairTest and Ilana Spiegel, University of Colorado Board of Regents. - register here


Without offering a plan, Holcomb repeats his promise to raise teacher pay

How long do Indiana teachers need to wait? No one seems to know...not even the Governor.

From Chalkbeat*
In his State of the State address Tuesday, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb called increasing teacher pay a matter of “when,” not “if,” but stopped short of offering a concrete plan for how to make that happen.

In a pre-recorded address, Holcomb set an ambitious goal for teacher salaries in Indiana, which currently pays educators less on average than do neighboring Midwestern states.

“When we do this, we will be one of the best in the Midwest for teacher pay,” Holcomb said, “and we’ll be better able to attract and retain teacher talent, including attracting more minority candidates.”

Holcomb did not specify when and how that would be accomplished.


Free Market Facts And School Choice

Finding a good school for a child is not like shopping for shoes. That's why states like Indiana have public education written into their constitution.

From Peter Greene at Forbes
...the last two months of U.S. history are more than sufficient to demonstrate why allowing citizens to make a free market selection of their own preferred facts is bad for us as a country. Free market fans like to argue that only the best products win in the marketplace. But the free market doesn’t foster superior quality; the free market fosters superior marketing. And in the free market of ideas, sometimes the most effective marketing is simply, “Wouldn’t you rather believe this?”

There is no benefit to society in encouraging parents to choose post-truth fact-impaired education for their children, certainly not enough benefit to justify spending taxpayer dollars to pay for it. Choosing your own preferred facts from a wide open marketplace simply enables willful ignorance, and that is never good for society as a whole.


Trump’s ‘patriotic education’ report excuses Founding Fathers for owning slaves and likens progressives to Mussolini

“It’s a hack job. It’s not a work of history. It’s a work of contentious politics designed to stoke culture wars.”

From the Answer Sheet
President Trump’s “patriotic education” commission released a report on Martin Luther King Day that equates American progressives with European fascists and says it is “untrue” that the Founding Fathers were hypocrites for enslaving people while calling for equality in the nation’s founding documents.

The report is the product of the “1776 Commission” created by Trump late last year after nationwide Black Lives Matter protests against racial injustice. He tasked the 18-member panel with promoting a “pro-American curriculum” that celebrates “the miracle of American history.”

In Pennsylvania, The Dismantling Of A Public School System

A Pennsylvania school system has been completely taken over by charter schools. There's no research that shows charters do better than real public schools. This is simply a question of the state reneging on its responsibility to provide every child a public school education. Part of what makes this story so horrifying are the similarities to Indiana's unaccountable privatization plans.

From Peter Greene at Forbes
It may well become the first district in the state to be completely—or almost completely—privatized. The district’s story is complicated—this long post skips over many other issues there—but the lesson is simple. When a district is segregated, abandoned, underfunded, and deprived of resources, it suffers. And when the state, rather than aiding it, allows it to be picked over and fed upon by private for-profit businesses, it suffers even more, creating the possibility of a community that is no longer able to fulfil the promise of a free public education for all of its children. Chester Upland seems less likely to have a happy ending and more likely to end as a tragic cautionary tale. Pennsylvania’s students deserve better.

*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.

Monday, January 18, 2021

In Case You Missed It – January 18, 2021

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

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


It’s been true for a decade now. Our legislators want to spend our tax dollars on exclusionary charters and private schools that are unaccountable to the public at the expense of our public schools that accept all students. The goal, it seems, is to privatize all education and eliminate the public school system.

It seems that none of the legislators who continue to choose private and privately run schools over public schools understand that public schools are mandated by the Indiana constitution (emphasis added).
Knowledge and learning, generally diffused throughout a community, being essential to the preservation of a free government;  it shall be the duty of the General Assembly to encourage, by all suitable means, moral, intellectual, scientific, and agricultural improvement;  and to provide, by law, for a general and uniform system of Common Schools, wherein tuition shall be without charge, and equally open to all.
Do any of our legislators think that we can publicly fund three separate school systems and not spend more money? Do any of them understand that opening additional schools (charters) where none are needed will end up costing more money?

