Monday, July 22, 2019

In Case You Missed It – July 22, 2019

Here are links to last week's 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.

Read about charter scandals from NPE


New Orleans: One of City’s Oldest Charter Organizations Closes Down Amid Multiple Scandals

From Diane Ravitch
After allegations of grade-fixing and a major fiasco involving class credits that left dozens of students unable to graduate, the public charter board overseeing John F. Kennedy High voted Thursday night to surrender its charters to operate both of its schools.

The surrender of the charters, which will take place at the end of the 2019-20 school year, was approved unanimously by the New Beginnings Schools Foundation board.

The decision stemmed from a lengthy investigation into management problems at the charter network that led earlier to the resignation of its CEO, career educator Michelle Blouin-Williams, and the firing of five high-ranking administrators at Kennedy…


‘Teaching penalty’ large in Indiana

From School Matters
The salary gap between teachers and comparable professionals is larger in Indiana than in most other states, according to a new report from researchers at the Rutgers Graduate School of Education and the Albert Shanker Institute.

The report, “School Finance and Teacher Pay Competitiveness,” supports the argument that Hoosier teachers have fallen behind their peers in other states, despite Indiana’s healthy state budget.


Harvard graduate tapped to be South Bend schools’ empowerment zone chief

From the South Bend Tribune
Cheryl Nneka Camacho, who recently earned a doctoral degree in educational leadership at Harvard University, has been tapped to become director of the empowerment zone that is managing five struggling schools in the South Bend Community School Corp.

At a meeting early Wednesday, the seven-member empowerment zone board unanimously voted to approve a letter to Camacho offering her the job.


Pay grade: Teachers get minimal input on raises

As usual, teachers aren't invited to participate in a commission which has an impact on, and directly impacts them.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
Gov. Eric Holcomb's teacher pay commission seems determined to do its work without interference by, well – teachers. After the seven-member panel, which includes no teachers, met for months in secret, it finally scheduled three public input sessions. But the meetings begin after most teachers return to school.


Democrat, schools chief in city to talk education: McCormick says it's become big business

McCormick and Melton agree that public education is bipartisan!

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
Jennifer McCormick, the state schools chief, said she agreed with Melton during their joint appearance in Fort Wayne.

“You've got a lot of money on the line” in education funding, McCormick said. “You've got a lot of lobbyists and a lot of people who are making a lot of money. I mean, it's a big business.

“I would argue in Indiana it's kind of the Wild, Wild West of choice,” she said. “In other states, there's more parameters around it, there's more quality controls around it. And we've tried to push that.”


Bill Phillis: Who Is Protecting Imam Gulen?

From Diane Ravitch
For reasons unknown to the public, the U.S. government gave Turkish Islamic leader Fethullah Gulen asylum several years ago. Gulen operates his worldwide religious/political movement from Saylorsburg PA. His movement includes nearly 200 tax-supported charter schools which help fuel a vast business/political/religious enterprise in the U.S.


D.C.: Famed Philanthropist Jeffrey Epstein Endorses Charter School Dominance In D.C.

From Diane Ravitch
To understand the charter industry, you must appreciate that it is driven by extremely wealthy people and has no grassroots. It has mastered the arts of marketing and branding, but does not have a plan to improve education other than to draw students and resources away from public education, which belongs to all of us.

People often ask me, “Why do the super-rich cluster to the cause of privatization?” The Answer is not simple because many different motives are at work. Some see giving to charters as a charitable endeavor, and their friends assure them that they are “giving back,” helping poor children escape poverty. Others want to impress their friends in their social strata, their colleagues in the world of high finance. Being a supporter of charter schools is like belonging to the right clubs, going to the right parties, sharing a cause with other very rich people.


Monday, July 15, 2019

In Case You Missed It – July 15, 2019

Here are links to last week's 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.


Your tax dollars at work. The big news last week was the loss of $40 million to virtual charter schools in Indiana. BJ Watts, chair of the State Board of Education, wondered, "How did we miss this?"

The blame for this situation is squarely on the backs of the legislators (and those who elected them) for setting up a system with a glaring lack of built-in oversight, in order to bolster a choice system that both fails to educate and steals funding for resources from our public schools.

It also reminds us of the $91 million in loans from the state to failed charter operators that was forgiven in 2013.

Maybe it is time to rethink funding any charters at all!

Indiana: State Tries to Recover $40 Million from Virtual Charter Frauds

From Diane Ravitch
Indiana is one of the state’s that has been all in for choice. One of the choices pushed by former governors Mitch Daniels and Mike Pence is Virtual Charter Schools. These are online schools that allegedly enroll home-schoolers or students who prefer not to attend a Brick-and-mortar school.

Study after study has found that these online schools have high attrition, low test scores, and low graduation rates. However they are very profitable since their operators are paid far more than their actual costs.

The name of their game is enrollment, since their costs decline as enrollment grows, and they must constantly replace those who drop out.

Unfortunately, the incidence of fraud is high since the online schools are seldom auidited.

