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.”



Monday, October 1, 2018

Too Much Anger

by NEIFPE Co-founder, Phyllis Bush

(Originally posted on Facebook.)

Regardless of whether you choose to believe Dr. Christine Blasey-Ford or Judge Brett Cavanaugh, this sordid episode has ripped off the scab of much of what has been festering in this country for some time where we view those who do not hold the same views as we do as the enemy.

So how did we get to this place where we have replaced our love and concern for our neighbors with fear, uncertainty, and doubt? Much can be attributed to Lee Atwater, who aroused controversy through his aggressive campaign tactics during the Reagan days. The Southern Strategy apparently worked and precipitated the rise of the Moral Majority, which changed the focus of governmental policy to social issues (abortion, gay marriage, religious freedom) because Atwater et al found that that mobilizes values voters.

For those of us who want our government to address the issues that matter to us, social issues are pretty much non-issues. If we don’t approve of abortion, then we shouldn’t get an abortion. If we don’t like gay marriage, then we shouldn’t marry a gay person, and so on. However, most of us want a government that will keep us out of wars, protect our homeland, and support the issues that are for the common good.

So way too many of us got lazy and assumed that while we often think that many of those who are in Congress (except our own Congress person) are crooks and scoundrels, we figured that this was business as usual for government. While we were not looking, Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell changed the rules for the Supreme Court where the Senate no longer operates under advise and consent, but rather by a simple majority of partisans who will decide who is on the Supreme Court. Mitch McConnell further poisoned the well by blocking Merrick Garland from even having a hearing from senators, and now McConnell and Lindsey Graham are crying foul about the Democrats evil left wing conspiracy. Oh, what a tangled web they weave...

In the midst of all of this, both Judge Kavanaugh and Dr. Blasey-Ford have become victims in this national pyscho-drama. For all of the blaming and shaming on both sides, I do not see how anyone could listen to the gut-wrenching narratives of either of these people without feeling for them and the untenable situation where they have found themselves.

Having painted this bleak picture, my hope is that somewhere in this great country, a non-partisan commission could be established for the selection of judges for the Supreme Court. While I am not particularly hopeful that that will happen, Senators Flake and Coons showed that people of good will can at least try. Perhaps other senators will follow their lead.

In the meantime, I hope those who are so angry and who find it necessary to shame and blame will tone down the rhetoric. I hope that those who care about these issues will respectfully call or write to their senators to implore them to bring some sense to this process.

For those who are sick of politics, you need to get busy, do your homework, and find out who will best represent you and your beliefs rather than turning up your noses and refusing to vote. A refusal to vote may make you feel good in the short run, but in reality, our failure to vote simply gives a free pass to those who do vote.

Please put away your anger, get yourself informed, and find and support candidates who will work to make our government work for all of us....and then VOTE!


In Case You Missed It – Oct 1, 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.

Many of the popular posts this week had to do with the Kavanaugh hearings and the accusations against him of sexual assault. Most of the attention on social media was in the form of comments from our readers. We have not included them here because there were so many. You can read those articles by searching on Diane Ravitch's blog, and The Answer Sheet.


Michigan: In Prison, Charter Founder Continues to Collect Rent from Charter School

From Diane Ravitch
This is one of the most bizarre stories of charter malfeasance that I have ever heard of.

Steven Ingersoll, the founder of a charter chain in Michigan, is currently serving a 41-month term in prison for tax fraud. In a series of complicated transactions, Ingersoll tapped the schools’ funds and transferred millions to his own bank account. The board of the chain consisted of his friends, and they were okay with the arrangement; apparently, they forgave him for funneling millions of dollars from the schools for his personal enrichment and did not demand repayment. Ingersoll owned the properties on which the charters paid rent. Ingersoll is an optometrist, and the sales pitch for his charter chain was that he had a unique take on “visioning.”

Ingersoll is in jail, but the charter for one of his schools was renewed earlier this year, and the charter is paying rent to Ingersoll while he is in prison.


The teacher pay gap is wider than ever

This article is from 2016, but it had a resurgence this past week and is still attracting attention.