Sadly, Indiana voters continue to return those who are slowly but surely killing public education to the General Assembly year after year.

Legislators propose expanded vouchers, ESA’s

From School Matters
In 2019-20, Indiana spent $172.8 million to provide vouchers to over 36,000 students attending more than 300 private schools, nearly all of them religious schools. HB 1005 would increase that spending significantly, at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has hit the state’s economy hard and lawmakers have said they will do well to keep school funding at its current levels.

Education funding tends to be a zero-sum game in Indiana. If private schools and other privately operated education services get more state funding – as HB 1005 envisions – it’s likely to mean less money for public school districts and charter schools.

Left out of referendums, Indiana charter schools see opening for more funding

From Chalkbeat*
Joel Hand, general counsel and lobbyist for the Indiana Coalition for Public Education, argues that since property taxes come from the community, they should be used to sustain traditional districts that voters control through elected school boards.

Despite his opposition, however, Hand believes the legislature is likely to take some action to boost charter school funding.

“I do think that they will be successful with getting more funding for charter schools, even in light of the pandemic,” Hand said, “because I think that legislators are going to place a higher priority on what they refer to as ‘choice schools’ over the traditional public schools.”

Indiana teachers frustrated over longer wait for COVID-19 vaccine

The disdain for teachers and their health and safety is fairly evident in Indiana.

From Chalkbeat*
As teachers in some other states line up for the COVID-19 vaccine, Indiana educators wonder when their turn will come.

It’s unclear when Indiana teachers will be eligible for the vaccine, but they will likely have to wait several weeks until Hoosiers age 60 and older and people with medical conditions receive their shots — putting them further back in line than they hoped to be.

“We are told that we are essential and important, and yet we are not on any list. We aren’t told what our plans are,” said Franklin Township elementary school teacher Sheila Sego.


Washington Post Editorial Board Gets It Wrong About Testing Students In 2021

From Peter Greene in Forbes
The Washington Post board boils their support down to a few questions. All of these questions have answers, and none of the answers are “Give the standardized tests this spring.”

How can schools create plans to make up for covid-related learning losses if those losses haven’t been measured?

The Big Standardized Tests will provide little help with this. First, they only cover math and reading. Second, the results take months to come back. So test results will be too little, too late to help districts create any make-up plans.

That said, the idea of learning loss is itself suspect, even a little ridiculous. It’s not that the pandemic won’t have affected student learning; that seems self-evident. But the various write-ups of learning loss are themselves useless, almost always expressing the “loss” in terms of “days of learning.” But “days of learning” is simply a fabricated measure that is really another name for difference in test scores (a fuller explanation is here if you want it). In other words, “we guesstimate students will probably lose X days of learning,” actually means “we guesstimate that students will score an average Y points lower on the Big Standardized Test.” So in a sense, the editors are correct—we can’t measure learning loss without test scores, because learning loss is just another name for test scores.


I will miss Jennifer McCormick

From School Matters
McCormick has been a tireless and outspoken advocate for public schools and for their students and teachers. Those schools enroll 88% of Hoosier K-12 students, yet they are often an afterthought for lawmakers and policy elites who promote charter and private schools.

I was skeptical when McCormick, a Republican, was elected in 2016. Her campaign received considerable support from advocates for school privatization, and she was part of a GOP ticket that didn’t seem to make public education a high priority. She turned out to be a pleasant surprise.

*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.


Monday, January 11, 2021

In Case You Missed It – January 11, 2021

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.


Betsy DeVos Bails Out

The President's behavior was finally too much for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos (former Ed Secretary by the time you read this).

From Curmudgucation
Well, she finally had enough.

DeVos blamed Trumpian rhetoric for the riots, called it an "inflection point" for her, and became one more GOP Trump-fluffer to suddenly discover her shock and outrage for exactly the same kind of shit that he's been doing for four years. I mean, there's something deeply disingenuous about watching someone throw gasoline and matches around for four years and only getting all pearl clutchy and knicker twisty when the completely predictable fire actually starts.

