Monday, May 16, 2022

In Case You Missed It – May 16, 2022

Here are links to last week's articles receiving the most attention on NEIFPE's social media accounts. 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 new Follow Us By Email box in the right-hand column to be informed when our blog posts are published.
THIS WEEK

Are charter schools public or private schools? When it comes to gathering funds, charters claim to be public schools. When it comes to profit, they want to be private. Peter Greene and Diane Ravitch explain.

In the Fort Wayne area, we read about the South Side High School centennial as well as a textbook controversy in NACS.

Finally, Americans love music but don't have a problem with underfunding music programs.

CHARTERS

Can We Finally Have The Necessary Debate About Charter Schools

Are charter schools private schools? Should they be able to operate at a profit? Who's responsible when there are problems? Is there a publicly elected school board?

From Curmudgucation
Are charter schools public schools, or private businesses?

The pitch has always been that charter schools are public schools, that they are "laboratories of education" that would enrich the entire "education ecosystem." But that promise has existed beside the reality that charters have conducted themselves largely like businesses, holding onto their "proprietary information" and opening and closing for reasons that have more to do with business decisions than concern about the local education ecosystem.

The proposed rule changes highlight this dichotomy. To increase their chances of getting a chunk of grant money from the federal Charter School Program (CSP), new charter schools would have to do the following...

The Founders Wanted Public Schools, Not Charter Schools or Vouchers

The "common good" was a goal of the US Founders. Do charter and voucher schools fill the need for a "common good?"

From Diane Ravitch
The charter lobby—the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools—has been fighting furiously to block proposed regulations by the U.S. Department of Education that would ban federal funding of for-profit charter schools and white-flight charters. They have received sympathetic editorials, repeating the falsehoods that these sensible regulations would harm all charter schools (they won’t). Their ads are even on national television (I saw one last night on a cable news station), falsely claiming that the regulations are a direct attack on charter schools (they are not).

Who knew that the charter trade association would resort to outright lies to protect low-quality for-profit charter operators and keep federal funding available to open new white-flight charters? The regulations have zero effect on existing charters. They affect only the federal funding spent to open new charters, $440 million a year, which has been recklessly spent on for-profit chains and on charters that never opened or closed soon after opening. Why waste federal money on grifters and entrepreneurs?

By their lies, you shall know them.

WHERE DO MUSICIANS COME FROM?

Musicians Aren't Hatched

We value music here in the US, but treat school music as a "frill."

From Curmudgucation
We have a weird, dichotomous relationship with music in this country. On the one hand, we consider it a necessity. We'll shell out money for streaming services, require a sound system in our cars, and readily embrace each new advance of technology that allows us to include more music in our personal bubble. Some of us pay big bucks to hear music live. And we expect music to enrich everything else--television, movies, gaming, advertising, every public and private occasion. Most of us do not go a day without it; many of us don't even go a waking hour without it.

And yet, we continue to treat music education as some sort of extra, like a lace doily to set under a piece of cake, and not the cake itself. It is always treated as expendable, as something that's not so necessary. Sometimes the cutting is truly non-sensical. I've heard more than one tale of a district that doesn't want to hurt its high school marching band program, so they cut back on elementary programs instead, as if marching band members will somehow just magically appear from the ether.

That's just our society's attitude writ small--we like music, so we like musicians, but we don't really understand where they come from. They just sort of appear, people who have been struck by musical lightning, or maybe hatched at the musician hatchery.
FORT WAYNE AREA LOCAL ARTICLES

South Side High School Tours

South Side High to offer tours: Downtown to join centennial celebration

Take a trip down memory lane. Join the South Side HS tour...

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
South Side High School will continue celebrating its centennial with events next week, including a colorful, downtown nod to the milestone year, a news release said Thursday.

Tours of the school, 3601 S. Calhoun St., will be offered during an open house from 2 to 5 p.m. May 21. Displays will include photographs and blueprints of the school throughout the decades.

South Side has undergone multiple expansions since it opened in 1922. At that time, its website states, it was the largest one-story school building in the United States, and it was among the first schools nationwide to use a series of ramps instead of stairs. Only one set remains, the release said.

