Monday, December 10, 2018

In Case You Missed It – Dec 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.


Can students pray in public schools? Can teachers say ‘Merry Christmas’? What the law allows -- and forbids.

From The Answer Sheet
Can students pray inside their public school buildings? Can teachers say “Merry Christmas” to their students? Can religious music be played in public schools?

Yes, yes and yes.

There has been a great deal of misunderstanding about what is allowed and not allowed when it comes to religious expression in public schools ever since the U.S. Supreme Court banned school-sponsored prayer in public schools in a landmark 1962 decision, saying that it violated the First Amendment. In fact, in 1995, then-President Bill Clinton issued a memo titled “Religious Expression in Public Schools,” that said in part:

It appears that some school officials, teachers and parents have assumed that religious expression of any type is either inappropriate, or forbidden altogether, in public schools.


Looking for a Grand Slam at the Bottom of the 9th!


NEIFPE's co-founder, Phyllis Bush, writes about her battle with cancer. We are proud of her strength and courage.
Whether it is taking a kid to the zoo or to Zesto for ice cream, whether it is writing a letter to your legislators, whether it is running for office, whether it is supporting your favorite charity, DO IT!

Monday morning quarterbacks are of little use to anyone.

Whatever you do, live your life to the fullest. Once again, do what matters to you.


Proposal would move away from school grades

From School Matters
Indiana would eliminate A-to-F school grades from its accountability system for the federal Every Student Succeeds Act under a proposal from the Indiana Department of Education. Does that mean school grades would go the way of the one-room schoolhouse? Not yet; grades will still be part of the separate state accountability system. But the department’s proposal is a step in the right direction and away from this overly simplistic way of evaluating and labeling schools and school districts.

Indiana StatehouseThe proposal, an amendment to Indiana’s ESSA plan, is open for public comment until Dec. 21. Once it’s submitted by the state, hopefully in January, the U.S. Department of Education will have 90 days to decide whether to approve it.


Education Law Center Calls for End to State Takeovers in New Jersey

From Diane Ravitch
State Takeovers of districts with low scores have been a disaster. The reason for low scores is always high poverty, and the state takeover doesn’t change that fact. State after state has adopted this strategy and failed. Turns out that the folks in the State Education Department are not magicians.

The Education Law Center, a civil rights group, calls for an end to the charade in New Jersey.


Florida: Charter School Closes Without Notice to Parents or Students or Teachers

From Diane Ravitch
Charter schools open and close like day lilies. The entrepreneurs lobby legislators to get money and tax breaks. They pay teachers as little as they have to. They siphon money away from public schools, which are stable fixtures in their community.


Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb proposes pumping brakes on teacher pay, cutting performance bonuses

The legislature, with the help and encouragement of previous governors has already allowed teacher pay to slip more than 15% over the last 15 years when adjusted for inflation. They have stripped teachers of their seniority, reduced collective bargaining, and basically done whatever they could to make teaching in Indiana less than attractive.

So, of course, Governor Holcomb wants to "study" teacher pay to see if Indiana can afford to educate their children. NOTE: Indiana has spent more than half a billion dollars on school vouchers and haven't heard anything from the Governor about studying that boondoggle for religious schools.

And we wonder why there is a shortage.

From Chalkbeat
As educators and lawmakers call for increases in teacher pay, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb is suggesting a far more measured approach, potentially tempering expectations that meaningful raises could be possible in the coming two years.

In his legislative agenda announced Thursday, Holcomb proposed devoting 2019 to studying teacher pay...


George H. W. Bush: A Tribute and a Happy Memory of My Time in D.C.

From Diane Ravitch
I’m in an airplane, flying from NYC to L.A., where I will attend the annual dinner of LAANE, the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy. This group fought for and won a battle to raise the minimum wage. I believe and hope they will join the struggle to support public schools and save them from the clutches of the billionaires.

As I fly, I’m watching the state funeral of President George H.W. Bush. The services are very moving. People speak of his decency, his sense of honor, his humility, his dignity, his loyalty to friends and family, his patriotism, his sense of duty and courage (he volunteered for combat duty in World War II right out of high school). Trump is sitting in the front row, scowling and looking uncomfortable. It’s not about him.