She also said "Impressionable children are watching all of this, and they are learning from us. I believe we each have a moral obligation to exercise good judgement and model the behavior we hope they would emulate." Which is as true today as it was when President Pussy-grabber talked about shithole countries and very fine people on both sides. It's an odd time to suddenly grow scruples. But at this point, I guess the wounded lame duck can't really do anything for her. The full letter can be read here. It actually starts with another rehearsal of her "accomplishments" as ed secretary.


Jake Jacobs: End the Tax Breaks for Charter Schools and the Uber-Rich

Will the Biden administration continue the Democratic/Republican quest for school privatization, or will we finally see a change? Spoiler: Don't hold your breath.

From Diane Ravitch
Joe Biden’s recent nomination of Miguel Cardona as a relatively lesser-known, less controversial selection for Secretary of Education was telling. It shows the incoming administration’s reticence to take a side in the ongoing battle over school choice and standardized testing, just like most members of Congress and the major U.S. media.

On the campaign trail, Biden drew cheers from teachers for his promise to end standardized testing, but he noticeably never added any such policy to his website. As was well known by teachers in those audiences, federally mandated tests provide no educational benefit but are the fuel in the engine driving charter school expansion.

MO: GOP Rep Tells Teachers To Take A Hike

Is it any wonder why there is a shortage of teachers? One wonders where the anger directed at, and fear of, professional educators comes from.

From Curmudgucation
So here's a jolly exchange from Twitter on Saturday.

Get a different job. No one owes you anything.

— Justin Hill (@HillForMissouri) January 3, 2021

That's Justin Hill, a Missouri GOP rep from the 108th district, showing his love and support for teachers in his state. He was a cop before running for office, so you'd think he'd know something about public service, but maybe not so much.

The New York Times Should Add a Former Teacher to Its Editorial Board

Standardized testing this year will measure the difference between the "haves" and the "have-nots." We don't need to spend millions of dollars for that information.

From Diane Ravitch
The New York Times published an editorial correctly blasting Betsy DeVos as the worst Secretary of Education in the 40-year history of the Department of Education. Unfortunately, the balance of the editorial was a plea to administer tests to find out how far the nation’s children had fallen behind because of the pandemic.

This is a misguided proposal, as I have explained many times on this blog.

A Warning: Who Is Paying for Your State’s Civics Courses?

From Diane Ravitch
If you have a few minutes to do some research, you might wonder about the connections among these three links:

First is from the extreme rightwing group called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), funded by DeVos, Charles Koch, and major corporations. ALEC has 2,000 members who are state legislators. They get a free trip every year to a posh resort, where ALEC gives them model legislation to introduce in their state to promote the libertarian, anti-regulation, anti-government agenda.

Second is an article in the conservative journal Education Next...

Monday, January 4, 2021

In Case You Missed It – January 4, 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.

Legislators may push voucher expansion

Even with the teacher pay report suggesting a large increase in teacher salaries, Indiana's educators will likely not see any increase. The best they can hope for is that nothing will be cut. Cue the legislature to hypocritically ignore the "lack of funds" and ask for more money for private and religious school vouchers. 

When the voucher program started it was to "save poor kids from failing public schools" (the fact that the schools were "failing" was because of state neglect is beside the point). Now the voucher for poor kids will pay for families who make over $100,000!

From School Matters
At least eight House Republicans include this question in their surveys, which are posted on their internet sites: “Do you support increasing the income eligibility for Indiana’s CHOICE scholarships, giving more low- and middle-income families the option to send their children to the school that best meets their needs?”

Note that the question contains a falsehood. Increasing the income eligibility for vouchers, officially labeled Choice Scholarships, won’t change anything for low-income families. They already meet income qualifications for the program, which provides state funding for private school tuition.

