Wednesday, December 19, 2018

NEIFPE Co-Founders Marry

Today's (12/19/18) Fort Wayne Journal Gazette has a story about the marriage of two of the NEIFPE co-founders.

Affection for couple clear in no time: Longtime teachers' wedding draws crowd with day's notice
After a series of health challenges, longtime couple Phyllis Bush and Donna Roof decided to do something joyful: marry in a courthouse ceremony.

Little did the retired Fort Wayne teachers and public education advocates know just how bright the Dec. 11 event would be.

With less than 24 hours' notice from Judge Andrea Trevino – who had Bush for honors English at South Side High School and offered to perform the wedding – former students and colleagues filled the third-floor courtroom as a surprise.
For the full article, click HERE.


Monday, December 17, 2018

In Case You Missed It – Dec 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.

*NOTE: The In Case You Missed It series will not post again until January 7, 2019. In the meantime, follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest national and Indiana education news.


Tentative contract includes big raises for IPS teachers

IPS doing something right! Maybe our legislators will take the hint for the rest of the state?

From Chalkbeat
A month after voters approved a vast funding increase for Indianapolis Public Schools, Superintendent Lewis Ferebee’s administration and the district teachers union have reached a tentative deal for a new contract that would boost teacher pay by an average of 6.3 percent.

The agreement was ratified by union members Wednesday, according to a statement from teachers union president Ronald Swann. It must be approved by the Indianapolis Public Schools board, which is likely to consider the contract next week, before it is final.

Swann did not provide details of the agreement, but it was outlined in union presentations to teachers on Wednesday ahead of the ratification vote. The deal would cover the 2018-19 school year, and teachers would receive retroactive pay back to July 2018. The prior contract ended in June.

Good News: Kentucky Supreme Court Strikes Down Pension Bill That Provoked Teacher Protests

From Diane Ravitch
If you recall, thousands of Kentucky teachers walked out last spring and rallied at the State Capitol to protest Governor Matt Bevin’s pension plan, which bottom line eliminated defined benefit pensions for new teachers.

That bill passed in the middle of the night, tucked into a sewer bill.

The Kentucky Supreme Court just struck it down.

As Indiana’s teacher pay debate heats up, some lawmakers say schools spend too much outside the classroom

Legislators blaming everyone but themselves and their "choice"-happy, money wasting friends.

From Chalkbeat
Facing a tight budget year and widespread calls for teacher pay raises, some Indiana politicians are questioning whether school districts are spending too little of the funding that they already receive in the classroom and too much on administration.

The lawmakers point to statistics from the Office of Management and Budget showing that 57 percent of the $11.9 billion state dollars schools spent in 2016 were used in the classroom. And a report using data from the National Center for Education Statistics shows personnel hiring across the country has dramatically outpaced enrollment, with non-teacher hiring dwarfing that of full-time teachers.

Teacher pay tops union’s legislative agenda

From School Matters
Indiana educators watched quietly last spring as teachers in West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Arizona staged rallies, protests and even walkouts for higher pay. Look for that to change next month when the Indiana General Assembly convenes for its biennial budget-writing session.

The Indiana State Teachers Association released its 2019 legislative agenda Monday, and boosting teacher pay is at the top of its priority list.

Top Indiana teachers union tells governor that Hoosier educators need pay raises now

From, The Times
Teresa Meredith, president of the Indiana State Teachers Association, said Monday the multiyear study proposed last week by the Republican chief executive would only reveal what she said most Hoosiers already know: "Teachers need to be valued, respected and paid as professionals."

"Elected leaders must do more to declare teacher compensation a priority in this session," Meredith said. "This issue can't wait. We expect action in 2019.

"Many teachers have gone as many as 10 years without a meaningful pay increase, all while facing increased insurance costs, paying for their own classroom supplies and taking on second and third jobs just to make ends meet."


The Spice Girls Get Married!

When the Universe Speaks

Two of NEIFPE's founding members tie the knot. Celebration!

From Kind of a Big Dill and Diane Ravitch

The quote below is from Diane Ravitch's blog.
As readers of this blog know, Phyllis Bush writes regularly about her ongoing battle with cancer, which she derisively calls “cancer schmanzer.” In recent months, she got a colostomy bag (“Sherlock”), and she has had some rough bouts but kept her determination and humor.

Today, she has an announcement to make. She and her best friend Donna Roof got married. Since this happened on the spur of the moment, they relied on former students (an attorney and judge) to set the wheels in motion, fast.

Blessings and congratulations to the happy couple!

They live in Indiana.

Hey, Mike Pence, eat your heart out!


Betsy DeVos gets bad reviews from employees as morale at Education Department plummets, survey finds

US Education Department employees are, apparently, just as demoralized about Betsy DeVos's policies as are the rest of us!

From The Answer Sheet
Over the past year, career department employees have privately complained about DeVos’s leadership, saying their expertise has been ignored by her political appointees to top jobs. And they have expressed opposition to many of the positions she has taken. DeVos rolled back Obama-era civil rights protections for some marginalized students and made it easier for for-profit colleges to operate. DeVos has also limited the ability of employees to work from home and fought with the department’s union.

File Under: From Your Mouth To God’s Ears

From Sheila Kennedy
Trump’s cabinet–with a combined net worth estimated at $14 Billion–is filled with appointees chosen mainly for their deep antagonism to the missions of the agencies they head. (Total ignorance of the matters under the agencies’ jurisdiction is a plus.) But even in that pathetic assembly, DeVos stands out.

