Monday, August 19, 2019

In Case You Missed It – Aug 19, 2019

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

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


A NOLA CHARTER DIPLOMA

New Orleans: How a Student Graduated Although She Could Not Count or Read

From Diane Ravitch
The parents of a student in New Orleans were dismayed when they realized that their daughter would graduate from high school even though she could neither count nor read. She was surely entitled under federal law to extra help but she never got it. Now she is a statistic: a graduate. A victory for the all-charter system that failed her.

TAX CREDIT FOR BOOK FEES?

$1,200 in textbook rentals? Parents battle book fees

“If you can’t fund it, you could at least give the families a tax credit or tax deduction for paying that, because we do that for private school parents and we do that for home school parents,” said Shank. “So why can’t we do that for everyday parents who are sending their kids to public schools?”

From WISH-TV.com
This month Indiana families will pay millions of dollars in school book fees for their students in public schools, but some families and groups are hoping this could be the last year.

The Indiana Coalition for Public Education states Indiana is one of eight states that charges parents for students’ textbook fees, indicating that 42 other states have “figured out how to do it.”

“We heard from a parent who had lived in three different states where books were covered,” said Marilyn Shank, vice president of the ICPE. “They moved to Indiana with five children and they were astonished to get a bill for $1,200.”


IN DESPERATE NEED FOR TEACHERS

Schools leader: Indiana ‘in desperate need of a lot of teachers’

From WISH-TV.com
As many students across the state returned to school, the Indiana Department of Education School Personnel Job Bank on Tuesday showed more than 600 available teacher positions.

“We’re in a teacher shortage. We’re in an administrator shortage. We’re in an educator shortage,” said Jennifer McCormick, the state superintendent of public instruction, on Tuesday. “We’re also in a bus driver shortage. We’re in a school cafeteria worker shortage. The list goes on.”

“A lot of it goes back to pay,” McCormick said. “We can tip-toe around the issue, but a lot of it, when you have unemployment this low across the state of Indiana and across the nation, it goes back to pay.”

McCormick said 3,500 teachers were on emergency teaching permits in 2018. The Department of Education’s website says, “An Emergency Permit is issued at the request of a school district in a content area for which the district is experiencing difficulty staffing the assignment with a properly licensed educator.”

“We’re in desperate need of a lot of teachers,” McCormick said.


NEW SCHOOLS NOT NEEDED: 5 CHARTERS CLOSE
NEW SCHOOLS NOT NEEDED: 6 CHARTERS OPEN


Without enough students or cash, 5 Indianapolis charter schools closed. Now, 6 new ones are opening.

Indiana spends money on closing charters instead of using our tax dollars to support public schools which serve all children.

From Chalkbeat*
Six new charter schools are opening in Indianapolis this year. At the same time, five charter schools closed their doors in the face of enrollment, financial, or academics woes.

The new schools have various focuses, such as project-based learning or educating students with autism, and most are expansions of existing Indianapolis charter networks. They serve students in K-12 — notably including two high schools that are taking root just one year after Indianapolis Public Schools closed three campuses due to low enrollment. Indianapolis schools must compete for students and, therefore, viability, and each year a handful of charter schools, which are publicly funded and privately managed, are forced to shutter.

The five schools that closed this year were two schools in one of the city’s highest-performing charter networks, a school that was given a second life after closing once before, a tiny elementary school, and a campus dedicated to serving troubled teens.

INDY ENDS PRESCHOOL PROGRAM FOR 3YEAR OLDS

Indianapolis ends preschool program, leaving 3-year-olds without access to scholarships

From Chalkbeat
Hundreds of 3-year-olds in Indianapolis will no longer qualify for preschool funding now that the city is ending its scholarship initiative.

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett did not include $4.2 million for the Indy Preschool Scholarship Program in his 2020 budget, unveiled Monday.

The scholarship program, which will end after this school year, paid for 6,526 3- and 4-year-olds from low-income families to attend high-quality programs of their choice over the past four years.

On My Way Pre-K, a state-funded $22 million preschool voucher program that was launched soon after the city’s pilot, will largely take its place. The state program serves some 3,000 4-year-olds from low-income families.

It doesn’t, however, accept 3-year-olds.


E-LEARNING IN NACS

Some snow days to become e-learning days at NACS

From Fort Wayne's NBC
Teachers and staff at Northwest Allen County Schools are getting everything ready to welcome students back to class on Wednesday.

The district is instituting a big change this year as it slowly rolls out e-learning days in place of some snow days.

IT staff at Northwest Allen County Schools are in all the buildings, getting the technology cleaned and ready for students to return to class.

“Right now we’re putting new students into them that are coming in at the last minute, taking withdrawal students out. We’re sorting, we’re cleaning, we’re just preparing everything to have the best start for school,” says NACS computer technician Pat Thurber.

The district distributes 7500 devices like tablets and laptops for students, plus teachers and staff.

FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL OVERSHADOWED BY ARRESTS

Trump’s War Against Latinos

From Diane Ravitch
Jack Hassard writes about the excitement of the first day of school. The children in their best clothes, looking forward to meeting their new teacher. But when school is over, their parents are nowhere to be found. They were arrested by ICE.

The mass arrest of 680 workers in Mississippi occurred only days after the slaughter in El Paso, where the killer targeted what he thought were Mexicans.


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

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Sunday, August 18, 2019

Remembering Phyllis

Dan Greenberg
Teacher, Ohio public education activist, and friend of NEIFPE, Dan Greenberg posted this remembrance of NEIFPE co-founder Phyllis Bush this morning on Facebook.
Just like many of my students, I procrastinated when it came to completing my Summer reading homework for English 9, Tuesday's with Morrie.

It took me two days to complete, but the lessons and ideas will take me a lot longer to sort out and reflect upon.

As I read it, I found myself thinking often of my friend Phyllis Bush, who passed away earlier this year. I thought about the in-person lessons she shared, as well as her heartfelt, often humorous posts about her adventures with "cancer schmantzer." She shared life philosophies and stories about riding the electric carts at the grocery store.

She titled a blog entry from last October "Side Effects: The Gift that Keeps on Giving." Always looking to lighten up the serious subject and the serious disease she was fighting...

Mitch Albom, in his Afterword to Tuesdays with Morrie, wrote "[W]hat I miss most...is the twinkle in Morrie's eyes when I came in the room...[W]hen someone is happy - genuinely happy - to see you, it melts you from the start. It is like going home..."

I got that look many times from Phyllis, including the last time I visited with her, in December. When I was ready to leave, she gave me a long hug, heartfelt words and a huge smile. I knew she was saying goodbye to me for the last time.

When I checked Facebook Memories this morning, the image I saw could not have been more fitting; a picture of Phyllis. It was one year ago that Nicki and I went to her 75th birthday party in Fort Wayne.

Missing you and thinking of you Phyllis, today and always.


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Monday, August 12, 2019

In Case You Missed It – Aug 12, 2019

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

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

UNION-BUSTING

Beware of Right-Wing Groups Promoting Union-Busting Shell Called “Free to Teach”

From Diane Ravitch
...These organizations are part of a massive network of right-wing groups called the State Policy Network. These organizations have donated HUNDREDS OF MILLION OF DOLLARS to extreme right causes: many anti-union and pro-educational privatization. These organizations are funded by billionaires including the Koch Brothers and Richard and Helen DeVos—the parents-in-law of Betsy DeVos. They also fund the Mackinac Center in Michigan, a favorite cause of Betsy DeVos, which works to crush unions and workers’ rights...


IPS HOMELESS STUDENTS

Charie Gibson was homeless 17 times. Now she helps more than 1,000 homeless students in Indianapolis.

From Chalkbeat
As the sole administrator responsible for serving the more than 1,000 homeless students in Indianapolis Public Schools, Gibson knows, perhaps better than anyone else in the district, the laws, policies, and resources students need to find stability. She also serves students in foster care.

STUDENTS HAVE "NOTHING TO FEAR"

Trump: Kids scared of going to school because of gun violence ‘have nothing to fear'

From the Answer Sheet
“They have nothing to fear.”

That’s what President Trump said Friday when asked if he had any advice for students who are returning to class for the 2019-2020 school year and are afraid because of recent gun violence.

His response came as he was answering questions from reporters on the White House lawn before departing for the Hamptons in New York, where he was expected to attend a high-priced fundraiser. He answered queries about gun-control legislation — saying he wanted “very meaningful” checks to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people — and other issues, including immigration raids in Mississippi and the trade war with China.

More than halfway through the nearly 35-minute exchange, a reporter asked the president if he had advice for children going to school amid fear of gun violence following recent mass shootings in California, Texas and Ohio. This is what he said...


INDY CHARTER SCHOOL ON ITS OWN

An Indianapolis charter school is going out on its own — and saying goodbye to its longtime network

It would be nice if Chalkbeat would tell us what the success rate for Lighthouse was. Especially since the article indicates that the difference will be mostly just a change in name. And about that $450,000 they’ll be saving? Who was paying for that in the first place? And what are the enrollment figures? Is there really a need for this diversion of resources from the public schools to exist in the first place?

From Chalkbeat
After years of being managed from afar by the charter network that started it, the local board that oversees Victory is betting that it can operate independently — all the while saving roughly $450,000 in administrative costs.

The shift is the latest sign that Indianapolis is increasingly a city where charter schools, which are publicly funded and privately run, are local — rather than part of a large national network. In this changing ecosystem, local charter leaders have increasing support to manage their schools without the expertise of larger networks.

WLCLC OPTING OUT OF TECH

West Lafayette Schools Opt Out of 1:1 Technology

From WLFI.com
Students in the Lafayette School Corporation will head back today with access to 1:1 technology.

