Monday, August 27, 2018

In Case You Missed It – August 27, 2018

Most of NEIFPE's social media presence is on Facebook where we post links to articles and blogs dealing with the state of public education in the U.S. For those of you who are not on Facebook (or have left), we've gathered links to a few articles of interest to help you 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.


City Fund: Another Billionaire-Funded Phony Scheme to Steal Public Schools from the Public

From Diane Ravitch
Two billionaires, unhappy with the slow and slowing pace of privatization, have created another organization to spread the gospel of school choice, following in the venerable tradition established by racist Southern governors and senators following the Brown Decision of 1954. In the late 1950s (as Mercedes Schneider wrote in detail in her fine book School Choice), white southerners were mad for choice. They saw choice as the best way to stop racial integration.

Now, under the unesteemed leadership of rightwing zealot Betsy DeVos, the mask of benevolence has been stripped away from the choice movement.

But that doesn’t stop billionaires Reed Hastings (Netflix) and John Arnold (Enron). Education is their game, their hobby, and they are not ready to abandon their dream of privatizing every school in America.


Indiana schools getting 2 state grades? Too confusing for parents and educators, experts say.

From Chalkbeat
National experts told Indiana education leaders Thursday that the state’s plan to give schools two A-F grades for the foreseeable future is unsustainable — and that parts of both grade models could be problematic going forward.

Indiana ended up with two school grading systems after state education officials updated the state’s rating method in response to new federal law. But Indiana State Board of Education members decided they were ultimately unhappy with that combined system and decided to peel off a state version, a move that has complicated the entire process.


NYC Charter School Diva Eva Moskowitz and Problems at Success Academy High School

From Jan Resseger
You will remember Eva Moskowitz, the New York City diva of no-excuses charter schools. In 2016, Moskowitz was paid by her board—made up of the city’s wealthy hedge funders—salary, bonuses and benefits of $782,175 to run a 46-school chain of charter schools funded primarily with public dollars. She is the melodramatic enemy of NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio: She regularly complains of persecution by the mayor when he struggles to abide by the New York state law, which she and her backers drove through the legislature, requiring the New York City Public Schools either to grant Eva’s Success Academy Charters co-located space in public school buildings or to pay their rent in private accommodations.

Moskowitz’s Success Academies do not backfill. That’s what they call it in New York when charter schools replace with new students any children who drop out. Public schools, of course, always backfill; they must serve all children who live in the school district and enroll. But Eva’s charters make a point of “preserving the school’s culture” by letting the class get smaller as children move through the grades. They do not accept new students into a class after third grade. This is, of course, a strategy for shaping a class of high scorers, even though every year the class is smaller.


DeVos might let states use grants for guns at school

From The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is considering whether states can use federal grant money to buy guns for schools, including possibly arming teachers, after receiving queries from Texas and Oklahoma, people familiar with the matter said.

The idea drew swift criticism from Democrats, teacher unions, education groups and gun control activists, who said the response to school shootings should be fewer guns, not more. But President Donald Trump and others have argued that arming teachers would “harden” schools and make them less likely targets for mass shootings.


With common enrollment, a thousand more kids applied to IPS magnet schools

From Chalkbeat
A new application system that allowed Indianapolis families to apply to many schools through a single website dramatically increased the number of students seeking spots in Indianapolis Public Schools magnet programs. But it’s not yet clear whether that growth will help diversify some sought-after schools, one of the district’s key goals.

The enrollment figures, some presented at Tuesday’s school board meeting, are the latest information available on the first year of the ambitious common enrollment system known as Enroll Indy. The website allows families to apply for more than 50 charter and magnet schools using a single application that ranks their choices.


Great News! The Southern Poverty Law Center is Now Fighting Privatization in Court

From Diane Ravitch
The Southern Poverty Law Center is one of the most respected names in the nation among groups that fight for justice and civil rights.

They have turned their firepower to fight against the privatization of public schools.

SPLC was instrumental in the court case that ended with the judge striking down a constitutional amendment that hid its true intention–removing the ability of school districts to control the growth of privately managed but publicly funded charter schools.


Still More Testing for Littles

From Curmudgucation
But if you've only just caught on to the debate about whether or not kindergarten should be the new first grade (or second grade), you should know that's old news. Because education reformers and test manufacturers have their sights set on pre-school students.

Dynamic Measurement Group, the folks who brought us DIBELS, are rolling out PELI, a pre-school literacy assessment for 3- to 5-year-olds. It will be available this coming year.


Indiana lawmakers want a renewed focus on workforce in schools. What role should counselors play?

