Monday, November 11, 2019

In Case You Missed It – Nov 11, 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 most professions, you steal office supplies from work to bring home. But teachers steal office supplies from home to bring to work.’

Why does Indiana have a budget surplus? One reason is because Indiana teachers supplement the budget by spending an average of $462 of their own money on supplies for their classrooms. Money which should be going to public schools is sitting in the budget surplus...or has been diverted from the public schools to charter schools or private/parochial school vouchers.

Teachers supplement their classrooms with books, paper, pencils, food for children, and even clothes.

Valerie Strauss has collected anecdotes from teachers all over the country who spend money on their own classrooms.

From the Answer Sheet
I’ve been teaching for 20 years as a 5th grade teacher in a Title 1 school. This year, I’m making a change to 7th grade Science. Completely my choice!!

My first year of teaching, I was given $200 to start the year and then multiple opportunities to turn in receipts for reimbursement. However, the following year, the $200 went away and then after that all reimbursements ended.

What I buy that’s not provided by the district:

Colored Pencils
Books (1000s!)
Teacher’s Books for “required texts”
Dry Erase markers
Snacks (for students)
Science materials

Why? Because every child NEEDS these items and because we are a Title 1 school; many cannot afford the necessities. Kids need to have equal supplies; including food. I don’t regret spending this money as I can teach my students when they have all the tools needed to succeed.

Starting 7th grade Science in a week; I know I’m going to be spending money on experiments and I MUST!! How can I not??


The Red for Ed Action Day is about Indiana's treatment of education professionals. It's about school systems hiring under-qualified staff. It's about programs being cut for lack of staff members.

It's not just about teacher salaries.

The programs being cut and the growth of class sizes has an impact on our students. Teachers' working conditions are students' learning conditions.

School systems don’t have enough money and have to beg for more from the citizens in the form of community-dividing referendums. Wealthy communities have enough money to supplement their schools, but communities with the neediest students cannot.

Meanwhile your tax dollars are being wasted on duplicating systems (charter schools and vouchers) that do not accept ALL children. Indiana cannot afford to fund three parallel school systems. Schools should not have to waste scarce resources advertising for students. Competition, which results in winners and losers, does not work in education.

Our money is going down the sinkhole of high stakes testing which does little more than identify the economic conditions in which students live.  The test scores are misused to grade teachers, students, and schools, yet still we spend millions of dollars on these instruments with money we should be using to fully fund the constitutionally mandated public schools.

Our students, teachers, and schools deserve better.

Allen County teachers, school districts to take part in Red for Ed Action Day

From WANE TV, Fort Wayne
On November 19, thousands of Indiana teachers, including some from Allen County, will throw on red clothes and travel to Indianapolis to rally for more resources for teachers and students in the state, on what they call Red for Ed Action Day.

It is not the first time educators have taken to the capitol, but it is the largest demonstration they’ve had to date.

“At this point we have about 6,600 registered and the numbers keep climbing all the time,” said Steve Brace, UniServ Director for the Indiana State Teachers Association (ISTA). Brace says just a couple of days ago only 2,100 teachers were signed up. At this rate, he expects the number to grow rapidly before the rally.

Over 30 schools in Indiana have decided to close that day so that teachers can attend. Brace said they have gained so much momentum this time around because teachers and administrators alike are more frustrated than ever by issues like testing standards and mandatory externships, which require teachers and administrators to spend 15 hours at an non-school related business in order to renew their teaching license. They are also calling for more funds to be pushed towards education.

Gaining Momentum: GCCS closes for Red for Ed Action Day

From the News and Tribune, Jeffersonville, Indiana
Higher pay.

Lower class sizes.

More school funding.

Teachers statewide are not backing down from their demands and they plan to be heard by legislators on the Red for Ed Action Day, Nov. 19, at the state capital. As more and more Greater Clark County Schools’ teachers vow to be in attendance, the district made the decision to close schools for the day.