Hostility to public education? Check. Lack of even the slightest understanding of education policy debates? Check. Devotion to her fellow plutocrats who are making fortunes by ripping off students and taxpayers? Check. Total lack of respect, regard or concern for the students DOE supposedly serves? Check.

Six Ways Betsy DeVos Gets Teachers’ Unions Wrong

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has never worked in a public school, never attended a public school, and never send her children to public schools. How does she know anything about public school teachers?

From Peter Greene in The Progressive
...DeVos likes to toss in the “teachers care more about their jobs than children” line, one of the most insulting points reformsters use, as if teachers entered the profession strictly for the fame, glory, and riches. If it needs to be said again, I’ll do it: High stakes testing is bad for children. Bad teacher assessment systems are bad for children. Sending one child to a private school at taxpayer expense while simultaneously stripping resources from the school that nine other children still attend—that’s bad for children. Stripping teachers of job protections strips them of their ability to stand up for their students—and that’s bad for children. Teachers have opposed reformy policies because those policies are bad for children.


FL: DeSantis Tabs Team To Crush Public Ed

From Curmudgucation
There's Jennifer Sullivan, the 27-year-old homeschooled college drop out (and we're talking Liberty University here) who will be head of the House education committee. There's the longtime grifter and profiteer who, now term-limited out of the legislature, is looking for a new job and has been lined up for education chief (here's another take on just how bad Corcoran is). Both of those have been widely noted.

But for a further sign of how badly DeSantis wants to cut up public education and sell off the parts, just look at his education transition team. This will take a bit, but you need to see the full picture.

Betsy DeVos, Mark Zuckerberg, and Bill Gates want your kid’s school to close

From Jeremy Mohler
It goes without saying that closing a school is disruptive to students. When charter schools close, many students return to their neighborhood schools and struggle to catch up. Dislocated students are less likely to graduate. A 2013 study found that school closures have contributed to Chicago’s high rate of youth incarceration.

But disruption is exactly what the likes of DeVos, Zuckerberg, and Gates want. They want public education to be like a marketplace, where private boards can decide whether they listen to parents or not, large corporate-like chains like KIPP and Rocketship dominate, and schools open and close overnight in a constant churn of “innovation.”


Montana Supreme Court Says Tuition Tax Credits (Vouchers) Are Unconstitutional

From Diane Ravitch
Great news!

The Montana Supreme Court declared a law unconstitutional that was intended to offer tuition tax credits (aka vouchers) for private schools.


Indiana students’ scores lag after transferring to charter schools, new study shows

The state continues to drain tax revenue from public schools to pay for vouchers and privately run charters. Does this help students?

From Chalkbeat
Researchers from the Indiana University School of Education-Indianapolis examined four years of English and math ISTEP scores for 1,609 Indiana elementary and middle school students who were in a traditional public school in 2011 and transferred to a charter school in 2012. The main findings were that students who transferred had lower math and English score gains during the first year or two in their new school than if they had stayed in a district school.

The researchers were able to draw the conclusion by using a type of statistical analysis that enabled them to compare students’ actual score gains at the charter school to potential gains had they not transferred from a traditional school.

But for the students who stayed in charter schools for three years or more, some of those gaps disappeared, and students caught up with where they would have been if they hadn’t transferred. Both of these results — the dip in score gains after transferring and the increase over time — are consistent with other studies, researchers said.

Charter School Lobby Silent as Charter Teachers Continue Strike

From GadflyonthewallBlog
You’d think the charter cheerleaders – the folks who lobby for this type of school above every other type – would have something to say.

But no.

They are conspicuously silent.

I wonder why.

Could it be that this is not what they imagined when they pushed for schools to be privately run but publicly financed?

Could it be that they never intended workers at these schools to have any rights?

Could it be that small class size – one of the main demands of teachers at the 15 Acero schools – was never something these policymakers intended?

It certainly seems so.


Purdue board boosts possible bonus pay for Daniels

When he was the Indiana Governor, Mitch Daniels appointed members of the Purdue Board of Trustees. Now they're paying him back.

Purdue University President Mitch Daniels will be eligible for nearly $280,000 in bonus pay and a $250,000 retention payment for this school year.

...Daniels will have $430,000 in base salary for the 2018-19 school year, with total possible pay of $959,500. Daniels was paid $830,000 last year, including $210,000 in bonus money.


Saturday, December 15, 2018

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #328 – December 14, 2018

Dear Friends,

Speaker Bosma has signaled that state funding for our K-12 students could be a disaster this year, the lowest since the Great Recession.

Public school advocates need to start talking to legislators now to prevent a budget debacle.

Speaker Bosma dashed prospects for an improved state budget for our K-12 students when, as the Indianapolis Star reported on 11-21-18 (p.2A): “Bosma said lawmakers may have as little as $50 million left in new money to distribute.”

He said the Department of Child Services “will require a $270 million a year increase from their current budgeted line” out of the “$350 million in new revenues” the state is anticipating.

Speaker Bosma is not even saying the $50 million available will all go for K-12 funding, but let’s assume it does. Where does that put funding for our K-12 public school students?
  • $50 million would be the lowest K-12 increase since the Great Recession budgets of 2009 and 2011. Study the table below showing increases in each budget according to state documents. The table shows how truly low a $50 million increase is in the recent history of K-12 funding in Indiana.
  • $50 million would be a 0.7% increase, an extremely low effort. Inflation is currently running at 2.2% (latest Consumer Price Index announced 12-12-18 for the year ending November 2018).
  • $50 million would be way less than the $160 million needed to make up for inflation running at 2.2%.
  • $50 million would be way less than the $210 million (3%) increase in K-12 funding endorsed by State Superintendent McCormick in October. Public school advocates should ask lawmakers: Why is Indiana’s good economy not producing resources to educate our K-12 students?
One way to dismantle public education is to fail to fund it.

