Monday, July 13, 2020

In Case You Missed It – July 13, 2020

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

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


CHARTERS DOUBLE DIP FOR BOTTOM LINE

Charter schools reap more than $220 million in federal coronavirus aid. Elite private schools got some, too. Here’s a database with details.

From the Answer Sheet
The Post database shows loans of more than $1 million. There are 152 separate entries of charter schools that come up in a search of the database for “charter schools.” Many of them received loans of between $1 million to $2 million, and some between $5 million and $10 million. If each school got the lowest amount of money in their loans, it would amount to more than $200 million.

A search for the word “school” brings up 2,606 results, including many colleges and universities. Traditional public school districts could not apply for PPP loans.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION INSISTS THAT SCHOOLS OPEN

Trump and DeVos: Schools Must Reopen, Without Needed Resources

From Diane Ravitch
Trump doesn’t care about the lives of students and staff. He cares only about his poll numbers. DeVos is arrogant and doesn’t care what might happen to students and teachers and other staff in public schools. She never has.

Opening schools without elaborate and carefully planned protocols for testing, daily screenings, masks, small classes, and social distancing is insane.

Opening schools in the middle of a raging and uncontrolled pandemic is irresponsible. Whose loves will be sacrificed?


Want Schools Open In The Fall? Then Pay For It

From Peter Greene in Forbes
But there are also some basic non-negotiable costs that can’t be papered over with some simple edict and a wave of the hand. None of it will be cheap, but any elected official who mandates the re-opening of schools without offering a real plan for financing the mandate is simply pushing for catastrophic failure.

A Grand Bargain: Reopen the Schools (Where Feasible) But Only If the Feds Pay for It

From Diane Ravitch
The Council of Chief State School Officers has estimated that it will require up to $244 billion in additional federal aid to reopen schools safely. It might be even more. If that is the cost of reopening schools and reopening the economy, it is a price worth paying.

Since the federal government has failed to take the lead in controlling the pandemic, the number of cases of coronavirus continues to rise, unlike the EU or Canada or many other nations. Where the virus is still rising, as in Texas, Florida, Arizona, and other states, schools cannot open safely.

But where the virus has been contained, schools can act on reopening plans only if they are adequately funded.

The only way to reopen schools safely, whether in the fall or months later, is by a dramatic increase in the budget so that there will be enough staff to protect the health and safety of the children, the teachers, and other staff.


PRESIDENT ATTACKS TEACHERS...PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Trump Comes After Public School Teachers

Let’s hope there is an army of teachers on Election Day seeing to it that these attacks on teachers do not stand!

From Curmudgucation
It seems like an odd choice, given that large number of teachers voted for Trump. Why risk turning them off? Probably because there is no risk--at this point it's clear that the Trump base voter can't be turned off by anything. Literally anything. I expect that teacher Trumpers will look at any criticism of teachers and say, "Yeah, he's right. These jerks I work with are awful. He's not talking about me, though." It's a version of the old question of why asshats have friends--because the asshats friends say, "Well, sure he's an asshat, but I feel certain he'll never be an asshat to me." This is one of the great tricks narcissists can pull off-- to make you feel so charmed that you can see every one of their terrible faults, but feel certain that you are exempt from their effect.

An attack on teachers is also part of the attack on all sources of authority outside of Beloved Leader, as in the point last night where he blamed all the rioting on "the predictable result of years of extreme indoctrination and bias in education, journalism, and other cultural institutions." In other words, there are no institutions you can trust, no source for evidence that can be believed, because They have corrupted them all. Only Beloved Leader remains pure.

JOURNAL GAZETTE HONORS TEACHER

Teacher Honor Roll

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
“My son always comes home beaming with pride on all the new information he is learning across multiple subjects. She keeps him so thoroughly happy and totally engaged in his learning. He loves listening to her read to them and loves all the fun voices she uses to tell the stories.


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

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Monday, July 6, 2020

In Case You Missed It – July 6, 2020

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

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


SCHOOL STARTS IN THE FALL...OR DOES IT

Everybody Has Lost Their Damn Mind Around the Reopening of Schools

How will school openings impact our teachers?

From The Educator's Room
As a teacher, I am expected...to leave my children at home and risk my life to teach high school math to a group of 150+ smiling (and sometimes snarky) 15 year-olds. I’m expected to accommodate students throughout the day in small groups, all while continually assessing their areas of weakness, areas of growth. Not to mention, I have to be innovative in how I make math accessible for all my students. I’m expected to do all of this in a small 900 square foot classroom, jam-packed with thirty desks with no windows and ventilation that reminds you of a prison cell.

It does not matter that in Atlanta the cases are continually climbing and younger people (age 17-25) are being considered as superspreaders, that ICU beds are filling up with COVID-19 patients, or that teachers and parents are scared of being exposed, our Governor Brian Kemp has decided that profits are more important than people.