2 Gary School Board members expected to resign; others considering leaving

From the Chicago Tribune
The remaining board members could appoint new members if resignation letters are tendered, according to a state takeover law that stripped authority from the board, relegating it to an advisory body.

...In addition to removing all authority from the school board and giving it to an emergency manager, the state took per diem meeting pay and the annual $2,000 stipend from elected board members.

Ex-school chief's ties to contractor rankle Gary lawmakers

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
Former state schools chief Tony Bennett disappeared from Indiana's education scene after his 2012 re-election defeat. Even when he returned to the state after a brief stint in Florida's top education post, Bennett kept a low profile.

But his name surfaced where he is not welcome – Gary, Indiana. A subsidiary of the consulting firm he's now associated with has been paid nearly $4.2 million to manage the distressed Gary Community School Corp. Gary lawmakers Vernon Smith and Eddie Melton have called for the contract with MGT Consulting Group to be dissolved, charging Bennett played a role in creating the school district's financial problems.

“It can be reasonably argued that Tony Bennett played a substantial role in putting Gary schools into the mess that it finds itself by championing policies that treated public schools like second-class citizens in favor of charters, vouchers and home schools,” Smith said.

Gary Lawmakers Call For New School Emergency Management Contract

From WFYI Indianapolis
Sen. Eddie Melton (D-Gary) and Rep. Vernon Smith (D-Gary) say former Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett’s ties to the management firm illustrate a lack of transparency from the state and raise concerns about his potential influence in the recovering district.

Hoosiers voted Bennett out of office after his first term, and critics say it’s because he supported policy changes favoring school vouchers and charter schools. Public education advocates say those changes ultimately and drastically harmed public schools.

Now, Bennett sits on the board of directors for the consulting group tied to the management firm working to fix the Gary schools’ budget, MGT Consulting.


Who should replace Lewis Ferebee as superintendent of Indianapolis Public Schools?

It would be nice if this time they would hire someone who cares about the community and not about their career or about choice options for a chosen few.

From Chalkbeat
Indianapolis’ education community is already mulling what kind of leader should replace Superintendent Lewis Ferebee, who announced Monday that he’s leaving to head D.C. public schools.

With the 31,000-student school district in a state of flux, school board members and advocates say there is no time to waste. The district closed high schools last year. Two candidates opposed to innovation schools — the group of charter and charter-like schools managed by outside operators that was one of Ferebee’s main achievements — were recently elected to the school board. And despite the passage of a referendum to send more taxpayer money to schools, more large cuts are looming.


Wealth Redistributed

From Linda Lyon at RestoreReason.com
I offer that the redistribution of wealth can also flow the other way as with the privatization of our public schools. Those who already “have” are redistributing the “wealth” of those who “have not”. They do this by encouraging the siphoning of taxpayer monies from our district public schools, for charters, home and private schools. Once slated for the education of all, our hard-earned tax dollars are now increasingly available to offset costs for those already more advantaged.


Los Angeles: Our Public Schools Are Not for Sale!

From Diane Ravitch
This full-page ad appeared in the Los Angeles Times a few days ago. It was paid for by the United Teachers of Los Angeles.


Carroll offers plan on graduation rules

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
Carroll High School Principal Brandon Bitting knows the state's new graduation requirements can be overwhelming.

That's why he plans to ease families into the expectations at freshman orientation in February. He plans to take a “bite-size” approach in explaining the mandates.

“I don't want to panic people,” Bitting told the Northwest Allen County Schools board Monday.

Thursday marks a year since the State Board of Education voted 7-4 to institute additional graduation requirements despite hours of testimony against the plan.


IPS Superintendent Lewis Ferebee Named Next Leader At Washington D.C. Schools

From WFYI Indianapolis
IPS Superintendent Lewis Ferebee was named as the next leader of Washington, D.C. public schools today by the mayor.