From the Economic Policy Institute
The teacher pay penalty is bigger than ever. In 2015, public school teachers’ weekly wages were 17.0 percent lower than those of comparable workers—compared with just 1.8 percent lower in 1994. This erosion of relative teacher wages has fallen more heavily on experienced teachers than on entry-level teachers. Importantly, collective bargaining can help to abate this teacher wage penalty. Some of the increase in the teacher wage penalty may be attributed to a trade-off between wages and benefits. Even so, teachers’ compensation (wages plus benefits) was 11.1 percent lower than that of comparable workers in 2015.


FWCS budget would lead to tax increase

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
The 2019 Fort Wayne Community Schools budget calls for a property tax increase, but not by much.

The anticipated 3 percent tax rate increase means the owner of a $100,000 home with the homestead exemption should expect to pay about $8 more than last year, the district announced Monday.

Residents wishing to weigh in on the proposed $305.9 million spending plan may attend a public hearing at 6 p.m. Oct. 8 in the Grile Administrative Center, 1200 S. Clinton St., Fort Wayne.

Budget adoption is expected Oct. 22.

Kathy Friend, the district's chief financial officer, presented the budget in its new format to the school board Monday night.

State law recently changed, reducing the number of funds within school district budgets from six to two.


IPS and Indy Chamber outline unconventional three-year partnership to cut spending

Does anyone think this is a good idea? Maybe a better idea would be electing a board who has the interest of IPS students at heart.

From Chalkbeat
Indiana’s largest school system is on the cusp of an unusual, three-year partnership with the local chamber of commerce designed to carry out extensive cuts that the business group proposed for balancing the district’s budget.

Under an arrangement that the Indianapolis Public Schools Board will vote on Thursday, the Indy Chamber would pay as much as $1 million during the first year for two new district administrators and consulting by outside groups to implement its cost-cutting plan. The agreement is nonbinding, and the chamber or district could withdraw at any time.


After Seven Years, The Failure Of Tennessee’s ASD Is Finally Made Official

From Gary Rubinstein
Seven years ago, as part of Tennessee’s Race To The Top plan, they launched The Achievement School District (ASD). With a price tag of over $100 million, their mission was to take schools that were in the bottom 5% of schools and, within five years, raise them into the top 25%.

They started with six schools and three years into the experiment, Chris Barbic, the superintendent of the ASD had a ‘mission accomplished’ moment where he declared in an interview that three of those six schools were on track to meet that goal.

But a year later, the gains that led to that prediction had disappeared and it wasn’t looking good for any of those six schools.


Field Guide To Bad Education Research

From Curmudgucation
Folks in education are often criticized for not using enough research based stuff. But here's the ting about education research-- there's so much of it, and so much of it is bad. Very bad. Terrible in the extreme. That's understandable-- experimenting on live young humans is not a popular idea, so unless you're a really rich person with the financial ability to bribe entire school districts, you'll have to find some clever ways to work your research.

The badness of education research comes in a variety of flavors, but if you're going to play in the education sandbox, it's useful to know what kinds of turds are buried there.


The Business of Charter Schools: Real Estate!!!!

From Diane Ravitch
Charter operators don’t get rich on tuition, although many have a business model that relies on cost-cutting, low-wage teachers, TFA, and replacing human teachers with technology. Those wonderful computers don’t expect health or pensions. When they break, you can repair them or discard them.

The big bucks are in real estate!


The Business of Charter Schools: A $45 Million Charter Deal

From Diane Ravitch
Long, long ago, almost everyone went to the neighborhood public school. The school had a principal, who was overseen by the superintendent. The superintendent answered to a local school board. Those were not idyllic times, to be sure, but no one ever imagined that there was profit to be found in the public schools, or that the public schools would one day be part of “the education industry.” All that is changed now. There are still neighborhood public schools, but now there is an industry that relies on entrepreneurs and market forces. You don’t have to be an educator to manage or operate or start a charter school (think tennis star Andre Agassi or football hero Deion Sanders). There are tax breaks for investors in charter schools. Charter school properties are bought and sold, like franchises or just ordinary real estate. They have no organic connection to the local community. The profit for entrepreneurs is to be found in the real estate transactions.


Arkansas: The Abusive Treatment of a First-Year Music Teacher

From Diane Ravitch
“When I started teaching orchestra at Arkansas Arts Academy High School last fall, I didn’t know much about the state of public education in Arkansas. My entire career — 15 years — had been spent as a performing violinist: concertmaster of the Fort Smith Symphony, concertmaster and principal viola with the Arkansas Philharmonic Orchestra, composer/director of Storybook Strings, and a freelancer with touring groups like “Book of Mormon” and Harry Connick, Jr. I also had a long history of teaching private lessons, with a background in the Suzuki method.

