Monday, October 1, 2018

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!”


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