This new high profile position will hold national influence as Ferebee will likely continue his work started in Indianapolis five years ago to turnaround struggling schools. He's expected to start this position full-time on January 31st. Ferebee will be paid a base salary of $280,000 but he still needs to be confirmed by the council of the District of Columbia.


Monday, December 3, 2018

In Case You Missed It – Dec 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.


Education Rebranders

From Gary Rubinstein
The ‘reformers’ had a pretty good run. From about 2008 until just recently ‘reformers’ had their way. With Race To The Top they got states to invent complicated, though supposedly objective, ways to measure teacher quality by analyzing standardized test scores. Bill Gates funded many studies to show that this was working. But after ten years, it became clear that the ‘reformers’ didn’t really know much about improving education and maybe they didn’t deserve to have the steering wheel anymore.


Indianapolis’s Lewis Ferebee a finalist for D.C. schools chief job, sources say

Ferebee wants to walk away from the mess he helped create in Indianapolis.

From Chalkbeat
His candidacy is the latest signal that Ferebee, who has become a fixture of certain national education-policy discussions over his five years in Indianapolis, is preparing to leave the city for a larger district. He was in the running for the top post in Los Angeles earlier this year, though he eventually withdrew.

Ferebee’s job in Indianapolis may be about to get more difficult: Two critics of the district’s current direction were recently elected to the school board. And while tax measures to give the school system more money passed, the cash-strapped district is expected to make substantial cuts to its budget in the coming years.


Louisiana: The “Miracle School” That Was a Fraud

School "choice" means the school gets to choose.

From Diane Ravitch
About five weeks ago, I read a story online about a small private school in Louisiana whose students had a 100% college entry rate and were admitted to America’s most selective colleges and universities. It was truly a miraculous school, said the story, because its students were poor black children from adverse circumstances who were all too often struggling in public schools...

But now we know that none of its claims were true.


Hoosier Superintendents tell it like it is

We're glad that superintendents are speaking out. Hopefully they'll get a bit louder!

From Live Long and Prosper
"...I think we should go back to letting teachers teach. Let them be the professionals they were hired to be."

“We are teachers because we care about our students, but many of the laws being made are not done by those who have been educators themselves. An idea can look good in theory, but not fit in the classroom as you may think. Educating our children is our future..."


‘If we don’t learn from this one, shame on us’: Lessons from a Detroit charter school that was set up to fail

Perhaps the lesson to be learned here is that charters that can close and walk-away are NOT a good idea in any state.

From Chalkbeat
Two days before the homecoming game, the board voted to shut the school down — effective immediately.

When the meeting was over, dazed students spilled onto the sidewalk by the front door, many of them with tears still visible on their cheeks. A couple of students kicked down one of dozens of yard signs stuck in the grass by the sidewalk:

“Detroit Delta Preparatory Academy,” they read. “Now Enrolling 9th-12th grades.”


Students first: Another local charter proves ineffective

The General Assembly and State Board of Education jumped into "education reform." There has never been enough time for them to analyze what they have done to see if it works. This implies that the purpose of their moves towards privatization has never been about students and their achievement. It's all about the money.

From The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
Indiana is closing in on two decades of so-called school reform, with proponents continuing to claim more is needed. But the changes they've championed, beginning with the 2001 charter school law, now have a track record. A measure of the effectiveness of Indiana charter schools should include those opened in Fort Wayne, where another could soon be shut down. Of six charters opened here, only two would remain.

Thurgood Marshall Leadership Academy welcomed its first students in 2012 under the sponsorship of the Fort Wayne Urban League. It was among the first charters authorized by the Indiana Charter School Board, created by the Indiana General Assembly “to grow the supply of high-performing public charter schools throughout the state.”

From the start, Thurgood Marshall has been anything but high performing. Its first letter grade was an F, rising to a C for several years before dropping to a failing mark again in 2015-16. It received F's in both the state and federal grades issued most recently...


Colorado Springs School Board Rejects Mike Miles’ Charter School Proposal

From Diane Ravitch
Mike Miles, former superintendent of Dallas public schools and former superintendent of a Colorado district, was turned down by the Colorado Springs school board when he applied to open a charter school in a former Macy’s department store in a large shopping mall.