The Tippecanoe School Corporation also participates in the program that allows certain grade levels to get their own electronic device to use at school and home.

But the West Lafayette Community School Corporation has opted out of the program.

When it comes to technology in the classroom, the goal is to teach kids to use it constructively.

Superintendent Rocky Killion said teachers focus on instructional research practices. He said the goal is to make kids critical thinkers so they can make more informed decisions when researching.


CORRUPTION OF VIRTUAL CHARTERS

Bill Phillis: Online For-Profit Charters Are Corrupt

From Diane Ravitch
...unregulated, for-profit online charters are prone to corruption. When will public officials acknowledge that online charters are a public policy mistake?

ARMING TEACHERS

Pennsylvania Law Meant to Forbid Arming Teachers May Have Done Just the Opposite

From Gadflyonthewall Blog
Pennsylvania teachers, don’t forget to pack your Glock when returning to school this year.

A new law meant to close the door on arming teachers may have cracked it open.

Despite warnings from gun safety activists, the bill, SB 621, was approved by the legislature and signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf this summer.

The legislation explicitly allows security guards – independent contractors who are not members of law enforcement – to carry guns in schools if they go through special training.

And that’s bad enough.

Why you’d want glorified rent-a-cops with guns strapped to their hips running around schools full of children is beyond me.

That’s not going to make anyone safer. It’s going to do just the opposite.

But that’s not even the worst of it.


TEACHER MORALE

'Tired Of Being Treated Like Dirt' Teacher Morale In The 2019 PDK Poll

Low pay for a job that is vitally important and that requires both skill and education is a clear sign of disrespect. Gov. Holcomb, his commission, and our Hoosier legislators seem to not understand this point.

From Peter Greene in Forbes
Inadequate pay is the marquee reason, and notably regional. Public school teachers are far less likely to feel fairly paid in the South and Midwest. That reason is followed closely by stress and pressure, which is followed by a lack of respect. Lack of support. Teaching no longer enjoyable. Testing requirements. Workload.

These are tied together with the single thread of distrust and disrespect for teachers. This has been evident on the national stage with issues like installing a Secretary of Education who had previously dismissed public education as a "dead end" or a Secretary of Education who asserts that student failure is because of low teacher expectations. Education has also carried the modern burden of the thesis that poor education is the cause of poverty, or even our "greatest national security threat," and so the entire fate of the nation rests on teachers' backs. And yet, teachers are not trusted to handle any of this; instead, we've had decades of federal and state programs meant to force teachers to do a better job. In the classroom, much of these "reforms" have sounded like "You can't do a good job unless you are threatened, micromanaged, and stripped of your autonomy." There is a special kind of stress that comes from working for someone who says, in effect, "You have a big important job to do, and we do not trust you to do it."

DEMOCRATS 2020

Joe Biden: Where Does He Stand on Race to the Top?

From Diane Ravitch
I am not a one-issue voter but I sincerely hope that Democrats have a candidate who will reverse the ruinous education policies of the past four decades. Our nation has invested in standards, testing, accountability, and choice with nothing to show for it.

Many states today spend less on education than they did eleven years ago, and millions of teachers are not paid or respected as professionals. Many states cut taxes and cut their education budgets yet expanded privatization by charters and vouchers, diverting even more money away from the public schools that most students attend.


WALMART AND GUNS

Harold Meyerson on Walmart and Guns

From Diane Ravitch
The Walton Family, which owns Walmart, is the richest family in the world. Their family foundation is the single biggest supporter of charter schools. They say they funded one of every four charters in the nation.

NAACP AND CHARTERS

Note to the National NAACP: Ignore Michael Bloomberg

From Diane Ravitch
Billionaire Michael Bloomberg spoke to the national convention of the NAACP about why they should believe in the saving power of privately managed charter schools. He tried to persuade them to rescind their brave 2016 resolution calling for a moratorium on new charters.

UTLA TEACHER STRIKE

In the Public Interest: Inside the LA Teachers’ Strike

From Diane Ravitch
The photograph below was taken during the UTLA strike last January. The guy in the center is famous rocker Stevie Van Zandt, who loves teachers and public schools and unions. Stevie is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He played in Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band.


THE CHARTER SCHOOL BOTTOM LINE

Florida: Principal Doubles Salary When Public School Turns Charter

From Diane Ravitch
What a payoff!

A principal in Florida doubled his salary when his public schools converted to a charter, which is what the rightwing governor and legislator want to happen.

Meanwhile teachers In the state are raising money to pay for basic school supplies for their students.

TEACHER SHORTAGE

WLCSC Feeling the Impact of Statewide Teacher Problems

From WLFI.com
The West Lafayette Community School Corporation starts classes Thursday, and it's beginning the school year with about 15 new educators. However, it isn't because they're hiring additional teachers.

Superintendent Rocky Killion said most of the positions opened due to teachers retiring, leaving the profession or moving on to states that pay educators more.