Study the table below to see the history of funding increases in the past six budgets:


Source: The summary cover page from the General Assembly’s School Formulas for each budget

Prepared by Dr. Vic Smith, 12-2-18

When the school funding formulas are passed every two years by the General Assembly, legislators see the bottom line percentage increases on a summary page. Figures that have appeared on this summary are listed below for the last six budgets that I have personally observed as they were approved by the legislature.

Total funding and percentage increases were taken directly from the School Funding Formula summary page. Sometimes in the first year of two budget years, the previous budget amount was not fully spent and the adjusted lowered base was used by the General Assembly to calculate the percentage increase.

Three Projections for K-12 tuition support as the next line in the table:

Public school advocates need to go to work to speak up for a better budget than Speaker Bosma wants.

These figures show the crisis at hand if Speaker Bosma’s plan goes through to max out K-12 funding increases at $50 million.

Surely in the best economy we have had in over a decade, the parents of over 1 million K-12 students would be angry if the education of their children is shortchanged by an outrageously low budget.

Talk to or send messages to your legislators in the House or Senate now before they return to begin the long session on January 3, 2019. Everyone’s help is needed to restore a high priority to funding for our K-12 students.

Thank you for your active support of public education in Indiana!

Best wishes,

Vic Smith

“Vic’s Statehouse Notes” and ICPE received one of three Excellence in Media Awards presented by Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, an organization of over 85,000 women educators in seventeen countries. The award was presented on July 30, 2014 during the Delta Kappa Gamma International Convention held in Indianapolis. Thank you Delta Kappa Gamma!

ICPE has worked since 2011 to promote public education in the Statehouse and oppose the privatization of schools. We need your membership to help support the ICPE lobbying efforts. As of July 1st, the start of our new membership year, it is time for all ICPE members to renew their membership.

Our lobbyist Joel Hand represented ICPE extremely well during the 2018 session. We need your memberships and your support to continue his work. We welcome additional members and additional donations. We need your help and the help of your colleagues who support public education! Please pass the word!

Go to for membership and renewal information and for full information on ICPE efforts on behalf of public education. Thanks!

Some readers have asked about my background in Indiana public schools. Thanks for asking! Here is a brief bio:

I am a lifelong Hoosier and began teaching in 1969. I served as a social studies teacher, curriculum developer, state research and evaluation consultant, state social studies consultant, district social studies supervisor, assistant principal, principal, educational association staff member, and adjunct university professor. I worked for Garrett-Keyser-Butler Schools, the Indiana University Social Studies Development Center, the Indiana Department of Education, the Indianapolis Public Schools, IUPUI, and the Indiana Urban Schools Association, from which I retired as Associate Director in 2009. I hold three degrees: B.A. in Ed., Ball State University, 1969; M.S. in Ed., Indiana University, 1972; and Ed.D., Indiana University, 1977, along with a Teacher’s Life License and a Superintendent’s License, 1998. In 2013 I was honored to receive a Distinguished Alumni Award from the IU School of Education, and in 2014 I was honored to be named to the Teacher Education Hall of Fame by the Association for Teacher Education – Indiana. In April, I was honored to receive the 2018 Friend of Education Award from the Indiana State Teachers Association.


Monday, December 10, 2018

In Case You Missed It – Dec 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.


Can students pray in public schools? Can teachers say ‘Merry Christmas’? What the law allows -- and forbids.

From The Answer Sheet
Can students pray inside their public school buildings? Can teachers say “Merry Christmas” to their students? Can religious music be played in public schools?

Yes, yes and yes.

There has been a great deal of misunderstanding about what is allowed and not allowed when it comes to religious expression in public schools ever since the U.S. Supreme Court banned school-sponsored prayer in public schools in a landmark 1962 decision, saying that it violated the First Amendment. In fact, in 1995, then-President Bill Clinton issued a memo titled “Religious Expression in Public Schools,” that said in part:

It appears that some school officials, teachers and parents have assumed that religious expression of any type is either inappropriate, or forbidden altogether, in public schools.


Looking for a Grand Slam at the Bottom of the 9th!


NEIFPE's co-founder, Phyllis Bush, writes about her battle with cancer. We are proud of her strength and courage.
Whether it is taking a kid to the zoo or to Zesto for ice cream, whether it is writing a letter to your legislators, whether it is running for office, whether it is supporting your favorite charity, DO IT!

Monday morning quarterbacks are of little use to anyone.

Whatever you do, live your life to the fullest. Once again, do what matters to you.


Proposal would move away from school grades

From School Matters
Indiana would eliminate A-to-F school grades from its accountability system for the federal Every Student Succeeds Act under a proposal from the Indiana Department of Education. Does that mean school grades would go the way of the one-room schoolhouse? Not yet; grades will still be part of the separate state accountability system. But the department’s proposal is a step in the right direction and away from this overly simplistic way of evaluating and labeling schools and school districts.

Indiana StatehouseThe proposal, an amendment to Indiana’s ESSA plan, is open for public comment until Dec. 21. Once it’s submitted by the state, hopefully in January, the U.S. Department of Education will have 90 days to decide whether to approve it.