Indiana is currently trying to recover $40 million from two online charter corporations and their authorizer, which was stolen by inflating enrollments.

2 virtual schools' misdeeds stun state: Charters' inflated data drew millions in funding

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
That was the question on everyone's minds during Wednesday's State Board of Education meeting discussing two virtual charter schools that vastly inflated enrollment numbers and took millions in undeserved state funding.

Also, a deceased student was found on the rolls, according to a state audit, as were other students who had been removed years before.

Board Chairman B.J. Watts asked the question as members seemed perplexed by the depth of the problems. This was despite stories going back several years from news publication Chalkbeat Indiana about staggering enrollment growth and a limited number of teachers at the schools.

‘How did we miss this?’ Indiana officials blast lack of oversight in $40M virtual school scandal

From Chalkbeat
Facing a $40 million enrollment scandal at two virtual charter schools, Indiana State Board of Education chairman B.J. Watts had a big question at a meeting Wednesday:

“How did we miss this?”

The question tipped off a round of finger-pointing. The schools’ oversight agency, Daleville Community Schools, bore the brunt of the board’s blame for the online schools’ alleged abuse of millions in public dollars.

But Indiana Virtual School and Indiana Virtual Pathways Academy officials remained quiet. The schools’ superintendent Percy Clark watched the discussion from the audience but offered no public comments and later declined to answer questions from Chalkbeat

State could seek $40M after probe finds Indiana Virtual School inflated enrollment — even counting a student who had died

From Chalkbeat
Two school years after a student died, Indiana Virtual School kept him on its rolls and received state funding to educate him.

Five years after two students moved to Florida, they reappeared on enrollment records for Indiana Virtual School and its sister school.

And nearly every one of the more than 900 students kicked out of Indiana Virtual School and its sister school in the 2017-18 school year for being inactive were re-enrolled the next school year, included in per-pupil funding calculations that netted the two online schools more than $34 million in public dollars last year.

These were among the ways that Indiana Virtual School and Indiana Virtual Pathways Academy allegedly inflated their enrollment to at least twice its actual size, according to the findings of a state examiner’s investigation released Monday.


In budget pie, public schools given crumbs: Accountability still scant at virtual, charter sites

State Representative Phil GiaQuinta (D-Fort Wayne) has some words about lack of accountability.

From State Rep. Phil GiaQuinta in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
...nearly half of the education portion of the funding pie – baked with your taxpayer dollars – is giving unaccountable virtual schools a public funding increase of 15%, privately run charter schools a public funding increase of more than 20%, and privately run voucher schools a public funding increase of nearly 15% over the next two years.

Meanwhile, traditional public schools will see a funding increase of just about 2% each year, which narrowly hovers above the change in the cost of living – commonly known as the rate of inflation – from one year to the next.

Many schools, including Fort Wayne Community Schools, won't even reach that 2% threshold.

Mercedes Schneider: Corey Booker’s Brother Was Surprised When Tennessee Expected His Charters to be Accountable

From Diane Ravitch
Mercedes Schneider wrote a post about Cory Booker’s brother, Cary, who opened two charter schools in Tennessee with an ally. His application had lofty goals. He pledged that 95% of his students would score proficient on state tests. He and his partner were astonished when the state took their promise seriously.


Despite Cruel Conditions at the Border and Threatened ICE Raids, Educators Across U.S. Strive to Serve Immigrant Children

From Jan Resseger
There is a disconnect between the education policy debates and what is really happening in public schools. In Wednesday’s NY Times, Miriam Jordan captured that reality. Jordon’s story describes public school educators’ work across the country to serve the needs of children whose schooling has been delayed and interrupted by the journeys they and their families have undertaken.

While legislators have been haggling over the state budgets that generally underfund our public schools, and while our U.S. Secretary of Education and her fellow advocates promote various kinds of school vouchers and privately operated charter schools, Jordan describes the hard work of school district professionals trying to serve the needs of immigrant students who may worry about threatened ICE raids, who may have survived harrowing border crossings, or who may have endured long stays in the detention centers where children are being warehoused.


Melton and McCormick launch their bipartisan listening tour with conversations about charters, pay, and diversity

Nice to see that someone is listening! But high time for politicians in our state to stop listening to charter and voucher supporters. If you have a chance to attend one of these listening sessions, please make sure to stress how important PUBLIC education is!

From Chalkbeat
Democratic Senator Eddie Melton told a crowd of more than 100 people Thursday that good education policy only happens when public officials ask for help: From the experts, yes, but also from the communities that will be affected.

So when Melton decided last month to launch an exploratory committee around a potential bid for governor, he asked State Superintendent Jennifer McCormick, a Republican, to join him on a statewide listening tour to explore Indiana education policy. Their bipartisan collaboration drew curiosity and, among Indiana GOP leaders, criticism. Some of her critics say McCormick is vying to become Melton’s running mate.


