Monday, November 12, 2018

In Case You Missed It – Nov 12, 2018

Here are links to the 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.


Kruse Resigns As Education Committee Chair, Raatz Takes Over

From Indiana Public Media
Dennis Kruse (R-Auburn) resigned Friday as the chairman of the powerful Education & Career Development Committee. He said in a statement the position is rewarding, but it has also been demanding for him and his family.

He led the committee for 10 years, during which he oversaw huge changes in the state’s education policy, including the teacher evaluation system and private school vouchers.

Controversy surrounded Kruse in 2013 when he introduced a bill that would allow reciting the Lord's Prayer at public schools each day.

Sen. Jeff Raatz (R-Centerville) will become the new committee chairman in the 2019 General Assembly.


How backlash to big changes in Indianapolis Public Schools fueled board upsets

A community “votes back” against reform that has wasted tax dollars and diverted resources from students.

From Chalkbeat
Two outsiders who have been critical of the Indianapolis Public Schools board defeated incumbents Tuesday, a change that could prove pivotal for a district that has garnered a national reputation for its partnerships with charter schools.

For over three years, Indianapolis Public Schools has offered a blueprint for an approach to education that blurs the line between charter schools and traditional public districts by launching and rapidly expanding schools run by charter or nonprofit operators but that remain under the district’s umbrella. This year, more than one in four district students attends one of those 20 innovation schools, as the district calls its hybrid model.

But those policies face mounting resistance. Two newly elected school board members could, for the first time, pump the brakes on the dramatic changes the current board has supported.

The results show that “the community is not happy with where IPS is going,” said Dountonia Batts, executive director of the IPS Community Coalition, a grassroots group that got funding from a national teachers union. People, she said, “believe that the community does have power at our public schools, and they don’t want to see that power slip away.”


How many Indiana schools got As in 2018? Depends if state or feds are doing the grading.

Chalkbeat says, "The two grades illustrate differences in priorities..."

The two grades also illustrate the futility of trying to "grade" schools using a single letter grade. In the end the grades are determined by parental income levels. Where are the grades for the legislators from whose failed policies "F" schools originate?

From Chalkbeat
In the upcoming annual release of A-F grades, Indiana schools are receiving not one, but two ratings — and for many of those schools, the two grades are not the same, a sharp contrast that could cause confusion over how well schools are serving students.

One set of grades from the state’s rating system gave higher marks to about one-third of schools, a state presentation shows. The other set, based on new federal standards of the Every Student Succeeds Act, gave far fewer top ratings to schools.

The two grades illustrate differences in priorities — and in politics. Some national experts say the federal standards are tougher on schools than Indiana’s model because they require schools to count more students, such as those in remedial programs, and include other data not pulled from state tests, such as students who are chronically absent or the fluency of those learning English as a new language.


New emergency manager for Gary schools is former Griffith superintendent

From The Chicago Tribune
Former Griffith Public Schools school chief Peter Morikis is the new emergency manager for Gary Community School Corp., replacing Peggy Hinckley who announced her retirement Thursday.


SACS approves earlier school year start

From The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
The first day of school will come earlier for Southwest Allen County Schools students beginning in 2020.

In a narrow vote – and against input from nearly 2,500 staff, students, parents and community members – school board members on Tuesday approved a 2020-21 district calendar that begins Aug. 5 in exchange for a weeklong fall break in October.


Arizona: Ducey, Koch Brothers, and DeVos Are Already Scheming to Bring Vouchers Back from the Dead

From Diane Ravitch
“Gov. Doug Ducey may have gotten a second term but he also took a powerful punch to the gut as his plan for a massive expansion of school vouchers was killed.

“Arizona voters didn’t just defeat Proposition 305. They stoned the thing, then they tossed it into the street and ran over it.

“Then they backed up and ran over it again.

“Voters defeated Ducey’s voucher plan by more than 2-1."

Carl Sagan: November 9, 1934 - December 20, 1996. Still Teaching from the Grave. 


Good News in Michigan: Voters Reject DeVos Agenda!

From Diane Ravitch
"...By electing Whitmer, voters repudiated the DeVos agenda of defunding and decimating public schools in favor of the for-profit schools that took root in Michigan and failed to help kids. Whitmer will champion expanded healthcare and safe drinking water, and will fight for decency and fairness to put a check on President Trump’s cruel and inhumane agenda. I was proud to spend Election Day campaigning for Whitmer, and AFT members look forward to a governor who will work with us to make life better for Michiganders.”


Public schools' struggle correlates directly to state voucher support

From The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
• Since 2010, the total state budget has risen 17 percent.

• Since 2010, the consumer price index (cost of living) has risen 17 percent.

• Since 2010, the education budget has only risen 10 percent.

• Vouchers cost $150 million a year, and the cost is diverted from public school funding, resulting in an actual 7 percent increase in public school funding. (More than half the Indiana voucher recipients never attended public schools.)

• Without vouchers, every public school would get an additional $150 per student.

• Property tax caps have resulted in millions of dollars lost for many school districts.

• Public schools in poor communities annually experience a 10 percent to 60 percent property tax shortfall, equaling tens of millions of lost dollars for some.

• Remedies for lost revenue are no longer provided by the state. Districts now depend on local referendums.

• Lost property taxes that pay for school debt, construction and transportation must be replaced from state dollars intended for student instruction.

• A portion of state tuition support called the “complexity index” provides special funding to meet the needs of the poorest students. Not only has the complexity index dollar amount been decreased to “equalize” the dollars per student among all schools, but the state has decreased the number of students qualifying – for some schools – by half.

