Monday, November 12, 2018

In Case You Missed It – Nov 12, 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.


Kruse Resigns As Education Committee Chair, Raatz Takes Over

From Indiana Public Media
Dennis Kruse (R-Auburn) resigned Friday as the chairman of the powerful Education & Career Development Committee. He said in a statement the position is rewarding, but it has also been demanding for him and his family.

He led the committee for 10 years, during which he oversaw huge changes in the state’s education policy, including the teacher evaluation system and private school vouchers.

Controversy surrounded Kruse in 2013 when he introduced a bill that would allow reciting the Lord's Prayer at public schools each day.

Sen. Jeff Raatz (R-Centerville) will become the new committee chairman in the 2019 General Assembly.


How backlash to big changes in Indianapolis Public Schools fueled board upsets

A community “votes back” against reform that has wasted tax dollars and diverted resources from students.

From Chalkbeat
Two outsiders who have been critical of the Indianapolis Public Schools board defeated incumbents Tuesday, a change that could prove pivotal for a district that has garnered a national reputation for its partnerships with charter schools.

For over three years, Indianapolis Public Schools has offered a blueprint for an approach to education that blurs the line between charter schools and traditional public districts by launching and rapidly expanding schools run by charter or nonprofit operators but that remain under the district’s umbrella. This year, more than one in four district students attends one of those 20 innovation schools, as the district calls its hybrid model.

But those policies face mounting resistance. Two newly elected school board members could, for the first time, pump the brakes on the dramatic changes the current board has supported.

The results show that “the community is not happy with where IPS is going,” said Dountonia Batts, executive director of the IPS Community Coalition, a grassroots group that got funding from a national teachers union. People, she said, “believe that the community does have power at our public schools, and they don’t want to see that power slip away.”


How many Indiana schools got As in 2018? Depends if state or feds are doing the grading.

Chalkbeat says, "The two grades illustrate differences in priorities..."

The two grades also illustrate the futility of trying to "grade" schools using a single letter grade. In the end the grades are determined by parental income levels. Where are the grades for the legislators from whose failed policies "F" schools originate?

From Chalkbeat
In the upcoming annual release of A-F grades, Indiana schools are receiving not one, but two ratings — and for many of those schools, the two grades are not the same, a sharp contrast that could cause confusion over how well schools are serving students.

One set of grades from the state’s rating system gave higher marks to about one-third of schools, a state presentation shows. The other set, based on new federal standards of the Every Student Succeeds Act, gave far fewer top ratings to schools.

The two grades illustrate differences in priorities — and in politics. Some national experts say the federal standards are tougher on schools than Indiana’s model because they require schools to count more students, such as those in remedial programs, and include other data not pulled from state tests, such as students who are chronically absent or the fluency of those learning English as a new language.


New emergency manager for Gary schools is former Griffith superintendent

From The Chicago Tribune
Former Griffith Public Schools school chief Peter Morikis is the new emergency manager for Gary Community School Corp., replacing Peggy Hinckley who announced her retirement Thursday.


SACS approves earlier school year start

From The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
The first day of school will come earlier for Southwest Allen County Schools students beginning in 2020.

In a narrow vote – and against input from nearly 2,500 staff, students, parents and community members – school board members on Tuesday approved a 2020-21 district calendar that begins Aug. 5 in exchange for a weeklong fall break in October.


Arizona: Ducey, Koch Brothers, and DeVos Are Already Scheming to Bring Vouchers Back from the Dead

From Diane Ravitch
“Gov. Doug Ducey may have gotten a second term but he also took a powerful punch to the gut as his plan for a massive expansion of school vouchers was killed.

“Arizona voters didn’t just defeat Proposition 305. They stoned the thing, then they tossed it into the street and ran over it.

“Then they backed up and ran over it again.

“Voters defeated Ducey’s voucher plan by more than 2-1."

Carl Sagan: November 9, 1934 - December 20, 1996. Still Teaching from the Grave. 


Good News in Michigan: Voters Reject DeVos Agenda!

From Diane Ravitch
"...By electing Whitmer, voters repudiated the DeVos agenda of defunding and decimating public schools in favor of the for-profit schools that took root in Michigan and failed to help kids. Whitmer will champion expanded healthcare and safe drinking water, and will fight for decency and fairness to put a check on President Trump’s cruel and inhumane agenda. I was proud to spend Election Day campaigning for Whitmer, and AFT members look forward to a governor who will work with us to make life better for Michiganders.”