Killion said filling the jobs is becoming harder and harder due to a dwindling number of candidates. While positions are hard to fill across the board, he said secondary teachers in specialized topics, like vocational and foreign language, are the most difficult to hire.

He said the state isn't funding education enough to allow school to pay teachers well.

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Monday, August 5, 2019

In Case You Missed It – Aug 5, 2019

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

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

CHARTER BOTTOM LINE IS DOLLARS

Indianapolis charter school for troubled youth closes days before school starts

Charters don't seem to be "the answer." Real public schools are part of the community and the community has a stake in their support. Charter schools feel free to bolt when they get in a "financial bind."

From Chalkbeat
A struggling Indianapolis charter school designed to serve the city’s most troubled youth will close just days before the beginning of the school year, officials said Friday.

Marion Academy, which enrolled about 120 students in grades 6 to12 last year, was created for students who have been in the juvenile justice system, were expelled or were at-risk of expulsion. It also ran a program for students in the Marion County Juvenile Detention Center that served about 60 students.

The school was in a financial bind because it struggled to recruit students and the juvenile detention center chose to find another education partner, according to a press release. “Budget projections were not strong enough to get the school through the 2019-20 year,” the release said. In 2018, Marion Academy had among the lowest passing rates on state tests in the county for 3-8 grades, and no students passed both the math and English state high school tests.


GOP STEALS TEACHERS' PENSION FUNDS IN KY

Kentucky: Governor Bevin and GOP Legislators Steal Teachers’ Pension Funds

From Diane Ravitch
The Kentucky public pension “deform” abomination signed by Governor Bevin July 24, 2019 – opposed by all Senate Democrats and 9 Republicans in the Kentucky Senate, deforms the pensions – it does not reform them.

The essential knife-thrusts to the heart of the government retiree pension are these:

1) It clips future hires from the plan (and future pay-ins).

2) It allows 118 quasi-governmental agencies (rape crisis centers; health departments, regional universities, etc.) to buy out of the retirement plan with only vague plans to pay off their 30-year pension deb.

The amounts owed are so large it is daft to think the agencies could meet their obligations without declaring bankruptcy and then consequently cutting the benefits of retirees…

A TEACHER ON THE CABINET?

Should A Teacher Be Secretary of Education

"The devil, as always, is in the details."

From Curmudgucation
One up-and-coming education policy idea that was first proposed by Elizabeth Warren, but has now garnered wider candidate support, is the notion that a teacher should be the next secretary of education. At last count, four major candidates were supporting some version of the idea. It's an arresting and appealing idea. Betsy DeVos is widely seen as a controversial opponent of public education, and in many education circles, predecessors like Arne Duncan were not much loved, either. Many teachers feel that the folks in D.C. just don't get it, so the idea of someone from the trenches who would, presumably, get it--well, it's an attractive idea. Now we have to ask--is it a good idea?


INDY TRIES TO RECRUIT TEACHERS

To recruit teachers, Indianapolis built an Educators’ Village. But was it enough of an incentive?

The Teacher Village seems like a pretty convoluted plan to attempt to entice people to teach. Perhaps committing to paying them decent salaries would have been a more successful plan.

From Chalkbeat
Each stakeholder admitted the development so far hasn’t been effective in recruiting and retaining teachers in the Indianapolis Public Schools area, a high-turnover district in a state where nearly 9% of teachers left the classroom for reasons other than retirement in recent years. Although at least one buyer teaches at Thomas Gregg Neighborhood School — an IPS school within walking distance of the village — it remains unclear how many of the seven teachers work in the urban core. And several buyers, including Lefler, chose to teach in different districts.

Observers believe several issues led to the development not attracting more teachers. While the homes were set below market value for buyers of a certain income, there was no incentive specifically for teachers set by area schools, and housing laws prohibit restricting buyers to a particular group of people. Outreach efforts fell short, and the application and income eligibility processes were lengthy.

CHARTERS BEG FOR STATE SUPPORT IN MI

Report: Most states find public money to pay for charter school buildings. Not Michigan.

Wondering why charters with no proof of academic success, fiscal accountability or consideration for the real needs of a community think they should just be given a building to operate in or the cash to buy one.

From Chalkbeat
To critics in Michigan, less charter growth is a good thing. Charter schools can cause financial problems for traditional districts by taking their students — and the students’ roughly $8,000 in annual state funds. Unlike Massachusetts, which sends money to traditional districts to offset the effects of losing students to charter schools, Michigan has no such policy in place.

Other states help charter schools find buildings by giving them access to property tax dollars — the same method used by traditional districts in Michigan to cover facilities costs. Dozens more states provide loans, grants, or direct funding for charter school facilities.


LEGISLATORS IGNORE ADDITIONAL COST OF CHARTERS

Peter Greene: Charter Schools and the Elephant in the Room

From Diane Ravitch
Peter Greene points out in this post that legislatures have a nasty habit of overlooking the central question about charter schools: their funding.

