Monday, October 29, 2018

In Case You Missed It – Oct 29, 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.


Two NOLA Charter Schools Closed Due to Low Scores, Low Enrollment

From Diane Ravitch
Two New Orleans charters, both from the Algiers charter chain, are closing. Read the article to see what is happening to the students. They are moved around like pieces on a giant checker board.

A few months ago, the Education Research Alliance of Tulane University published a report about the success of the New Orleans charter model (Formula: get a natural disaster to wipe out high-poverty neighborhoods and many schools, reduce enrollment by 1/3, change the overall demographics, fire all the teachers and bring in TFA, eliminate the union, replace public schools with private charters, open selective charters for the “best” kids, segregate the poorest black kids, put the structure under an uncritical State board elected with help from out-of-State billionaires, and VOILA! A school miracle!).

But not quite.


No, President Trump, the N.Y. Stock Exchange Did Not Open the Day After 9/11

From Diane Ravitch
...Memories are fallible, even for presidents. This is why they are supposed to have staffs who help make sure they stick to the facts and, if they get it wrong, make sure that the misstatements are corrected.

President Trump is not an ordinary president, and apparently he does not have a typical staff. So, in an effort to justify holding a campaign rally after 11 people at a synagogue were gunned down in Pittsburgh, the president twice referenced an event that did not happen.

This will be a very short fact check.


Here’s what Betsy DeVos has to say about Indiana’s failing virtual schools

DeVos continues to support the waste of our tax dollars and the diversion of $$ from our public schools here in Indiana.

From Chalkbeat
When asked what she thinks about 12,000 Indiana students attending failing virtual schools, DeVos said, “We want all students to receive a quality education.”

Earlier this week, a committee of Indiana State Board of Education members recommended a package of policy changes that would overhaul how online charter schools operate in the state. The changes included adding more oversight, reducing a financial incentive for the groups that monitor virtual charter schools, limiting how quickly schools can grow their enrollment, and keeping more kids from going to the schools if they continue to post poor academic results.

Gov. Eric Holcomb urged the state board to look into such changes late last year, but Holcomb “is still reviewing the recommendations,” his spokeswoman said in an email Friday. The proposal is expected to be presented to the full board next month.


Kentucky educators and supporters try to reclaim state

From School Matters
The nation’s eyes were on Kentucky in the spring when Bluegrass State teachers walked off the job because of low pay and threats to their pensions. We should all be watching again on Nov. 6, when teachers and their supporters try to take the state back from ALEC-aligned Republicans.

Over 50 active and retired teachers are seeking seats in the Kentucky House and Senate, part of what veteran Courier-Journal political reporter Tom Loftus calls “an unprecedented wave of educators running for the General Assembly this fall.”


Indiana lawmakers went to preschool. Here’s what they learned

If we had legislators who listened to educators, we’d already be providing Pre-K for all the children in our state.

From Chalkbeat
What early childhood advocates wanted the seven visiting lawmakers to see was the difference that high-quality preschool can make for children living in poverty, in the hopes that lawmakers will expand access to early learning opportunities next year to more children across the state.

Almost all of the 224 children at St. Mary’s five locations come from poor families. But while research says children in poverty often lag years behind their more affluent peers, executive director Connie Sherman told lawmakers that 83 percent of St. Mary’s children finish preschool ready for kindergarten.


We Need to Trust Teachers to Innovate

From John Spencer
He described the frustrations of developing an engaging unit plan only to be told by his cooperating teacher that he had to use the district’s scripted curriculum instead. Now, I don’t see anything inherently wrong with boxed curriculum. After all, a great novel is essentially “boxed.” The issue is when institutions force teachers to use boxed curriculum in a lock-step way where they lack the permission to make it their own.

This district adopted the prescribed curriculum as a way to embrace “best practices in education.” And yet...the district also describes the needs to meet the demands of a “21st Century Learning” and “spark innovation.”

But here’s the thing: innovation requires you to step into the unknown. If we focus all of our attention on best practices and codify these ideas into tightly packaged curriculum, we will inevitably fail to experiment.


Another Sub Service Fails

“Public schools put students first. Businesses put business concerns first. That doesn't make them evil-- just bad partners for schools.”