Public schools' struggle correlates directly to state voucher support

From The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
• Since 2010, the total state budget has risen 17 percent.

• Since 2010, the consumer price index (cost of living) has risen 17 percent.

• Since 2010, the education budget has only risen 10 percent.

• Vouchers cost $150 million a year, and the cost is diverted from public school funding, resulting in an actual 7 percent increase in public school funding. (More than half the Indiana voucher recipients never attended public schools.)

• Without vouchers, every public school would get an additional $150 per student.

• Property tax caps have resulted in millions of dollars lost for many school districts.

• Public schools in poor communities annually experience a 10 percent to 60 percent property tax shortfall, equaling tens of millions of lost dollars for some.

• Remedies for lost revenue are no longer provided by the state. Districts now depend on local referendums.

• Lost property taxes that pay for school debt, construction and transportation must be replaced from state dollars intended for student instruction.

• A portion of state tuition support called the “complexity index” provides special funding to meet the needs of the poorest students. Not only has the complexity index dollar amount been decreased to “equalize” the dollars per student among all schools, but the state has decreased the number of students qualifying – for some schools – by half.

• Forbes magazine points out that Indiana is ill advisedly attempting to fund three systems of schools – traditional public, charters and vouchers – with the same budget it once used for only traditional public schools.

• The “money follows the student” mantra for charter school students creates a loss of school funding that is significantly and disproportionately more damaging than the simple sum of the dollars. If a district loses 100 students, the loss can be spread over 12 grades. A classroom still needs a teacher if it has 25 students instead of 30, but the district has lost $600,000 in funding.

• Of the 20 schools or districts receiving the highest per-pupil funding, 18 are charter schools, none of which are required to report profit taking.

• Since 2010, teacher salaries have dropped 16 percent.


From South Carolina to California, charter school-loving billionaires are plowing money into midterm local and education races

From The Answer Sheet
Written by Carol Burris and Diane Ravitch
The objective could not be clearer — influence districts to expand their charter sector until eventually all, or nearly all, schools are privately operated and managed. Those district offices that remain could be filled not by educational leaders but by managers and technicians hired to ensure that buses run on time, schools are opened, closed or transferred to other operators, enrollment is managed, and funding is distributed. Public voice is stifled. Schools become publicly funded businesses.


Monday, November 5, 2018

In Case You Missed It – Nov 5, 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.


Why it matters who governs America’s public schools

From The Answer Sheet by Carol Burris and Diane Ravitch
Public governance of our schools matters for the health of our democracy. The public school was designed to serve and promote the common good; it is paid for by the public, and it belongs to the public, not entrepreneurs...

...Billionaires live in an echo chamber of their own. As they jet across the globe to and from their many homes, the neighborhood school with its bake sales, homecoming dances and lively community elections are foreign and inconsequential...


Arizona: #RedforEd Is So Popular that Even Its Opponents are Hitching Their Wagon to It

From Diane Ravitch
Six months after tens of thousands of red-clad teachers swarmed the Arizona Capitol in a weeklong walkout, demanding higher pay and more funding for schools, education is a dominant issue in the state’s elections next month.

The teachers’ protest movement, which calls itself #RedforEd, has transformed the political battleground. The movement remains so popular in Arizona that candidates and causes across the ideological spectrum are competing to identify with it — including conservatives who, in years past, might have been more likely to criticize teachers or unions than associate with activist educators.


Marching band finals: Homestead 3rd, Carroll 8th in Class A

From The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
Six Allen County bands competed in the State Marching Band Finals at Lucas Oil Stadium with Homestead High School placing highest among the group.

See how your favorite bands did...


The Truth About ‘Gifted’ Versus High-Achieving Students

From Loudoun Now
Gifted students, on the other hand, may or may not earn high marks in school depending on a host of factors including their interest in the subject being taught, their respect for the depth of knowledge the teacher possesses and even their level of physical comfort in the classroom. Gifted students often frustrate teachers because they don’t quite live up to their potential, especially in classes that are too easy for them. Gifted children often have poor executive function skills so they lose homework and don’t know how to study for exams. Many gifted children have few friends because of their esoteric interests. Sometimes these students feel so isolated that they become depressed … even suicidal. A surprisingly large number of gifted students drop out of high school and never make it to college, despite their high innate intelligence.