Last week, several metro-area school districts announced their re-opening plans with a mixture of hybrid, face to face, or all virtual options. Districts have laid out elaborate plans on how they’ll proceed with opening schools from start time, date, and lunch schedules, but not much has been said about protecting teachers, bus drivers, kitchen staff, and students. It seems as if superintendents, school boards, and the general public have lost their damn minds when they discuss reopening of school.

There’s no talk of PPE gear (short of a mask), cleaning supplies, or CDC cleaning protocols. There’s no real talk of what happens when a child comes to school sick, except send them to the nurse’s office (which by the way is not housed by an actual nurse).

12 inconvenient truths about schools and kids that should be considered before reopening — from a teacher

"...this should be enough to at least give everyone pause. Operating schools during a pandemic will not be easy. I'm not at the point yet where I'm saying we shouldn't try, but we have got to think carefully and challenge assumptions before we open the schoolhouse doors this fall."

From the Answer Sheet
...even if schools get all of the money they need, and staff show remarkable ingenuity and creativity, there are some basic, inconvenient truths we need to face about how schools work before we claim we can reopen safely this fall. So, in no particular order:

• Children, especially young children, cannot be expected to stay six feet away from everyone else during an entire school day. Sorry, even if a school has the room, it’s just not going to happen. One adult can’t keep eyes on a couple/few dozen children every second of every hour of every day to ensure they don’t drift into each others’ spaces. You certainly can’t do that and teach. And you can’t expect children to self-police. Young children are simply not developmentally able to remind themselves over seven hours not to get near each other.

• Children cannot be expected to wear masks of any kind for the duration of a school day. At some point, the mask has to come off; even adult medical professionals take breaks. And anyone who’s worked with young children knows they will play with their masks and not even realize they’re doing it. It’s simply unrealistic to expect otherwise...

To Everyone Who Was Never A Classroom Teacher, Re Pandemic School Openings

The coronavirus pandemic is just another excuse for people who have no experience with public education to pontificate and make rules without the input of those who attend or work in public schools. Just because you were a student doesn't mean you know how to teach. Looking at you, Ms. Secretary of Education (who never attended, worked in, or sent her children to public schools).

From Curmudgucation
The last thirty-seven-ish years of education have been marked by one major feature-- a whole lot of people who just don't know, throwing their weight around and trying to set the conditions under which the people who actually do the work will have to try to actually do the work. Policy wonks, privateers, Teach for America pass-throughs, guys who wanted to run for President, folks walking by on the street who happen to be filthy rich, amateurs who believe their ignorance is a qualification-- everyone has stuck their oar in to try to reshape US education. And in ordinary times, as much as I argue against these folks, I would not wave my magic wand to silence them, because 1) educators are just as susceptible as anyone to becoming too insular and entrenched and convinced of their own eternal rightness and 2) it is a teacher's job to serve all those amateurs, so it behooves the education world to listen, even if what they hear is 98% bosh.

But that's in ordinary times, and these are not ordinary times.

Indianapolis students in 6th grade and above must wear face masks at school, new guidance says

Indianapolis is going to try to get students in sixth grade and above to wear masks while at school. Are eleven and twelve year olds mature enough to resist taking them off or playing with them,

From Chalkbeat*
Indianapolis teachers, school staff, and students in sixth grade and above will be required to wear face masks when they return to classrooms this year, according to guidance from the Marion County Public Health Department released Thursday.

Children in fifth grade and below are not required to wear masks or coverings under the recommendations. Other exceptions include students and staff with health conditions that make wearing a mask a risk and students who cannot remove a mask on their own. The guidance says that a face shield may be an appropriate alternative for teachers in pre-K through fifth grade if a mask is “determined to impede a student’s learning.”

Staff and students may remove masks when necessary, such as to eat or drink.

Although face masks are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, they are not required in Indiana.


FWCS SUPERINTENDENT RETIRES

Robinson gets retirement send-off: Ex-FWCS students, staff say thanks

Fort Wayne Community Schools Superintendent, Wendy Robinson, described the tributes she received during a drive-through retirement event as "overwhelming."

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Two of the attendees were Dan Bickel and his wife, Barb, of Fort Wayne. Dan, a former elementary schools administrator, called Robinson “a very special person in my life.”

He praised her collaborative leadership style and the way she kept the focus on students.

Robinson “accepted me in the Fort Wayne Community Schools years ago and was one of the first people to teach me the ropes. She helped me as a colleague and a mentor and became a real and trusted friend,” said Bickel, who retired in 2012.

“I told her retirement was the biggest adjustment in my life, but if she needs any help just to call, because I got good at it.”

School board member Steve Corona greeted Robinson with a hug.

“It's, you know, a bittersweet day,” he said. “I'm so happy for her.”

But at the same time, he said, he knows what the 30,000-student district will miss without her at the head.

Corona said Robinson emerged as a champion for not only large urban school systems like Fort Wayne but for public education as a whole – “at a time when it was under attack.”

He added he was sure she wouldn't stop rooting for the district.