Angie Sullivan: The Great Charter Scam in Nevada

From Diane Ravitch
Angie Sullivan teaches children in a Title 1 elementary school in Las Vegas. Many of her children are poor and don’t speak English. Her school is underfunded. Angie frequently sends blast emails to every legislator in the state, as well as journalists. She refuses to allow them to ignore her students, while they cater to the whims of billionaire casino owners, like the chair of the state board of education.


Mitchell Robinson: Tax Credits Are a Zombie Idea

From Diane Ravitch
Mitchell Robinson of Michigan State explains why “tax credit scholarships” are a zombie idea. They are consistently rejected by voters, they fail to educate students, yet they never die.


Monday, July 8, 2019

In Case You Missed It – July 8, 2019

Here are links to last week's 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.


Jennifer McCormick: Proud to work in bipartisan manner instead of partisan posturing

The last elected State Superintendent of Public Instructions is traveling around the state pushing for bipartisanship in education policy!

From the Muncie Star Press
...This bi-partisan approach positions Indiana to become a national leader in opposition to an unflattering hyperpartisan environment. The Hoosier Community Conversations model is a purposeful and positive collaboration in the spirit of student success. Sen. Melton understands our state’s educational landscape and the inefficient, expensive governance structure. Thus, he is eager to build on successes and find solutions to the concerns of Hoosiers. He appreciates the Indiana Department of Education’s aggressive strategic plan, which explains much of the State’s impressive results and national attention. Yet, Senator Melton is also aware of the challenges our students, educators, schools, and employers continue to face...


All schools using public dollars need to account for their spending.

Letter: Lack of voucher school accountability appalling

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette Letters
How can anyone justify the compensation of the founder of the failed Horizon Christian Academy, comprising 300 students, making more than the superintendent of FWCS, the largest school system in Indiana with 30,000?

This same co-founder is being allowed to open a new, faith-based school using the voucher program ... how ludicrous! What a travesty that we put profit above the real needs of children.


Catch up: Four takeaways from the Democratic presidential forum on education

Only three of the eleven Secretaries of Education have had any K-12 experience. It would be nice to have a career teacher in the position of Secretary of Education instead of political donors or cronies.

From Chalkbeat
...political winds have shifted in the union’s direction, with teachers’ strikes across the country drawing wide support and many Democratic voters and leaders souring on charter schools, most of which are not unionized. At the NEA’s Strong Public Schools 2020 forum, candidates vying for the endorsement of the powerful union took questions from NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. And while the candidates agreed on a lot, there were a few standout moments.

Here are four takeaways from the event.

1. More candidates agreed: The next education secretary must be an educator...

See also The Network for Public Education Action 2020 Presidential Candidates Project


When The Wall Of Separation Comes Down

From Curmudgucation
Here's what's going to happen. If you win the right to spend tax dollars on religious institutions (like, say, private schools), sooner or later you are going to be shocked to discover that your own tax dollars are supporting Sharia Law High School or Satan's Own Academy. And that's not going to be the end of it. Where resources are limited (there can only be, for instance, as many meeting opening prayers as there are meetings), some agency will have to pick winners and losers. Worst case scenario-- you get a government agency empowered to screen churches and religions. You can paper over it, as Kenai Peninsula apparently did, by turning it into a lottery (but what does it mean that God apparently let Satan's crew win that drawing).


A True American Patriot and a Hero of Public Education

From Diane Ravitch
What does it mean when the school system that you’ve poured your heart into doesn’t have the decency to consider a thoughtful transition plan before making the decision to close your school?

It means they never saw you as human in the first place.

It means that your job, then, is to make it impossible for them to look away from your humanity.


Koch Network Announces New Education Lobbying Group, Walton Funding Pact

From Education Week
Philanthropic groups associated with billionaire businessman and activist Charles Koch have announced two initiatives to deepen their involvement in K-12 education.


Ex-Governor Rick Snyder Will Not Teach at Harvard, as Backlash Grows Against Him

From Diane Ravitch
Michigan Ex-Governor Rick Snyder will not teach at Harvard,The outcry over Snyder’s role in the Flint water crisis made his position at Harvard untenable.

Former Gov. Rick Snyder has pulled out of a prestigious fellowship at Harvard University after the Ivy League school faced immense criticism for the governor’s track record in the Flint water crisis.


Debate puts ‘busing’ back in the news

From School Matters
U.S. courts have mostly abandoned school segregation, and it’s unlikely that politicians will call for a return to busing. But busing isn’t and never was the point. Research continues to show that students benefit, academically and socially, from attending diverse schools. And there are many methods, aside from busing, to promote integration, including purposeful drawing of school attendance boundaries, “controlled choice” programs and better policies for siting low-cost housing.

At the very least, candidates who profess to care about education should be addressing the fact that American schools have been growing more segregated by race, ethnicity and economic status, some 65 years after the Supreme Court ruled that “separate but equal” schools were inherently unconstitutional.