While all children have gifts, not all children are “gifted” as defined by researchers and educators around the globe. The most commonly used definition is as follows: “Giftedness is asynchronous development in which advanced cognitive abilities and heightened intensity combine to create inner experiences and awareness that are qualitatively different from the norm. This asynchrony increases with higher intellectual capacity. The uniqueness of the gifted renders them particularly vulnerable and requires modifications in parenting, teaching and counseling in order for them to develop optimally.” (The Columbus Group, 1991)

What this means is that gifted children have ‘special needs’ that the typical classroom teacher does not have the bandwidth or training to address. This is why school districts go to great lengths to identify gifted students—these kids require special support in order for them to stay engaged in the learning process.


Arizona: Parents Use Voucher Money for Personal Purchases, Not Education

From Diane Ravitch
Arizona’s State Auditor identified more than $700,000 in voucher money that was mis-spent for cosmetics, music, movies, clothing, sports apparel, and other personal items. Some even tried to withdraw cash with their state-issued debit cards. The state has not recovered any of the money. The legislature passed a bill to expand the voucher program, which gives parents a debit card for their e Peres, to every student in the state. Auditing will be even more difficult. Millions will be wasted. And many of the state’s children will go without an education.


Failing Brown v. Board of Education

From Curmudgucation
It's like you have twenty kids in a cafeteria, and ten sit down with a steak dinner and the other ten get bowls of cold oatmeal, and when someone complains about it, a bunch of folks pop up to propose some complex system by which one of the oatmeal kids will be sent out to a restaurant across town. No! Just get back out in the kitchen and use the same tools and supplies that you demonstrably already have to make steak dinners for the rest of the kids.

The report quotes NEA president Lily Eskelsen-Garcia saying, in part, "Until you can say every school looks like your best public school, we have not arrived."


More students want to go to popular IPS magnet schools, but they still face barriers to getting in

From Chalkbeat
...the report also shows that some inequities in Indianapolis Public Schools still persist: There still aren’t enough seats at the city’s most sought-after magnet programs to meet the increasing demand. At three out of six of the popular Center for Inquiry and Butler University Laboratory schools, which are mostly clustered in more affluent neighborhoods, only those who live closest could get in last fall during the first round of admissions — and they claimed most of those schools’ open seats.


What’s Wrong with America’s Schools? David Berliner Blames America’s Failure to Eradicate Child Poverty

From Jan Resseger
Despite lots of evidence about why we shouldn’t use test scores as a measure of school quality, for nearly twenty years, government programs like No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top have taught people to judge public schools by their standardized test scores. Last week the Washington Post‘s Valerie Strauss published an in-depth reflection by David Berliner on what standardized test scores really measure. David Berliner is an expert, a Regents’ professor emeritus at Arizona State University, former president of the American Educational Research Association, and former dean of the College of Education at Arizona State.

Berliner is blunt in his analysis: “(T)he big problems of American education are not in America’s schools. So, reforming the schools, as Jean Anyon once said, is like trying to clean the air on one side of a screen door. It cannot be done! It’s neither this nation’s teachers nor its curriculum that impede the achievement of our children. The roots of America’s educational problems are in the numbers of Americans who live in poverty. America’s educational problems are predominantly in the numbers of kids and their families who are homeless; whose families have no access to Medicaid or other medical services. These are often families to whom low-birth-weight babies are frequently born, leading to many more children needing special education… Our educational problems have their roots in families where food insecurity or hunger is a regular occurrence, or where those with increased lead levels in their bloodstream get no treatments before arriving at a school’s doorsteps. Our problems also stem from the harsh incarceration laws that break up families instead of counseling them and trying to keep them together. And our problems relate to harsh immigration policies that keep millions of families frightened to seek out better lives for themselves and their children...


Mike Pence’s Fake Rabbi Was a Defrocked Fake Rabbi: A Fake Fake Rabbi

From Diane Ravitch
Mike Pence held a rally in Michigan. He wanted to show his respect to the victims of the massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. The “rabbi” invited to speak was not Jewish. He was a convert to Christianity and part of a group called “Jews for Jesus,” which seeks to convert Jews to Christianity.