“But it's good to know after so many years she won't have to make those decisions all day long, every day,” Corona said.

PUBLIC DOLLARS SHOULD GO TO PUBLIC SCHOOLS -- REPLACE BETSY DEVOS!

Final CARES Act Disribution Rule Still Favors Private Schools Over Public Schools

It's almost like the U.S. Education Department is purposely trying to bypass public schools when distributing funds for education.

From Jan Resseger
Public education dollars buy services for 50 million children and adolescents across the United States. State superintendents and local school district officials are not selfishly trying to hoard CARES Act dollars. These educators want to protect federal CARES Act dollars urgently needed in the nation’s 98,000 public schools for the purpose of serving students during the pandemic and making up for deep recessionary cuts in state funding. They are trying to protect federal emergency assistance desperately needed in our public institutions.


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

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

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Monday, June 29, 2020

In Case You Missed It – June 29, 2020

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

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


INDIANA SCHOOLS NEED NURSES

Some Indiana schools will reopen without a full-time nurse, raising concerns

Will you feel safe to send your child to a school without a full-time nurse?

From Chalkbeat*
Before the pandemic closed buildings, not every school in Indiana had a dedicated, full-time nurse, according to officials. The state only requires that each district have at least one, even if it includes multiple buildings. And advocates say many districts don’t meet the nationally recommended ratio of one nurse for every 750 students.

Now, the importance of having a medical profession is heightened as districts work through how to reopen safely during the ongoing pandemic.

“I think it’s critical to have a school nurse on site,” Bishop said. “The need is even more amplified right now because of COVID-19. As an educator, I’m not a healthcare professional. Having someone who is is more important now than I think it’s ever been.”

CHARTERS CLOSE SUDDENLY -- STUDENTS LEFT STRANDED

Memphis: Two KIPP Charters Close Suddenly, Stranding Students

Charter schools are businesses. When they stop making money they close, often with no warning.

From Diane Ravitch
In reality, KIPP gave up. They gave up on their students, families, faculty and staff after only a few years of operation. Make no mistake, this was a financial decision that is inequitable to the historic Alcy Ball community in South Memphis.

KIPP cited a “failure to fulfill academic promise” which resulted in the closures, and the only excuse provided for the late notice was that they did not want to mislead the schools’ key stakeholders regarding their future.

This was a cheap and inaccurate shot at the integrity of the teachers and faculty, who spent money out of their own pockets to make sure that their students were adequately clothed, fed and supplied.


DEVOS IGNORED LOAN FORGIVENESS

Trump Back DeVos On Soaking Scammed Students

Betsy DeVos is quick to deny any loan forgiveness for students. In 2013 the State of Indiana forgave more than $90 million in Charter School Loans. We wonder what DeVos would think about that...

From Curmudgucation
DeVos has been plenty clear in her feelings about debt relief, siding whole-heartedly the corporate interests. She has thoroughly choked off the public service loan forgiveness program as a prelude to proposing to kill it entirely. Called in before the House Education Committee to explain why she was still dragging her feet on loan forgiveness for the scammed students, she offered a very DeVosian quote:

I understand that some of you here just want to have blanket forgiveness for anyone who raises their hand and files a claim, but that simply is not right.
The very idea of people borrowing money and then being excused from paying it back really, really rubs her the wrong way. She hates it. So she wrote new rules, under which hardly anyone would get loan forgiveness.

And Congress finally said, "Enough."

EACS PLANS FOR REOPENING

EACS details ‘reopening safety plan’; says full plan still in development

From Fort Wayne NBC
A reopening safety plan published by East Allen County Schools lays out guidelines and expectations for those on campus, though the district says its complete and "official" plan for the coming school year remains in development.

The reopening safety plan includes employee health screening, enhanced cleaning and hygiene protocols, and social distancing measures.

A spokesperson for the district says the plan is a work-in-progress, and administrators are still ironing out more concrete protocols. She describes the document that was published as a district adherence to directives from the governor.

According to the plan, the number of students, employees and visitors allowed in the buildings will be limited and social distancing will be enforced "whenever possible".

Those who enter the school are encouraged to wear masks although they are not required.

Hand wipes and sanitizer will be available at all the main entrances, and common touch points like doorknobs and handles will be cleaned daily by custodians. Drinking fountains will not be in use.


FWCS SAYS GOOD-BYE TO SUPERINTENDENT

FWCS hands Robinson $20,000: Smith votes against severance check amid uncertainty

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
In her last meeting as superintendent of Fort Wayne Community Schools after 17 years, Wendy Robinson received a going-away gift – a $20,000 severance check.

The board voted 6-1 in favor of the payment. Tom Smith, 3rd District, voted against the measure, saying his vote didn't reflect his opinion of Robinson's performance in her job or as a community leader.

Smith said because of the way COVID-19 has affected parents and taxpayers, with many unemployed or working only part-time or more than one job, he said he could not justify the expense.

The schools also are facing uncertainty in funding from the state, he said.