Letters: Voucher school charade draining tax dollars

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
Vouchers continue to strip Southwest Allen County, East Allen County, Northwest Allen County and Fort Wayne Community Schools of valuable resources. And our public-school teachers are required to meet a growing list of standards to serve all students, not just the ones they choose to serve, or those who share their religious beliefs.

It's time for the people who want less government and government spending to step up. Let's demand the state stop funneling tax dollars to the likes of Henline and Beasley for their failing schools and giant salaries.


Monday, July 1, 2019

In Case You Missed It – July 1, 2019

Here are links to last month's 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.

ICYMI will return to its weekly format beginning July 8, 2019.

* Editor's Choice













Monday, May 27, 2019

In Case You Missed It – May 27, 2019

Here are links to last week's 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.

(In Case You Missed It will take a one month hiatus. We'll be back in July. In the meantime, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.)


The Writer Who Couldn't Answer Standardized Test Questions About Her Own Work (Again)!

Advice from an author- “Teachers, don't waste time on test prep: you can't teach nonsense. Administrators, take the money you are spending on test prep and spend it on classroom libraries instead. There are no quick fixes. Kids need to read and write voluminously.”

From Curmudgucation
We are in standardized test season, and all across the country, students are taking the Big Standardized Test by which they, their schools, and their teachers will be judged. How absurd are these tests? Meet Sara Holbrook, the writer who couldn't answer test questions about her own work.

Back in 2017, Holbrook wrote an essay for Huffington Post entitled, "I Can't Answer These Texas Standardized Test Questions About My Own Poems." The writer had discovered that two of her poems were part of the Texas STAAR state assessment tests, and she was a bit startled to discover that she was unable to answer some of the questions.


French teacher is Southwest Allen Teacher of the Year

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
Under the pretense of an emergency staff meeting, Homestead High School French teacher Marius Sagnon gathered with his colleagues this morning only to learn they were there for a celebration.

Superintendent Phil Downs announced Sagnon was the Southwest Allen County Schools’ Teacher of the Year. The award honors, promotes and celebrates excellence in the teaching profession.


DeVos Actually Visited A Public School in Poway, California

From Diane Ravitch
Education Week reported that Betsy DeVos visited a public school in Poway, California, and the school was asked to keep the visit a secret so that the Secretary would not encounter hostile crowds of protesters, which might endanger the lives of students or staff or DeVos herself. Of course, DeVos was well guarded. She came with her special retinue of U.S. Marshals to protect her. NBC has estimated that her security team will have cost $20 million by September of 2019.


Homestead adopts cum laude system in place of valedictorian, salutatorian

A Fort Wayne high school will not name a valedictorian or salutatorian at its commencement ceremonies this year.

Instead, Homestead High School will move to a cum laude system similar to most colleges that honors students based on grade-point average levels. Homestead students can now earn a cum laude, sum cum laude or magna cum laude award.

Homestead Principal Park Ginder told WANE 15 that Southwest Allen County Schools first brought up the idea in 2014 as a way to encourage students to take a deeper, more rigorous or academically intense load of classes.

This will allow the school to honor more deserving students, instead of just two.

Signing day lauds future jobs

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
Nearly 50 students were hailed to be the foundation of the future Fort Wayne community as they signed letters of intent on Wednesday.

The event signified the completion of their select program at Fort Wayne Community Schools' Anthis Career Center and their commitment to a job.

The signing, modeled after events held for high school students marking their athletic commitment to a college, was for students who chose to go into career technical education after high school.


Public school teachers rally over funding: Aim to raise awareness of challenges

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
The “right of every public school student to have a quality public education,” as Lisa Hamblin said, was not the only thing the group was fighting for. The fact that the event was on what Rehrer called “easily the busiest intersection of downtown” was no coincidence.

“We want this community to understand the impact of what's going on,” Keim said. “We're trying to educate the community and tell them it's about their children and grandchildren, not just us (teachers).”

Though the event lasted from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., for [Cheryl] Keim and the event attendees, the fight has only just begun. “We're just getting started,” she said.
See also: Dozens join 'Teacher Work-In' to raise support for public schools


Hammond superintendent recommends shuttering 3 schools, cutting more than 130 positions by next year; school board to vote Tuesday

Staring down a projected $10.2 million deficit, the superintendent of the School City of Hammond made recommendations this week to close three elementary buildings and cut more than 130 positions districtwide by the start of next school year.


Northwest Indiana educators protest funding changes, new rules

The educators were upset about state funding changes that give more money to charter schools and vouchers to attend private schools, less for poverty-stricken schools and no raises for teachers; a new rule that teachers must get 15 externship hours to renew their licenses, to give them experience in the business world; and a state law that makes the superintendent an appointed rather than elected position.


Lawmakers leave teachers disrespected – again

In Letters to the Editor, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
In the last General Assembly session, House Enrolled Act 1002 was passed. It states that 15 hours of professional growth experience will be required for renewal of a license to be a teacher. This can come one of three ways, but can be shortened to two methods – an externship at a business or professional development partnered with a business to highlight the needs of the community.