From Curmudgucation
Most of the affected districts, including the large Dearborn district, were scrambling to make plans. PESG said 1,500 to 2,000 substitute teachers were affected. Some of these districts still have contracts with PESG, so we may see some court action before the smoke clears.

This, of course, is what you get when you let a business have a piece of the education pie. Does this kind of sudden shut down make sense? Was the company down to its last $150 last week but they figured it would all work out anyway, or is this "immediate" shutdown necessary to protect the business's remaining assets. Who knows. All I know is that a school district would do-- well, exactly what the districts are doing, which is to put their heads together, rig something up, and generally move heaven and earth to make sure the needs of students are met.

Public schools put students first. Businesses put business concerns first. That doesn't make them evil-- just bad partners for schools.


More oversight, less growth: How Indiana could turn around its failing online schools

Apparently Indiana hasn't learned anything from Ohio's experience.

It’s a mystery to many of us as to why they want to throw money and effort away to prop up these failing virtual schools.

From Chalkbeat
A state committee tasked with probing dismal results at Indiana’s virtual charter schools is recommending a sweeping package of changes, including capping enrollment at the controversial schools and creating a single statewide authorizer to oversee all of them.


The Days of Charter Schools and Vouchers Are Numbered

From Education Law Prof Blog
I got the chance to meet and listen to teachers from across the country at the Network for Public Education’s annual conference in Indianapolis this past weekend. For the first time in my professional career, I had a firm sense of public education’s future. I have litigated and participated in several civil rights and school funding cases, dealt with lots of different advocates, and watched closely as the teacher protests unfolded this spring. In Indianapolis, I saw something special—something I had never seen before.

I saw a broad based education movement led not by elites, scholars, or politicians, but everyday people. Those everyday people were teachers who were not just from big cities, small cities, suburbs, or the countryside, but from all of those places and as diverse as America’s fifty states and ten thousand school districts. The teachers weren’t just young or old, white, black or brown, men or women, straight or gay. They were all of the above.


Big Spending on Privatizing Public Schools in San Antonio

From Tultican
Federal dollars are supplementing deep pocketed Destroy Public Education (DPE) forces in an effort to privatize schools in San Antonio, Texas. The total monetary support for the preferred charter school systems exceeds $200,000,000. One “DPE” publication, The 74, published a lengthy piece glorifying the attack on San Antonio’s democratically run schools and praised local elites including the school superintendent trained by Arne Duncan and Eli Broad for leading the decimation of public schools in San Antonio’s poorest neighborhoods.


Monday, October 22, 2018

In Case You Missed It – NPE Conference Edition – Oct 22, 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.


I Endorse Andrew Gillum for Governor of Florida

From Diane Ravitch
Here are good reasons to change the leadership of the state:

1. The Republican party has inflicted pain on the public school system and its teachers. They have enacted very loose charter laws and voucher laws. Florida has three different voucher programs, despite the fact that vouchers are specifically banned in the State Constitution, and despite the fact that voters rejected an effort to change the State Constitution to allow vouchers in 2012. The legislature and the governor have given away hundreds of millions of dollars to private and religious and charter schools, which have minimal accountability. They have enacted laws to judge teachers by test scores, even though this method has been proven ineffective and harmful in Florida and everywhere else.


A 50-State-Plus-DC Exploration of Alice Walton’s Political Contributions

From Mercedes Schneider
Several days ago, I began an exploration of the political contributions of billionaire Wal-Mart heir, Alice Walton. I was both curious about her political spending and desiring to offer readers quick links to the campaign finance web sites in all 50 states and DC...

IN: $412,863; American Fed. for Children Action Fund; 2010.


On October 20 and 21 the Network for Public Education held its annual meeting in Indianapolis

Phyllis Bush welcomes the guests at #npe18indy

Indiana loses $150.00 per public school student thanks to vouchers. That's a $4.5 million loss for FWCS. #NPE18INDY

You can see more pictures and videos from NPE18INDY on the NPE Action Facebook Page.


In new Texas campaign ad, Beto O’Rourke slams Sen. Ted Cruz for backing Betsy DeVos

From The Answer Sheet
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is now an issue in the battle for U.S. Senate in Texas between Beto O’Rourke, a Democratic congressman, and Ted Cruz, the incumbent Republican.