• Forbes magazine points out that Indiana is ill advisedly attempting to fund three systems of schools – traditional public, charters and vouchers – with the same budget it once used for only traditional public schools.

• The “money follows the student” mantra for charter school students creates a loss of school funding that is significantly and disproportionately more damaging than the simple sum of the dollars. If a district loses 100 students, the loss can be spread over 12 grades. A classroom still needs a teacher if it has 25 students instead of 30, but the district has lost $600,000 in funding.

• Of the 20 schools or districts receiving the highest per-pupil funding, 18 are charter schools, none of which are required to report profit taking.

• Since 2010, teacher salaries have dropped 16 percent.


From South Carolina to California, charter school-loving billionaires are plowing money into midterm local and education races

From The Answer Sheet
Written by Carol Burris and Diane Ravitch
The objective could not be clearer — influence districts to expand their charter sector until eventually all, or nearly all, schools are privately operated and managed. Those district offices that remain could be filled not by educational leaders but by managers and technicians hired to ensure that buses run on time, schools are opened, closed or transferred to other operators, enrollment is managed, and funding is distributed. Public voice is stifled. Schools become publicly funded businesses.


Monday, November 5, 2018

In Case You Missed It – Nov 5, 2018

Here are links to the 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.


Why it matters who governs America’s public schools

From The Answer Sheet by Carol Burris and Diane Ravitch
Public governance of our schools matters for the health of our democracy. The public school was designed to serve and promote the common good; it is paid for by the public, and it belongs to the public, not entrepreneurs...

...Billionaires live in an echo chamber of their own. As they jet across the globe to and from their many homes, the neighborhood school with its bake sales, homecoming dances and lively community elections are foreign and inconsequential...


Arizona: #RedforEd Is So Popular that Even Its Opponents are Hitching Their Wagon to It

From Diane Ravitch
Six months after tens of thousands of red-clad teachers swarmed the Arizona Capitol in a weeklong walkout, demanding higher pay and more funding for schools, education is a dominant issue in the state’s elections next month.

The teachers’ protest movement, which calls itself #RedforEd, has transformed the political battleground. The movement remains so popular in Arizona that candidates and causes across the ideological spectrum are competing to identify with it — including conservatives who, in years past, might have been more likely to criticize teachers or unions than associate with activist educators.


Marching band finals: Homestead 3rd, Carroll 8th in Class A

From The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
Six Allen County bands competed in the State Marching Band Finals at Lucas Oil Stadium with Homestead High School placing highest among the group.

See how your favorite bands did...


The Truth About ‘Gifted’ Versus High-Achieving Students

From Loudoun Now
Gifted students, on the other hand, may or may not earn high marks in school depending on a host of factors including their interest in the subject being taught, their respect for the depth of knowledge the teacher possesses and even their level of physical comfort in the classroom. Gifted students often frustrate teachers because they don’t quite live up to their potential, especially in classes that are too easy for them. Gifted children often have poor executive function skills so they lose homework and don’t know how to study for exams. Many gifted children have few friends because of their esoteric interests. Sometimes these students feel so isolated that they become depressed … even suicidal. A surprisingly large number of gifted students drop out of high school and never make it to college, despite their high innate intelligence.

While all children have gifts, not all children are “gifted” as defined by researchers and educators around the globe. The most commonly used definition is as follows: “Giftedness is asynchronous development in which advanced cognitive abilities and heightened intensity combine to create inner experiences and awareness that are qualitatively different from the norm. This asynchrony increases with higher intellectual capacity. The uniqueness of the gifted renders them particularly vulnerable and requires modifications in parenting, teaching and counseling in order for them to develop optimally.” (The Columbus Group, 1991)

What this means is that gifted children have ‘special needs’ that the typical classroom teacher does not have the bandwidth or training to address. This is why school districts go to great lengths to identify gifted students—these kids require special support in order for them to stay engaged in the learning process.


Arizona: Parents Use Voucher Money for Personal Purchases, Not Education

From Diane Ravitch
Arizona’s State Auditor identified more than $700,000 in voucher money that was mis-spent for cosmetics, music, movies, clothing, sports apparel, and other personal items. Some even tried to withdraw cash with their state-issued debit cards. The state has not recovered any of the money. The legislature passed a bill to expand the voucher program, which gives parents a debit card for their e Peres, to every student in the state. Auditing will be even more difficult. Millions will be wasted. And many of the state’s children will go without an education.


Failing Brown v. Board of Education

From Curmudgucation
It's like you have twenty kids in a cafeteria, and ten sit down with a steak dinner and the other ten get bowls of cold oatmeal, and when someone complains about it, a bunch of folks pop up to propose some complex system by which one of the oatmeal kids will be sent out to a restaurant across town. No! Just get back out in the kitchen and use the same tools and supplies that you demonstrably already have to make steak dinners for the rest of the kids.

The report quotes NEA president Lily Eskelsen-Garcia saying, in part, "Until you can say every school looks like your best public school, we have not arrived."


More students want to go to popular IPS magnet schools, but they still face barriers to getting in

From Chalkbeat
...the report also shows that some inequities in Indianapolis Public Schools still persist: There still aren’t enough seats at the city’s most sought-after magnet programs to meet the increasing demand. At three out of six of the popular Center for Inquiry and Butler University Laboratory schools, which are mostly clustered in more affluent neighborhoods, only those who live closest could get in last fall during the first round of admissions — and they claimed most of those schools’ open seats.


What’s Wrong with America’s Schools? David Berliner Blames America’s Failure to Eradicate Child Poverty

From Jan Resseger
Despite lots of evidence about why we shouldn’t use test scores as a measure of school quality, for nearly twenty years, government programs like No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top have taught people to judge public schools by their standardized test scores. Last week the Washington Post‘s Valerie Strauss published an in-depth reflection by David Berliner on what standardized test scores really measure. David Berliner is an expert, a Regents’ professor emeritus at Arizona State University, former president of the American Educational Research Association, and former dean of the College of Education at Arizona State.