Most teachers, including me, love our job. However, like most teachers, I have other jobs in the summer to supplement my income to make ends meet. It is the complete lack of comprehension, trust and value of us as people, let alone our jobs, for this measure to be passed. When are we supposed to do this? In the summer when we are working on next year's material? Or do we take winter or spring break to do that as well and tell our families, “Sorry, mom/dad has to go do stuff for work instead of being a family member.”

I would like to hear from a legislator to give me an example of another profession that makes its employees seek other professions/professionals to shadow for their own job – to supposedly make them better at it. I will even go one step further and invite each and every state legislator to come and have an externship with a teacher for a week, but keep in mind it has to be on your own time, not when you're supposed to be working. By your own ideas, that should make you better at your job, right?

...Greg Bierbaum

Fort Wayne


Pearson’s Plans for 2025: Make Sure You Are Seated When You Read This

From Diane Ravitch
Pearson has plans for the future. Its plans involve students, education, and profits. Pearson, of course, is the British mega-publishing corporation that has an all-encompassing vision of monetizing every aspect of education.

Two researchers, Sam Sellar and Anna Hogan, have reviewed Pearson’s plans. It is a frightening portrait of corporate privatization of teaching and of student data, all in service of private profit.


Monday, May 20, 2019

In Case You Missed It – May 20, 2019

Here are links to last week's 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.


Indiana teachers required to complete externship to renew teaching license

No educators were interviewed by the legislature before they passed into law a requirement that teachers spend 15 hours learning how business works in "a company." Senator Kruse thinks that this will help students be ready for employment when they finish school. The assumption is, of course, that teachers don't have any idea how things work in the world outside of school.

If you read the article you'll see that the requirement is for any teacher wishing to renew their Indiana teaching license. It's questionable how this requirement is going to help students in kindergarten or first grade, for example, get a job 18 - 25 years later because their teacher had to spend 15 hours learning how "a company" works.

Just like standardized tests, one size does not fit all.

President of the Fort Wayne Education Association Julie Hyndman said Fort Wayne Community Schools teachers were blindsided by this law.

"It's another opportunity to demoralize public school teachers that the Indiana legislatures have continued to do, this year and most years prior," she said. "This is a complete insult."

Hyndman, an FWCS elementary school teacher of 24 years, said lawmakers don't understand educators and the hardships and business of their career.

She explained that teachers already participate in conferences, workshops and continuing education through their districts. She doesn't see any value in going to an outside source for professional development.

"At this point I don't see it," she said. "What I really wish is that legislators that make these kind of laws would make an externship in a public school themselves for an extended period of time."

Our FWCS students and teachers are already connected with the business community.

A middle school principal in Fort Wayne explains why legislators need to talk to actual teachers before they start making unneeded and inappropriate education laws.

From Principal Matt Schiebel on Facebook (Facebook account needed to read the entire post)
Our FWCS students and teachers are already connected with the business community. Each year, local businesses graciously send employees trained by Junior Achievement to spend an entire day in our classrooms teaching every student various aspects of business, economics, and entrepreneurship. During the first semester of this year, my son was enrolled in AP microeconomics at Snider High School, a course which rivaled the one I took in college.

Teachers and administrators do not need additional professional development to obtain a license; in fact, they don’t need obstacles of any kind, particularly in a state where we cannot find enough licensed teachers in the first place. Students are receiving instruction in business within the classroom, both from teachers and volunteers from the business community.

State legislators: If you would like to add 15 more hours to our plate every five years, please wisely budget your packed schedule so you can find 4 minutes a day to actually meet with and LISTEN to a teacher explain how lawmakers can tangibly support us as we work to educate our students to high standards...


Stay educated: Public schools need our ongoing, vocal support

Teachers, have you said, "I'm not political" or "I don't have time to get involved in politics"? Parents, do you know how the policies put in place by legislators in Indiana are affecting your child's school, classroom, and teacher?

Public education is political. We need to start supporting our public schools in the ballot box as well as the bake sale.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
In 1880, President James Garfield said: "Next in importance to freedom and justice is public education, without which neither freedom nor justice can be permanently maintained."


Lawmakers leave schools ill-prepared on mental ills

One more to thing to keep in mind when you think about who to vote for.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
Less than a year after a student shot a classmate and teacher at Noblesville Middle School, Gov. Eric Holcomb signed a school safety bill incorporating recommendations from a task force formed after the shooting.

“Every student, teacher and staff member deserves a safe school,” Holcomb said in a news release. “This new law is key to ensuring our schools are better prepared.”

Better prepared, perhaps. But not best prepared. Bowing to pressure from powerful conservative groups, legislative leaders stripped language from the bill that would have allowed school safety grant dollars for mental health services. Advance America, a special-interest group, claimed in a post-session message to followers that the legislation “would have forced students to answer very personal and inappropriate questions from a federal government survey about their sexual activity – without prior written parental consent!”