Education Law Center Calls for End to State Takeovers in New Jersey

From Diane Ravitch
State Takeovers of districts with low scores have been a disaster. The reason for low scores is always high poverty, and the state takeover doesn’t change that fact. State after state has adopted this strategy and failed. Turns out that the folks in the State Education Department are not magicians.

The Education Law Center, a civil rights group, calls for an end to the charade in New Jersey.


Florida: Charter School Closes Without Notice to Parents or Students or Teachers

From Diane Ravitch
Charter schools open and close like day lilies. The entrepreneurs lobby legislators to get money and tax breaks. They pay teachers as little as they have to. They siphon money away from public schools, which are stable fixtures in their community.


Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb proposes pumping brakes on teacher pay, cutting performance bonuses

The legislature, with the help and encouragement of previous governors has already allowed teacher pay to slip more than 15% over the last 15 years when adjusted for inflation. They have stripped teachers of their seniority, reduced collective bargaining, and basically done whatever they could to make teaching in Indiana less than attractive.

So, of course, Governor Holcomb wants to "study" teacher pay to see if Indiana can afford to educate their children. NOTE: Indiana has spent more than half a billion dollars on school vouchers and haven't heard anything from the Governor about studying that boondoggle for religious schools.

And we wonder why there is a shortage.

From Chalkbeat
As educators and lawmakers call for increases in teacher pay, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb is suggesting a far more measured approach, potentially tempering expectations that meaningful raises could be possible in the coming two years.

In his legislative agenda announced Thursday, Holcomb proposed devoting 2019 to studying teacher pay...


George H. W. Bush: A Tribute and a Happy Memory of My Time in D.C.

From Diane Ravitch
I’m in an airplane, flying from NYC to L.A., where I will attend the annual dinner of LAANE, the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy. This group fought for and won a battle to raise the minimum wage. I believe and hope they will join the struggle to support public schools and save them from the clutches of the billionaires.

As I fly, I’m watching the state funeral of President George H.W. Bush. The services are very moving. People speak of his decency, his sense of honor, his humility, his dignity, his loyalty to friends and family, his patriotism, his sense of duty and courage (he volunteered for combat duty in World War II right out of high school). Trump is sitting in the front row, scowling and looking uncomfortable. It’s not about him.


2 Gary School Board members expected to resign; others considering leaving

From the Chicago Tribune
The remaining board members could appoint new members if resignation letters are tendered, according to a state takeover law that stripped authority from the board, relegating it to an advisory body.

...In addition to removing all authority from the school board and giving it to an emergency manager, the state took per diem meeting pay and the annual $2,000 stipend from elected board members.

Ex-school chief's ties to contractor rankle Gary lawmakers

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
Former state schools chief Tony Bennett disappeared from Indiana's education scene after his 2012 re-election defeat. Even when he returned to the state after a brief stint in Florida's top education post, Bennett kept a low profile.

But his name surfaced where he is not welcome – Gary, Indiana. A subsidiary of the consulting firm he's now associated with has been paid nearly $4.2 million to manage the distressed Gary Community School Corp. Gary lawmakers Vernon Smith and Eddie Melton have called for the contract with MGT Consulting Group to be dissolved, charging Bennett played a role in creating the school district's financial problems.

“It can be reasonably argued that Tony Bennett played a substantial role in putting Gary schools into the mess that it finds itself by championing policies that treated public schools like second-class citizens in favor of charters, vouchers and home schools,” Smith said.

Gary Lawmakers Call For New School Emergency Management Contract

From WFYI Indianapolis
Sen. Eddie Melton (D-Gary) and Rep. Vernon Smith (D-Gary) say former Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett’s ties to the management firm illustrate a lack of transparency from the state and raise concerns about his potential influence in the recovering district.

Hoosiers voted Bennett out of office after his first term, and critics say it’s because he supported policy changes favoring school vouchers and charter schools. Public education advocates say those changes ultimately and drastically harmed public schools.

Now, Bennett sits on the board of directors for the consulting group tied to the management firm working to fix the Gary schools’ budget, MGT Consulting.


Who should replace Lewis Ferebee as superintendent of Indianapolis Public Schools?

It would be nice if this time they would hire someone who cares about the community and not about their career or about choice options for a chosen few.

From Chalkbeat
Indianapolis’ education community is already mulling what kind of leader should replace Superintendent Lewis Ferebee, who announced Monday that he’s leaving to head D.C. public schools.

With the 31,000-student school district in a state of flux, school board members and advocates say there is no time to waste. The district closed high schools last year. Two candidates opposed to innovation schools — the group of charter and charter-like schools managed by outside operators that was one of Ferebee’s main achievements — were recently elected to the school board. And despite the passage of a referendum to send more taxpayer money to schools, more large cuts are looming.


Wealth Redistributed

From Linda Lyon at RestoreReason.com
I offer that the redistribution of wealth can also flow the other way as with the privatization of our public schools. Those who already “have” are redistributing the “wealth” of those who “have not”. They do this by encouraging the siphoning of taxpayer monies from our district public schools, for charters, home and private schools. Once slated for the education of all, our hard-earned tax dollars are now increasingly available to offset costs for those already more advantaged.


Los Angeles: Our Public Schools Are Not for Sale!

From Diane Ravitch
This full-page ad appeared in the Los Angeles Times a few days ago. It was paid for by the United Teachers of Los Angeles.


Carroll offers plan on graduation rules

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
Carroll High School Principal Brandon Bitting knows the state's new graduation requirements can be overwhelming.