Miles led the Dallas district for three tumultuous years, during which time there was a sizable teacher exodus and stagnant test scores, which he had pledged to raise. Miles is a military man who attended the unaccredited Broad Superintendents Academy.


Students at Wilder High School in Idaho: Learning on iPads is a Hoax!

From Diane Ravitch
Ivanka Trump and Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, visited Wilder Elementary School to learn about the future of workforce preparation, which of course involves selling iPads to children in a K-6 school!

However, they did not speak to high school students in Wilder, Idaho, who are thoroughly disgusted with (de)personalized learning. Several protested the fraud that Wilder officials were selling to Ivanka and said they were not allowed to speak up.


Touting school grades bolsters dubious policy

From School Matters
Those of us who advocate for public schools tend to blame outside forces when we lament the move to grading schools on an A-to-F scale. In Indiana, we may blame former Gov. Mitch Daniels, former state Superintendent Tony Bennett, state legislators, business groups and others.

MCCSC bannerBut public schools and school districts have helped validate this questionable policy. When they brag about their own grades, they’re endorsing the system as a measure of school quality.

Some of what they’re doing is old-fashioned public relations. At a time when public education is under attack, schools and districts can point to high grades to defend their reputation. “See?” they’re saying. “Our schools aren’t ‘failing’ like some of those public schools you hear about.”

And as public schools compete for students with charter schools and private schools, they are likely trumpet any endorsement they get. After all, charter schools are doing it – for example, here and here and here.

But Indiana school grades are based mostly on test scores, and research suggests test scores tell us more about students’ socioeconomic status than about the effectiveness of their schools. At best, grading schools from A to F is simplistic. At worst, it does real harm by labeling schools and students.


Randi Responds to Betsy’s Lies on FOX News

From Diane Ravitch
I can’t wait until the House of Representatives begins to question Secretary DeVos about her reversal of civil rights protections, her reversal of federal protections for students with debt incurred at fraudulent for-profit colleges, and her continued efforts to destroy the federal role in protecting students, whether in K-12 or higher education. Instead of protecting those in need, she protects predators.


‘Indiana’s war on teachers is winning’: Here’s what superintendents say is causing teacher shortages

“It is clear that the efforts of Indiana’s General Assembly to devalue education as a profession has had a significant impact upon the teacher shortage.”

From Chalkbeat
“I believe the teacher shortage is due to the climate of education and the lack of government support as well as district support for teachers. Teachers have not been listened to or given the respect necessary to want to pursue careers. In our particular district, the constant negativity has caused a rift between campuses, and the negativity has created a hostile climate in which to work.”


25 laid off from Gary Roosevelt 2 days after school's first A grade announced

From The Times
Twenty-five teachers and support staff at Roosevelt College and Career Academy were laid off Nov. 16, just two days after learning their school was given an A in the State Board of Education's annual assessment.

EdisonLearning, a private organization contracted six years ago by the state to operate the school, said the layoffs came as a result of low enrollment numbers and an effort to improve overall school operations.


Republican Party in an Oklahoma county makes clear its opposition to public education

Why is it the GOP so lacks commitment to the common good?

From The Answer Sheet
The Republican Party in Canadian County in Oklahoma has expressed its desire for an end to public funding of education.

The party in Canadian — the fourth-largest county in the state — is sending a letter to the Oklahoma legislature calling for swift cuts in education funding. It says, “If public education shall continue as a state institution, we should move towards reducing its dependence on the tax structure by funding it through such means as sponsorships, advertising, endowments, tuition fees, etc.”

An earlier version of the letter, according to KFOR News 4, was more explicit: “A better pathway would be to abolish public education, which is not a proper role of government, and allow the free market to determine pay and funding, eliminating the annual heartache we experience over this subject.”

...While many Americans see the public education system as the nation’s most important civic institution, there are others, such as the GOP in Canadian County, who don’t believe funding education is a government function. They are at one end of the national debate on America’s schools and how they should be funded, which has taken on new urgency in recent years with growing attacks on public education and the rise of Betsy DeVos as U.S. education secretary under President Trump...