They pretend that they can run two publicly funded school systems without any additional cost.

They pretend that the funding for charters is not subtracted from the funding for public schools.

TEACHERS HOLD OUT FOR MORE IN FL

Florida: Teachers in Orange County Overwhelmingly Reject New Contract

From Diane Ravitch
It is outrageous that teachers are paid so little, and that the state continues diverting public money to charters and vouchers.

What does the future hold for Florida, where education is a political football and held in such low regard?


HARRIS PROMISES HIGHER SALARIES FOR TEACHERS

Kamala Harris promises $2.5 billion for teacher prep programs at HBCUs to improve educator diversity

From Chalkbeat
Presidential candidate Kamala Harris proposed Friday infusing $2.5 billion into teacher preparation programs at historically black colleges and universities to help produce more educators of color.

The California senator also pledged $60 billion for scholarships and facilities to boost science, technology, engineering, and math studies on those campuses.

Harris was among four Democratic presidential candidates speaking to the National Urban League’s annual conference in Indianapolis. Five other candidates spoke Thursday.

BUTTIGIEG DOESN'T GET IT

Mayor Pete Doesn't Get It (And If He Does, That's Even Worse)

It’s sad to see this promising candidate taking the wrong turn on education.

From Curmudgucation
...Buttigieg would likely be a repeat of the Bush-Obama education program. He's said some salty things about Betsy DeVos, but beyond his dislike of vouchers, it's not clear just how different his education policy would be from hers.

It would be interesting to see what, exactly, his campaign believes is the critical difference between a school accepting a voucher and a non-profit charter school. Because depending on the state you're in, there's not a large enough space between the two to drive a bicycle, let alone a campaign van.

Why I Do Not Support Mayor Pete

From Diane Ravitch
There are many reasons why I would like to support Mayor Pete Buttigieg. He’s young, he is well-educated, he is smart, he has an admirable record of service to his country, he’s brimming with ideas. I find him very attractive on many levels.

But on education, he is a stealth corporate reformer.


DO CHARTERS HURT REAL PUBLIC SCHOOLS?

Critics of charter schools say they’re hurting school districts. Are they right?

An older post from Chalkbeat. From June 11, 2019.

From Chalkbeat
“I’m striking to stop charter schools from draining our schools,” wrote Los Angeles teacher Adriana Chavira during the January teachers strike, saying her school has had to cut teachers as it lost students to charter schools. A number of states, most prominently California, are considering efforts to limit charter school expansion in response to such concerns.

Presidential candidates like Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden have recently raised it, too. “The bottom line is, it siphons off money for our public schools, which are already in enough trouble,” Biden said of some charters.

LOCAL DISTRICTS FEEL FINANCIAL PINCH

Districts face finance reality - 'it's just us'

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
Fort Wayne Community Schools' ongoing building repair program goes before voters a third time next May when a ballot referendum seeks an additional $125 million from property taxes. Following successful referendums in 2012 and 2016, the district is prepared to tackle major projects at Wayne High School and Blackhawk and Miami middle schools, plus repairs and improvements at dozens of other schools.

The district's track record on repairs and renovations makes the Repair 2020 referendum worthy of continued support. But the referendum also represents the only option Fort Wayne Community Schools and other public school districts in Indiana have to meet their building and operations needs.

Consider Terre Haute, where voters in November will be asked to approve a property tax increase to avoid doubling the $4 million in cuts Vigo County Schools will make over the next two years.

“Nobody is coming to help,” Superintendent Rob Haworth told the school board this month. “Washington, D.C., is not coming to help. Indy is not coming to help. ... It's just us.”


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Monday, July 29, 2019

In Case You Missed It – July 29, 2019

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

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

PRIVATIZATION: LACK OF ACCOUNTABILITY, LACK OF TRANSPARENCY

All over the country, legislators are diverting tax dollars to vouchers, charter schools, and home schoolers. Why aren't those dollars subject to the same accountability and/or transparency that public schools must provide?

As we approach the next election season, this should be #1 in the list of "Questions asked by Education voters."


Vouchers, Discrimination And Corruption

From Sheila Kennedy
Indiana has the largest, most costly school voucher program in the country.

How wasteful/counterproductive is our state’s largesse to private (mostly religious) schools? Let me count the ways: the promised improvement in student achievement did not materialize; badly-needed funds have been diverted from the public schools that most Hoosier children still attend; taxpayers are subsidizing discrimination (schools getting millions of dollars are discharging teachers and counselors for the “sin” of being in same-sex marriages); and there are no requirements that recipients of vouchers teach civics.

Now we also find that the lack of oversight has facilitated a massive rip off of Hoosier taxpayers.


Portrait of a Charter Entrepreneur: Ron Packard

From Diane Ravitch
When we consider the charter industry, it’s hard not to notice how it has become fertile territory for entrepreneurs with no education experience.

Take a case in point: The meteoric career of Ron Packard.

Begin by reading this dated biography, posted on SourceWatch.