That's why he plans to ease families into the expectations at freshman orientation in February. He plans to take a “bite-size” approach in explaining the mandates.

“I don't want to panic people,” Bitting told the Northwest Allen County Schools board Monday.

Thursday marks a year since the State Board of Education voted 7-4 to institute additional graduation requirements despite hours of testimony against the plan.


IPS Superintendent Lewis Ferebee Named Next Leader At Washington D.C. Schools

From WFYI Indianapolis
IPS Superintendent Lewis Ferebee was named as the next leader of Washington, D.C. public schools today by the mayor.

This new high profile position will hold national influence as Ferebee will likely continue his work started in Indianapolis five years ago to turnaround struggling schools. He's expected to start this position full-time on January 31st. Ferebee will be paid a base salary of $280,000 but he still needs to be confirmed by the council of the District of Columbia.


Monday, December 3, 2018

In Case You Missed It – Dec 3, 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.


Education Rebranders

From Gary Rubinstein
The ‘reformers’ had a pretty good run. From about 2008 until just recently ‘reformers’ had their way. With Race To The Top they got states to invent complicated, though supposedly objective, ways to measure teacher quality by analyzing standardized test scores. Bill Gates funded many studies to show that this was working. But after ten years, it became clear that the ‘reformers’ didn’t really know much about improving education and maybe they didn’t deserve to have the steering wheel anymore.


Indianapolis’s Lewis Ferebee a finalist for D.C. schools chief job, sources say

Ferebee wants to walk away from the mess he helped create in Indianapolis.

From Chalkbeat
His candidacy is the latest signal that Ferebee, who has become a fixture of certain national education-policy discussions over his five years in Indianapolis, is preparing to leave the city for a larger district. He was in the running for the top post in Los Angeles earlier this year, though he eventually withdrew.

Ferebee’s job in Indianapolis may be about to get more difficult: Two critics of the district’s current direction were recently elected to the school board. And while tax measures to give the school system more money passed, the cash-strapped district is expected to make substantial cuts to its budget in the coming years.


Louisiana: The “Miracle School” That Was a Fraud

School "choice" means the school gets to choose.

From Diane Ravitch
About five weeks ago, I read a story online about a small private school in Louisiana whose students had a 100% college entry rate and were admitted to America’s most selective colleges and universities. It was truly a miraculous school, said the story, because its students were poor black children from adverse circumstances who were all too often struggling in public schools...

But now we know that none of its claims were true.


Hoosier Superintendents tell it like it is

We're glad that superintendents are speaking out. Hopefully they'll get a bit louder!

From Live Long and Prosper
"...I think we should go back to letting teachers teach. Let them be the professionals they were hired to be."

“We are teachers because we care about our students, but many of the laws being made are not done by those who have been educators themselves. An idea can look good in theory, but not fit in the classroom as you may think. Educating our children is our future..."


‘If we don’t learn from this one, shame on us’: Lessons from a Detroit charter school that was set up to fail

Perhaps the lesson to be learned here is that charters that can close and walk-away are NOT a good idea in any state.

From Chalkbeat
Two days before the homecoming game, the board voted to shut the school down — effective immediately.

When the meeting was over, dazed students spilled onto the sidewalk by the front door, many of them with tears still visible on their cheeks. A couple of students kicked down one of dozens of yard signs stuck in the grass by the sidewalk:

“Detroit Delta Preparatory Academy,” they read. “Now Enrolling 9th-12th grades.”


Students first: Another local charter proves ineffective

The General Assembly and State Board of Education jumped into "education reform." There has never been enough time for them to analyze what they have done to see if it works. This implies that the purpose of their moves towards privatization has never been about students and their achievement. It's all about the money.

From The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
Indiana is closing in on two decades of so-called school reform, with proponents continuing to claim more is needed. But the changes they've championed, beginning with the 2001 charter school law, now have a track record. A measure of the effectiveness of Indiana charter schools should include those opened in Fort Wayne, where another could soon be shut down. Of six charters opened here, only two would remain.

Thurgood Marshall Leadership Academy welcomed its first students in 2012 under the sponsorship of the Fort Wayne Urban League. It was among the first charters authorized by the Indiana Charter School Board, created by the Indiana General Assembly “to grow the supply of high-performing public charter schools throughout the state.”

From the start, Thurgood Marshall has been anything but high performing. Its first letter grade was an F, rising to a C for several years before dropping to a failing mark again in 2015-16. It received F's in both the state and federal grades issued most recently...


Colorado Springs School Board Rejects Mike Miles’ Charter School Proposal

From Diane Ravitch
Mike Miles, former superintendent of Dallas public schools and former superintendent of a Colorado district, was turned down by the Colorado Springs school board when he applied to open a charter school in a former Macy’s department store in a large shopping mall.

Miles led the Dallas district for three tumultuous years, during which time there was a sizable teacher exodus and stagnant test scores, which he had pledged to raise. Miles is a military man who attended the unaccredited Broad Superintendents Academy.


Students at Wilder High School in Idaho: Learning on iPads is a Hoax!

From Diane Ravitch
Ivanka Trump and Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, visited Wilder Elementary School to learn about the future of workforce preparation, which of course involves selling iPads to children in a K-6 school!

However, they did not speak to high school students in Wilder, Idaho, who are thoroughly disgusted with (de)personalized learning. Several protested the fraud that Wilder officials were selling to Ivanka and said they were not allowed to speak up.