From Chalkbeat
Indiana’s counselor shortage has been well-documented and the focus of major donations over the past several years. The Lilly Endowment, a prominent Indianapolis-based philanthropy, launched the Comprehensive Counseling Initiative for Indiana K-12 Students in 2016. The more than $50 million-effort aims to improve counseling in Indiana. Experts say meaningful counseling can help schools support students as they navigate problems both at home and in the classroom.


Audrey Hill: The Hoax of the Great White Savior

From Diane Ravitch
All of these are the bad policies of more privileged people on the backs of less privileged people… the kids that are removed or taught in test prep factories, the teachers that labor every day under a cloud of undeserved censure, the schools that are shamed by fake data, and the users and benefactors of public education itself. The mission is not only NOT accomplished, it is subverted and harnessed to an entirely different mission serving the oldest set of interests and the wrong set of priorities.


Monday, August 20, 2018

In Case You Missed It – August 20, 2018

Most of NEIFPE's social media presence is on Facebook where we post links to articles and blogs dealing with the state of public education in the U.S. For those of you who are not on Facebook (or have left), we've gathered links to a few articles of interest to help you 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.


The Path of Privatization

Horizon to continue in its mission: To stay open despite voucher denial

From The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
Horizon took over the campus from Imagine MASTer Academy charter school in 2013. Imagine and a sister school closed their doors when Ball State University declined to renew their charters, citing poor academic performance and insufficient growth.

...Horizon enrolled as many as 500 students in recent years as it consolidated Imagine schools with its own. But academic progress lagged. State accountability grades of D's and F's in consecutive years brought Horizon before the Indiana State Board of Education. It was prohibited from enrolling new voucher students during the 2017-18 school year, Beasley said. Horizon asked for a waiver so it could enroll new state-paid voucher students this fall.

A state analysis showed the school is able to demonstrate academic improvement with some of its students. But the number of students demonstrating either standard or high growth falls well below a majority. In July, the board denied the waiver request. Horizon can still serve current voucher students and those who pay tuition.


Pressuring schools to raise test scores got diminishing returns, new study of No Child Left Behind finds

From Chalkbeat
...a new study shows that continuing to “raise the bar” during the No Child Left Behind era only had a modest effect at best. That raises questions about whether the small gains were worth the political controversy, and what critics claim were the educational costs, of putting a greater focus on test scores.

“These results suggest that the ratcheting [up] of test-based accountability pressures alone is not enough to sustain improvements in student achievement”


Arne Duncan talks a good game

From The Answer Sheet
What he didn’t do, which some in the education world argue is the most important thing he could have attacked, is this: attempt to change the way the United States funds its public schools. School districts rely in large part on property taxes, which guarantees that poor communities have schools with fewer resources. Federal funding aimed at closing the gap doesn’t come close, and, so, in this country, standardized test scores tell us only where a child lives, making reforms that place high stakes on the scores nonsensical.


Back to School in America, 2018-2019 Indiana Edition

From Live Long and Prosper
Trying to support three separate school systems, a public one, serving 90% of the students in the state, and two private school systems through vouchers and charters, has made it difficult for Indiana to support schools and pay teachers. Can we really afford that?

Only one school system is mandated by the state constitution...the one that serves all students who enter -- no exceptions.


Holcomb Details School Safety Recommendations

From Inside Indiana Business
Governor Eric Holcomb has released a report detailing recommendations on improving school safety throughout the state. The report was compiled by a working group that included officials from the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, Indiana Department of Education, and other agencies.

The report names 18 recommendations that were separated into three categories: enhanced mental health services; safety equipment, technology, tools and training; and policy or legislative considerations regarding school safety. As a result, the governor has directed several next steps in improving school safety...


Omarosa claims Betsy DeVos wants to ‘replace public education with for-profit schools’ — and that Trump calls her ‘Ditzy DeVos’

From The Answer Sheet
A new book about President Trump by one of his former senior advisers, Omarosa Manigault Newman, claims that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos wants “to replace public education with for-profit schools” and that Trump has called her by the nickname “Ditzy DeVos.”


NACS finds site for elementary

From Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
A soybean field near Carroll Middle School will soon make way for a new school.

Northwest Allen County Schools announced the site of its eighth elementary school Monday during a board meeting, at which the five members unanimously approved a $1.4 million real estate purchase agreement for a 98-acre property along Hathaway Road.

Voters approved the school through a $33.98 million referendum in May.


Gulen-Bay Tech Charter School in Trouble Again

From Diane Ravitch
Recently we learned that the principal of the Bay Tech Charter School in Oakland gave himself a generous severance package of $450,000, then left for Australia.

Bay Tech is a Gulen School, connected to the reclusive Imam Fethullah Gulen, who lives in seclusion in Pennsylvania while overseeing one of the largest charter chains in the U.S. You can tell a Gulen school by the disproportionate number of Tirkish people on its board and teaching staff...