O’Rourke just launched several new ads, including one that is directed at winning over advocates for teachers and public schools, especially those who oppose the agenda of DeVos, who has made “school choice” her prime focus.

In the ad, O’Rourke accuses Cruz of backing DeVos and her support for vouchers, which use public money for private and religious school education.

But is the ad entirely accurate?


ACT: Math Scores Drop to a 20-Year Low

From Diane Ravitch
The newest batch of ACT scores shows troubling long-term declines in performance, with students’ math achievement reaching a 20-year low, according to results released Wednesday.

The average math score for the graduating class of 2018 was 20.5, marking a steady decline from 20.9 five years ago, and virtually no progress since 1998, when it was 20.6. Each of the four sections of the college-entrance exam is graded on a 36-point scale.


Delaware: Betsy DeVos Gives State $10.4 Million to Expand Charters, Despite Lack of Demand

From Diane Ravitch
Mercedes Schneider noticed a curious fact about Betsy DeVos’s latest handout to charter schools in Delaware.

DeVos gave the state $10.4 million to expand charters and “share best practices” only months after a Delaware charter school closed due to under enrollment.

In other words, Delaware does not have a demand for charter schools, but DeVos is funding them anyway.


Gary state senator believes Indiana teachers deserve a pay raise

From NWITimes
State Sen. Eddie Melton, D-Gary, wants to give Indiana teachers a pay raise.

The first-term lawmaker last week said he will work to increase state spending on education and educators when the General Assembly convenes in January.

"Our teachers are taking on more responsibility and are feeling less respected and less appreciated each year," Melton said.

"I am proposing we raise teacher salaries by allocating additional funds to the school funding formula in the upcoming budget session to show our teachers that we value the hard work they do for all of our state's children."


Monday, October 15, 2018

In Case You Missed It – Oct 15, 2018

Here are links to the articles receiving the most attention in NEIFPE's social media. Keep up with what's going on, what's being discussed, and what's happening with public education.

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


Purdue awards Daniels $210K in bonuses, bringing total pay to $830K

From the Indiana Business Journal
Purdue University says trustees have approved $210,000 in bonuses for President Mitch Daniels for meeting goals in fundraising, student success and other areas, bringing his 2018 compensation to $830,000.

The Lafayette Journal & Courier reports that the total figure represents an 8 percent increase over his previous year's compensation of $769,500. It includes a $200,000 retention bonus.


Additional layer of safety: Area schools avail selves of technology

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
A new state-funded program has ensured nearly every public school district is equipped with a security tool parents support: metal detectors.

After two rounds of orders, 410 school entities have requested 3,434 of the handheld devices, which were offered at no cost to schools. Schools could request one detector per 250 students.


The Foundational Fallacy Of Charter Schools

From Peter Greene in Forbes
You cannot run multiple school districts for the same amount of money you used to spend to operate just one.

This really should not come as a surprise to anyone. When was the last time you heard of a business of any sort saying, "The money is getting tight, and we need to tighten our belts. So let's open up some new facilities."

Opening up charter schools can only drive up the total cost of educating students within a system, for several reasons.


The ‘toxic’ politics behind McCormick’s decision to reject a second term as Indiana schools chief

From Chalkbeat
“I knew the political environment was toxic between the (education department) and the governor’s office,” McCormick said in an interview with Chalkbeat, alluding to battles between Ritz and then-Gov. Mike Pence. “I thought there would be more of a willingness to address it, and do that in a manner that mirrored what I was used to in a professional, transparent, respectful manner.”

But McCormick’s splashy statements seem to have landed with a thud. The lawmakers that she was taking to task — as well as state board of education members and governor’s office staff from her own party — either won’t publicly discuss her criticism or claim they’re confused by it. And if, as she said, McCormick is stepping aside to have more of an effect on education policy, it’s unclear if calling out her fellow Republicans will make it harder for her to achieve that.


No name change to Purdue University Fort Wayne diplomas

The diplomas are staying the same at Purdue University Fort Wayne. That's the word from Purdue University's President, Mitch Daniels.