Touting school grades bolsters dubious policy

From School Matters
Those of us who advocate for public schools tend to blame outside forces when we lament the move to grading schools on an A-to-F scale. In Indiana, we may blame former Gov. Mitch Daniels, former state Superintendent Tony Bennett, state legislators, business groups and others.

MCCSC bannerBut public schools and school districts have helped validate this questionable policy. When they brag about their own grades, they’re endorsing the system as a measure of school quality.

Some of what they’re doing is old-fashioned public relations. At a time when public education is under attack, schools and districts can point to high grades to defend their reputation. “See?” they’re saying. “Our schools aren’t ‘failing’ like some of those public schools you hear about.”

And as public schools compete for students with charter schools and private schools, they are likely trumpet any endorsement they get. After all, charter schools are doing it – for example, here and here and here.

But Indiana school grades are based mostly on test scores, and research suggests test scores tell us more about students’ socioeconomic status than about the effectiveness of their schools. At best, grading schools from A to F is simplistic. At worst, it does real harm by labeling schools and students.


Randi Responds to Betsy’s Lies on FOX News

From Diane Ravitch
I can’t wait until the House of Representatives begins to question Secretary DeVos about her reversal of civil rights protections, her reversal of federal protections for students with debt incurred at fraudulent for-profit colleges, and her continued efforts to destroy the federal role in protecting students, whether in K-12 or higher education. Instead of protecting those in need, she protects predators.


‘Indiana’s war on teachers is winning’: Here’s what superintendents say is causing teacher shortages

“It is clear that the efforts of Indiana’s General Assembly to devalue education as a profession has had a significant impact upon the teacher shortage.”

From Chalkbeat
“I believe the teacher shortage is due to the climate of education and the lack of government support as well as district support for teachers. Teachers have not been listened to or given the respect necessary to want to pursue careers. In our particular district, the constant negativity has caused a rift between campuses, and the negativity has created a hostile climate in which to work.”


25 laid off from Gary Roosevelt 2 days after school's first A grade announced

From The Times
Twenty-five teachers and support staff at Roosevelt College and Career Academy were laid off Nov. 16, just two days after learning their school was given an A in the State Board of Education's annual assessment.

EdisonLearning, a private organization contracted six years ago by the state to operate the school, said the layoffs came as a result of low enrollment numbers and an effort to improve overall school operations.


Republican Party in an Oklahoma county makes clear its opposition to public education

Why is it the GOP so lacks commitment to the common good?

From The Answer Sheet
The Republican Party in Canadian County in Oklahoma has expressed its desire for an end to public funding of education.

The party in Canadian — the fourth-largest county in the state — is sending a letter to the Oklahoma legislature calling for swift cuts in education funding. It says, “If public education shall continue as a state institution, we should move towards reducing its dependence on the tax structure by funding it through such means as sponsorships, advertising, endowments, tuition fees, etc.”

An earlier version of the letter, according to KFOR News 4, was more explicit: “A better pathway would be to abolish public education, which is not a proper role of government, and allow the free market to determine pay and funding, eliminating the annual heartache we experience over this subject.”

...While many Americans see the public education system as the nation’s most important civic institution, there are others, such as the GOP in Canadian County, who don’t believe funding education is a government function. They are at one end of the national debate on America’s schools and how they should be funded, which has taken on new urgency in recent years with growing attacks on public education and the rise of Betsy DeVos as U.S. education secretary under President Trump...


Monday, November 26, 2018

In Case You Missed It – Nov 26, 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.


"Exploring Assessment Literacy Knowledge in Hoosiers"

So, the state wants to know what we think of standardized testing. Please be sure to give them an opinion or ten.

NOTE: There is no indication on the cover page as to how long this survey will remain active.

From Ball State University
The purpose of our study is to gather data and gauge opinion on the public’s perception of education and standardized testing in Indiana. The data collected will be used to improve the Indiana Department of Education’s messaging efforts, and hopefully, the state of education in Indiana.


Is This The End Of Ed Reform Policy?

From Curmudgucation
...thinky tanks and reformists and wealthy dilettantes and government bureaucrats can continue fiddling and analyzing their fiddlings as they search for the next great Big New Thing in policy. In the meantime, teachers have work to do.


Carol Burris: Indiana’s Scandalous Voucher Program

From Diane Ravitch
We are reminded yet again that the allocation of public money without strict accountability is an invitation to commit fraud and self-dealing.


Kentucky: Governor Calls for “Breaking the Back” of the Teachers’ Union

From Diane Ravitch
Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin is one of the most revolting figures in the Republican Party. He is a former hedge fund manager and current Tea Party shill.

He calls for “breaking the back” of the teachers union. He says the union is “suffocating” teachers and students.


Marshall Academy faces closure: May shutter by year's end; state board weighs viability

From The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
The Indiana Charter School Board is considering closing the Thurgood Marshall Leadership Academy, possibly by the end of the year.

A dispute with the school's management company could be the last straw for a school that has performed dismally, said Jim Betley, executive director of the Indiana Charter School Board.

“It's never a good time to close a school but if we have concerns about the viability of a school we have to weigh the pros and cons of that,” he said. “The circumstances don't even look like they are there or will be there in the foreseeable future to show improvement.”

Turnover, academic failure, an enrollment drop and management concerns since the conditional renewal of the school's charter in mid-2017 have Thurgood Marshall on tenuous ground.


How to Talk to Your Family About Privatization

From Diane Ravitch
Like anything involving extended family, Thanksgiving can turn into a combat zone at the first mention of privatization. Just the words “public-private partnership” can send grandma out the door for a cigarette. Is this the year your nephew drops “neoliberalism” at the dinner table?