Berliner is blunt in his analysis: “(T)he big problems of American education are not in America’s schools. So, reforming the schools, as Jean Anyon once said, is like trying to clean the air on one side of a screen door. It cannot be done! It’s neither this nation’s teachers nor its curriculum that impede the achievement of our children. The roots of America’s educational problems are in the numbers of Americans who live in poverty. America’s educational problems are predominantly in the numbers of kids and their families who are homeless; whose families have no access to Medicaid or other medical services. These are often families to whom low-birth-weight babies are frequently born, leading to many more children needing special education… Our educational problems have their roots in families where food insecurity or hunger is a regular occurrence, or where those with increased lead levels in their bloodstream get no treatments before arriving at a school’s doorsteps. Our problems also stem from the harsh incarceration laws that break up families instead of counseling them and trying to keep them together. And our problems relate to harsh immigration policies that keep millions of families frightened to seek out better lives for themselves and their children...


Mike Pence’s Fake Rabbi Was a Defrocked Fake Rabbi: A Fake Fake Rabbi

From Diane Ravitch
Mike Pence held a rally in Michigan. He wanted to show his respect to the victims of the massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. The “rabbi” invited to speak was not Jewish. He was a convert to Christianity and part of a group called “Jews for Jesus,” which seeks to convert Jews to Christianity.

But now it turns out that he was defrocked as a “rabbi.”

He was not only a fake rabbi, he was a fake fake rabbi.


Betsy DeVos’ Family Gives $2 Million to Far-Right Candidates

From Diane Ravitch
“Even by the loose standards of U.S. campaign finance laws—and President Donald Trump’s blatant corruption—the donations by the family members of a Cabinet official have been brazen. In February 2018, Richard DeVos, Secretary DeVos’ father-in-law, gave $1 million to the Freedom Partners Action Fund—a political action fund that has long been associated with far-right causes. Over the past year, the DeVos family has also given $350,000 to the Republican Congressional Leadership Fund and another $400,000 to the Republican National Committee.

“The DeVoses have also donated to specific candidates for federal and state office. Wisconsin’s far-right firebrand, Gov. Scott Walker (R), for example, has received more than $635,000 over the past decade from the DeVos family—including $30,000 in 2018. Bill Schuette, Michigan’s Republican attorney general who is running for governor, received almost $40,000 over the past year.


Lawmakers must stand with our public schools

From John Stoffel in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
The most disheartening conversation I have had in over 25 years of elementary education was with a mother of a student. She introduced me to her son in this manner: “This is Joseph (not his real name). He's a bad kid. I don't like him and I don't know what to do with him. He's your problem now. I go to court next week, and I think I'll just ask the judge to take him.”

Two things were clear to me after listening to these comments. First, Joseph was not a “bad kid.” Second, most of Joseph's problems were caused by his mother's actions. One may even be inclined to feel anger toward his mother. I know I did. I suppressed my emotions because I knew her son needed my full attention and support.

The mother's casting blame on a “problem” of her own creation is analogous to Republican state Rep. Jim Lucas's response to the results of Indiana's standardized testing scores: “What the hell are we doing, putting government in charge of educating our children?”

One would hope that Lucas' response is that of an outlier. However, since the tenured supermajority tend to vote in lockstep with Lucas, his words unveil an entity that seems to have a complete disdain for public education. Public schools should be viewed as a common good, but similar to Joseph's mother, the Republican-controlled legislature seems to have a distorted perspective of their duty and of the results of their decisions.

On educational policies, the Republican super-majority has voted to add layers of stifling bureaucracy, create departments to circumvent the state superintendent, and divest hundreds of millions of dollars from public school districts to support “choice” – an unfounded ideology.


Friday, November 2, 2018

Vic’s Election Notes on Education #46– November 1, 2018

Dear Friends,

“Vic’s Election Notes on Education” contain commentaries on election candidates and my personal candidate endorsements.
There is no link between “Vic’s Election Notes on Education” and any organization.


The biggest threat to public education in Indiana is Education Savings Accounts (ESA’s).

ESA’s are in line with Milton Friedman’s plan to do away with public education. His plan was to stop funding public schools and instead give the money to parents.

This radical proposal was thoroughly rejected in the Indiana Senate in 2017. Now two candidates, one in Indiana House District 59 and one in House District 17, want to resurrect ESA legislation. They should be actively opposed in this election by all who support public education.

In this election season, candidates are listening to voters. Voters should let all candidates for the Indiana General Assembly know that Education Savings Accounts are a terrible idea (see below) and any candidate supporting ESA’s will lose their vote.

[Please note: Indiana Code 3-14-1-17 says that government employees including public school employees may not “use the property of the employee’s government employer to” support the “election or defeat of a candidate” and may not distribute this message “on the government employer’s real property during regular working hours.” Ironically, the law does not prevent private school employees from using computers purchased with public voucher money to distribute campaign materials. Private schools now financed in part by public voucher dollars have retained all rights under Indiana’s voucher laws to engage in partisan political campaigns.]

House District 59 – An open seat after the retirement of Representative Milo Smith

In House District 59 (a large portion of Bartholomew County), I oppose ESA supporter Ryan Lauer, a Republican. I endorse his opponent Columbus North math teacher Dale Nowlin, a Democrat, and I urge all who support public education to do so as well.