“What I did NOT have was an Arkansas teacher’s license, or any previous training to become a public school teacher.

“That’s okay!” the principal assured me. “We’re a charter school. We have waivers from teacher licensure requirements, as long as you have a bachelor’s degree and relevant professional experience!”


Monday, September 24, 2018

In Case You Missed It – Sep 24, 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.

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.


My Views on the Kavanaugh-Ford Issues

From Diane Ravitch
...Mind you, I am dead set against Kavanaugh joining the Supreme Court because he will provide the decisive vote to roll back civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights, abortion rights, and the “wall of separation” between church and state. I am also aware that the prisons contain many black men who did stupid things when they were 17, but got caught.


Ohio: ECOT Received Even More than $1 Billion in State Money!

From Diane Ravitch
The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) is the biggest online charter scandal in the nation, for now. The state poured more than $1 billion over 17 years into this for-profit enterprise, with no accountability until recently. After the state finally audited ECOT, it learned that there was no system in place to know whether students logged in, whether they participated in instruction, and commenced proceedings to recover at least $80 million. ECOT fought the state in court and lost. Rather than return the money, ECOT closed its doors.

Almost every Republican official running for statewide office received campaign funding from William Lager, the entrepreneur behind ECOT. Mike DeWine, the Republican candidate for governor, returned the ECOT money, but continues to accept contributions from other for-profit charter “schools.” Online charter schools everywhere have dismal records and are typically the worst-performing schools in every state where they are allowed.

Enrollment up in all county districts

From The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
Allen County's public school districts are reporting across-the-board increases in enrollment this year – a continuing trend for the suburban districts and more evidence the school voucher drain is slowing.

Friday was the Indiana Department of Education's collection day for average daily membership – a preliminary count of students enrolled in each district. It's an important number, as the state uses it to determine per-pupil tuition reimbursement to schools. A second enrollment count will be taken Feb. 1, but the September count determines funding.

The numbers are not yet official, as the state will track student identification numbers across schools and districts, but the preliminary figures tend to remain fairly stable.


Jeff Bezos is spending $2 billion to help the homeless and educate poor kids. Sounds good. Is it?

From The Answer Sheet
In recent years, America’s wealthiest citizens have poured, collectively, billions of dollars into efforts to change public education. Some believe the public system is inefficient; some simply don’t believe in the public sector. Whatever the motive, these billionaires have been able to drive the public education agenda in myriad ways. That includes pouring money into pet projects through nonprofit organizations that they create or heavily fund, giving money directly to school districts to pursue initiatives, or taking a leading role in public-private partnerships.

But critics say it is fundamentally undemocratic for private individuals to take over basic responsibilities of government, such as helping the homeless and educating kids. In a democracy, public policy should not be driven by people who are not elected and who are accountable to no one but themselves, these critics say.


Why Teachers Join The Union

From Curmudgucation
I want to be a teacher, and I need to provide my family with a decent standard of living...

I want to be a teacher, and I don't want to be forced to sacrifice my entire life every time my employer decides to have me give extra time for free.

I want to be a teacher, and I don't want to risk my family's livelihood every time I stand up against injustice or stand up for my students.

I want to be a teacher, and I want to work for someone who provides the support or resources to help me do the job.

I want to be a teacher, and I want to be treated fairly, professionally and respectfully.

I want to be a teacher, and because I cannot negotiate any of these conditions successfully as just one person, I'm joining a union so that we can work for these conditions for all of us, together.


Jason Seaman throws first pitch at Cubs game

From WTHR-TV, Indianapolis
Another moment of honor for Jason Seaman, the teacher who stopped the Noblesville West Middle School shooter.

Seaman headed out to the pitcher's mound at Wrigley Field wearing his own jersey with the number 18 on the back.

The Chicago Cubs invited Seaman to come up today to throw the first pitch and be recognized for his act of heroism back in May.


Monday, September 17, 2018

In Case You Missed It – Sep 17, 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.

This week's list is unusually long, so I've listed them below without any embedded quotes. Scroll down for the complete listing.