“It is important to understand that the decision to support our teachers to attend this event, rather than being present with our students, is not an easy one,” GCCS Superintendent Mark Laughner said in a message to all parents. “We would much rather be at school teaching our students. However, inadequate funding that impacts class sizes, excessive high stakes standardized testing, teacher shortages and failed accountability models are negatively impacting our students and staff.”

Indianapolis Public Schools cancel classes for 'Red for Ed Action Day'

From RTV6-Indianapolis
Indianapolis Public Schools is canceling classes later this month for teachers attending "Red for Ed Action Day."

On Nov. 19, teachers and other staff members who plan to participate in the legislative action day won't need to request a personal day, according to a press release from the district.

Dozens of Indiana districts cancel classes for teachers to rally for higher pay

From Chalkbeat*
So many teachers asked to take Nov. 19 off to rally at the Statehouse for higher pay that nearly 30 districts across Indiana have canceled school or scheduled e-learning days.

“We’re going to support our teachers,” said Beech Grove Superintendent Paul Kaiser, who plans to join teachers at the rally that day while students work online from home. “I think it’s important for our leaders and decision-makers to understand that this is a crisis in the state of Indiana.”

The Indiana State Teachers Association and the American Federation of Teachers Indiana both plan to show up in force at the Statehouse on the ceremonial opening day of the legislative session. The unions want to urge lawmakers to find ways to increase teacher pay soon, although it remains to be seen whether legislators will be willing to act when the state’s budget is already set for two years.

Indianapolis Public Schools announced Wednesday that it will cancel classes on Nov. 19 to allow teachers to participate. South Bend, the state’s fifth-largest school district, and Wayne Township in Indianapolis are also among the districts that have canceled school entirely.

South Bend schools to close Nov. 19 for Red For Ed Action Day

From the South Bend Tribune
All South Bend district schools will be closed Nov. 19 to show local teachers support as part of Red For Ed Action Day.

Superintendent Todd Cummings made the announcement during Monday's school board meeting.

Local educators, parents and community members will join the Indiana State Teachers Association (ISTA) at the Statehouse in Indianapolis to encourage state legislators to boost funding of teacher salaries and to promote education. Nov. 19 is the General Assembly’s organization day.

"We want teachers to support themselves and we want to continue to support them as they advocate for themselves," Cummings said. "We want to provide our teachers and staff with the opportunity to exercise their rights and take this day to advocate for public education and for their students."

Cummings said the district "fully supports feeding our students" and will still plan on supplying meals for those who may need them even with the schools closed.


Indiana is known for its K-12 voucher program. But pre-K vouchers are often left out of the conversation.

Vouchers in the K-12 system ARE an economic drain on our public school systems and they promote discrimination and segregation. We should not be wasting our tax dollars on them. Despite the legislative love for them, those are facts. However, vouchers for pre-school are a more complicated issue because of strongly held beliefs about who is primarily responsible for a pre-schooler’s education. The rub here is that if it’s the parents’ responsibility, then why would the state pay for any of it? On the other hand, many believe that the foundational skills that a child learns as a pre-schooler contribute to the child’s well-being which contributes to the public good. And in that case, do we need to think about making pre-school mandatory and regulating it as we would other public services?

From Chalkbeat*
School choice advocates wield heavy influence in Indiana, but not all of them have fully thrown their weight behind the state’s newest voucher program: pre-K.

Both of Indiana’s voucher programs were born from the same idea of educational choice, which allows low-income families to use public money to choose the best school for their children, regardless of whether it’s public or private.

But the preschool program, On My Way Pre-K, doesn’t enjoy the same kind of support among Indiana conservatives as its K-12 counterpart. That reality speaks to widespread attitudes toward preschool — that it’s the purview of the family, not the government.


South Bend schools get $5.5 million to recruit teachers and partner with IUSB

From the South Bend Tribune
The South Bend Community School Corp. received a $5.5 million federal grant to help the district educate, recruit and retain teachers.