When it was written, Ron was making $5 million a year as CEO of the online charter chain K12 Inc. The company had a market value of more than $1.25 billion. Ron and former Secretary of Education Bill Bennett founded with startup money supplied by ex-felon and junk bond king MIchael Milken and Larry Ellison of Oracle.

California: Public Pays for Home School Trips to Disneyland

From Diane Ravitch
It is very cool to home school in California! There are charter schools for home schoolers where you don’t have to go to school!

Home schoolers get a list of approved expenses, and they can decide how to spend the public’s money. How cool is that! This is a program that Betsy DeVos must love! True educational freedom on the public’s dime!


Two Indiana virtual schools face swift closure as they shrug off blame for enrollment scandal

From Chalkbeat
The superintendent of a tiny Indiana school district that oversaw two scandal-plagued virtual charter schools read Thursday night from an eight-page script, recounting a series of missteps at Indiana Virtual School and Indiana Virtual Pathways Academy.

Those schools, which had been slated to close by the end of the 2019-2020 school year, had “let their students down,” Daleville Community Schools Superintendent Paul Garrison said at the sparsely attended meeting. “There are many things that led us to this place, but that has been the most disappointing failure of them all.”

That latest blunder — failing to tell students and families that the schools would be shutting their doors — will likely hasten the schools’ demise...

Georgia: K12 Inc. Proposes Another Virtual Charter School, for 8,000 Students

From Diane Ravitch
The Virtual Charter schools of for-profit K12 Inc. have been noted for high attrition, low test scores, low graduation rates, and high profits.

The corporation currently operates a virtual charter school in Georgia which is the largest “school” in the state but of course low-performing. Now it proposes to open another K-12 online charter that will eventually enroll 8,000 students. It will be career-focused, so even children in kindergarten can begin planning their careers.

Fortunately, even the charter advocates in Georgia are having second thoughts.


TEACHERS UNION LEADER PLEADS GUILTY

Ex-union chief for Indianapolis Public Schools teachers pleads guilty to embezzlement

Bad actors always need to be weeded out, but it is hoped that people are smart enough to realize that unions are still important.

Public school privatizers choose to divert money to charters and vouchers rather than to improve public schools. Instead, we ought to fix what might be broken. Similarly, our unions must be strengthened and leaders must be subject to the same accountability as in any other area of society.

From Chalkbeat
The former head of the Indianapolis Public Schools teachers union pleaded guilty Monday to embezzling more than $100,000, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana.

Rhondalyn Cornett wrote checks from the union’s bank account and used the union’s debit card for personal expenses and cash withdrawals, the U.S. attorney’s office said, stealing more than $100,000.

Cornett, 54, resigned from the teachers union in November when her alleged mishandling of funds came to light.

Cornett, who led Indianapolis Education Association for five years, faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

TEACHERS THREATENED BY MEGA-CORPORATION

Justin Parmenter: Mega-Corporation Threatens Legal Action Against 3 North Carolina Teachers

From Diane Ravitch
Under normal circumstances, when a teacher disagreed with the state education department’s decision to switch from one test to another, it would be called a difference of opinion. Under normal circumstances, when teachers called attention to the state chief’s decision to ignore the recommendations of his evaluation team and pick a different assessment, it would be treated as criticism and grounds for debate.

When NBCT teacher Justin Parmenter and two other teachers in North Carolina called out their state superintendent for disregarding the recommendation of his evaluation committee and for choosing a product they rejected, the corporation owning the winning product threatened legal action to silence the teachers.


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Monday, July 22, 2019

In Case You Missed It – July 22, 2019

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

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

Read about charter scandals from NPE

CHARTERS FAIL IN CHARTER CAPITAL, NOLA

New Orleans: One of City’s Oldest Charter Organizations Closes Down Amid Multiple Scandals

From Diane Ravitch
After allegations of grade-fixing and a major fiasco involving class credits that left dozens of students unable to graduate, the public charter board overseeing John F. Kennedy High voted Thursday night to surrender its charters to operate both of its schools.

The surrender of the charters, which will take place at the end of the 2019-20 school year, was approved unanimously by the New Beginnings Schools Foundation board.

The decision stemmed from a lengthy investigation into management problems at the charter network that led earlier to the resignation of its CEO, career educator Michelle Blouin-Williams, and the firing of five high-ranking administrators at Kennedy…

INDIANA'S TEACHER PENALTY

‘Teaching penalty’ large in Indiana

From School Matters
The salary gap between teachers and comparable professionals is larger in Indiana than in most other states, according to a new report from researchers at the Rutgers Graduate School of Education and the Albert Shanker Institute.

The report, “School Finance and Teacher Pay Competitiveness,” supports the argument that Hoosier teachers have fallen behind their peers in other states, despite Indiana’s healthy state budget.