...In California, laws are written to regulate public schools, not charter schools. The most powerful lobby in the state is the California Charter Schools Association, and it fights any regulation or accountability or even prohibition of conflicts of interest.


Friday, August 17, 2018

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #326 – August 17, 2018

Dear Friends,

If you support public education in Indiana, please join us on August 25th!

Plans are in place for the 8th Annual ICPE Fall Membership Meeting in Indianapolis on Saturday, August 25, 2018, 2:00 to 3:30pm at the H. Dean Evans Center, MSD of Washington Township, 86th & Woodfield Crossing Blvd, Indianapolis.
  • We invited U.S. Senate candidates Joe Donnelly and Mike Braun to speak that day, in line with our bipartisan approach to supporting public education.
  • Joe Donnelly has accepted our invitation and will be introduced by Glenda Ritz as the meeting begins.
  • Mike Braun declined our invitation due to prior commitments.
  • State Superintendent Jennifer McCormick has accepted our invitation to speak and will be introduced by Suellen Reed.
  • A panel of leaders will discuss how to build bipartisan support for public education in the Indiana Statehouse.
  • We will present and then release the 2018 ICPE Legislator Report Card. Once again, ICPE has given letter grades to legislators based on their votes on keys bills in the 2017 and 2018 sessions which show their support or lack of support for public education.
Those present will hear the explanations of the Legislator A-F Report Card which will then be released to the media.

8th Annual Fall Membership Meeting in Indianapolis

For the 8th year since ICPE was founded in 2011, members and friends of public education will gather in the Dean Evans Center.

This meeting is open to all ICPE members and to all who support public education.

Please note the date and make plans now to join us on August 25th. Not only is an outstanding program planned, but it will also be a superb chance to network with other public education advocates.

Bring a public school friend and come!

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.


Tuesday, August 14, 2018

In Case You Missed It – August 14, 2018

Most of NEIFPE's social media presence is on Facebook where we post links to articles and blogs dealing with the state of public education in the U.S. For those of you who are not on Facebook (or have left), we've gathered links to a few articles of interest to help you 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.


What white students still need to understand about white supremacy, a year after Charlottesville

From The Hechinger Report
I asked my students to attend a university-wide discussion of the white supremacist rally that took place in Charlottesville several weeks earlier, on August 12, 2017. I assumed that my students knew about the rally and its ramifications and so I did not offer any explanation. In fact, I didn’t tell my students much beyond the title, “Understanding Charlottesville.”

I was dismayed to note that few of my students showed up.

When we met again in class, I asked them what held them back. The room of mainly college sophomores was silent for a few moments, before a student told me that she didn’t know what “Charlottesville” was. I asked how many people were in the same boat. Every student raised his or her hand, except the students of color and the religious minorities.


Please Don't Warm My Heart

From Curmudgucation
Acts of charity belong in response to an unavoidable natural catastrophe, not the entirely predictable results of human-created policy. Lovable Mrs. McTeachalot shouldn't be receiving help from strangers to buy her teaching supplies because her school should be providing them in the first place. Doctors and nurses do not have to go shopping for bandaids and blood pressure cuffs to stock up their own offices. No business executive or government functionary buys office furniture out of his own pocket. Why do we accept that any teacher who wants a fully supplied classroom will, of course, be responsible for filling the gaps herself.

Why should we have to wait for a wealthy celebrity to pick up the slack for a public school that has not been properly funded? When was the last time you saw an ad from an army company saying, "We're still looking for a helpful philanthropist to buy us the supplies and equipment we need to do our jobs well." And when did you last see a Go Fund Me for a physician saying, "Please help me afford a car so I can get to work."

No. Every one of these heartwarming stories is the story of some group of politicians and policy makers who failed to properly fund the educational system.


LeBron James for secretary of education? Thousands sign petition for him to replace Betsy DeVos.

From The Answer Sheet
LeBron James or Betsy DeVos? If you could pick from two candidates to be U.S. secretary of education and those were your candidates, whom would you pick?

That is the conceit of an online petition posted late Tuesday on and titled “LeBron James for Secretary of Education.” By midday Thursday, there were 11,348 signatures, and the surge of signatures caused organizers to keep increasing their goal.


Final Study: Private Voucher School Students Permanently Fall Behind Peers in Public School

From ISTA, The Indiana State Teachers Association
Indiana students in the state’s private school voucher program are falling behind in math and showing no improvement in Language Arts.

According to a just released study of the state’s private school voucher program, “the goal of improving the academic performance of low‐income students who use a voucher to move to a private school has not yet been realized in Indiana.”
See also: Updated Study Bears Bad News for Indiana Voucher Program

From Politico Morning Education
The final version of a high-profile study of Indiana’s private school voucher program finds that voucher students saw a drop in math scores and those losses persisted “regardless of the length of time spent in a private school.”