Ryan Lauer tried to oust incumbent Republican Representative Milo Smith in the 2016 primary election, saying at the time that his primary reason for running was to bring ESA’s to Indiana. Without explaining that diverting the dollars from public schools would hurt the education of all current public school students and without saying that any student who meets the income guidelines can already go to a private school with a voucher, Mr. Lauer wrote in his January 28, 2016 candidacy announcement that “I will sponsor legislation to bring Education Savings Accounts to Indiana which place more power and greater choice in the hands of parents so that each child has the opportunity to attend the school that works best for them regardless of income.”

He apparently wants to have taxpayers pay the private school tuition for wealthy families and also for home schools, which would be a new and expensive step with no accountability for student outcomes and with a clear potential for fraud. His 2018 website has nearly identical words supporting Education Savings Accounts.

House District 17 – Now held by incumbent Representative Jack Jordan

In House District 17 (all of Marshall County and a large portion of Fulton County), I endorse Michelle Livinghouse over incumbent Representative Jack Jordan in order to stop the attack on public education through ESA’s, and I urge all who support public education to do so as well.

Representative Jordan, a Republican, said in October 2018 in an interim study committee that he supports ESA’s for students with special needs and is considering new ESA legislation, according to a an article in Chalkbeat (Oct. 4, 2018).

We’ve been down this path before. Voters need to speak out now against ESA’s.

The concept of “Educational Savings Accounts” for special education students, which candidates Lauer and Jordan now want to resurrect, was thoroughly rejected in 2017 in Senate Bill 534. The concept is so detrimental to high educational standards and to maintaining accountability with public tax money that it should be abandoned outright as soon as possible.

Why are Educational Savings Accounts so detrimental to education standards in Indiana and to accountability?
1) ESA’s would give public money on a debit card to parents who sign an agreement to educate their child in “reading, grammar, mathematics, social studies and science.” That’s all! It’s a narrow, unregulated, skimpy education. No art, no music, no physical education, no health, no vocational subjects. This would absolutely lower standards for students just as standards for public school students are being raised to higher levels.

2) The plan includes no obligation for annual testing or evaluation or public accountability of student achievement. This is just wrong and in total contrast to testing and accountability in Indiana law.

3) The plan would give public money to high income parents of special education and Section 504 students. This would remove all income limits for this form of voucher. This vast expansion led LSA in 2017 to cite the bill cost as “between $144 million and $206 million.”

4) The plan would give the basic per pupil amount plus the entire amount of public money for special education students directly to parents, paving the way for the real goal detailed in HB 1591 in the 2015 session to give the entire amount of public money to parents of all students on a debit card. These bills to privatize schooling would immediately divert money away from our public school students and over time would undermine funding for all students in both public schools and private voucher schools. This bill undermines the very concept of schools.

5) The plan would allow parents to home school their child with public money, paying for an approved provider, for a tutor and for textbooks. Public school parents would surely like to have the state pay for their textbooks as well, but public school parents must pay their own textbook rental.

6) The plan would give tax money to parents without strong provisions for fraud protection and no defined penalties for fraud. Parents with past records of crime or neglect or abuse are not excluded.

7) While public schools are pushed to ever higher standards, individual families would be allowed by this plan to adopt lower standards. That is not right.
If this concept is not decisively rejected, it will confirm the theory that all of the standards and testing regulations heaped upon our public schools have just been techniques to make privatized vouchers and savings accounts look attractive to individual parents, giving them an incentive to leave the public schools or even the voucher schools to run home schools or independent schools with taxpayer money.

This bill’s concept is based on Milton Friedman’s plan to end community public schools. It should be totally and promptly rejected. This concept is too radical and potentially damaging for any further action.

I urge all public school advocates to share your opposition to ESA’s with your own candidates for the Indiana General Assembly. Between now and Tuesday’s election, candidates will be listening and trying to get your vote. This is the best time to secure their opposition to ESA’s in the coming session.

Then share your concerns with voters you may know in District 59 to support Dale Nowlin and with voters you may know in District 17 to support Michelle Livinghouse.

ESA’s would put public education in Indiana into a death spiral. Your efforts can prevent that outcome. If public education is going to survive in Indiana, voters will make all the difference.

Thank you for actively supporting public education!

Best wishes,

Vic Smith

There is no link between “Vic’s Election Notes on Education” and any organization. Please contact me at to add an email address or to remove an address from the distribution list.

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, I was honored to receive the 2018 Friend of Education Award from the Indiana State Teachers Association.


Monday, October 29, 2018

In Case You Missed It – Oct 29, 2018

Here are links to the 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.


Two NOLA Charter Schools Closed Due to Low Scores, Low Enrollment

From Diane Ravitch
Two New Orleans charters, both from the Algiers charter chain, are closing. Read the article to see what is happening to the students. They are moved around like pieces on a giant checker board.

A few months ago, the Education Research Alliance of Tulane University published a report about the success of the New Orleans charter model (Formula: get a natural disaster to wipe out high-poverty neighborhoods and many schools, reduce enrollment by 1/3, change the overall demographics, fire all the teachers and bring in TFA, eliminate the union, replace public schools with private charters, open selective charters for the “best” kids, segregate the poorest black kids, put the structure under an uncritical State board elected with help from out-of-State billionaires, and VOILA! A school miracle!).

But not quite.


No, President Trump, the N.Y. Stock Exchange Did Not Open the Day After 9/11

From Diane Ravitch
...Memories are fallible, even for presidents. This is why they are supposed to have staffs who help make sure they stick to the facts and, if they get it wrong, make sure that the misstatements are corrected.

President Trump is not an ordinary president, and apparently he does not have a typical staff. So, in an effort to justify holding a campaign rally after 11 people at a synagogue were gunned down in Pittsburgh, the president twice referenced an event that did not happen.