Qualified students will earn their bachelor’s degrees from Indiana University South Bend and have their master’s degrees paid for in exchange for a three-year commitment to teach in South Bend schools.

The grant is for five years and addresses a need to recruit and retain elementary, middle, high school and special education teachers in South Bend.


LeBron James paid for a public school in his hometown. Now he’s building transitional housing for at-risk students there.

The I Promise team realized kids can't learn if they don't have stable housing.

From the Answer Sheet
Last year, basketball superstar LeBron James underwrote a new public school in an Akron, Ohio, school district, designed to provide academics as well as social and emotional supports to at-risk students. Now he’s adding to that investment, partnering with a hotel chain to build transitional housing for families whose children attend the I Promise school but are experiencing homelessness or struggle to have stable, safe housing.

The LeBron James Family Foundation made the announcement Monday along with Graduate Hotels, saying that the housing will be located within a few blocks of the school in a building that will be renovated and furnished.

In making the announcement, the foundation issued a release that quoted James as saying he and others involved in the I Promise school have come to realize that students need stable housing to learn.


Did Indianapolis students do better after struggling schools were restarted? A new study takes a look.

"Overall, innovation restart schools continue to post some of the lowest passing rates in the district."

From Chalkbeat*
Indianapolis Public Schools will soon have to review the performance of its first innovation schools, which launched in 2015. Next year, district officials will evaluate Phalen’s progress at School 103 in deciding whether to renew the innovation contract.

Innovation advocates have taken test score growth as a promising sign of improvement, though School 103 struggled significantly this year as passing rates tumbled across the state on the new ILEARN exam. Overall, innovation restart schools continue to post some of the lowest passing rates in the district.

*Note: Financial sponsors of Chalkbeat include pro-privatization foundations and individuals such as EdChoice, Gates Family Foundation, The Walton Family Foundation, and others.


Monday, November 4, 2019

In Case You Missed It – Nov 4, 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.


NAEP scores were released last week. Here are four articles about the results.

NAEP Test Scores Show How Stupid We Are… To Pay Attention to NAEP Test Scores

Testing measures economic status.

From Gadfly on the Wall Blog
Brace yourselves!

America’s NAEP test scores in 2019 stayed pretty much the same as they were in 2018!

And the media typically set its collective hair on fire trying to interpret the data.

Sometimes called the Nations Report Card, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) test is given to a random sampling of elementary, middle and high school students in member countries to compare the education systems of nations.

And this year there was one particular area where US kids did worse than usual!

Our scores went down in 8th grade reading!

To be honest, scores usually go up or down by about one or two points every year averaging out to about the same range.

But this year! Gulp! They went down four points!


What does that mean?

Absolutely nothing.

They’re standardized test scores. They’re terrible assessments of student learning.

Indiana NAEP results show widening gap in reading

NAEP scores reflect a growing divide between affluent and poor people in Indiana...and across the U.S.

From School Matters
“The most disturbing pattern we see in the 2019 NAEP results is that both fourth- and eighth-grade reading scores decreased most among our lowest performing students,” Indiana University professor Sarah Theule Lubienski said by email. “For example, while reading scores slipped just 1 point for students scoring among the top 10%, they fell 3-6 points among those scoring within the bottom 10%.”

That’s nationwide, and the fall-off among lowest-performing test-takers was even more pronounced in Indiana. Reading scores for the bottom 10% of Indiana eighth-graders fell by 14 points. Reading scores for the bottom 10% of fourth-graders fell by 9 points. Results for highest-scoring test-takers were stable.

‘Nation’s report card’ tells a similar story to ILEARN — most Indiana students are behind

Indiana Chalkbeat should be absolutely ashamed of this headline. It is misleading, and it demonstrates a very poor understand of the NAEP scores and what they mean. Comparing the ILEARN tests and scores to NAEP scores ignores the true picture of students in Indiana schools.