“I can't imagine a worse time to give someone an extra $20,000 that wasn't contracted for,” Smith said.

“My vote is all about saving money at this time,” he added.

Robinson's final contract included a base annual salary of $210,164.

School board members praised Robinson for leading the schools through tumultuous times that included the rise of charter and voucher schools, shrinking state funds, three building referendums and a student population growing in diversity.

“Through it all, Dr. Robinson has kept the wolves at bay,” said Ann Duff.

INDIANA HEALTH COMMISSIONER OFFERS GUIDELINES FOR REOPENING

5 key recommendations for reopening schools from Indiana’s top health expert

Hoosier schools leaders have to puzzle it out. Let’s hope they do as Dr. McCormick suggests and confer with their local health departments.

From Chalkbeat*
School districts statewide are scrambling to come up with their own plans for reopening next school year, after buildings were closed for months to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Reopening campuses is one of the last and trickiest steps in Gov. Eric Holcomb’s plan to lift statewide restrictions. In Indiana, hundreds of new COVID-19 cases continue to be reported daily.

Here are five key takeaways from Box’s advice for schools:

1. School reopening plans don’t have to be approved by local health departments...

2. Masks will be key to preventing the spread of COVID-19...

3. Self- or home-screening is highly recommended...

4. Water fountains should be shut down...

5. Schools should be cautious about activities, including athletics and choir...


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

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

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Monday, June 22, 2020

In Case You Missed It – June 22, 2020

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

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


SHORT OF MONEY? ORDER MORE TESTS

The last thing schools need to spend money on is tests. States are going to be very short of cash due to the lack of leadership by the federal government. Education funding ought to go to the classroom, not the corporate board room of a multinational testing company.

Leonie Haimson: NYC DOE Finds $6 Million for Pearson

From Diane Ravitch
Leonie Haimson, executive director of Class Size Matters, reports that the NYC Department of Education plans to award $6 million to testing giant Pearson, despite the pandemic and looming budget cuts.

PENCE TOUTS "SCHOOL CHOICE" AS THE ANSWER

Pence’s ‘school choice’ in Indiana

As governor of Indiana, Mike Pence was a fan of private education paid for with public funds. He never missed a chance for a private school photo-op...and generally ignored public education. Now, as VP he -- and his boss -- want to bring the money wasted on privatization to the federal level. With Betsy DeVos and a newly packed federal judiciary leading the charge, he just might be able to do that.

That would be a mistake.

From School Matters
Asked a simple question Tuesday about race in America, Vice President Mike Pence deflected to a soliloquy about all the Trump administration has done for African Americans, including the way it has “stood strong for school choice.”

Pence was following the script laid out by the president, who said that school choice is “the civil rights (issue) of all time in this country.”

How does that look from Indiana, where Pence was governor for four years before he hitched his wagon to Trump’s star? Frankly, not so good.


UNCERTAINTY FOR TEACHERS AND SCHOOLS IN 2020

No one knows what will happen this fall when it's time for schools to open. Will COVID-19 still be a threat? Will students have to work from home? Attend school in shifts? Wear masks?

It’s mid-June and schools still aren’t sure how they will open for 2020-21. Here’s why — and what’s likely to happen.

From the Answer Sheet
It’s mid-June and most school district superintendents still haven’t announced exactly what schools will look like when they open for the 2020-21 school year. In many places, reopening will be in August, which doesn’t give them a lot of time to decide and put the plans in motion.

But we do know that just about every aspect of schooling will be different than it has been in the past. Protective measures will be in place to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, and a “hybrid” model of in-person and remote learning will become commonplace in many, if not most, districts.

Teachers Face A Summer Of Soul Searching. What Do They Do In The Fall?

From Peter Greene in Forbes
Teachers know, in their guts, where this is headed. They have seen versions of this movie before. For instance, in 1975 Congress passed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) which promised every student with disabilities a free appropriate public education. Knowing that meant extra expenses for school districts, Congress promised funding to back IDEA. They have never, in 45 years, honored that promise, and schools have just had to find their own way to meet that unfunded mandate.


JIM BANKS (IN-03) SAYS SCHOOLS MUST START OR NO MONEY

GOP Legislators To Schools: Re-Open Or Else.

One size does not fit all.

Indiana's third district US Congressman, Jim Banks, and a Wisconsin colleague have decided that the health of those who attend school, work in schools, or are related to those who attend or work in schools doesn't matter.

In a blatant attempt at extortion, Rep. Banks and Tom Tiffany (R-WI) have introduced a bill that would require schools to open for in-person instruction by September 8, 2020, or face the loss of federal education dollars. It doesn't matter what the local pandemic conditions are. It doesn't matter what the local health risks are. "Damn the torpedoes. Full speed ahead."

From Peter Greene in Forbes
Representative Jim Banks of Indiana and freshly-elected Representative Tom Tiffany of Wisconsin have decided to throw some weight behind the push to re-open schools in the fall by creating the granddaddy of all unfunded mandates.