This will be a very short fact check.


Here’s what Betsy DeVos has to say about Indiana’s failing virtual schools

DeVos continues to support the waste of our tax dollars and the diversion of $$ from our public schools here in Indiana.

From Chalkbeat
When asked what she thinks about 12,000 Indiana students attending failing virtual schools, DeVos said, “We want all students to receive a quality education.”

Earlier this week, a committee of Indiana State Board of Education members recommended a package of policy changes that would overhaul how online charter schools operate in the state. The changes included adding more oversight, reducing a financial incentive for the groups that monitor virtual charter schools, limiting how quickly schools can grow their enrollment, and keeping more kids from going to the schools if they continue to post poor academic results.

Gov. Eric Holcomb urged the state board to look into such changes late last year, but Holcomb “is still reviewing the recommendations,” his spokeswoman said in an email Friday. The proposal is expected to be presented to the full board next month.


Kentucky educators and supporters try to reclaim state

From School Matters
The nation’s eyes were on Kentucky in the spring when Bluegrass State teachers walked off the job because of low pay and threats to their pensions. We should all be watching again on Nov. 6, when teachers and their supporters try to take the state back from ALEC-aligned Republicans.

Over 50 active and retired teachers are seeking seats in the Kentucky House and Senate, part of what veteran Courier-Journal political reporter Tom Loftus calls “an unprecedented wave of educators running for the General Assembly this fall.”


Indiana lawmakers went to preschool. Here’s what they learned

If we had legislators who listened to educators, we’d already be providing Pre-K for all the children in our state.

From Chalkbeat
What early childhood advocates wanted the seven visiting lawmakers to see was the difference that high-quality preschool can make for children living in poverty, in the hopes that lawmakers will expand access to early learning opportunities next year to more children across the state.

Almost all of the 224 children at St. Mary’s five locations come from poor families. But while research says children in poverty often lag years behind their more affluent peers, executive director Connie Sherman told lawmakers that 83 percent of St. Mary’s children finish preschool ready for kindergarten.


We Need to Trust Teachers to Innovate

From John Spencer
He described the frustrations of developing an engaging unit plan only to be told by his cooperating teacher that he had to use the district’s scripted curriculum instead. Now, I don’t see anything inherently wrong with boxed curriculum. After all, a great novel is essentially “boxed.” The issue is when institutions force teachers to use boxed curriculum in a lock-step way where they lack the permission to make it their own.

This district adopted the prescribed curriculum as a way to embrace “best practices in education.” And yet...the district also describes the needs to meet the demands of a “21st Century Learning” and “spark innovation.”

But here’s the thing: innovation requires you to step into the unknown. If we focus all of our attention on best practices and codify these ideas into tightly packaged curriculum, we will inevitably fail to experiment.


Another Sub Service Fails

“Public schools put students first. Businesses put business concerns first. That doesn't make them evil-- just bad partners for schools.”

From Curmudgucation
Most of the affected districts, including the large Dearborn district, were scrambling to make plans. PESG said 1,500 to 2,000 substitute teachers were affected. Some of these districts still have contracts with PESG, so we may see some court action before the smoke clears.

This, of course, is what you get when you let a business have a piece of the education pie. Does this kind of sudden shut down make sense? Was the company down to its last $150 last week but they figured it would all work out anyway, or is this "immediate" shutdown necessary to protect the business's remaining assets. Who knows. All I know is that a school district would do-- well, exactly what the districts are doing, which is to put their heads together, rig something up, and generally move heaven and earth to make sure the needs of students are met.

Public schools put students first. Businesses put business concerns first. That doesn't make them evil-- just bad partners for schools.


More oversight, less growth: How Indiana could turn around its failing online schools

Apparently Indiana hasn't learned anything from Ohio's experience.

It’s a mystery to many of us as to why they want to throw money and effort away to prop up these failing virtual schools.

From Chalkbeat
A state committee tasked with probing dismal results at Indiana’s virtual charter schools is recommending a sweeping package of changes, including capping enrollment at the controversial schools and creating a single statewide authorizer to oversee all of them.


The Days of Charter Schools and Vouchers Are Numbered

From Education Law Prof Blog
I got the chance to meet and listen to teachers from across the country at the Network for Public Education’s annual conference in Indianapolis this past weekend. For the first time in my professional career, I had a firm sense of public education’s future. I have litigated and participated in several civil rights and school funding cases, dealt with lots of different advocates, and watched closely as the teacher protests unfolded this spring. In Indianapolis, I saw something special—something I had never seen before.

I saw a broad based education movement led not by elites, scholars, or politicians, but everyday people. Those everyday people were teachers who were not just from big cities, small cities, suburbs, or the countryside, but from all of those places and as diverse as America’s fifty states and ten thousand school districts. The teachers weren’t just young or old, white, black or brown, men or women, straight or gay. They were all of the above.


Big Spending on Privatizing Public Schools in San Antonio

From Tultican
Federal dollars are supplementing deep pocketed Destroy Public Education (DPE) forces in an effort to privatize schools in San Antonio, Texas. The total monetary support for the preferred charter school systems exceeds $200,000,000. One “DPE” publication, The 74, published a lengthy piece glorifying the attack on San Antonio’s democratically run schools and praised local elites including the school superintendent trained by Arne Duncan and Eli Broad for leading the decimation of public schools in San Antonio’s poorest neighborhoods.


Monday, October 22, 2018

In Case You Missed It – NPE Conference Edition – Oct 22, 2018

Here are links to the 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.