It is the oldest Fort Wayne Community Schools building except for the Bill C. Anthis Center, spokeswoman Krista Stockman has said. That downtown location dates to 1902 and first served as Central High School.

Is interracial marriage inappropriate? Who should choose math textbooks -- math experts or school board members?

NACS School Board VP: Interracial Marriage is inappropriate in math text book

NACS gives approval to all textbooks but 1 in math

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
The Northwest Allen County Schools board member who wanted extra time to review four proposed math textbooks praised three titles Monday, but he criticized the other for including story problems about "inappropriate" topics including interracial marriage.

The five-member board unanimously approved the K-12 textbook adoption for next academic year except for a pre-calculus book.

The textbook adoption was delayed two weeks because Kent Somers, board vice president, said on April 25 he was concerned that four of the proposed titles "have been identified in other districts or other places."

On April 15, the Florida Department of Education announced 54 of the 132 submitted textbooks didn't make the state's initial adoption list for math instructional materials.

By the book: Objection to proposed math text anything but cagey

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
On Monday, Somers gave his approval to four “outstanding” books. Education publisher Pearson's evocatively titled “Precalculus” was excluded by Somers because the author was “a little bit cagey in how he'd presented material.”

The textbook, now in its seventh edition, was written by Robert F. Blitzer, an emeritus professor at Miami Dade College where he was an award-winning mathematics teacher for 30 years. He has a master of arts in mathematics from the University of Miami and a doctorate in behavioral science from Nova University.

In promotional material for the book, Blitzer, sporting long hair, round wire-framed glasses and a walrus mustache, is quoted as saying, “Your world is profoundly mathematical.”

Drawing upon pop culture and up-to-date references, Blitzer wrote the series so that it would “appeal to students of all majors and connect math to their lives, showing them that our world is more mathematical than they realize.”

**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/ [NOTE: NEIFPE has no financial ties to the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette]

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Monday, May 9, 2022

In Case You Missed It – May 9, 2022

Here are links to last week's articles receiving the most attention on NEIFPE's social media accounts. 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 new Follow Us By Email box in the right-hand column to be informed when our blog posts are published.

THIS WEEK

Fort Wayne Community Schools has to figure out a way to be more efficient amidst a shortage of bus drivers.

A charter school administrator abuses a child.

Surprise! Public school parents like their local schools.

And a NEIFPE blog recognizing the most popular posts of the past week wouldn't be complete without one or two posts from Peter Greene at Curmudgucation. Today's entries: Teacher appreciation week and a look at how we teach reading.

FWCS STRUGGLING TO RESCHEDULE BUSES

FWCS ponders changes in bus schedules: Options on the table amid driver shortages

Wouldn't it be nice if the public funds spent on charter and voucher schools in the Fort Wayne Area went to the public schools...attended by the majority of local students? Salaries could be raised for education support personnel, like bus drivers, attracting more people to the workforce.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Fort Wayne Community Schools is rethinking school schedules as it grapples with a shortage of bus drivers, Superintendent Mark Daniel said during an online update Tuesday.

“Everything's on the table,” he said of adjusting transportation plans to increase efficiency with fewer and fewer drivers.

Daniel addressed the topic in the final minutes of the hourlong Facebook Live event – the last of the academic year – after a viewer inquired about a possible schedule change for middle and high school in two years.

CHARTER VICE-PRINCIPAL PUNCHES 5-YEAR-OLD

San Antonio: IDEA Charter School Vice Principal Arrested for Punching 5-Year-Old

Your tax dollars at work.

From Diane Ravitch
The vice principal of an IDEA charter school in San Antonio was arrested for punching a 5-year-old child.

Betsy DeVos, when U.S .Secretary of Education, gave the IDEA chain more than $200 million from the federal Charter Schools Program to expand.

TEACHER APPRECIATION WEEK

Appreciating Teachers In May

Last week was National Teacher Appreciation Week. Peter Greene wonders if the end of the year is the best time for this kind of recognition. Sure, teachers have made it through another long year filled with challenges and stress (as have the kids!). But would it be better to appreciate teachers at the beginning of the school year for having the courage to show up in the first place?

Perhaps it's time to appreciate teachers all year long and finally give professional educators the respect they're due.