The Reopen Our Schools Act sends a pretty simple message to schools—open up in the fall, or we will cut off your federal funding. I’ve seen the text of the bill—it’s 37 lines long, including the section of definitions. Its purpose is listed as “To prohibit the Secretary of Education from providing funding to certain educational institutions unless the institutions return to in-person instruction, and for other purposes.“

CHARTERS ARE PRIVATE BUSINESSES

Charter Schools, Some With Billionaire Benefactors, Tap Coronavirus Relief

Are charter schools public schools or are they private businesses? It depends on which way the money flows. When states began funding charters with public dollars, then they decided that charters are public schools. When the US Congress offered small business relief during the coronavirus pandemic, those same charter schools turned towards the money and claimed to be private businesses. They can't -- or shouldn't -- have it both ways.

From the New York Times
Charter schools, including some with healthy cash balances and billionaire backers like Michael Bloomberg and Bill Gates, have quietly accepted millions of dollars in emergency coronavirus relief from a fund created to help struggling small businesses stay afloat.

Since their inception, charter schools have straddled the line between public schools and private entities. The coronavirus has forced them to choose.

And dozens of them — potentially more because the Treasury Department has not disclosed a list — have decided for the purpose of coronavirus relief that they are businesses, applying for aid even as they continue to enjoy funding from school budgets, tax-free status and, in some cases, healthy cash balances and the support of billionaire backers.


TFA OPTS FOR EVEN LESS TRAINING THAN BEFORE

Teach for America’s 2020 Trainees to Enter the Classroom with Only Tutoring Experience

Teach for America had never given their "teachers" much training. Five weeks in the summer was enough because since everyone has gone to school everyone can teach, right?

There's a reason it takes actual teachers four years to complete a teacher training program. Teaching children in public schools is more than just presenting information. If you don't know that -- and TFA trainers apparently don't -- then you shouldn't be in the classroom.

From deutsch29: Mercedes Schneider's Blog
In this time of school closures and social distancing, teacher temp agency, Teach for America (TFA), has decided to “train” its 2020 corps members online.

As former TFAer-gone-career teacher, Gary Rubinstein, writes, pre-COVID, TFA trainees actually teach on average one hour per day over the course of four weeks during the summer, in classrooms which they share with four other TFA trainees.

As such, TFA trainees have no experience teaching even one entire school day in a classroom in which the trainee is responsible for all instruction.

And now, with the social restrictions and classroom complexities introduced by the coronavirus, TFA’s 2020 trainees will have no experience being in charge of a classroom– not even an entire classroom online.

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Monday, June 15, 2020

In Case You Missed It – June 15, 2020

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

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


EDUCATION IS ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS

The Student-Teacher Relationship is One of the Most Misunderstood and Underrated Aspects of Education

From Gadfly on the Wall Blog
Test-obsessed policy makers will tell educators to manage everything with a clipboard and a spreadsheet – for example, to increase the percentage of positive interactions vs negative ones in a given class period. But such a data-centric mindset dehumanizes both student and teacher.

The goal cannot be to maximize numbers whether they be test scores or some other metric. It has to be about the relationship, itself.

Teachers have to care about their students. All teachers. All students.

Or at least we have to try.

EDUCATION IS ABOUT FUNDING

School Funding in the COVID-19 Era

How will we fund public schools when the states are out of money?

From Diane Ravitch
The coronavirus has caused incalculable harm to millions of people. Two million people have been infected. More than 100,000 have died. The death toll increases daily. The scientific response to the pandemic—close down the economy—caused additional harm, with most economic activity halted, millions of people out of work, businesses Closed, livelihoods lost. The economic shutdown caused a dramatic decline in state revenues, which means less funding for schools. As schools plan to reopen, classes must be smaller, more nurses and healthcare workers are needed, and costs will rise, to keep students and staff safe.

How can schools cut costs while costs are rising? They can’t.
WILL SCHOOLS BE ABLE TO OPEN IN THE FALL?

With little to no help or guidance from state and federal government, Hoosier schools and parents are left to figure school opening out.

Indiana schools reopening: Why screening for coronavirus could be difficult

From Chalkbeat*
Before she sends her two children back to school next year, Sherry Holmes said she’d like to see every student and staff member in the state tested for COVID-19.

That seems unlikely as tests remain limited and targeted at those who are high risk or symptomatic. So Holmes said she will likely keep her kindergartner and third grader home for a few weeks, at least until she can see what precautions their school is taking.

“For me as a parent, it’s scary just to think about,” she said.

Reopening school buildings is one of the last and trickiest steps in Gov. Eric Holcomb’s plan to lift statewide restrictions brought on by the coronavirus. The Indiana State Department of Health reports hundreds of new COVID-19 cases daily, and the return of thousands of children and educators to classrooms could further spread the virus.