Under current law, students can qualify for vouchers if their family income is less than 150% of the threshold for reduced-price school meals. They remain eligible if their family income rises to 200% of the reduced-meal level. For a family of five, that’s $113,516, two times Indiana’s median household income.

In other words, low-income families and many middle-income families already meet the income requirements. According to the 2019-20 Indiana Department of Education voucher report, a quarter of voucher recipients came from families that made over $75,000 and 7% made over $100,000.


Pay increase for teachers priority over tuition grant

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
The panel's 37 recommendations for raising teacher pay all have some merit. But FWCS' Steve Corona, one of the state's longest-tenured school board members, offered another: Reduce the amount of tax money sent to private and parochial schools as vouchers.

"If they're serious about raising teacher pay in public schools, this is the fund that they need to take a look at," he said.

He's right. The cost of Indiana's voucher entitlement program grew by 924% in just seven years, from 15.5 million in 2011-12 to 158.8 million in 2018-19. More than 25% of voucher recipients come from households earning 75,000 a year or more. More than 7% of the students come from households earning 100,000-plus.

It's no coincidence that Indiana's public school teacher salaries have slipped as the cost of the voucher program has skyrocketed. Lawmakers can stop the decline by tightening income eligibility for an entitlement program sold as a way for poor students to escape failing schools. Support for today's public school teachers and the next generation of teachers should take precedence over private-school tuition for families with the means to pay it themselves.

Another Round Of Teacher Bashing

Can we stop blaming teachers and their unions whenever we disagree about school issues? Why don't we figure out what schools need to open safely.

From Curmudgucation
The level of bash, of demeaning insult, in this "selfish teachers close our schools" argument is huge. Because there are only a couple of possible explanations for the picture critics like FEE [the Foundation for Economic Education] paint:
Teachers are stupid people who don't understand the settled science.

Teachers are stupid and also lazy people who went into teaching hoping they would have to never actually work and the pandemic shut-downs are their idea of a gift from God, and they want to stretch out this paid vacation for as long as possible.

Teachers are big fat liars who are pretending not to understand the settled science so they can milk the taxpayers while providing nothing in return.

Teachers should be martyrs who want to give up their entire lives for their students, and if they don't want to do that (or, incidentally, want to be well-paid for it), they're lousy teachers and terrible human beings.
Note that all of these include the assumption that distance learning is a big fat vacation. Also, people who chose teaching as their life's work don't actually want to teach. Also, as FEE makes explicit, teachers do not have students' interests at heart. They don't care about the kids at all (which adds to the assumption of their stupidity, because if you don't care about children, teaching seems like a pretty dumb career choice, but hey--maybe you became a teacher because you couldn't manage a real job).


Democrats Need A New Theory Of Action

"'We can run three or four school systems for the cost of one' was always a lie, and it's time to stop pretending otherwise."

From Curmudgucation
Trouble is, the old plan, the one spanning both the Clinton and Obama years, is not a winner. It went, roughly, like this:

The way to fix poverty, racism, injustice, inequity and economic strife is to get a bunch of children to make higher scores on a single narrow standardized test; the best shot at getting this done is to give education amateurs the opportunity to make money doing it.

This was never, ever a good plan. Ever. Let me count the ways.

My Interview on “Democracy Now”

From Diane Ravitch
I was interviewed by Amy Goodman and Juan González about President-Elect Biden’s choice of Miguel Cardona. He needs not only to reverse Betsy DeVos’s four disastrous years, but 20 years of bad federal policy.

Here it is.


Biden Picks Connecticut Commissioner Miguel Cardonas as Secretary of Education

President-Elect Biden's choice for Secretary of Education is mostly an unknown...

From Diane Ravitch
...if he wants genuine reform, he will begin the process of writing a new federal law to replace the Every Student Succeeds Act and dramatically reduce the burdens imposed by clueless politicians on our nation’s schools.

Dr. Cardona is known for his efforts to reopen the schools during the pandemic. He knows that this can’t happen without the resources to reopen safely. The pandemic is surging again. It is not over. He knows this, and he will have to move with caution not to put the lives of staff or students at risk.