ZIP code big determinant in kids' outcomes

From The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
Early experiences affect brain development and build the foundation for a child's future behavior, educational achievement and health. It is the combination of a child's genes and experiences that shape his or her brain, and between birth and age 5, the brain develops more than at any other time in life.

Childhood health and development are directly affected by the homes and neighborhoods the children grow up in. This is illustrated in the disparity in infant mortality rates among Fort Wayne ZIP codes and racial groups. Infant mortality, the death of a child within the first year of life, is an important public health issue for Allen County. According to Indiana State Department of Health data, the 46806 ZIP code ranks among the highest of all Indiana counties for infant mortality, and within those neighborhoods, the rate of death for African-American infants is three times as high as the overall rate for Allen County.


Texas moves to remove Hillary Clinton from social studies curriculum. Really.

From The Answer Sheet
The Texas Board of Education — known for a long line of controversies about what students should and shouldn’t learn in social studies — has taken a step to remove Hillary Clinton from the curriculum.


The Dallas Morning News reported that on Friday, the board, in a preliminary vote, agreed to remove a number of historical figures, with Clinton and Helen Keller among them, in a “streamlining” effort to update the social studies curriculum standards for grades K-12. A final vote will be in November.


Jeff Bryant: The Profiteering Behind the Effort to Bring Charter Schools to Kentucky

From Diane Ravitch
Until 2015,Kentucky did not have a charter school law. Then hard-right Republican Matt Bevin was elected governor, and he pushed hard to get a charter law passed by the legislature. But the legislature has not yet allocated funding for charter schools. Opposition has been strong and bipartisan. Now the governor has packed the state school board with charter advocates, fired the state superintendent and hired a state superintendent who wants charter schools.


TIME: “I Work Three Jobs and Donate Blood Plasma to Make a Living”: A Teacher in America Today

From Diane Ravitch
TIME magazine has made the discovery that teachers in America are underpaid.

North Carolina teacher Stuart Egan noticed that TIME had done a dramatic turnaround.

So did I. But I thought of TIME’s two cover stories lambasting teachers, one in 2008,the other in 2014.

That was then, this is now.


Ohio Releases School Grades: Richest Schools Get A’s, Charters Get More D’s and F’s than Public Schools

From Jan Resseger through Diane Ravitch
Let’s be clear on this point: Giving single letter grades to schools is a terrible, stupid, invalid idea. It has no scientific basis. It rewards affluent districts and stigmatizes poor schools.

Jan Resseger reports that the state’s letter grades performed as expected. The schools in the most affluent districts get the most A grades. The schools in the poorest districts get the lowest grades.


Why DeVos’ deputy is ‘very, very happy’ with this innovative Indianapolis school

Two caveats before you read this article.

First, read about the Indianapolis Public Schools and its deep dive into the charter world in The Answer Sheet.

Second, keep in mind that among the supporters of Chalkbeat are:
  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
  • EdChoice (formerly the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice)
  • The Anschutz Foundation
  • The Joyce Foundation
  • The Walton Family Foundation
Now, check out what Chalkbeat had to say about the DeVos assistant's visit to Indianapolis

From Chalkbeat
Purdue Polytechnic is the latest Indianapolis school to receive praise from DeVos’s administration. A staunch advocate for school choice, DeVos has repeatedly cited schools in Indianapolis, with its large charter sector and private school voucher program, as national models.


School board was right to reject metal detectors

From School Matters
The Monroe County Community School Corp. board in Bloomington, Indiana, deserves a ton of credit for its brave and correct decision to reject an offer of free metal detectors from the state.

In the midst of a panic over school shootings, including the shooting of a teacher and student last spring at a Noblesville middle school, nearly every school district in Indiana jumped at Gov. Eric Holcomb’s offer of free metal detectors. The MCCSC board said no, and for good reasons.

“I think that just the fact that we have these, whether or not we ever use them, diminishes the good feelings our parents and our kids have in our schools,” board member Jeannine Butler said.

That’s exactly right. Parents and students want schools to be safe, but they also want them to be warm, welcoming places, not “hardened” targets that resemble prisons or detention centers. What message does it send if a school acts as if everyone who enters the door is a potential killer?

But just because the school board’s decision was correct doesn’t mean it was easy.