SOUTH BEND EMPOWERMENT DISTRICT

Harvard graduate tapped to be South Bend schools’ empowerment zone chief

From the South Bend Tribune
Cheryl Nneka Camacho, who recently earned a doctoral degree in educational leadership at Harvard University, has been tapped to become director of the empowerment zone that is managing five struggling schools in the South Bend Community School Corp.

At a meeting early Wednesday, the seven-member empowerment zone board unanimously voted to approve a letter to Camacho offering her the job.


TEACHER PAY COMMISSION: NO TEACHERS INVITED

Pay grade: Teachers get minimal input on raises

As usual, teachers aren't invited to participate in a commission which has an impact on, and directly impacts them.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
Gov. Eric Holcomb's teacher pay commission seems determined to do its work without interference by, well – teachers. After the seven-member panel, which includes no teachers, met for months in secret, it finally scheduled three public input sessions. But the meetings begin after most teachers return to school.

STATE SENATOR AND SUPERINTENDENT AGREE

Democrat, schools chief in city to talk education: McCormick says it's become big business

McCormick and Melton agree that public education is bipartisan!

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
Jennifer McCormick, the state schools chief, said she agreed with Melton during their joint appearance in Fort Wayne.

“You've got a lot of money on the line” in education funding, McCormick said. “You've got a lot of lobbyists and a lot of people who are making a lot of money. I mean, it's a big business.

“I would argue in Indiana it's kind of the Wild, Wild West of choice,” she said. “In other states, there's more parameters around it, there's more quality controls around it. And we've tried to push that.”


GULEN CHARTERS IN THE U.S.

Bill Phillis: Who Is Protecting Imam Gulen?

From Diane Ravitch
For reasons unknown to the public, the U.S. government gave Turkish Islamic leader Fethullah Gulen asylum several years ago. Gulen operates his worldwide religious/political movement from Saylorsburg PA. His movement includes nearly 200 tax-supported charter schools which help fuel a vast business/political/religious enterprise in the U.S.

WHY DO THE SUPER-RICH FAVOR PRIVATIZATION?

D.C.: Famed Philanthropist Jeffrey Epstein Endorses Charter School Dominance In D.C.

From Diane Ravitch
To understand the charter industry, you must appreciate that it is driven by extremely wealthy people and has no grassroots. It has mastered the arts of marketing and branding, but does not have a plan to improve education other than to draw students and resources away from public education, which belongs to all of us.

People often ask me, “Why do the super-rich cluster to the cause of privatization?” The Answer is not simple because many different motives are at work. Some see giving to charters as a charitable endeavor, and their friends assure them that they are “giving back,” helping poor children escape poverty. Others want to impress their friends in their social strata, their colleagues in the world of high finance. Being a supporter of charter schools is like belonging to the right clubs, going to the right parties, sharing a cause with other very rich people.


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Monday, July 15, 2019

In Case You Missed It – July 15, 2019

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

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

VIRTUAL CHARTERS

Your tax dollars at work. The big news last week was the loss of $40 million to virtual charter schools in Indiana. BJ Watts, chair of the State Board of Education, wondered, "How did we miss this?"

The blame for this situation is squarely on the backs of the legislators (and those who elected them) for setting up a system with a glaring lack of built-in oversight, in order to bolster a choice system that both fails to educate and steals funding for resources from our public schools.

It also reminds us of the $91 million in loans from the state to failed charter operators that was forgiven in 2013.

Maybe it is time to rethink funding any charters at all!

Indiana: State Tries to Recover $40 Million from Virtual Charter Frauds

From Diane Ravitch
Indiana is one of the state’s that has been all in for choice. One of the choices pushed by former governors Mitch Daniels and Mike Pence is Virtual Charter Schools. These are online schools that allegedly enroll home-schoolers or students who prefer not to attend a Brick-and-mortar school.

Study after study has found that these online schools have high attrition, low test scores, and low graduation rates. However they are very profitable since their operators are paid far more than their actual costs.

The name of their game is enrollment, since their costs decline as enrollment grows, and they must constantly replace those who drop out.

Unfortunately, the incidence of fraud is high since the online schools are seldom auidited.

Indiana is currently trying to recover $40 million from two online charter corporations and their authorizer, which was stolen by inflating enrollments.


2 virtual schools' misdeeds stun state: Charters' inflated data drew millions in funding

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
That was the question on everyone's minds during Wednesday's State Board of Education meeting discussing two virtual charter schools that vastly inflated enrollment numbers and took millions in undeserved state funding.

Also, a deceased student was found on the rolls, according to a state audit, as were other students who had been removed years before.

Board Chairman B.J. Watts asked the question as members seemed perplexed by the depth of the problems. This was despite stories going back several years from news publication Chalkbeat Indiana about staggering enrollment growth and a limited number of teachers at the schools.

‘How did we miss this?’ Indiana officials blast lack of oversight in $40M virtual school scandal

From Chalkbeat
Facing a $40 million enrollment scandal at two virtual charter schools, Indiana State Board of Education chairman B.J. Watts had a big question at a meeting Wednesday:

“How did we miss this?”