From Curmudgucation
So maybe it makes sense to appreciate teachers now, when they are up against it, trying to convince students that there are, in fact, more school days left even though the Big Standardized Test just finished. Maybe teachers need that extra boost during May, when only teachers are praying for cold, miserable days that do not make students shift into summer gear. Maybe now, as everyone is lurching toward the finish line, particularly in this pretend-post-pandemic year (which, according to most of my teacher friends, is actually worse than last year), is the perfect time to holler some attagirls at teaching staffs. But many times, I have wondered if a teacher appreciation week in September would be far better.

It's nice to hear "Ya did good" at the end of a run, but a hearty "Thanks for showing up to take this on. We'll be with you every step of the way," would be great, too. Being appreciated at the end of your run is a nice thing, an expression that people think you did a good job. Appreciation at the start shows some trust and confidence without waiting around to make sure you really did do a good job.

CURRICULUM: READING

Can the Reading Pendulum Be Swinging?

Here's an interesting take on the "Reading Wars" from Peter Greene, a retired secondary teacher. Content and knowledge matter!

From Curmudgucation
...Knowledge matters. Content matters. To state what seems obvious to me, it's hard to read or learn to read if you don't know much. It's easier to read or learn to read if you have a wealth of background knowledge. New learning is most easily acquired when it can be connected to old knowledge. So if you want to teach children to read, building up their storehouse of prior knowledge is a critical-- maybe the most critical-- thing you can do to build a foundation.

This point of view has never gone away, but it seems to be gaining traction lately.

Note, for instance, this piece from Louisiana's education chief and committed reformster John White. White's point is that the NAEP is a faulty test because it doesn't measure "what students know."

MOST PARENTS LOVE THEIR LOCAL PUBLIC SCHOOLS...AND THEY SHOULD KNOW, RIGHT?

NPR: New Poll Shows that Most Parents Like Their Public Schools and Teachers

Year after year parents all over the country give their own schools higher grades than the nation's schools.

Public schools get their highest grades from those who know them best...from public school parents. Could it be that the media skews the reporting on public schools so we only hear how bad the nation's schools are? Is the "common knowledge" that America's public schools are failing false? Is that "common knowledge" actually based on mostly misused and overused test scores?

Answers: Yes, yes, and yes.

Here's yet another poll showing that "our schools are great." Those "other schools" must be the ones that are failing.

From Diane Ravitch
NPR released a new poll showing that, despite the loud mouths attacking public schools, most parents like their public schools and teachers.

They like their schools despite the hundreds of millions, if not billions, invested in promoting school choice, charter schools, vouchers, and privatization.
**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/ [NOTE: NEIFPE has no financial ties to the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette]

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Monday, May 2, 2022

In Case You Missed It – May 2, 2022

Here are links to last week's articles receiving the most attention on NEIFPE's social media accounts. 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 new Follow Us By Email box in the right-hand column to be informed when our blog posts are published.
THIS WEEK

Due to a technical error, last week's IN CASE YOU MISSED IT from NEIFPE was unpublished or removed from the blog. It has been reposted and, if you scroll down you will find it below this May 2, 2022 post. We apologize for any inconvenience.

This week's popular articles and blog posts focused on charter schools and the so-called "parental rights" movement.

We start with an announcement from one of our local school districts.

FWCS CHANGES FOCUS FOR TITLE I MONEY

FWCS's Title I money will be focused exclusively on elementary schools.

FWCS elementaries focus of Title I funds

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Fort Wayne Community Schools is changing its spending strategy for the $12 million in federal funding it receives to serve children living in high-poverty areas.

The district, which has about 50 schools and almost 30,000 students, decided in its annual review of Title I spending to use the money solely at all of its elementary schools next academic year, spokeswoman Krista Stockman said. The list includes Towles Intermediate School, which serves grades one through eight.

This year, the Title I schools comprise 25 elementary schools, four middle schools and three high schools. Together they serve almost 17,000 students, according to state enrollment data.