Teen finds her voice after brother's death: Junior wins state speech title

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
Captivating the Wayne High School student body isn't an easy task, but one morning this spring, junior Aliyah Armstrong hushed about 1,000 of her peers with a performance that earned her a state championship.

The 17-year-old combined poetry about street violence, incorporating the writings of others, with personal tragedy. Her brother Darius Marcel Boone, 14, died from a gunshot to his head just days before her birthday last spring.


Monday, May 13, 2019

In Case You Missed It – May 13, 2019

Here are links to last week's 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 policy deserves debate

Hoosiers, the next governor will appoint nine of eleven members of the Indiana State Board of Education. The voters no longer have any say in education policy making for the state, except through their vote for the governor.

From Jennifer McCormick in the Jeffersonville News and Tribune
Now more than ever, Hoosiers must hold all of Indiana’s elected leaders accountable. From the rhetoric of the campaign trail to the actions in governing, officials must be honest and transparent regarding their position surrounding K-12 policy. Stakeholders must be bold, direct, and persistent in our questioning and expectations for accountability. The 2020 gubernatorial race bears more weight in this new governance structure. Important decisions lie ahead for our state, and most importantly, our students. Education impacts all of us. Our children, families, educators, communities, and businesses deserve a strong, representative voice.


Op-ed: 'Is it any wonder that Indiana teachers are leaving?'

Rocky Killian, superintendent of West Lafayette Community School Corp., understands why Indiana's teaching force is dwindling.

From Lafayette Journal & Courier
If we want to keep our best teachers from leaving Indiana, and if we want to lure the best candidates into the teaching profession, parents and community supporters are going to have step up to support their teachers and public school systems. Also, if legislators are smart, they should be deeply concerned about the grass-roots support of teachers that is happening across the county. I have hope that this is going to happen in Indiana.


Glenda Ritz: Teacher pay hasn’t been priority for state since 2011

From Indianapolis Business Journal
Some 60 of the 289 public school districts will actually get less money in the 2019 budget funding formula due to stable or declining student enrollments. These districts will be hard-pressed to maintain their current programming for students. How are they going to raise teacher pay? Once again, many of the rural districts are hurt the most by this lack of action on the part of our Legislature.


Charter Schools Have a Big Problem, and Rebranding Won’t Help

From Peter Greene in the Progressive
Charters promised all sorts of miraculous educational achievements at low, low prices. But those achievements haven’t appeared. More people are understanding that what we’re really talking about is the privatization of our public school system.


Legislature Adds Additional Hurdle for Teacher Professional Growth Plans

The Indiana General Assembly sneaks in a requirement that teachers serve as local business interns for "the experience."

From the Indiana State Teachers Association
License holders starting a PGP for renewal in their Licensing Verification and Information System (LVIS) accounts after July 1, 2019 are required to complete 15 of the 90 PGP points required for renewal in one or more of these areas:

• An externship with a company;

• Professional development provided by the state, a local business, or a community partner that provides opportunities for school and employers to partner in promoting career navigation;

• Professional development provided by the state, a local business, or a community partner that outlines:

°current and future economic needs of the community, state, nation, and globe; and

°ways in which current and future economic needs described in (A) can be disseminated to students.


Teachers to DeVos: Please Resign

Actual teachers respond to DeVos's comments.

From Diane Ravitch
Betsy DeVos tweeted a thank you to teachers whose public schools she reviles.


Ten Thoughts on Teacher Appreciation

From Live Long and Prosper


The Problem With Tax Credit Scholarships

We, here in Indiana, need to understand that our GOP legislators are twisting the truth or lying. Curmudgucation explains it all with lunch.

From Curmudgucation
So when somebody (like, say, the Secretary of Education) tries to argue that this type of voucher doesn't take anything away from public education, understand that they are, at best, twisting the truth or, at worst, lying.


Maine Dumps Test-Centered Teacher Evaluation

It would certainly be nice if Hoosier legislators would also realize that coming after teachers with chainsaws has always been a bad idea. Good for Maine!

From Curmudgucation
Maine has broken with the status quo of test-centered accountability for teachers.
Beginning with No Child Left Behind, public schools have committed to test-centered accountability, using student results on a single standardized math and reading test to drive assessment of districts, schools and ultimately teachers. For years, the prevailing definition of a good teacher in this country has been one whose students score well on that standardized test.


Setback for Federal Charter Schools Program! DeVos Request for $500 Million Trimmed to $400 Million!

From Diane Ravitch
This is good news!

The House Appropriations Committee issued its budget report. Betsy DeVos requested an increase for the federal Charter Schools Program, from $440 million a year to $500 million. But the education appropriations subcommittee cut the appropriation to $400 million. This is a program that is riddled with waste, fraud, and abuse, as the Department of Education’s own Inspector General pointed out in the past, and as the Network for Public Education pointed out in its recent report called “Asleep at the Wheel: How the Federal Charter Schools Program Recklessly Takes Taxpayers and Students for a Ride.”