Here’s some advice to calm the inevitable tension this time around.


Online Preschool - An Oxymoron

From Live Long and Prosper
The latest "reform" insanity is online preschool.

By preschool, I mean a developmentally appropriate environment where young children can experience social interaction, develop an understanding of literature by being read to, and have direct contact with the real world.

Developmentally appropriate does not mean that three- and four-year-olds do so-called "academic" work on worksheets or computers. It means approaching instruction based on research into how children develop and grow. Preschoolers need clay and water-tables, not worksheets. They need blocks, watercolors, and dress up clothes, not tablets and calculators. They need climbers, sandboxes, and slides, not standardized tests and "performance assessments." They need to experience the world with their whole bodies and all of their senses.

Why then, would anyone think that young children would benefit from something called an "online preschool?"


Indiana’s push to raise teacher pay is creating some unlikely allies

Disturbingly ironic that groups like Stand and Teach for America, who work diligently to take $$ away from public schools, are climbing on a bandwagon to increase teacher pay.

From Chalkbeat
It’s not every day that the state’s teachers union, Republican leaders, and education advocacy groups find themselves working toward the same goal. But this year, as Indiana puts teacher pay at the forefront of its legislative priorities, there seems to be an all-hands-on-deck approach to make it happen — and that means some unlikely allies.


Why not grade all schools on growth only?

From School Matters
Most Indiana schools earn A-to-F grades on a formula that gives equal weight to performance and growth on standardized tests. But schools in their first three years of operation – most of which are new charter schools and Indianapolis or Gary “innovation network” schools – can have their grades calculated on growth only, with no consideration of performance. Those schools have an advantage.

As Dylan Peers McCoy of Chalkbeat Indiana pointed out, it means you can’t use the grades to compare schools in a district like IPS. “Of the 11 out of 70 Indianapolis Public Schools campuses that received A marks from the state,” she wrote, “eight were graded based on growth alone.”

So why not grade all schools on growth only, not performance? It seems like that would make a lot of sense. In any given year, schools may not have a lot of control over where their students start out in their math and reading performance. What matters is, do schools help students grow?


Senate Democrats vow to fight for teacher pay hikes during 2019 General Assembly

From The Times
On Friday, Melton and Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, announced they'll be filing legislation next year to increase state funding for education, contingent upon schools providing annual teacher pay raises of 2.5 percent during the 2019-20 and 2020-21 academic years.

"Our public school teachers are being drastically underpaid for the important work that they do to prepare our children for their future," Melton said. "Teacher salaries in Indiana have not kept up with inflation, meaning their paychecks have remained stagnant since 2009."


Pre-K sends students on their way

From The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
Early research for a longitudinal study about the state's On My Way Pre-K program shows the initiative has potential to improve students' early learning skills and readiness for kindergarten, according to a report published last month.

The program serves only 20 of Indiana's 92 counties. Expanding On My Way Pre-K is among the Indiana Department of Education's 2019 legislative priorities.

Stacy Geimer, a kindergarten teacher at Franke Park, can tell which of her students attended preschool.

“They are very independent when they come from pre-K,” Geimer said.

They also come to her classroom knowing their colors, shapes and letters as well as basic skills, including how to hold a pencil and a book.

“It helps tremendously,” Geimer said.


Monday, November 19, 2018

In Case You Missed It – Nov 19, 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.


Kentucky: Beware Voucher Fraud!

From Diane Ravitch
When proposals for vouchers (or scholarships that allow public money to be spent for religious or private schools) is on the ballot, the voters say no. They said NO last week in Arizona by a vote of 65-35%.

EdChoice and the Goldwater Institute are based in Arizona. The Koch brothers and DeVos’ American Federation for Children supported the voucher referendum (called Empowerment Scholarship Accounts), and despite the money and the euphemism, it was defeated overwhelmingly.

Watch out, Kentucky. The voucher zombies are coming for you.


Kansas Will Pay TFA $270,000 for Recruiting 3 Teachers

From Diane Ravitch
You read that right. Kansas is a state that has cut taxes and cut its education budget repeatedly and whose teachers are paid poorly. It is under court order to finance its schools adequately. You may recall that former Governor Sam Brownback imposed a far-right policy of cutting taxes to “grow the economy” while starving the schools and other public services. The experiment failed. Trump appointed him the
“Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom.”

So now, because of low salaries, Kansas has teacher shortages. The remedy? A lavish contract with TFA to bring in temp teachers.


Hardly any kids passed ISTEP at one of Indiana’s largest schools. Here’s why it’s not getting an F

Wouldn’t it be nice if our legislators would quit throwing our tax dollars away?

From Chalkbeat
With such high enrollment numbers, Indiana Virtual School and Indiana Virtual Pathways Academy could together bring in upward of $35 million from the state for this school year, according to funding estimates from the Legislative Services Agency.

At the state’s other full-time virtual charter schools — including those billed as alternative schools like IVPA — state grades are rising as enrollment grows. Indiana Connections Academy is up to a D this year from an F, and Insight School of Indiana is up to a C from an F. For grades under Indiana’s federal plan, the schools received an F and D, respectively.

Indiana Connections Career Academy enrolled about 70 students last year and received no grade, but education department officials say that is because it had too few students to calculate one, despite testing more than 95 percent of them. It’s not uncommon for small schools — especially high schools that have just one tested grade — to not get a grade. This year, the school’s enrollment is up to about 300 students.