He may be fudging on Roe v. Wade, but Brett Kavanaugh has been clear on backing DeVos-favored school reform

From The Answer Sheet
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was anything but clear during his confirmation hearing when addressing questions about whether he would vote to strike down the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide and set a new standard for the right to privacy. But he has been clear on this: support for key principles that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos holds dear about America's schools.


Parents upset with FWCS curriculum

From The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
...Melissa Cormany, a mother of three FWCS students, said she represented dozens of parents unable to make the 6 p.m. downtown meeting.

Cormany questioned the district's approach of teaching language arts standards through excerpts of texts.

“Since when did reading full novels become an enrichment activity?” she asked, adding students need to develop reading endurance.

Novels weren't written to teach state standards, and using excerpts ensures the district is covering skills Indiana students must learn, spokeswoman Krista Stockman said after the meeting. She noted teachers may teach whole novels.

Staffing remains an underlying issue this academic year.

“Five weeks in, we're still hiring teachers,” Robinson said.


Number of students impacted by ISTEP grading problem grows to nearly 28,000

Is your child affected? Did you know your tax dollars got spent on this debacle?

From Chalkbeat
More high school students were affected by problems with grading this year’s ISTEP test than previously estimated, the Indiana Department of Education said Monday.

Because of an issue grading a graphing question on the 10th grade math test, 27,813 students will see their test scores increase, the state said. Last week, the state had estimated that 22,000 high school students were affected by the problem.


Stop Calling It Philanthropy

From Curmudgucation
Modern fauxlanthropy is not about helping people; it's about buying control, about hiring people to promote your own program and ideas. It's about doing an end run around the entire democratic process, even creating positions that never existed, like Curriculum Director of the United States, and then using sheer force of money to appoint yourself to that position. It's about buying compliance.

It is privatization. It is about taking a section of the public sector and buying control of it so that you can run it as if it was your own personal possession.


Pay grade: Lawmakers must prioritize educational salaries

From The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
As The Journal Gazette's Ashley Sloboda reported last week, Indiana scored poorly on a Learning Policy Institute survey of the state's attractiveness to teachers, which considers compensation, working conditions, qualifications and turnover. Indiana scored just 2.07 on the five-point scale, lagging all neighboring states.

Teacher salaries are a major factor in the poor score. Nationally, U.S. Department of Education statistics show teacher pay is 1.6 percent lower than it was in 1999, adjusted for inflation. Indiana teachers now earn almost 16 percent less than they did in the 1999-2000 school year. That's the largest inflation-adjusted decline in pay in the nation.

Time is money; teachers losing ground on both

From John Stossel in The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
I'm not expecting a $17,000 raise or even a $6,000 raise this year. It is not about money as much as it's about time. Time is money, but it is so much more.

Time is the currency in which I spend my life. The amount of time I've had to do my job with pride and satisfaction has eroded while the demands have increased. What I want more than a huge raise is the time to plan, to be creative and to build healthy relationships within the school community. Unfortunately, more than ever this year, the lack of duty-free time has created such toxicity that I simply cannot teach well in an unhealthy environment.

Truly, I have relished so much of what I've learned as we attempt to tackle new initiatives. I am constantly learning how to be a better teacher. Unfortunately, though, it is as if for every new strategy I learn and new method I wish to employ, my planning time vanishes.


Monday, September 10, 2018

In Case You Missed It – Sep 10, 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.


A Layman’s Guide to the Destroy Public Education Movement

From Tom Ultican
The destroy public education (DPE) movement is the fruit of a relatively small group of billionaires. The movement is financed by several large non-profit organizations. Nearly all of the money spent is free of taxation. Without this spending, there would be no wide-spread public school privatization.


A Teacher from Oklahoma Explains Why Brett Kavanaugh Should Not Be Confirmed

From John Thompson via Diane Ravitch
Kavanaugh’s support for private school voucher programs, with little oversight and accountability, would siphon even more funding away from public education. Moreover, his support for anti-union rulings like Janus v. AFSCME could do to the rest of the nation what Right to Work has done to Oklahoma in the last 20 years.


“Hijacked by Billionaires:” The Shameful Role of Big Money in Buying Education and Undermining Democracy

From Diane Ravitch
This morning, the Network for Public Education Action has published a major report on the role of Big Money in buying elections to control education and undermine democracy.