I Endorse Andrew Gillum for Governor of Florida

From Diane Ravitch
Here are good reasons to change the leadership of the state:

1. The Republican party has inflicted pain on the public school system and its teachers. They have enacted very loose charter laws and voucher laws. Florida has three different voucher programs, despite the fact that vouchers are specifically banned in the State Constitution, and despite the fact that voters rejected an effort to change the State Constitution to allow vouchers in 2012. The legislature and the governor have given away hundreds of millions of dollars to private and religious and charter schools, which have minimal accountability. They have enacted laws to judge teachers by test scores, even though this method has been proven ineffective and harmful in Florida and everywhere else.


A 50-State-Plus-DC Exploration of Alice Walton’s Political Contributions

From Mercedes Schneider
Several days ago, I began an exploration of the political contributions of billionaire Wal-Mart heir, Alice Walton. I was both curious about her political spending and desiring to offer readers quick links to the campaign finance web sites in all 50 states and DC...

IN: $412,863; American Fed. for Children Action Fund; 2010.


On October 20 and 21 the Network for Public Education held its annual meeting in Indianapolis

Phyllis Bush welcomes the guests at #npe18indy

Indiana loses $150.00 per public school student thanks to vouchers. That's a $4.5 million loss for FWCS. #NPE18INDY

You can see more pictures and videos from NPE18INDY on the NPE Action Facebook Page.


In new Texas campaign ad, Beto O’Rourke slams Sen. Ted Cruz for backing Betsy DeVos

From The Answer Sheet
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is now an issue in the battle for U.S. Senate in Texas between Beto O’Rourke, a Democratic congressman, and Ted Cruz, the incumbent Republican.

O’Rourke just launched several new ads, including one that is directed at winning over advocates for teachers and public schools, especially those who oppose the agenda of DeVos, who has made “school choice” her prime focus.

In the ad, O’Rourke accuses Cruz of backing DeVos and her support for vouchers, which use public money for private and religious school education.

But is the ad entirely accurate?


ACT: Math Scores Drop to a 20-Year Low

From Diane Ravitch
The newest batch of ACT scores shows troubling long-term declines in performance, with students’ math achievement reaching a 20-year low, according to results released Wednesday.

The average math score for the graduating class of 2018 was 20.5, marking a steady decline from 20.9 five years ago, and virtually no progress since 1998, when it was 20.6. Each of the four sections of the college-entrance exam is graded on a 36-point scale.


Delaware: Betsy DeVos Gives State $10.4 Million to Expand Charters, Despite Lack of Demand

From Diane Ravitch
Mercedes Schneider noticed a curious fact about Betsy DeVos’s latest handout to charter schools in Delaware.

DeVos gave the state $10.4 million to expand charters and “share best practices” only months after a Delaware charter school closed due to under enrollment.

In other words, Delaware does not have a demand for charter schools, but DeVos is funding them anyway.


Gary state senator believes Indiana teachers deserve a pay raise

From NWITimes
State Sen. Eddie Melton, D-Gary, wants to give Indiana teachers a pay raise.

The first-term lawmaker last week said he will work to increase state spending on education and educators when the General Assembly convenes in January.

"Our teachers are taking on more responsibility and are feeling less respected and less appreciated each year," Melton said.

"I am proposing we raise teacher salaries by allocating additional funds to the school funding formula in the upcoming budget session to show our teachers that we value the hard work they do for all of our state's children."


Monday, October 15, 2018

In Case You Missed It – Oct 15, 2018

Here are links to the 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.


Purdue awards Daniels $210K in bonuses, bringing total pay to $830K

From the Indiana Business Journal
Purdue University says trustees have approved $210,000 in bonuses for President Mitch Daniels for meeting goals in fundraising, student success and other areas, bringing his 2018 compensation to $830,000.

The Lafayette Journal & Courier reports that the total figure represents an 8 percent increase over his previous year's compensation of $769,500. It includes a $200,000 retention bonus.


Additional layer of safety: Area schools avail selves of technology

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
A new state-funded program has ensured nearly every public school district is equipped with a security tool parents support: metal detectors.

After two rounds of orders, 410 school entities have requested 3,434 of the handheld devices, which were offered at no cost to schools. Schools could request one detector per 250 students.


The Foundational Fallacy Of Charter Schools

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

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

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


The ‘toxic’ politics behind McCormick’s decision to reject a second term as Indiana schools chief

From Chalkbeat
“I knew the political environment was toxic between the (education department) and the governor’s office,” McCormick said in an interview with Chalkbeat, alluding to battles between Ritz and then-Gov. Mike Pence. “I thought there would be more of a willingness to address it, and do that in a manner that mirrored what I was used to in a professional, transparent, respectful manner.”

But McCormick’s splashy statements seem to have landed with a thud. The lawmakers that she was taking to task — as well as state board of education members and governor’s office staff from her own party — either won’t publicly discuss her criticism or claim they’re confused by it. And if, as she said, McCormick is stepping aside to have more of an effect on education policy, it’s unclear if calling out her fellow Republicans will make it harder for her to achieve that.


No name change to Purdue University Fort Wayne diplomas

The diplomas are staying the same at Purdue University Fort Wayne. That's the word from Purdue University's President, Mitch Daniels.

"The Board of Trustees have heard us, and they are leaving the diplomas as they are,” says Purdue University Fort Wayne’s Chancellor, Ron Elsenbaumer.

The announcement coming nearly an hour after a student planned protest about the name change to Purdue Fort Wayne's diplomas


Dysfunction and politics became a distraction, superintendent says

From Steve Hinnefeld in School Matters
The superintendent is, by statute, a member of the State Board of Education, but McCormick clashed with other members as they pushed to implement new high-school graduation requirements despite concerns voiced by educators and tried to make late changes in the Department of Education’s plan for complying with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. The last straw for McCormick may have been a behind-the-scenes effort to have the superintendent be appointed by the governor, not elected by the people, starting in 2020.