The question tipped off a round of finger-pointing. The schools’ oversight agency, Daleville Community Schools, bore the brunt of the board’s blame for the online schools’ alleged abuse of millions in public dollars.

But Indiana Virtual School and Indiana Virtual Pathways Academy officials remained quiet. The schools’ superintendent Percy Clark watched the discussion from the audience but offered no public comments and later declined to answer questions from Chalkbeat


State could seek $40M after probe finds Indiana Virtual School inflated enrollment — even counting a student who had died

From Chalkbeat
Two school years after a student died, Indiana Virtual School kept him on its rolls and received state funding to educate him.

Five years after two students moved to Florida, they reappeared on enrollment records for Indiana Virtual School and its sister school.

And nearly every one of the more than 900 students kicked out of Indiana Virtual School and its sister school in the 2017-18 school year for being inactive were re-enrolled the next school year, included in per-pupil funding calculations that netted the two online schools more than $34 million in public dollars last year.

These were among the ways that Indiana Virtual School and Indiana Virtual Pathways Academy allegedly inflated their enrollment to at least twice its actual size, according to the findings of a state examiner’s investigation released Monday.

ACCOUNTABILITY FOR PRIVATIZED SCHOOLS

In budget pie, public schools given crumbs: Accountability still scant at virtual, charter sites

State Representative Phil GiaQuinta (D-Fort Wayne) has some words about lack of accountability.

From State Rep. Phil GiaQuinta in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
...nearly half of the education portion of the funding pie – baked with your taxpayer dollars – is giving unaccountable virtual schools a public funding increase of 15%, privately run charter schools a public funding increase of more than 20%, and privately run voucher schools a public funding increase of nearly 15% over the next two years.

Meanwhile, traditional public schools will see a funding increase of just about 2% each year, which narrowly hovers above the change in the cost of living – commonly known as the rate of inflation – from one year to the next.

Many schools, including Fort Wayne Community Schools, won't even reach that 2% threshold.


Mercedes Schneider: Corey Booker’s Brother Was Surprised When Tennessee Expected His Charters to be Accountable

From Diane Ravitch
Mercedes Schneider wrote a post about Cory Booker’s brother, Cary, who opened two charter schools in Tennessee with an ally. His application had lofty goals. He pledged that 95% of his students would score proficient on state tests. He and his partner were astonished when the state took their promise seriously.

TEACHERS HELP IMMIGRANT CHILDREN

Despite Cruel Conditions at the Border and Threatened ICE Raids, Educators Across U.S. Strive to Serve Immigrant Children

From Jan Resseger
There is a disconnect between the education policy debates and what is really happening in public schools. In Wednesday’s NY Times, Miriam Jordan captured that reality. Jordon’s story describes public school educators’ work across the country to serve the needs of children whose schooling has been delayed and interrupted by the journeys they and their families have undertaken.

While legislators have been haggling over the state budgets that generally underfund our public schools, and while our U.S. Secretary of Education and her fellow advocates promote various kinds of school vouchers and privately operated charter schools, Jordan describes the hard work of school district professionals trying to serve the needs of immigrant students who may worry about threatened ICE raids, who may have survived harrowing border crossings, or who may have endured long stays in the detention centers where children are being warehoused.


BIPARTISAN LISTENING TOUR

Melton and McCormick launch their bipartisan listening tour with conversations about charters, pay, and diversity

Nice to see that someone is listening! But high time for politicians in our state to stop listening to charter and voucher supporters. If you have a chance to attend one of these listening sessions, please make sure to stress how important PUBLIC education is!

From Chalkbeat
Democratic Senator Eddie Melton told a crowd of more than 100 people Thursday that good education policy only happens when public officials ask for help: From the experts, yes, but also from the communities that will be affected.

So when Melton decided last month to launch an exploratory committee around a potential bid for governor, he asked State Superintendent Jennifer McCormick, a Republican, to join him on a statewide listening tour to explore Indiana education policy. Their bipartisan collaboration drew curiosity and, among Indiana GOP leaders, criticism. Some of her critics say McCormick is vying to become Melton’s running mate.

ANOTHER STATE, ANOTHER CHARTER SCAM

Angie Sullivan: The Great Charter Scam in Nevada

From Diane Ravitch
Angie Sullivan teaches children in a Title 1 elementary school in Las Vegas. Many of her children are poor and don’t speak English. Her school is underfunded. Angie frequently sends blast emails to every legislator in the state, as well as journalists. She refuses to allow them to ignore her students, while they cater to the whims of billionaire casino owners, like the chair of the state board of education.


TAX CREDITS WON'T DIE

Mitchell Robinson: Tax Credits Are a Zombie Idea

From Diane Ravitch
Mitchell Robinson of Michigan State explains why “tax credit scholarships” are a zombie idea. They are consistently rejected by voters, they fail to educate students, yet they never die.

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