FORT WAYNE CHARTER APPLICANT SEES THE WRITING ON THE WALL

Unwanted charter school wisely gives up

Our hometown newspaper editorializes about the withdrawn application of a charter school.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
As organizer of the proposed Fort Wayne Preparatory Academy, state law required the board to hold a public hearing in the community before it could decide the school's fate. That meeting was Monday at the Allen County Public Library's main branch, where the planned charter encountered heavy resistance.

The academy had sought to open in the 2023-24 academic year with 150 elementary students. Leaders wanted to expand to middle grades, eventually serving 400 students, according to the 268-page application. The academy expected to draw students from FWCS, and its application said it planned to open in “the southwestern area of Fort Wayne.” But it identified “one current target” on the city's southeast side – the former Zion Lutheran Academy building at 2313 S. Hanna St.

About 25 people – including Fort Wayne Community Schools board members and Superintendent Mark Daniel – urged the state's charter school board to reject the application. Opponents questioned the academy's proposed budget and staffing plans. They pointed out two of the academy's three board members live in the Southwest Allen County Schools district and not FWCS, and they criticized the record of the education service provider, Accel Schools.

CHARTER IN INDY GETS TO USE BROAD RIPPLE HS BUILDING

Purdue Poly seeks a deal to use Broad Ripple High School for one year

There should be no such thing as a "cash-strapped" school district. The Indiana Constitution requires that the legislature...

"...provide, by law, for a general and uniform system of Common Schools, wherein tuition shall be without charge, and equally open to all."

It would seem obvious that the state is responsible for making sure those "common schools" are properly funded. If a school or district is "cash-strapped" then the school board and state must work together to fully fund the district.

From Chalkbeat Indiana*
Four years after Broad Ripple High School closed its doors, students may return to its classrooms — but just for a year.

Indianapolis Public Schools is considering letting Purdue Polytechnic High School North temporarily use part of the building while the charter school’s permanent home is under construction.

It’s an interesting twist in the saga over Broad Ripple High School. Purdue Poly had sought in 2018 to take over the building but later backed out of the contentious debate that pitted choice-friendly lawmakers against the cash-strapped district.
POLITICS/PARENTAL RIGHTS

I'm Not Going To Defend SEL

Is Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) the newest target for the anti-public education crowd?

From Curmudgucation
Social and Emotional Learning is the new target of the GOP attempt to set multiple education brushfires in hopes of stampeding voters towards a Republican victory (as well as one more way for the authoritarian crowd to hammer home their central point of "Trust nobody except Beloved Leader"). The attacks range from overblown to intellectually dishonest to giant piles of bovine fecal matter to the odious, evil charges that the teaching profession is simply a haven for groomers.

And there is irony in these attacks from the right, because SEL is just the latest packaging of what we used to call "soft skills," and some of the greatest push for getting these into schools has come from the business community ("Hey schools! Fix my meat widgets so they communicate and cooperate better!!")

All that said, I'm not going to be the one to defend SEL in the classroom.

POLITICS/PARENTAL RIGHTS

AZ: An Even Worse Parental Rights Bill

Public schools belong to the entire community, not just the parents whose children currently attend. Like the public library, public parks, and public thoroughfares, the public schools benefit everyone, not just the children attending the school.

To be sure, parents are allowed to remove their children from public schools and send them to private schools or provide home schooling. Certain conditions must be met because the education of the citizenry is in the interest of everyone in the community.

Those parents who choose to enroll their children in a private school (assuming that the private school allows their children to attend) should be required to pay for it themselves.

"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." - John Adams

From Curmudgucation
As more and more of these rear their heads across the country, the language gets sloppier and -- well, just bad. Recently approved by the Senate and previously okayed by the House, Arizona's HB 2161 throws a new verb into the mix-- usurp.

As in, no political subdivision of the state or any other government entity or any official etc (because in this phrase, the bill's writer was exactingly detailed and thorough) "shall not interfere with or usurp the fundamental right of parents to direct the upbringing, education, health care and mental health of their children."

And if that seems hugely broad and vague--well, it gets worse. Because the very next sentence says that a parent may bring suit against the "government entity or official" based on any violation of the statutes or action that "interferes with or usurps the fundamental right of parents to direct the upbringing, education, health care and mental health of their children."
*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/ [NOTE: NEIFPE has no financial ties to the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette]

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