Restore Reason: What Happens When Government Services Are Privatized

From Diane Ravitch
...I began to think how this privatization story was paralleling that of education’s. In both cases, those in the public sector are in it for the mission, not the money. In both cases, the private sector only “wins” if the public sector “loses”. In both cases, it is in the interest of the private sector to facilitate the failure of the public sector or make it look like it is failing.

Just as private and charter schools profit when district schools are perceived to be of lower quality, Barry Myers has worked hard to make government provided weather services look inferior to that which the private sector can provide. As Lewis points out, “The more spectacular and expensive the disasters, the more people will pay for warning of them. The more people stand to lose, the more money they will be inclined to pay. The more they pay, the more the weather industry can afford to donate to elected officials, and the more influence it will gain over the political process.”


Northwestern University Economist Uses Data to Prove Students’ Test Scores Fail to Measure Quality Teaching

From Jan Resseger
“These results confirm an idea that many believe to be true but that has not been previously documented—that teacher effects on test scores capture only a fraction of their impact on their students. The fact that teacher impacts on behavior are much stronger predictors of their impact on longer-run outcomes than test-score impacts, and that teacher impacts on test scores and those on behavior are largely unrelated, means that the lion’s share of truly excellent teachers, those who improve long-run outcomes—will not be identified using test-score value added alone… This analysis provides the first hard evidence that such contributions to student progress are both measurable and consequential.”


Nellie Bowles: In America’s Schools, the Rich Get Teachers, the Poor Get Computers

From Diane Ravitch
The parents in Overland Park, Kan., were fed up. They wanted their children off screens, but they needed strength in numbers. First, because no one wants their kid to be the lone weird one without a phone. And second, because taking the phone away from a middle schooler is actually very, very tough.

“We start the meetings by saying, ‘This is hard, we’re in a new frontier, but who is going to help us?’” said Krista Boan, who is leading a Kansas City-based program called START, which stands for Stand Together And Rethink Technology. “We can’t call our moms about this one.”

For the last six months, at night in school libraries across Overland Park, a suburb of Kansas City, Mo., about 150 parents have been meeting to talk about one thing: how to get their children off screens.


Many Indiana schools receive F grades for how they serve students of color and those with disabilities

It is folly to evaluate schools by test scores. It’s also quite unfair that private schools and charter schools that serve few students with disabilities or those in need of 2nd language services get higher scores because they aren’t required to, and for the most part, don’t serve those students. We also need to remember that when your legislators use your tax dollars to fund charters and privates, they are taking needed dollars for resources from the public schools that do serve all students with any needs that they may have.

From Chalkbeat
Schools grades are highly reflective of state test scores, which have a well-documented history of gaps between certain groups of students. Although state test scores tend to make up a smaller overall piece of the federal grades than state grades, it is still the single largest factor, which raises some important caveats, experts say. Differences in test scores between groups of students, often called achievement or opportunity gaps, don’t reflect students’ innate abilities to learn. Nor do they always mean schools are doing a poor job educating different students. Rather, gaps can be attributed to any number of factors, including test question biases, parents’ education, students’ early childhood education, stress, trauma, and more.

Gaps in grades, in this case, could point out areas of inequities between schools, such as differences in teacher quality, curriculum quality, and availability of honors courses. The gaps also show the extent to which income disparities and poverty are present in a school. Students who come from low-income families and those who switch schools frequently tend to do worse on standardized exams, which would result in lower grades.


Laurene Powell Jobs Wants YOU to Run for School Board and Implement Her XQ Program

From Diane Ravitch
Laurene Powell Jobs is urging her allies to run for the local school board and become advocates for her ideas about the importance of reinventing high schools along the lines that she and Arne Duncan have chosen.

She has even provided a handy kit about how to do it.


If People Talked to Other Professionals the Way They Talk to Teachers

From McSweeney's
Ah, a zookeeper. So, you just babysit the animals all day?”

- - -

“My colon never acts this way at home. Are you sure you’re reading the colonoscopy results correctly? Did you ever think that maybe you just don’t like my colon?”


New York: With Republican Loss of State Senate, Charter Schools Endangered

Instead of spending money on privately run, lack-of-accountability charter schools, we should be using tax dollars to improve struggling public schools.

From Diane Ravitch
Since 1998, Senate Republicans continued to support the publicly funded, but privately run schools. Many Democrats say charter schools unfairly compete for students, and the state and local aid attached to them. Advocates of charter schools, including some urban Democrats, say they are a needed alternative to failing traditional schools. Charter schools, for example, are free of some regulations, which allows them to experiment with instruction models such as longer school days. Supporters point to long waiting lists for these schools as proof of their value.


Incentives added to teacher contract

From The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
Becoming a mentor, committing to certain buildings, and writing and piloting new curriculum are ways teachers in Fort Wayne Community Schools can earn more cash.

The school board Monday approved bonuses and stipends tied to these and other efforts as part of an amendment to the master teacher contract ratified last year with the Fort Wayne Education Association.


José Espinosa: The Truth About Charter Schools That Boast About a 100% College Acceptance Rate

From Diane Ravitch
While 100 percent of charter seniors get accepted to college as required, the public has a right to know the percentage of charter students who didn’t make it to their senior year.

Ed Fuller, Pennsylvania State University professor, found in one of his studies of a particular charter network that when considering the number of students starting in the ninth grade as a cohort, the percentage of charter cohort students who graduated and went on to college was at best 65 percent.

In other words, 35 percent of ninth-graders at a charter network didn’t make it to their graduation….

Just like the BBB, it is our duty to alert the public.