College Board Botches the Scoring of the June 2018 SAT; Affected Test Takers Petition for Rescore

From Mercedes Schneider's Blog
... this most recent SAT chaos comes as no surprise:

Something fishy has occurred with the scoring of the June 2018 SAT. For example, test takers are getting more answers correct than they did on previous tests, only to find that their scores compared to previous administrations either flatlined or drastically dropped, and the explanation, “easier questions” does not account for the severity of the problem.

June 2018 SAT test takers are tweeting their displeasure. Still, on July 12, 2018, College Board tweets that nothing is wrong and that it “plans for consistency across administrations”...


Tuesday, August 7, 2018

In Case You Missed It – August 7, 2018

Most of NEIFPE's social media presence is on Facebook where we post links to articles and blogs dealing with the state of public education in the U.S. For those of you who are not on Facebook (or have left), we've gathered links to a few articles of interest to help you keep up with what's going on, what's being discussed, and what's happening with public education.

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

Overdue accountability

From The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
When Indiana lifted its moratorium on online charter schools, Rep. Greg Porter, chairman of the House Education Committee, complained the decision was “a hostile injection into the education system instead of a cooperative process.”

“We needed to do it the right way, to have a real debate with clear regulations and accountability,” said the Indianapolis Democrat in 2009.

Nearly a decade later, virtual charter schools represent the very worst of Indiana's public education system, with the state's three online schools finishing in the bottom 3 percent statewide for test improvement. Each received F's under the most recent round of grades assigned by the state. Graduation rates are abysmal: Indiana Virtual School had the worst rate in the state, graduating just 63 of 985 students.

Paying for college through future pay

From The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
A growing trend in paying for college has yet to catch on in northeast Indiana: students promising their schools a percentage of their future salary in exchange for tuition.

This type of contract, known as an income share agreement, is different from traditional loans, in which graduates pay principal and interest until the balance is zero. Income shares allow graduates to pay their alma mater a percentage of their salary for a set period of time; terms can vary.

American High School Students Win World’s Hardest Math Competition–Again!

From Diane Ravitch
America’s high school math team just won the International Mathematical Olympiad!

Our kids are the best in the world!

And most of the kids on the winning team are children of immigrants (attention, D.J. Trump and Stephen Miller, the Trump administration’s point person on keeping immigrants out).

Props to LeBron James and his new Akron public school — but what about the other kids?

From The Answer Sheet
...The praise for James has come from far and wide, including from charter school supporters who no doubt would have preferred that James opened a charter, which is publicly funded but privately operated. (Ohio’s charter school sector has long been riddled with scandal, with the latest fiasco being the collapse of the for-profit cyber-charter Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT), which has been ordered to repay the state some $80 million.)

And James’s focus on building a school within a traditional public district suggests he understands the importance of the traditional public education system in the United States, which some argue is the country’s most important civic institution and which is under assault from school “reformers” who want to privatize it.

Still, the fact that this school opened only because of the good graces of a very wealthy, civic-minded athlete underscores the continuing problem with education funding in this country. And it highlights the push for school “choice” that has Betsy DeVos, President Trump’s education secretary, as its chief advocate.

2018 Medley #19: LeBron James and the Promise of Public Schools

From Live Long and Prosper
"Although this is a really beautiful story of philanthropy, it does raise the question of why communities need celebrities to provide services that should be provided by the government" -- Trevor Noah

A powerfully humane element of teaching

From The Answer Sheet
These teachers seem to operate with an expansive sense of human ability and are particularly alert to signs of that ability, signs that might be faint or blurred by societal biases or by a student’s reticence or distracting behavior — or that the student him or herself might barely comprehend.

Through the way they teach, through mentoring, or through some other intervention, these teachers help develop the abilities they perceive. We don’t hear a lot about this powerfully humane element of teaching, for so much current discussion of teacher education and development is focused elsewhere: from creating measures of effectiveness to mastering district or state curriculum frameworks. These are important issues to be sure, but they have crowded out so much else that makes teaching a richly humanistic intellectual pursuit.

AFT Sums Up Ten Years of Public School Underfunding and Neglect with Details from Each State

From Jan Resseger
The new report from the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), A Decade of Neglect, is one of the most lucid explanations I’ve read about the deplorable fiscal conditions for public schools across the states. It explains the precipitous drop in school funding caused by the Great Recession, temporarily ameliorated in 2009 by an infusion of funds from the federal stimulus (a financial boost that disappeared after a couple of years), compounded by tax cutting and austerity budgeting across many states, and further compounded by schemes to drain education dollars to privatized charter and voucher programs all out of the same budget.