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.”



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