Betsy DeVos: ‘There is no such thing as public money’ and 5 other revealing things she just said -- or wouldn’t say

From the Answer Sheet
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos schooled education reporters Monday during a rare appearance at their convention in Baltimore, telling them that too many articles do not accurately portray her newest school choice program proposal. She also said that “public education” needs to be redefined and that “there is no such thing as public money.”


She lived a life of love and learning

Another tribute to NEIFPE's Phyllis Bush!

From the Fort Dodge (IA) Messenger
In the obituary, Bush wrote, “I am fortunate to be surrounded by family and friends whose love and support made me realize that there is good in the world, and it is worth fighting for. When you come to celebrate my life, you will meet people who have influenced my life and/or have been a major part of it. It is then that you will know who I am, and who I’ve been.”


Online folly deprives regional campuses

Mitch Daniels continues to mess with public dollars going to education...

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
In 2017, Purdue University, one of the most prestigious universities in the world, purchased the failing for-profit, on-line entity, Kaplan University. Purdue promised that Kaplan, renamed “Purdue Global,” would deliver a “world-class” education to a broader range of students.

Two years later, Purdue Global has lost millions of dollars, the Purdue system is bleeding its regional campuses dry, and the quality of education Purdue Global provides has seriously shortchanged the citizens of Indiana who were told they would be the first to benefit.


Monday, May 6, 2019

In Case You Missed It – May 6, 2019

Here are links to last week's 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.


BASIS Private Schools Sold to Chinese Investors, Parents Object

Public schools, run by a locally elected school board, provide stability, accountability, and transparency. Privately owned charter schools, which benefit from taxpayer funds, ought to have the same transparency and accountability. Charter schools are often opened where an additional school isn't needed, draining resources from the public schools. When they close, or like in this case, when they change owners, students and parents are left in limbo...without a voice.

From Diane Ravitch
More than 190 New York City families at the private Basis Independent Schools sent a letter to its leaders Monday to express concerns about its recent purchase by a company backed by a China-based investment firm.

The letter from parents at the Brooklyn site of Basis questioned whether the sale might prompt the school in Red Hook to change curriculum, lose teachers, boost tuition, increase class size and lose its reputation among top college admissions offices.


New York City: Betsy DeVos Praises Charters, Condemns Spending More on Public Schools

From Diane Ravitch
Betsy DeVos was honored by the rightwing Manhattan Institute. In her by now well-rehearsed speech, she ridiculed the idea of spending more money on public schools, and extolled school choice.


After years of debate, some stronger oversight of virtual schools signed into Indiana law

Clearly, cyber charters are a poor choice for students...even charter school advocacy groups question their value.

From Chalkbeat
The struggle to address Indiana’s troubled virtual schools illustrates the state’s dance between protecting school choice and cracking down on failing schools. On one hand, lawmakers defend online education as a critical option for some of the state’s most challenged students, particularly those who haven’t been successful in traditional brick-and-mortar schools.

But Indiana’s virtual charter schools post below-average graduation rates and test scores. They have largely received D and F grades from the state. And the credit data raises questions over how well online schools are educating students, if at all.


Indiana near bottom in teacher pay, school funding

From School Matters
The National Education Associated released its annual report on teacher salaries this week, and, once again, Indiana doesn’t look very good.

The average salary for an Indiana public school teacher in 2018-19 is $50,937, according to the report, compared with a national average of $61,730.


Local schools consider lower kindergarten start age

Indiana parents will now be able to send their children to kindergarten at an earlier age. However, it is up to a school district’s discretion.

Press Secretary for the Indiana Department of Education Adam Baker tells WANE 15 the date for schools to received funding for students is changing.

He says currently, if a child is not five by August 1st of a school year, the school could accept the child into kindergarten, but the school would not receive funding for the student.

Now, the date is changing. For the 2019-20 school year, if a child is five by September 1st, the school will receive funding. For the 2020-21 school year, if a child is five by October 1st, the school will receive funding.


3rd District Democrats honor public education advocate Bush

A well deserved honor for NEIFPE's co-founder.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
Public education advocate and activist Phyllis Bush, who died March 19 at the age of 75, was named this year's recipient of the J. Edward Roush Service Award presented by the 3rd Congressional District Democratic Party.

The party honored Bush posthumously at an April 27 dinner at the Eagle Glen Clubhouse in Columbia City. The annual award is for "contribution of time, talent and treasure" to 3rd District Democrats, said Misti Meehan, Allen County Democratic chairwoman.

Bush had taught English at South Side High School in Fort Wayne, founded Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education and was a board member for the Network for Public Education.


Two award-winning teachers boycott White House ceremony to protest Trump policies

From the Answer Sheet
On Tuesday, Dueñas and Holstine explained why they decided to boycott the 2019 event, saying they felt they could not attend in good faith. (See video below.)

“My frustrations with the current administration are the messages and actions and policies and words that are shared about the population of students that I work with,” said Holstine, who teaches immigrant children.