I will not judge him until I see how he handles not only the present dire moment, but the legacy of twenty years of failed federal policy. I am hoping to be pleasantly surprised. Hope springs eternal. We can’t live without it.
Connecticut: A Teacher Remembers Cardona

From Diane Ravitch
...he is someone who is more interested in getting things right and in making true improvements than he is in seeing his name in lights. He acts like someone who wants to be in positions where he can make a difference for the benefit of others, not for his own aggrandizement. I can’t speak on his positions on this or that issue. We’re not friends, just former colleagues, and I’ve not said more than “hello” to him in over seven years. But there is no one I’ve dealt with in administration whom I respect more.

Biden Picks Former President of Broad Foundation as Deputy Chief of Staff

...but this choice is definitely not supportive of public education.

From Diane Ravitch
Reed has been an outspoken proponent of charter schools for decades, championing their rise inside the Clinton White House, where he led the Domestic Policy Council. But although Reed has publicly drawn the line at for-profit charter schools and vouchers, the Broad Foundation funded organizations that support both.

Reed also frowned on community, or “mom-and-pop” charter schools, telling the Los Angeles Times in 2014, “There are high-quality charter management organizations that do extraordinary work.” He said, “School districts have made the mistake of thinking they know best.”

SACS considers pay boost for subs

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
A school district that's seen its substitute teacher pool shrink dramatically because of the pandemic is looking to boost those employees' pay.

But leaders of Southwest Allen County Schools acknowledge the $5 boost to the daily rate might not expand the roster of subs.

"I'm not sure how much more we're going to attract," said LuAnn Erickson, human resources director. "I think people want to be at Southwest, they want to be subs here, and everybody's struggling with finding enough subs."
**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


Monday, December 21, 2020

In Case You Missed It – December 21, 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.

Note: The next posting of NEIFPE's In Case You Missed it, will be on January 4, 2020
Bye, Betsy!


Borowitz: Betsy DeVos Leaves with a Warning

From Diane Ravitch
Andy Borowitz, a humorist for The New Yorker, says that Betsy DeVos is worried that Biden might actually appoint an educator to run the U.S. Department of Education.

He begins:
WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Calling the prospect a “nightmare scenario,” Betsy DeVos warned that President-elect Joe Biden will pick an Education Secretary with a background in education.

The outgoing Education Secretary warned that putting someone with a “pro-education bias” in her job would be like “naming a fox to be Secretary of Hens.”

“For the past four years, I have worked tirelessly to keep our schools free from education,” she said. “It deeply saddens me to think that all of my hard work will go to waste.”


Virtual program switches school districts after Indiana scrutinizes stipends

It seems like Indiana will never learn.

From Chalkbeat*
After drawing scrutiny from the state, a school that offers Indiana families financial support to educate their children at home is switching to a new district partner.

Tech Trep Academy, a Utah-based company, opened its first Indiana program this year through a partnership with the Middlebury Community Schools district outside Elkhart. The unusual school uses state education funding to give parents $1,700 stipends for classes and materials to educate their children at home. Parents can provide much of the instruction, with help and oversight from certified educators.

But just weeks after Tech Trep Academy began enrolling students in Indiana, the state notified Middlebury officials that reimbursing families for purchases violated a law that bars schools from offering enrollment incentives. To avoid running afoul of the law, the school told parents that it would make purchases for them directly from vendors.

After the state flagged the issue, Middlebury officials decided they had had enough...

Instead of closing the school, which enrolls about 165 students, the district worked with Tech Trep to find a new partner. Next semester, the school will move under the auspices of the Cloverdale Community Schools, a 1,000-student district in a farming community near Greencastle.


Six Arguments For Giving The Big Standardized Tests This School Year (And Why Biden’s Education Secretary Should Ignore Them)

Here are some bad reasons to test during the pandemic...bad reasons to test at all.

