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.


Monday, September 3, 2018

In Case You Missed It – Sep 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.


57 vacancies: FWCS hit by national teacher shortage

From The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
Fort Wayne Community Schools is entering its fourth week of the academic year but is still short an essential school supply: teachers.

As of last week, it had 57 teacher vacancies, including 11 elementary positions posted the second week of class due to increasing enrollment at some schools, spokeswoman Krista Stockman said. The district has about 1,800 teachers.

It's not alone in starting the year short-staffed. Schools nationwide are feeling the effects of a teacher shortage.

“We still have districts that have positions that are open. We're well aware of that,” Jennifer McCormick, state superintendent of public education, said last month at the annual meeting of the Indiana Coalition for Public Education.


NACS, SACS find drinking fixtures with lead levels that exceed EPA limit

From Fort Wayne NBC
Northwest Allen County Schools says 21 of it 516 drinking and cooking water fountains in the district exceed the EPA limit on lead, while Southwest Allen County Schools reports 77 fixtures that needed to be repaired or replaced for the same reason.

NACS sent home a letter to parents on Aug. 29 detailing its findings.

The district said it voluntarily took part in a state program that tests the schools' drinking water for lead.


FWCS tries to allay angst on curriculum

From The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
Smith, whose children attend Snider High School and Blackhawk Middle School, has heard frustrations from various people. Students, he said, feel like their teachers are reading scripts.

FWCS spokeswoman Krista Stockman likened the script claim to how other programs are run, such as Project Lead the Way, New Tech and Advanced Placement. Each uses specific language, content and order, she said, much like the new curriculum.

Robinson understands why teachers – who are still adjusting – might read from provided information: they want to get it right. Reed agreed, adding that the situation reminds her of her first year as a teacher, when she relied on a teacher's manual.

There's still room for teacher creativity, administrators said.


Student arrested for snatching classmate's MAGA hat, slapping teacher, police say

From The Chicago Tribune
The profanities flew in the classroom, and so did the hat.

Something about President Donald Trump's slogan incensed a California high school student on Monday. She yelled at a classmate in English class who was wearing a hat emblazoned with "Make America Great Again" and threw it to the ground, authorities said.

The teacher banished her from the class at Union Mine High School in El Dorado.

But she returned and snatched the hat a second time, and she slapped the teacher's arm away when he tried to keep her from the other student, authorities said.


Muncie School Board ends collective bargaining with teachers

From The Muncie Star Press
During a question-and-answer session with the media at the end of this week's Muncie Community School Board meeting, board President Jim Williams was asked whether the district would start collective bargaining with teachers in September.

"No," he answered.

Why not?

"The Legislature has given, specifically in House Enrolled Act 1315, that we would have to specifically opt in, and frankly, everything is on the table, and right now this board is not in a position to opt in," Williams said.

Have you discussed this with the Muncie Teachers Association?



Grading problems delay release of 2018 ISTEP results

From Chalkbeat
Technical problems with the grading of this year’s ISTEP exams will delay the release of test scores, Indiana Department of Education officials announced Thursday.

Pearson, the testing company that has administered ISTEP since 2016, reported issues involving the grading of a graphing question on the 10th-grade math test and another problem with matching student data between tests in grades 3-8 and 10.

Education department spokesman Adam Baker said only a small percentage of students were expected to be impacted by the problems, and the state was working with Pearson to fix the data.


Big trouble for Howard University: DeVos’s Education Department puts it on list it doesn’t want to be on

From The Answer Sheet
Howard University is regarded as the most prestigious historically black institution of higher education in the country. But the operations of the school in the nation’s capital have long been troubled in areas such a s budget, financial aid, student housing, security, building maintenance and transparency. Now Howard is facing a huge new problem: The U.S. Education Department has placed Howard on a list that it really doesn’t want to be on.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s staff informed the school in an Aug. 13 letter that it had been moved to what is called HCM2, or “heightened cash monitoring,” status regarding federal financial aid funds. That means the school will no longer get millions of dollars in financial aid in advance to award to students but, instead, will have to give it to students and then seek reimbursement from the federal government.