“It impacts and it hurts them, and it hurts them both in their hearts and in the world because they then have to deal with the fallout of all of that discrimination,” she said. “I cannot implicitly support people who hate my kids and who talk about them in the ways they talk about them.”


This Indianapolis teacher works a second job until 2 a.m. But he doesn’t want to leave the classroom

If the Indiana General Assembly didn't give away tax dollars to charter schools and vouchers that aren’t accountable to us as taxpayers, public schools could afford to pay their teachers closer to what they are worth.

From Chalkbeat
"I wonder, why am I consistently putting in these 50-, 60-hour work weeks as a teacher, trying to make every single day meaningful for my students — just to have to go to my second job whenever life happens? Just to be able to afford to maybe make a trip somewhere, and not even somewhere exciting. I’m talking Michigan! … No shame, Michigan." -- Jack Hesser


Why It's Important To Say There Is No Teacher Shortage

From Curmudgucation
...There is no teacher shortage.

There's a slow-motion walkout, a one-by-one exodus, a piecemeal rejection of the terms of employment for educators in 2019.

Why is it important to keep saying this? Why keep harping on this point?

Because if you don't correctly identify the problem, you will not correctly identify a solution...


These Indianapolis schools are overhauling their libraries to encourage reading

This is great, but wouldn’t it be better if the general assembly made sure all of our public school libraries were well stocked and well-staffed by real librarians?

From Chalkbeat
When it comes to encouraging children to read, it sometimes helps to judge a book by its cover.

Staff at three Indianapolis Public School campuses are “weeding” through their libraries to remove out-of-date books and those that have attracted little interest from students — and to make space for new additions that reflect students’ communities and catch their attention.

The weeding and restocking of the libraries is one piece of the Love of Reading project, which was funded with a grant up to about $1.3 million from Herbert Simon Family Foundation and aims to inspire students and their families to read. In addition to adding to library collections, the grant will pay for three dedicated staff members, library renovations, and programing for families. Books that are removed are available for families to take home.


‘We’re not there yet,’ Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb says on raising teacher pay

News from Indiana Governor Holcomb...making excuses.

From Chalkbeat
For some schools, funding will drop in the coming years. Others will see more significant increases. And some schools say they’re still pinched, sometimes forced to ask voters to approve referendums to drum up the funds they need to operate.

Education groups voiced appreciation for the funding increases, but some said schools still need more.

The Indiana State Teachers Association promised to “continue to fight for increased teacher pay and funding for every student,” the group said in a statement last week. “Our members are just getting started and will continue advocacy efforts into the future.”


How racial bias helped turn Indianapolis into one city with 11 school districts

From Chalkbeat
The racial segregation and declining enrollment that plagues Indianapolis Public Schools today can be traced back to the decision made 46 years ago to merge Indianapolis with its surrounding suburbs.

The celebrated unified government, or “Unigov,” law brought together about a dozen communities in Marion County into a single large city in 1970. The idea was to put a bigger, more powerful Indianapolis onto the national map, simplify city services and grow the city’s tax base.

Indianapolis was not the only city in the country to merge with its surrounding county at that time — but it was the only one to explicitly leave schools out of the deal.


The Writer Who Couldn't Answer Standardized Test Questions About Her Own Work (Again)!

The blogger Curmudgucation passes on some advice about tests.

From Peter Greene in Forbes
[Sara] Holbrook, as a poet and an educator, has several thoughts about remedies to these sorts of tests. "Parents, demand to see the test prep materials. Teachers, don't waste time on test prep: you can't teach nonsense. Administrators, take the money you are spending on test prep and spend it on classroom libraries instead. There are no quick fixes. Kids need to read and write voluminously." She advocates for transparency. "If a bike helmet fails top protect a child from injury, consumers can sue the manufacturer. These tests are injurious, but shrouded in secrecy and thereby beyond the reach of most teachers and all parents."


The people's priorities shorted

The Governor and legislators brag about all the additional "money for education," but neglect to mention the large increases for privatization.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
...School officials look at per-pupil funding for a more accurate measure of dollars available. For Fort Wayne Community Schools (FWCS), that's 2.2% next year and 1.1% the following year – much less than the 2.3% and 2% statewide average per pupil.

The total increase in education funding also conceals allocations favoring charter and voucher schools over traditional public schools. Indiana taxpayers are likely to spend an additional $25 million over the next two years by giving larger vouchers to families just above the income limit for free or reduced price lunch. An additional $2.5 million in tax credits also was made available to donors supporting private and parochial school scholarships.

Overall, voucher schools are expected to see a 9.3% increase in 2020 and a 5.6% increase in 2021.

Hamilton Schools Superintendent Tony Cassel said the General Assembly's decision to support voucher and charter schools has had an impact there and across the state. He acknowledged raises are unlikely for his 26 teachers, whose only recent pay increase was a one-time stipend.

“I'm glad there was an increase in funding, but at some point the legislature is going to have to take a look at where the money is going,” Cassel said. “It's a continual attack on public education. When you look at the percentage going to charters and vouchers and – that's been the agenda.”