"The Board of Trustees have heard us, and they are leaving the diplomas as they are,” says Purdue University Fort Wayne’s Chancellor, Ron Elsenbaumer.

The announcement coming nearly an hour after a student planned protest about the name change to Purdue Fort Wayne's diplomas


Dysfunction and politics became a distraction, superintendent says

From Steve Hinnefeld in School Matters
The superintendent is, by statute, a member of the State Board of Education, but McCormick clashed with other members as they pushed to implement new high-school graduation requirements despite concerns voiced by educators and tried to make late changes in the Department of Education’s plan for complying with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. The last straw for McCormick may have been a behind-the-scenes effort to have the superintendent be appointed by the governor, not elected by the people, starting in 2020.

Gov. Eric Holcomb and Republicans in the Indiana House tried to enact such a law in 2017, but they lacked the votes to approve the change in the Senate. They settled for a compromise that would make the position appointed starting in 2024, potentially giving McCormick two elected terms in office.

They may have thought that, with a Republican superintendent, they could keep pushing an agenda of expanded school choice via vouchers and charter schools. But McCormick, a former Yorktown Community Schools superintendent, has been a forceful advocate for public schools. She has criticized Indiana’s voucher program and called for more oversight of charter schools and their authorizers. Recently, she has suggested that private schools that receive voucher funding shouldn’t discriminate on the basis of religion, sexual orientation or gender identity — and many do.


Fort Wayne Community Schools preparing students for life after high school

From WPTA-21
Middle and High School students in the Fort Wayne Community schools system can participate in a free program to prepare for life after high school.

Fort Wayne Community Schools is offering a free, four-week program for middle and high school students. During the programs, students can learn more about preparing for college and future careers, understanding financial literacy and developing a well-rounded portfolio.


Experts call for an end to online preschool programs

From The Hechinger Report
Research shows that children who have access to high-quality preschool reap benefits. They are more likely to graduate from high school and are less likely to be held back. Children who lack access to quality preschool “are often the target of these online programs,” according to the statement. In today’s statement, the advocacy groups claim that students who receive an online education in lieu of a high-quality in-person program are at even more of a risk of being left behind their peers. Diane Levin, a professor of early childhood education at Boston University’s Wheelock College and co-founder of Defending the Early Years, said it may seem as if children are learning from online programs, but it’s a “rote” kind of learning. “Young children learn best when they have hands-on, concrete real experiences with the world,” Levin said. “The more in-depth the learning from that is … the more solid the foundation is so that when they get older, they can move on to the next stages of cognitive development.”


The fight for teacher raises and 4 other takeaways from our IPS referendum forum

Actually, the biggest take-away from all this is that we need legislators and school board members who support PUBLIC education.

From Chalkbeat
“It’s difficult when we attempt to send a student to go have a conversation with a counselor and the counselor is too busy, overwhelmed,” said Vazquez, an English as a new language teacher at Arsenal Technical High School, which she said is struggling to serve students who transferred in when the district closed three other campuses last year. “We need more counselors. Our teachers need smaller class sizes.”

Vazquez was one of five panelists gathered Thursday for a forum hosted by Chalkbeat, WFYI, the Indianapolis Recorder, and the Indianapolis Public Library to discuss two tax measures on the ballot in November aimed at raising more money for the school system. One referendum would raise $220 million to pay for operating expenses. The second measure would raise $52 million for building improvements.

The panel also featured IPS Board President Michael O’Connor, IPS chief financial officer Weston Young, Indy Chamber chief policy officer Mark Fisher, and Purdue University professor Larry DeBoer.


State committee chooses 8 measures to alert if a school district is in fiscal trouble

"Will these same indicators be used to monitor charters and private voucher schools? Does the state even require them to submit such data? They get your tax money too." -- Julia Hollingsworth

The financial status of all Indiana school corporations is poised to be evaluated next year using eight measures that are intended to indicate whether the district may require state assistance or intervention.

House Enrolled Act 1315 directed the Distressed Unit Appeals Board to establish a Fiscal and Qualitative Indicators Committee charged with identifying which financial conditions at a school corporation should trigger a closer look by DUAB.