Indiana schools to have flexibility when reopening

From WANE.com
State Superintendent Jennifer McCormick addressed teachers and administrators during a webinar Tuesday following the state Department of Education’s release of school reentry guidelines last week. She emphasized the “freedom” local leaders have to determine how their schools will reopen and operate during the coronavirus pandemic. McCormick says that with many schools starting the academic year by early August, some expect to hold all or most classes online. Others, especially in rural areas, plan to return to the “brick and mortar” setting as soon as possible.

To watch the webinar on YouTube, follow this link.


Holcomb: Indiana schools ‘can and should open for instruction’

Apparently, Holcomb has decided COVID-19 is not a threat to our children, our educators and their families, and he has no problem asking schools to do even more impossible things with less funding.

From Chalkbeat*
“We believe, where we are right now, schools can and should open for instruction, and we wouldn’t have made that decision or endorsed the proposal to go forward if we thought otherwise,” Holcomb said during his regular public update.

As one of the final pieces in Holcomb’s plan to reopen Indiana by July 4, the state released guidelines Friday for students and teachers to return to classrooms for the first time since mid-March. Those guidelines included recommendations for screening students and staff for the coronavirus, maintaining social distancing in classrooms and buses, and creating health plans for vulnerable individuals.

DO AMERICANS HAVE A RIGHT TO AN EDUCATION?

The appeals court overturned a ruling that Americans have a right to an education. However, Rep. Jim Banks (IN-03) apparently disagrees with the court when he claims that education is "guaranteed" to all. Which is it?

Federal Appeals Court Rules: No Right to Education

From Diane Ravitch
A federal appeals court overturned a landmark ruling that affirmed the right to an education. Education is necessary for full citizenship, so voters can be fully informed. However the appeals court did not agree.


Indiana lawmaker proposes bill to strip funding from schools if they don't reopen in-person this fall

Emerson's quote, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds..." seems to fit the law proposed by Jim Banks (IN-03). His proposal insists that schools open in the fall or lose federal funding. Meanwhile, the directions from the State of Indiana seems to give local school districts some discretion in how and when to reopen.

From WTHR.com
Rep. Jim Banks (IN-03) is proposing a bill that would cutoff a school’s federal funding if they refuse to reopen for in-person learning in the fall.

The legislation is called: Reopen Our Schools Act.

“We need to change the subject from ‘our schools might not reopen in the fall’ to ‘our schools will reopen in the fall and here’s what we need to do it,’” Rep. Banks said. “America is the land of opportunity where education is guaranteed to all children. We’re not living up that guarantee at the moment.”

The concern is that remote learning is not effective and lack of internet keeps low-income or rural families from being able to do classwork.

DEVOS CONTINUES TO DAMAGE EDUCATION

It seems that Betsy DeVos and the U.S. Department of Education under her control is doing everything it can to hurt students.

Trump and DeVos Push School Choice, No $ for Undocumented

From Diane Ravitch
— DeVos said in a statement that the rule was aimed at eliminating any “uncertainty” for colleges about how they must distribute the funds, while carrying out the department’s “responsibility to taxpayers to administer the CARES Act faithfully.”

— Democratic lawmakers have pushed back, saying the rule violates the intent of the CARES Act. “As students across the country are struggling to make ends meet in the face of unprecedented financial challenges, Secretary DeVos’ efforts to deny some much-needed aid is cruel,” said Senate HELP ranking member Patty Murray (D-Wash.). “These extreme eligibility requirements will not only harm students, but they are also contrary to Congressional intent.” Read more from Michael Stratford.


DeVos Insists on Denying Federal CARES Aid to Undocumented Students

From Diane Ravitch
In another act of gratuitous cruelty, Betsy DeVos insists that undocumented students should get no emergency aid, although Congress did not pass such a restriction.

Politico reports:

DEVOS SEEKS TO ENFORCE RESTRICTIONS ON PANDEMIC RELIEF GRANTS THROUGH REGULATION: The Trump administration will roll out a new regulation this week that restricts which college students may receive emergency grants to cover expenses like food and housing.

DeVos Illegally Seizes $2.2 Billion from Indebted College Students

From Diane Ravitch
...in the middle of a global pandemic and an economic meltdown, with millions of people out of work, the DeVos Department of Education illegally seized $2.2 billion from students who were in debt.

Adam S. Minsky wrote in Forbes:

In response to a class action lawsuit filed by student loan borrowers, the U.S. Department of Education disclosed that it had intercepted and seized over $2.2 billion in tax refunds owed to a million student loan borrowers, in violation of the CARES Act.


CHARTERS HAVE SOME SERIOUS PROBLEMS

A Classic: John Oliver on Charter Schools

From Diane Ravitch
In 2016, John Oliver presented a shocking episode about charter schools.

It has been viewed by 12 million people.

Oliver was the first and possibly the only major media figure to discover that charter schools had some serious problems.

Some close in the middle of the year.

Watch his clip with John Kasich comparing education to getting more pepperoni on a slice of pizza.