But now it turns out that he was defrocked as a “rabbi.”

He was not only a fake rabbi, he was a fake fake rabbi.


Betsy DeVos’ Family Gives $2 Million to Far-Right Candidates

From Diane Ravitch
“Even by the loose standards of U.S. campaign finance laws—and President Donald Trump’s blatant corruption—the donations by the family members of a Cabinet official have been brazen. In February 2018, Richard DeVos, Secretary DeVos’ father-in-law, gave $1 million to the Freedom Partners Action Fund—a political action fund that has long been associated with far-right causes. Over the past year, the DeVos family has also given $350,000 to the Republican Congressional Leadership Fund and another $400,000 to the Republican National Committee.

“The DeVoses have also donated to specific candidates for federal and state office. Wisconsin’s far-right firebrand, Gov. Scott Walker (R), for example, has received more than $635,000 over the past decade from the DeVos family—including $30,000 in 2018. Bill Schuette, Michigan’s Republican attorney general who is running for governor, received almost $40,000 over the past year.


Lawmakers must stand with our public schools

From John Stoffel in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
The most disheartening conversation I have had in over 25 years of elementary education was with a mother of a student. She introduced me to her son in this manner: “This is Joseph (not his real name). He's a bad kid. I don't like him and I don't know what to do with him. He's your problem now. I go to court next week, and I think I'll just ask the judge to take him.”

Two things were clear to me after listening to these comments. First, Joseph was not a “bad kid.” Second, most of Joseph's problems were caused by his mother's actions. One may even be inclined to feel anger toward his mother. I know I did. I suppressed my emotions because I knew her son needed my full attention and support.

The mother's casting blame on a “problem” of her own creation is analogous to Republican state Rep. Jim Lucas's response to the results of Indiana's standardized testing scores: “What the hell are we doing, putting government in charge of educating our children?”

One would hope that Lucas' response is that of an outlier. However, since the tenured supermajority tend to vote in lockstep with Lucas, his words unveil an entity that seems to have a complete disdain for public education. Public schools should be viewed as a common good, but similar to Joseph's mother, the Republican-controlled legislature seems to have a distorted perspective of their duty and of the results of their decisions.

On educational policies, the Republican super-majority has voted to add layers of stifling bureaucracy, create departments to circumvent the state superintendent, and divest hundreds of millions of dollars from public school districts to support “choice” – an unfounded ideology.


Friday, November 2, 2018

Vic’s Election Notes on Education #46– November 1, 2018

Dear Friends,

“Vic’s Election Notes on Education” contain commentaries on election candidates and my personal candidate endorsements.
There is no link between “Vic’s Election Notes on Education” and any organization.


The biggest threat to public education in Indiana is Education Savings Accounts (ESA’s).

ESA’s are in line with Milton Friedman’s plan to do away with public education. His plan was to stop funding public schools and instead give the money to parents.

This radical proposal was thoroughly rejected in the Indiana Senate in 2017. Now two candidates, one in Indiana House District 59 and one in House District 17, want to resurrect ESA legislation. They should be actively opposed in this election by all who support public education.

In this election season, candidates are listening to voters. Voters should let all candidates for the Indiana General Assembly know that Education Savings Accounts are a terrible idea (see below) and any candidate supporting ESA’s will lose their vote.

[Please note: Indiana Code 3-14-1-17 says that government employees including public school employees may not “use the property of the employee’s government employer to” support the “election or defeat of a candidate” and may not distribute this message “on the government employer’s real property during regular working hours.” Ironically, the law does not prevent private school employees from using computers purchased with public voucher money to distribute campaign materials. Private schools now financed in part by public voucher dollars have retained all rights under Indiana’s voucher laws to engage in partisan political campaigns.]

House District 59 – An open seat after the retirement of Representative Milo Smith

In House District 59 (a large portion of Bartholomew County), I oppose ESA supporter Ryan Lauer, a Republican. I endorse his opponent Columbus North math teacher Dale Nowlin, a Democrat, and I urge all who support public education to do so as well.