From Peter Greene in Forbes
Last year, in the face of general pandemic chaos, states canceled the annual Big Standardized Test, if not with Betsy DeVos’s blessing, at least with her consent. But DeVos has signaled that similar waivers from this year’s test would not be given on her watch. Now that her watch is soon to end, what about the next secretary of education?

Testing is a billion-dollar industry. In Texas alone, the annual cost of administering the test is approaching $100 million. Shutting down the tests two years running will be a costly proposition for testing companies, so it’s not surprising that pressure is mounting for states to commit to administering a test this year, particularly with a new education secretary on the horizon.

Across the nation, certain pro-testing arguments keep surfacing. Here are some of the most common, and why neither state nor federal authorities should be swayed by them.


Be prepared for change, FWCS families urged

A free article from the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Winter break won't begin for Fort Wayne Community Schools students until Friday, but Superintendent Mark Daniel already is assigning homework to families – make backup plans for when classes resume Jan. 4.

“Because we do not know what our area will look like in two weeks, families should be prepared for any scenario,” Daniel said in a letter to families Tuesday. “This will be true not just for the start of the second semester but for many months to come.”

He suggests that families plan for fully remote learning. FWCS tries to give as much notice as possible about switches in learning formats, he said, but changes could be announced for a school or the district with little warning because illness – not planned time off – is involved.


Corona: Cut vouchers to pay teachers

The Commission’s report on teacher pay has finally been released and reports what we knew all along - teacher pay needs to increase. Unfortunately, Governor Holcomb can postpone any teacher increase since there are more pressing needs due to COVID-19.

Furthermore, most of the suggestions just pass the buck back to cash-strapped local school districts rather than doing much at the state level.

FWCS Board member, Steve Corona, has a better idea.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
The 37 ideas a state panel recommended for raising teacher pay did not include one approach that a Fort Wayne Community Schools board member would like lawmakers to consider.

"My suggestion, in addition to those 37 recommendations, is that the General Assembly looks at seriously cutting the amount of money they will budget for vouchers," board member Steve Corona said. "If they're serious about raising teacher pay in public schools, this is the fund that they need to take a look at."

Corona pitched his ideas during the board meeting Monday, hours after the Next Level Teacher Compensation Commission released a 183-page report with recommendations for short- and long-term approaches to increasing average teacher pay to at least $60,000 in Indiana.

Panel: Teachers deserve $60,000

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
The Next Level Teacher Compensation Commission on Monday released a 183-page report with 37 recommendations for short- and long-term approaches to increasing average teacher pay to at least $60,000 in Indiana.

The suggestions for school districts include limiting health care plans and passing operating referendums. State-level options include shifting money from a generous college tax credit and raising state taxes.

"There is a gap between competitive pay and Indiana's current teacher salaries, and it has contributed to many challenges facing our education system today," the report said.

"Fewer students are enrolling in or completing teacher preparation programs, and fewer Hoosiers are earning teaching licenses. While there are varying opinions among the public about whether there is a 'teacher shortage,' the data is clear: Indiana has significant challenges in attracting and retaining qualified teachers."

Indiana report calls for $600 million more from districts, state to increase teacher pay

From Chalkbeat*
A report released Monday pressures Indiana school districts to pay a large part of the estimated $600 million a year needed to raise teacher pay. But it acknowledges the state also must substantially increase funding to make salaries more competitive.

Gov. Eric Holcomb’s teacher pay commission has been working on the recommendations for nearly two years. The commission calls for increasing average teacher salaries to $60,000 per year, up from about $51,000.

The report includes 37 recommendations to increase teacher pay. About a dozen suggestions offer ways for local districts to trim costs or increase revenue, including reducing healthcare spending, cutting staff, and asking voters for property tax increases.

Commission recommends $60K average salary for Indiana teachers

A state commission studying how to make Indiana’s teacher pay competitive with surrounding states has come up with a solution – pay them more.