Gov. Eric Holcomb and Republicans in the Indiana House tried to enact such a law in 2017, but they lacked the votes to approve the change in the Senate. They settled for a compromise that would make the position appointed starting in 2024, potentially giving McCormick two elected terms in office.

They may have thought that, with a Republican superintendent, they could keep pushing an agenda of expanded school choice via vouchers and charter schools. But McCormick, a former Yorktown Community Schools superintendent, has been a forceful advocate for public schools. She has criticized Indiana’s voucher program and called for more oversight of charter schools and their authorizers. Recently, she has suggested that private schools that receive voucher funding shouldn’t discriminate on the basis of religion, sexual orientation or gender identity — and many do.


Fort Wayne Community Schools preparing students for life after high school

From WPTA-21
Middle and High School students in the Fort Wayne Community schools system can participate in a free program to prepare for life after high school.

Fort Wayne Community Schools is offering a free, four-week program for middle and high school students. During the programs, students can learn more about preparing for college and future careers, understanding financial literacy and developing a well-rounded portfolio.


Experts call for an end to online preschool programs

From The Hechinger Report
Research shows that children who have access to high-quality preschool reap benefits. They are more likely to graduate from high school and are less likely to be held back. Children who lack access to quality preschool “are often the target of these online programs,” according to the statement. In today’s statement, the advocacy groups claim that students who receive an online education in lieu of a high-quality in-person program are at even more of a risk of being left behind their peers. Diane Levin, a professor of early childhood education at Boston University’s Wheelock College and co-founder of Defending the Early Years, said it may seem as if children are learning from online programs, but it’s a “rote” kind of learning. “Young children learn best when they have hands-on, concrete real experiences with the world,” Levin said. “The more in-depth the learning from that is … the more solid the foundation is so that when they get older, they can move on to the next stages of cognitive development.”


The fight for teacher raises and 4 other takeaways from our IPS referendum forum

Actually, the biggest take-away from all this is that we need legislators and school board members who support PUBLIC education.

From Chalkbeat
“It’s difficult when we attempt to send a student to go have a conversation with a counselor and the counselor is too busy, overwhelmed,” said Vazquez, an English as a new language teacher at Arsenal Technical High School, which she said is struggling to serve students who transferred in when the district closed three other campuses last year. “We need more counselors. Our teachers need smaller class sizes.”

Vazquez was one of five panelists gathered Thursday for a forum hosted by Chalkbeat, WFYI, the Indianapolis Recorder, and the Indianapolis Public Library to discuss two tax measures on the ballot in November aimed at raising more money for the school system. One referendum would raise $220 million to pay for operating expenses. The second measure would raise $52 million for building improvements.

The panel also featured IPS Board President Michael O’Connor, IPS chief financial officer Weston Young, Indy Chamber chief policy officer Mark Fisher, and Purdue University professor Larry DeBoer.


State committee chooses 8 measures to alert if a school district is in fiscal trouble

"Will these same indicators be used to monitor charters and private voucher schools? Does the state even require them to submit such data? They get your tax money too." -- Julia Hollingsworth

The financial status of all Indiana school corporations is poised to be evaluated next year using eight measures that are intended to indicate whether the district may require state assistance or intervention.

House Enrolled Act 1315 directed the Distressed Unit Appeals Board to establish a Fiscal and Qualitative Indicators Committee charged with identifying which financial conditions at a school corporation should trigger a closer look by DUAB.

The committee unanimously approved eight primary fiscal indicators Thursday, along with a host of demographic and other secondary variables, that it believes will signal to DUAB that a school district is in, or heading toward, financial distress.


North Carolina: State Superintendent Goes ALEC

From Diane Ravitch

Referring to The “Department of Private Interest” – DPI’s Transformation Under Mark Johnson

From Caffeinated Rage
Public education in North Carolina receives the highest amount of money in the state budget each year. It’s supposed to. It’s literally in the state constitution. How it goes about funding public education is a process that involves numerous checks and balances to ensure fairness.

But those checks and balances have been removed somewhat by a super-majority in the NCGA elected in a gerrymandered manner that has allowed for the greatest expenditure in the state budget to be a more open coffer for private entities to profit from.

And it’s certainly changing DPI from a public service agency to a haven of private interests.


Word Choices Can Feed Bias

From Sheila Kennedy
Roncalli has received more than $6.5 million in public money over the past five years through Indiana’s most-expansive-in-the-nation school voucher program.

The issue is simple: should public dollars–which come from all Hoosiers, including gay and lesbian taxpayers–support schools that discriminate against some of those Hoosiers?

I would argue that taxpayer dollars ought not support private–and especially religious– schools at all, but that is an argument for another day. In any event, I found the Star’s headline offensive. By characterizing McCormick’s proposed standards for receipt of public dollars as “strings,” it strongly suggested that an unnecessarily picky bureaucracy was trying to make it difficult for religious schools to participate in Indiana’s voucher program. It utterly trivialized a very important issue, which is the use of public money to subsidize discrimination.


Monday, October 8, 2018

In Case You Missed It – Oct 8, 2018

Here are links to the 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. There was an unusually high amount of traffic this week. Extra articles are included at the end.

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.


Miami: Teacher’s Favorite Literature Textbooks Disappear: Who Done It?