The committee unanimously approved eight primary fiscal indicators Thursday, along with a host of demographic and other secondary variables, that it believes will signal to DUAB that a school district is in, or heading toward, financial distress.


North Carolina: State Superintendent Goes ALEC

From Diane Ravitch

Referring to The “Department of Private Interest” – DPI’s Transformation Under Mark Johnson

From Caffeinated Rage
Public education in North Carolina receives the highest amount of money in the state budget each year. It’s supposed to. It’s literally in the state constitution. How it goes about funding public education is a process that involves numerous checks and balances to ensure fairness.

But those checks and balances have been removed somewhat by a super-majority in the NCGA elected in a gerrymandered manner that has allowed for the greatest expenditure in the state budget to be a more open coffer for private entities to profit from.

And it’s certainly changing DPI from a public service agency to a haven of private interests.


Word Choices Can Feed Bias

From Sheila Kennedy
Roncalli has received more than $6.5 million in public money over the past five years through Indiana’s most-expansive-in-the-nation school voucher program.

The issue is simple: should public dollars–which come from all Hoosiers, including gay and lesbian taxpayers–support schools that discriminate against some of those Hoosiers?

I would argue that taxpayer dollars ought not support private–and especially religious– schools at all, but that is an argument for another day. In any event, I found the Star’s headline offensive. By characterizing McCormick’s proposed standards for receipt of public dollars as “strings,” it strongly suggested that an unnecessarily picky bureaucracy was trying to make it difficult for religious schools to participate in Indiana’s voucher program. It utterly trivialized a very important issue, which is the use of public money to subsidize discrimination.


Monday, October 8, 2018

In Case You Missed It – Oct 8, 2018

Here are links to the articles receiving the most attention in NEIFPE's social media. Keep up with what's going on, what's being discussed, and what's happening with public education. There was an unusually high amount of traffic this week. Extra articles are included at the end.

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


Miami: Teacher’s Favorite Literature Textbooks Disappear: Who Done It?

From Diane Ravitch
A highly experienced, very successful high school English teacher clung to her favorite literature textbooks. She preferred them to the digital textbooks adopted by the district. One day recently, she arrived in her class to discover that all her textbooks were gone. Her defiance was unacceptable to the state, the district and the principal. The state wants all children using digital material. It is de-emphasizing fiction and literature, replacing them with “informational text.” In short, the Common Core strikes again.


New Jersey Hits the “Pause” Button on New Charter Schools

From Diane Ravitch
After the free-for-all expansion of charter schools in New Jersey during the Chris Christie administration, it is clear there is a new sheriff in town.

The State Commissioner of Education Lamont Repollet has turned down every charter application, saying that time is needed for the state to review the 20-year-old law and figure out how many new charters are needed.


Kids Need Play and Recess. Their Mental Health May Depend on It.

From Education Week
As superintendents, principals and teachers plan for the upcoming school year, one thing is certain: We are serving a generation of children who are more anxious, depressed and suicidal than any generation before. A recent NPR Education Series broadcast states, "Up to one in five kids living in the U.S. shows signs or symptoms of a mental health disorder in a given year."

In fact, Dr. Peter Gray a research professor at Boston College found that, "Rates of depression and anxiety among young people in America have been increasing steadily for the past 50 to 70 years. Today, by at least some estimates, five to eight times as many high school and college students meet the criteria for diagnosis of major depression and/or anxiety disorder as was true half a century or more ago." If that doesn't alarm you as a parent, educator or as a concerned citizen, I'm not sure you have a pulse. The fact is, we have an existential mental health crisis in K-12 education and beyond. The question is, what can schools do about it?


Want to boost test scores? Experts say Indiana must change teaching

We say, “Want successful schools, change LEGISLATORS to those who will support public schools and families.”

From Chalkbeat
Bob Schaeffer, spokesman for The National Center for Fair and Open Testing, an organization that acts as a testing watchdog, said the flat scores could be indicative of a larger issue, but also show the accountability system as a whole isn’t leading to improvement — its stated purpose.

“It’s worth an investigation to try to see what’s going on and why things are flat,” Schaeffer said. “But (the state) should look at better ways to assess Indiana’s public school students that actually improves academic excellence and equity.”