“Hijacked by Billionaires: How the Super Rich Buy Elections to Undermine Public Schools” examines several districts/states where the super-rich have poured in money from out-of-state to buy control of school boards and buy policy, with the goal of advancing privatization.

The case studies include: Denver, Los Angeles, Newark, Minneapolis, Perth Amboy, N.J., Washington State, New York City, Newark, Rhode Island, and Louisiana.

This carefully documented report deserves your attention. It names names.


The Three Flavors of Choice

From Curmudgucation
For example, 97% of the schools receiving vouchers in Indiana were religiously-affiliated. And because these are private schools, they are free to reject your student for being the wrong religion or race or hair color...


Indianapolis’ new idea to get kids through college: Stop small stumbles from becoming big barriers

From The Chalkbeat
To reach the city of Indianapolis’ lofty goal of giving every resident access to college, it’s going to take more than money.

It’s going to take a lot of nudging.

Educators know that many students are capable of college coursework and could qualify for financial aid — but too many of them are failing at the logistics of getting into college and sticking with it until they graduate.

That’s why the city’s new education initiative, a key state scholarship program, and private organizations are all looking to improve those nudges — using a human touch to prepare students for college, encourage them to apply, and push them to graduate.


Still a problem and still outrageous: Too many kids can’t drink the water in their schools

From The Answer Sheet's not just in Michigan: A new U.S. government report says millions of children were potentially exposed to unsafe drinking water at their schools, but nobody really knows how many. Why? Because many states don't bother running the tests.

A July 2018 report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, which surveyed school districts across the country on testing for lead in drinking water in 2017, found:

● 41 percent of districts, serving 12 million students, had not tested for lead in the 12 months before completing the survey.

● 43 percent of districts, serving 35 million students, tested for lead. Of those, 37 percent found elevated levels and reduced or eliminated exposure.

And then there was this: 16 percent of the districts replied to the nationally representative survey by saying that they did not know whether they had tested.


State to seek damages against delayed ISTEP+ results

From The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
Indiana Department of Education officials plan to seek damages against testing vendor Pearson for scoring issues and a delay of ISTEP+ results.

The contract allows for daily damages between $50,000 and $150,000 but Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick said the full impact won't be known until results are finalized.

"It's frustrating. Our team works really, really hard to get things right," she said. "We're at the mercy of the vendor getting it right."


Some Close Reading Practice

From Curmudgucation
Here at the Curmudgucation Institute, we have recently turned that corner and are now deeply interested in literature. The board of directors here at the Institute has become interested in many of the classics (and by "interested" I mean "interested in having them read aloud 20 or 30 times per hour"). But while we are deeply committed to Is Your Mama a Llama and Cleo and The I Love You Book and Feminist Baby and all the Llama Llama books, there is one book that commands our loyalty and devotion above all others.

Hop on Pop.


Arizona Supreme Court Blocks Ballot Initiative to Fund Public Education

From Jan Resseger
Paying taxes for the common good. What a novel idea these days—and something blocked last week by the Arizona Supreme Court. Failing to connect the taxes we pay with what the money buys, many of us find it easy to object to more taxes, but the case of Arizona makes the arithmetic clear. After slashing taxes for years, Arizona doesn’t have enough money to pay for public schools and universities. Not enough for the barest essentials.


Lewis Hine, the Man Whose Photographs Ended Child Labor, and Reflections on Labor and Our Moment

From Diane Ravitch
Lewis Hine was the photographer whose work led to the passage of child labor laws.


No test can capture a student's essential interests and abilities

From NACS Superintendent, Chris Himsel, in The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
Today's students are influenced, for better or worse, by extreme political divide, social media, and images of shootings at schools, churches, theaters, night clubs, cafes, and airports, along with other acts of terrorism. They have concerns about a trade war and other potential global conflicts. They have access to smartphones and hundreds of TV stations. They use the internet to stream their favorite TV programs, music and movies.

And our current senior class will be the seventh in Indiana whose entire educational career – from kindergarten through graduation – was dictated by a system of high-stakes, government-mandated standardized testing – a testing system that requires each student to regurgitate standardized answers on standardized tests. A system that promotes and encourages all students to be standard.

However, at their core, our students are far from standard. They are uniquely talented.