From Diane Ravitch
A highly experienced, very successful high school English teacher clung to her favorite literature textbooks. She preferred them to the digital textbooks adopted by the district. One day recently, she arrived in her class to discover that all her textbooks were gone. Her defiance was unacceptable to the state, the district and the principal. The state wants all children using digital material. It is de-emphasizing fiction and literature, replacing them with “informational text.” In short, the Common Core strikes again.


New Jersey Hits the “Pause” Button on New Charter Schools

From Diane Ravitch
After the free-for-all expansion of charter schools in New Jersey during the Chris Christie administration, it is clear there is a new sheriff in town.

The State Commissioner of Education Lamont Repollet has turned down every charter application, saying that time is needed for the state to review the 20-year-old law and figure out how many new charters are needed.


Kids Need Play and Recess. Their Mental Health May Depend on It.

From Education Week
As superintendents, principals and teachers plan for the upcoming school year, one thing is certain: We are serving a generation of children who are more anxious, depressed and suicidal than any generation before. A recent NPR Education Series broadcast states, "Up to one in five kids living in the U.S. shows signs or symptoms of a mental health disorder in a given year."

In fact, Dr. Peter Gray a research professor at Boston College found that, "Rates of depression and anxiety among young people in America have been increasing steadily for the past 50 to 70 years. Today, by at least some estimates, five to eight times as many high school and college students meet the criteria for diagnosis of major depression and/or anxiety disorder as was true half a century or more ago." If that doesn't alarm you as a parent, educator or as a concerned citizen, I'm not sure you have a pulse. The fact is, we have an existential mental health crisis in K-12 education and beyond. The question is, what can schools do about it?


Want to boost test scores? Experts say Indiana must change teaching

We say, “Want successful schools, change LEGISLATORS to those who will support public schools and families.”

From Chalkbeat
Bob Schaeffer, spokesman for The National Center for Fair and Open Testing, an organization that acts as a testing watchdog, said the flat scores could be indicative of a larger issue, but also show the accountability system as a whole isn’t leading to improvement — its stated purpose.

“It’s worth an investigation to try to see what’s going on and why things are flat,” Schaeffer said. “But (the state) should look at better ways to assess Indiana’s public school students that actually improves academic excellence and equity.”


Private Voucher School Caught Cheating Taxpayers

...Midwest Elite failed to administer ISTEP and IREAD...the school failed to keep basic student records like enrollment and special education forms. Also missing – voucher records...

...failed to refund the state voucher money the school received for students who left the school during the school year...

...on multiple occasions the school’s checks to the state bounced...

How many more private voucher schools are cheating taxpayers? Considering private voucher schools do not have the same strict accountability that public schools must comply with, we may never know.


As Indiana test scores remain flat overall, gaps are growing between race and income groups

ISTEP pass rates have been released. Perhaps our legislators need to reflect on why scores are not improving especially in certain populations. Or perhaps we need different legislators who will look for real solutions rather than blindly upping the expectations as if measuring the temperature will help with the heat.

From Chalkbeat
Indiana’s most vulnerable students have far lower passing rates than their peers on the state’s ISTEP exams — and the gaps are widening even as scores overall remain steady.

Only half of the state’s elementary and middle school students passed both English and math exams in 2018, but the results released Wednesday were worse for students of color. For example, about a quarter of black students in the lower grades earned passing scores on both tests, compared to nearly 60 percent of white students.

The gaps in passing rates were also more than 30 percentage points between general education and special needs students, as well as students from affluent and low-income families. And with the exception of special education students in grades 3-8, and Native American students in grade 10, these gaps have increased by several percentage points since 2015 and 2016.


For black, brown, and low-income students, public education is underfunded on purpose

From In the Public Interest (linked from Diane Ravitch)
Like many reports, the latest from the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools (AROS) drops a number of disturbing facts.

Between 2005 and 2017, the federal government neglected to spend $580 billion it was supposed to on students from poor families and students with disabilities. Over that same time, the personal net worth of the nation’s 400 wealthiest people grew by $1.57 trillion.

Seventeen states actually send more education dollars to wealthier districts than to high-poverty ones.


Indiana State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Jennifer McCormick has announced her intention to not run for reelection in 2020. McCormick has discovered what her Democratic predecessor, Glenda Ritz, learned...that Indiana's Republican super-majority is in the pocket of privatizers.

We had several articles on this topic.

With re-election off the table, Indiana schools chief Jennifer McCormick also backs away from leading state board

McCormick plans to cede control over to the partisan appointed board.

From Chalkbeat
McCormick’s decision to not seek out the chair position, a move that is unprecedented in recent Indiana education policy history, comes two days after she said she wouldn’t seek re-election as state schools chief in 2020. McCormick, a Republican and former public school educator, said political squabbles were distracting her from the important work of educating Indiana’s students and said she would “still serve students for the rest of my life, but it may not be in this role.”

Such infighting likely led to McCormick’s announcement on Wednesday as well. Though she campaigned as a more collaborative leader than her predecessor, Democrat Glenda Ritz, McCormick has butted heads with fellow Republicans as often as she’s agreed with them in the first half of her term.

McCormick asks Indiana lawmakers for charter school oversight and preschool support in 2019

From Chalkbeat
Indiana’s state superintendent made it her goal for the next legislative session to lobby lawmakers for more oversight of charter schools — and any schools taking public money, for that matter.

The call for more regulations governing the fiscal and academic operations of charter schools is an ambitious part of Jennifer McCormick’s wide-ranging 2019 legislative agenda, which she unveiled Monday at a press conference.

“It does us no good to allow any type of choice to happen without some type of accountability,” said McCormick, a Republican who, unlike some of her colleagues, has not spoken favorably about expanding school choice programs unless they can demonstrate results. “It can’t be, open the doors and hope for the best — it’s got to be about quality.”