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

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Monday, June 8, 2020

In Case You Missed It – June 8, 2020

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

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


INDIANA'S 2020-2021 SCHOOL YEAR PLAN

Indiana Department of Education Announces 2020-2021 School Year COVID-19 Reentry Considerations

From the Indiana Department of Education
“The health and safety of Hoosier students, school staff, and communities is priority one. Providing students with a quality education is critical and therefore it is crucial we offer considerations focused on getting students back in the classroom in a safe manner,” said State Superintendent Dr. Jennifer McCormick. “Considering the many unknowns associated with COVID-19, we also recognize the importance of alternative learning opportunities. We appreciate the thoughtful and collaborative spirit in which IN-CLASS was developed.”

REPAIR FORT WAYNE GETS VOTER APPROVAL

School support: FWCS' stewardship made voters' choice easy

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
In terms of importance, an election night without final results falls low on the list of COVID-19's ill effects. It was reassuring, nonetheless, to know one outcome seemed clear Tuesday night: Voters residing in the Fort Wayne Community Schools district overwhelmingly supported its $130 million building referendum.


At polls, 74% favor FWCS measure: Absentee votes yet to count

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Voters haven't wavered in their support of Fort Wayne Community Schools' quest to renovate and upgrade buildings – at least according to incomplete ballot totals Tuesday night.

About 74% of voters who came to the polls supported the third phase of Repair FWCS, a $130 million bond program that will lead to major renovations...

SURVEY SHOWS DISTANCE LEARNING LACKING

With schools shuttered, learning lags and students left behind, Reuters survey shows

From Reuters
A Reuters survey of nearly 60 school districts across the country provides hard evidence confirming parents’ fears: Distance learning is no substitute for in-class teaching, with students missing classes, meals and hands-on instruction.


STUDENTS NEED TO HEAL FROM TRAUMA

Helping Students Heal

From Live Long and Prosper
Public schools have always been a stable force in students' lives and when the next school year begins -- whenever that is -- they will have to take on the additional role of helping students heal from multiple traumas.

How can teachers and schools help their students and likely their families, too, heal after the pandemic and the societal upheaval?

1. CANCEL THE TESTS...

INDY SCHOOL LEADERS REACT TO CURRENT EVENTS

‘Unconscionable and unacceptable’: Indianapolis school leaders promise to fight racism

From Chalkbeat*
At the end of her weekly video update Friday, Indianapolis Public Schools Superintendent Aleesia Johnson acknowledged the “incredibly tough week in our country.”

She laid out the litany of traumatic current events disproportionately affecting black students: high-profile national incidents of police brutality, gun violence in local neighborhoods, and the coronavirus pandemic’s outsized effect on African Americans.

“There is just so much loss,” Johnson said. “And so in the midst of that, I want to remind all of our students — but especially our black and brown students — that you are so valued. You are loved. You are brilliant. You are powerful. You are magic. And we are so proud of you.”


AMID SOCIETAL CHAOS, TRUMP VETOES STUDENT PROTECTION

While the Press Covers the Police Killing of a Black Man, Riots, and the Pandemic, Trump Quietly Vetoes Rule to Protect Defrauded Student Borrowers

From Jan Resseger
... On Friday, President Trump vetoed a joint congressional resolution, passed by bipartisan majorities in both chambers of Congress, to overturn Betsy DeVos’s re-write of the “borrower defense to repayment” rule. Trump’s veto will make it much harder for students defrauded by unscrupulous for-profit colleges to force the federal government to forgive their federal college debts. It seems unlikely that Congress will have enough votes to override Trump’s veto.

The Obama era “borrower defense to repayment” rule made it easier for student borrowers with federal student loans to have their loans forgiven if they had been defrauded. However, an enormous backlog of claims has been building since DeVos took over the department and her staff slowed processing of students’ claims. Finally, last September, DeVos’s department rewrote a new version of the rule more friendly to the for-profit colleges and less protective of defrauded student borrowers burdened with enormous debt.

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

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

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Monday, June 1, 2020

In Case You Missed It – Jun 1, 2020

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

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


CHARTERS WANT IT BOTH WAYS

Carol Burris: Charters Are Looting Federal Funds Meant to Save Small Businesses

From Diane Ravitch
...Carol Burris and Marla Kilfoyle of the Network for Public Education wrote an article in Valerie Strauss’s “Answer Sheet” about the charter schools that are claiming federal funds designated for small businesses, thwarting the intention of the legislators. Public schools are not eligible for the PPP relief funds, but—presto chango—the money-hungry charters decided they are not public schools after all, they are really small businesses. Next week, they will again claim to be public schools, not small businesses.

CHARTER OWNER INVESTS TO HURT PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Potential partnership sours as charter leader opposes South Bend school referendums

He says he's "not trying to harm the schools," but harming them will likely put more money in his pocket.

From Chalkbeat*
According to election committee filings, Garatoni [founder and board president of three local charter schools] has contributed $30,000 to his anti-referendum campaign, which has no other donors, and has spent around $10,000 so far. The pro-referendum committee has raised nearly $17,000 and spent more than $14,000.