The Next Level Teacher Compensation Commission on Monday released its report on improving teacher compensation in Indiana. The commission’s 182-page final report details a “gap” between competitive pay and Indiana’s current teacher salaries, which contributes to the challenges plaguing the state’s education system.

The commission found that Indiana’s average teacher salary of $51,119 in the 2018-19 school year ranked 38th for average teacher salaries out of the 50 states and Washington, D.C. The state’s teacher pay fell 18 percent below the national average, the report 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


Sunday, December 20, 2020

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #347 – December 19, 2020

Dear Friends,

Sound the alarm! We don’t need a new legislative crisis during this horrendous pandemic.

Word from the Statehouse is that the Republican supermajority plans to give public tax money to upper income and wealthy private school parents to pay their private school tuition. Currently, vouchers pay all or part of private school tuition for families earning $95,000 or less for a family of four. The proposed plan would remove all income caps.

This is obviously a bad idea during our economic crisis. It would not give school choice to any additional students. The students from upper income and wealthy families are already going to private schools. This plan would just shift the tuition bill for those upper income families to public taxpayers, including low income taxpayers.

This proposal is tone deaf to the fact that public schools serving students of poverty face cuts in the upcoming budget due to the Covid recession. This idea shamefully proposes to take from the poor and give to the rich.

It’s not right. This should not stand.

There is also talk of giving public tuition money to home school parents for the first time. This is another expensive idea that is totally wrong during the pandemic crisis. Since home schools are unregulated and unsupervised, whether or not public dollars would be used to teach children to support our democracy and the U.S. Constitution would be unknown.

These proposals to divert money to private school and home school parents should be non-starters during the pandemic and economic crisis we are in. Contact legislators to make that point.

Let your State Representative and your State Senator know that this is the wrong time to divert funding from public taxpayers to give to wealthy parents who want their children to go to religious or private schools or to home school parents.

Email or contact your legislators, or any legislator, at your earliest opportunity. Then add an email to the leaders of both the House, Speaker Huston (, and the Senate, President ProTempore Bray (

Tell them that during this crisis giving more money to higher income and wealthy families is wrong.

Tell them this idea is not a mandate of the election because it was not a visible issue in the campaign.

Tell them this is no time to revisit the bitter 2011 battle over private school vouchers.

Tell them they should support our current public schools to the maximum degree during this recession and not try to drive a nail in their coffin.

Thank you for supporting public education in Indiana!

Stay safe,

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 again representing ICPE in the new budget session which began on January 3, 2017. 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 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.


Monday, December 14, 2020

In Case You Missed It – December 14, 2020

Here are links to last week's articles receiving the most attention on 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.

Teresa Thayer Snyder: What Shall We Do About the Children After the Pandemic

Look at any article about education during the pandemic and you'll likely see a reference to how kids are "falling behind." Diane Ravitch's guest blogger asks, "falling behind what?"

From Diane Ravitch
I am writing today about the children of this pandemic. After a lifetime of working among the young, I feel compelled to address the concerns that are being expressed by so many of my peers about the deficits the children will demonstrate when they finally return to school. My goodness, what a disconcerting thing to be concerned about in the face of a pandemic which is affecting millions of people around the country and the world. It speaks to one of my biggest fears for the children when they return. In our determination to “catch them up,” I fear that we will lose who they are and what they have learned during this unprecedented era. What on earth are we trying to catch them up on? The models no longer apply, the benchmarks are no longer valid, the trend analyses have been interrupted. We must not forget that those arbitrary measures were established by people, not ordained by God. We can make those invalid measures as obsolete as a crank up telephone! They simply do not apply.

Survey: During Pandemic, Teachers Are Working More And Enjoying It Less

The results from the Horace Mann survey are worth checking out. 

From Peter Greene in Forbes
The greatest number of teachers in the survey were working in person (497) while 319 were teaching online and 379 were working in a hybrid model. But a full 924 (77%) of respondents said that work was taking more time this year than last year, with only 52 (4.3%) saying they were spending less time teaching this year. This may come as a surprise to some critics; on Twitter, one poster called the current situation a “de facto teacher strike,” as if teachers are not doing any actual work currently. In fact, preparing lessons to be delivered through a variety of pipelines requires extra preparation.