Ryan Lauer tried to oust incumbent Republican Representative Milo Smith in the 2016 primary election, saying at the time that his primary reason for running was to bring ESA’s to Indiana. Without explaining that diverting the dollars from public schools would hurt the education of all current public school students and without saying that any student who meets the income guidelines can already go to a private school with a voucher, Mr. Lauer wrote in his January 28, 2016 candidacy announcement that “I will sponsor legislation to bring Education Savings Accounts to Indiana which place more power and greater choice in the hands of parents so that each child has the opportunity to attend the school that works best for them regardless of income.”

He apparently wants to have taxpayers pay the private school tuition for wealthy families and also for home schools, which would be a new and expensive step with no accountability for student outcomes and with a clear potential for fraud. His 2018 website has nearly identical words supporting Education Savings Accounts.

House District 17 – Now held by incumbent Representative Jack Jordan

In House District 17 (all of Marshall County and a large portion of Fulton County), I endorse Michelle Livinghouse over incumbent Representative Jack Jordan in order to stop the attack on public education through ESA’s, and I urge all who support public education to do so as well.

Representative Jordan, a Republican, said in October 2018 in an interim study committee that he supports ESA’s for students with special needs and is considering new ESA legislation, according to a an article in Chalkbeat (Oct. 4, 2018).

We’ve been down this path before. Voters need to speak out now against ESA’s.

The concept of “Educational Savings Accounts” for special education students, which candidates Lauer and Jordan now want to resurrect, was thoroughly rejected in 2017 in Senate Bill 534. The concept is so detrimental to high educational standards and to maintaining accountability with public tax money that it should be abandoned outright as soon as possible.

Why are Educational Savings Accounts so detrimental to education standards in Indiana and to accountability?
1) ESA’s would give public money on a debit card to parents who sign an agreement to educate their child in “reading, grammar, mathematics, social studies and science.” That’s all! It’s a narrow, unregulated, skimpy education. No art, no music, no physical education, no health, no vocational subjects. This would absolutely lower standards for students just as standards for public school students are being raised to higher levels.

2) The plan includes no obligation for annual testing or evaluation or public accountability of student achievement. This is just wrong and in total contrast to testing and accountability in Indiana law.

3) The plan would give public money to high income parents of special education and Section 504 students. This would remove all income limits for this form of voucher. This vast expansion led LSA in 2017 to cite the bill cost as “between $144 million and $206 million.”

4) The plan would give the basic per pupil amount plus the entire amount of public money for special education students directly to parents, paving the way for the real goal detailed in HB 1591 in the 2015 session to give the entire amount of public money to parents of all students on a debit card. These bills to privatize schooling would immediately divert money away from our public school students and over time would undermine funding for all students in both public schools and private voucher schools. This bill undermines the very concept of schools.

5) The plan would allow parents to home school their child with public money, paying for an approved provider, for a tutor and for textbooks. Public school parents would surely like to have the state pay for their textbooks as well, but public school parents must pay their own textbook rental.

6) The plan would give tax money to parents without strong provisions for fraud protection and no defined penalties for fraud. Parents with past records of crime or neglect or abuse are not excluded.

7) While public schools are pushed to ever higher standards, individual families would be allowed by this plan to adopt lower standards. That is not right.
If this concept is not decisively rejected, it will confirm the theory that all of the standards and testing regulations heaped upon our public schools have just been techniques to make privatized vouchers and savings accounts look attractive to individual parents, giving them an incentive to leave the public schools or even the voucher schools to run home schools or independent schools with taxpayer money.

This bill’s concept is based on Milton Friedman’s plan to end community public schools. It should be totally and promptly rejected. This concept is too radical and potentially damaging for any further action.

I urge all public school advocates to share your opposition to ESA’s with your own candidates for the Indiana General Assembly. Between now and Tuesday’s election, candidates will be listening and trying to get your vote. This is the best time to secure their opposition to ESA’s in the coming session.

Then share your concerns with voters you may know in District 59 to support Dale Nowlin and with voters you may know in District 17 to support Michelle Livinghouse.

ESA’s would put public education in Indiana into a death spiral. Your efforts can prevent that outcome. If public education is going to survive in Indiana, voters will make all the difference.

Thank you for actively supporting public education!

Best wishes,

Vic Smith

There is no link between “Vic’s Election Notes on Education” and any organization. Please contact me at to add an email address or to remove an address from the distribution list.

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.