Garatoni acknowledged that his growing network of charter schools, which together serve around 1,300 students in grades K-12, could benefit from the referendum failing, because it might force the district to close more schools. Under state law, empty school buildings are available for charter schools to purchase for $1. But Garatoni said that’s not why he opposes the referendum.

“I’m not trying to harm the schools,” Garatoni said. “Basically, I’m saying fix the schools. If they get the money then they can coast again and they won’t confront the issue.”


POLITICS LEAVES RURAL STUDENTS BEHIND

How the politics behind rural internet access leave parts of Indiana ‘in the dark ages’

From Chalkbeat*
Before the coronavirus crisis, schools in hilly, forested Brown County, Indiana, didn’t expect students to work online at home.

Even with a growing fiber network in the area, too many families couldn’t connect to the internet, and those who did often used hot spots or unreliable connections. So schools used workarounds: Students did their assignments offline at home and logged on once they got to school to upload work, said Superintendent Laura Hammack.

But during the pandemic, that approach no longer works, and school leaders are finding longstanding access gaps more difficult to bridge...

“We’re still over-relying on the private sector to make good on these promises, and the private sector hasn’t delivered,” said Kerwin Olson, executive director of the Citizens Action Coalition, a consumer advocacy group that focuses on utility and environmental issues in Indiana. “No question about it, campaign cash and lobbying influence has a lot to do with why so many folks lack access to this service..."

INDIANA'S APPLICATION FOR RELIEF MONEY

Holcomb applied for $61M in relief for schools. Here are 3 things to know.

From Chalkbeat*
Indiana is eligible to receive up to $61.6 million in discretionary funding for schools. The amount was determined by the number of school-age children in the state. That’s on top of the $215 million Indiana’s K-12 schools are already set to receive through the federal coronavirus relief bill known as the CARES Act...

...the application doesn’t reveal a detailed plan — governors were asked just three questions — it does give us a first look at how Holcomb will spend the money. Here are three things to know:

1. Holcomb wants to create more technology and remote learning grant opportunities...

2. The state would create “needs-based criteria” to decide how to distribute the money...

3. There’s no mention of a statewide plan for closing technology access gaps.


CHILDREN'S WELL-BEING MORE IMPORTANT THAN TEST SCORES

David Berliner: Kids Missing School? Don’t Worry.

From Diane Ravitch
...what if they do lose a few points on the achievement tests currently in use in our nation and in each of our states? None of those tests predict with enough confidence much about the future life those kids will live. That is because it is not just the grades that kids get in school, nor their scores on tests of school knowledge, that predict success in college and in life. Soft skills, which develop as well during their hiatus from school as they do when they are in school, are excellent predictors of a child’s future success in life.

DUMP THE TESTS

Why shouldn't high stakes testing be abandoned next year?

We do not need testing in the fall or even at all when our children go back to school. “We just need smart teachers with the RESOURCES they need to do the work.”

From Curmudgucation
[Standardized testing] would also waste precious instructional time, waste resources, and provide meaningless bad data. Look-- if testing really worked, if it really told us all the things that guys like Toch want to claim it does, don't you think teachers would be clamoring for it? If it were an actual valuable tool, don't you think that teachers, struggling with spotty resources against unprecedented challenges, would be hollering, "If I'm going to try to do this, at least find a way to get me those invaluable Big Standardized Test!"

But no-- in the midst of this hard shot to the foundations of public education, a lot of professional educators are taking a hard look at what is really essential, what they really need to get the job done. The Big Standardized Test didn't make the cut. We don't need the "smart testing," especially since it isn't very smart anyway. We just need smart teachers with the resources they need to do the work.


Disadvantaged kids 'fell further in maths, reading due to COVID'

Here’s an idea...Instead of testing as soon as schools open again, or worrying about what kids have missed...

From the Sydney Morning Herald
“... schools should prioritise helping students settle down after a strange and often stressful experience.

Pasi Sahlberg, research director at the Gonski Institute for Education, said schools should put social and emotional wellbeing first. "I think we should let children play and learn outside as much as possible," he said.

"Schools should not worry too much about how much teaching kids have missed when they were not at school and instead focus more on what they learned when they had more time to do their own things on their own pace. I bet many of us would be surprised about the latter."

SCHOOLS MUST "COEXIST WITH COVID"

Reading, writing and REOPENING: Two months into lifewith COVID-19, schools still have more questions than answers

From NACS Superintendent, Chris Himsel in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Despite the work that remains, we continue to be hopeful we will be able to take steps toward normal. However, we will not jeopardize the health of our students, staff or their families simply because all of us desire a rapid return to our previous normal.

From what we are learning at this moment, school will look significantly different until there is a vaccine. Until then, we must learn to coexist with COVID-19. Over the next several weeks, we will continue gathering facts and developing plans for safely engaging our students.


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

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

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