When asked if they were enjoying their work in education more or less now than they did last year, 113 (9.7%) said they are enjoying it more, while 698 (60%) said less. This is not entirely a surprise; google “teachers frustrated by remote learning” and read accounts from all over the country of teacher (and parent) frustration with pandemic education.

FWCS Lincoln Elementary goes virtual until January

Due to a significant number of staff absences, all Lincoln Elementary School students will work remotely Dec. 10-17, Fort Wayne Community Schools announced Tuesday.

FWCS said that students will attend in-person on Wednesday and will bring home electronic devices and other supplies needed for at-home learning.

Students are expected to return to the classroom after winter break, Jan. 4.


Mrs. Gates Still Doesn't Get It, Still.

Bill and Melinda Gates still don’t seem to understand that their meddling in education has caused harm.

From Curmudgucation
You know, if Bill and I had had more decision-making authority in education, maybe we would’ve gotten farther in the United States. But we haven’t. Some of the things that we piloted or tried got rejected, or didn’t work, and I think there’s a very healthy ecosystem of parents and teachers’ unions and mayors and city councils that make those education decisions. I wish the U.S. school system was better for all kids.
Yikes. I mean, yikes. First of all, it's not "some of the things"-- all of the things that the Gates have tried in education, from small schools to the Common Core, have failed. Yes, they got rejected, in the same way the average person rejects stewed liver covered with toad wart dressing--they were bad. (And lets not forget that sometimes, rather than being rejected, the Gates just walked out on projects in the middle, leaving someone else holding the bag.) And whatever their many problems were, the biggest problem was not that Bill and Melinda Gates didn't have enough power over the system. Note also that her "very healthy ecosystem" includes pretty much everybody. If everyone else had just let the Gates be in charge, it would have been fine! Yikes. After all this time, all this money, and all this failure, she still doesn't understand that when it comes to education, they are amateurs who don't know enough about how education works and who don't bother to talk to actual experts (without checking to make sure they're sympathetic and then handing them a big pile of money first, which tends to blunt the critical faculties --looking at you NEA and AFT).


Jeff Bryant: What Is Worse Than DeVos?

This post from Diane Ravitch includes information about outside money thrown into the Indianapolis School Board race...

From Diane Ravitch
In the 2020 school board election in Indianapolis, local teachers and grassroots groups the Indiana Coalition for Public Education and the IPS Community Coalition backed four candidates against a slate of opponents whom locals accuse of representing outside interests. At stake, according to WFYI, was “an ideological tilt” over whether the district would continue to “collaborate with outside groups and charter organizations” or “return to more traditional methods of improving struggling schools.”

Both sides raise the banner of “improving struggling schools,” but locals say what’s really at stake is whether voters retain democratic control of their public schools or see them turned over to private, unelected boards and their corporate supporters and funders.

Oklahoma: Governor Stitt Appoints Home-Schooling Anti-Masker to State Board of Education

Local school boards are elected. Why aren't all state school boards? In Indiana, the governor appoints 9 of the 11 school board members. The other two are selected by the leaders of the legislative houses. The only voice Indiana voters have in state-wide public education policy is in the election of the governor.

From Diane Ravitch
Kurt Bollenbach of Kingfisher, who was appointed in April 2019 to serve a four-year term, recently supported a high-profile move to claw back more than $11 million in state funding from Epic Charter Schools and a failed attempt to mandate masks in all public schools.

He also recently drew public criticism from school choice advocates for leading a delay of approval for a couple of private schools to begin accepting state-funded scholarships for disabled students and foster children over questions about whether the schools’ anti-discrimination policies met minimum state and federal requirements.

Stitt replaced Bollenbach by appointing a home-schooling parent who opposes mask-wearing during the pandemic to the State Board of Education.