Private Voucher School Caught Cheating Taxpayers

...Midwest Elite failed to administer ISTEP and IREAD...the school failed to keep basic student records like enrollment and special education forms. Also missing – voucher records...

...failed to refund the state voucher money the school received for students who left the school during the school year...

...on multiple occasions the school’s checks to the state bounced...

How many more private voucher schools are cheating taxpayers? Considering private voucher schools do not have the same strict accountability that public schools must comply with, we may never know.


As Indiana test scores remain flat overall, gaps are growing between race and income groups

ISTEP pass rates have been released. Perhaps our legislators need to reflect on why scores are not improving especially in certain populations. Or perhaps we need different legislators who will look for real solutions rather than blindly upping the expectations as if measuring the temperature will help with the heat.

From Chalkbeat
Indiana’s most vulnerable students have far lower passing rates than their peers on the state’s ISTEP exams — and the gaps are widening even as scores overall remain steady.

Only half of the state’s elementary and middle school students passed both English and math exams in 2018, but the results released Wednesday were worse for students of color. For example, about a quarter of black students in the lower grades earned passing scores on both tests, compared to nearly 60 percent of white students.

The gaps in passing rates were also more than 30 percentage points between general education and special needs students, as well as students from affluent and low-income families. And with the exception of special education students in grades 3-8, and Native American students in grade 10, these gaps have increased by several percentage points since 2015 and 2016.


For black, brown, and low-income students, public education is underfunded on purpose

From In the Public Interest (linked from Diane Ravitch)
Like many reports, the latest from the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools (AROS) drops a number of disturbing facts.

Between 2005 and 2017, the federal government neglected to spend $580 billion it was supposed to on students from poor families and students with disabilities. Over that same time, the personal net worth of the nation’s 400 wealthiest people grew by $1.57 trillion.

Seventeen states actually send more education dollars to wealthier districts than to high-poverty ones.


Indiana State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Jennifer McCormick has announced her intention to not run for reelection in 2020. McCormick has discovered what her Democratic predecessor, Glenda Ritz, learned...that Indiana's Republican super-majority is in the pocket of privatizers.

We had several articles on this topic.

With re-election off the table, Indiana schools chief Jennifer McCormick also backs away from leading state board

McCormick plans to cede control over to the partisan appointed board.

From Chalkbeat
McCormick’s decision to not seek out the chair position, a move that is unprecedented in recent Indiana education policy history, comes two days after she said she wouldn’t seek re-election as state schools chief in 2020. McCormick, a Republican and former public school educator, said political squabbles were distracting her from the important work of educating Indiana’s students and said she would “still serve students for the rest of my life, but it may not be in this role.”

Such infighting likely led to McCormick’s announcement on Wednesday as well. Though she campaigned as a more collaborative leader than her predecessor, Democrat Glenda Ritz, McCormick has butted heads with fellow Republicans as often as she’s agreed with them in the first half of her term.

McCormick asks Indiana lawmakers for charter school oversight and preschool support in 2019

From Chalkbeat
Indiana’s state superintendent made it her goal for the next legislative session to lobby lawmakers for more oversight of charter schools — and any schools taking public money, for that matter.

The call for more regulations governing the fiscal and academic operations of charter schools is an ambitious part of Jennifer McCormick’s wide-ranging 2019 legislative agenda, which she unveiled Monday at a press conference.

“It does us no good to allow any type of choice to happen without some type of accountability,” said McCormick, a Republican who, unlike some of her colleagues, has not spoken favorably about expanding school choice programs unless they can demonstrate results. “It can’t be, open the doors and hope for the best — it’s got to be about quality.”



Monday, October 1, 2018

Too Much Anger

by NEIFPE Co-founder, Phyllis Bush

(Originally posted on Facebook.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


In Case You Missed It – Oct 1, 2018

Here are links to the articles receiving the most attention in NEIFPE's social media. Keep up with what's going on, what's being discussed, and what's happening with public education.

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

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


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

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

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

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


The teacher pay gap is wider than ever

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

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


FWCS budget would lead to tax increase

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

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

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

Budget adoption is expected Oct. 22.

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


Field Guide To Bad Education Research

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

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


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

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

The big bucks are in real estate!


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

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


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

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

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

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