From Chalkbeat*
Amid concerns over low scores on Indiana’s new standardized test, ILEARN, new results from a national exam tell a similar story about student performance.

Scores from the National Assessment Educational Progress, or NAEP, released Wednesday, showed 37% of eighth graders statewide were proficient in reading and math, and 37% of fourth graders were proficient in reading and 47% were proficient in math.

NAEP 2019 Released: No Progress in Math, Reading

NAEP scores should encourage us to invest in public education.

From Diane Ravitch
After a generation of disruptive reforms—No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top, VAM and Common Core—after a decade or more of disinvestment in education, after years of bashing and demoralizing teachers, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) for 2019 shows the results:

Over the past decade, there has been no progress in either mathematics or reading performance, and the lowest-performing students are doing worse,” said Peggy Carr, the associate commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, which administers the NAEP. “In fact, over the long term in reading, the lowest-performing students—those readers who struggle the most—have made no progress from the first NAEP administration almost 30 years ago.”



The Indiana Public Retirement System (INPRS) board voted last week to increase the monthly administrative fee for PERF and TRF members’ Defined Contribution (DC) plans from $3 to $3.75. The increase is based on higher management costs for the DC plan than original INPRS estimates accounted for the previous year. Fees cover record keeping and required Internal Revenue Service administrative oversight.

Retirees will not be affected, only members with active accounts.


KIPP, IDEA Corporate Charter Chains Criticize Elizabeth Warren’s Plan to Cut Their Federal Funding

From Diane Ravitch
In her education plan, Elizabeth Warren proposed eliminating the federal Charter Schools Program. This program was started in 1994 to help jumpstart new charter schools at a time when there were fewer than 100 charter schools in the nation. Now there are 7,000.

Today, the CSP has a budget of $440 million a year (which BETSY DeVos proposes to increase to $500 million a year). DeVos uses CSP as her personal slush fund to expand corporate charter chains. This past year, she gave $89 million to KIPP, $67 million to IDEA, and $10 million to Success Academy. None of these charter chains are struggling financially. All receive huge grants from the Waltons and other billionaires.

The Network for Public Education studied the expenditure of $4 billion by CSP from 2006-2014, predating the DeVos era. It’s report “Asleep at the Wheel,” determined that at least $1 billion of the funds spent by CSP during that period were wasted on charter schools that either never opened or closed soon after opening. Warren cited this report in her education plan, to justify eliminating the wasteful CSP.


The Walton Family: Ungrateful Graduates of Public Schools

Every dollar you spend at Walmart is a dollar spent against public education.

From Diane Ravitch
No philanthropy has spent more money to undermine and privatize public schools than the Waltons. The Waltons are the richest family in the U.S., possibly in the world, with a net worth in excess of $200 billion.

The Walton Family Foundation claims credit for launching at least one of every four charter schools in the nation. The foundation aims to eliminate public education, crush teachers’ unions, and destroy the teaching profession. The foundation has given nearly $100 million to Teach for America to supply inexperienced, ill-trained teachers to public and charter schools.


Michael Hicks: Education policies to blame for employment drop

From the Star Press, Muncie, IN
Since the third quarter of 2007, when the economy was booming, Indiana’s workforce down-skilled profoundly. We’ve seen 31 percent growth in workers with less than a high school diploma, nearly no change among those with high school diploma and under 5.0 percent growth among those who have been to college or have an Associate’s degree. The simple fact is from third quarter 2007 to third quarter 2018, a whopping 55 percent of new workers had less than a high school diploma.

I believe much of this is attributable to education policies that focus on supplying our economy with workers instead of citizens. While this might have pleased a few important political donors, it remains deeply misguided. I call it the Mississippi strategy, because it pushes Indiana into the bottom tier of educational attainment. And from the looks of it, it is doing just that.


NACS approves teacher raises

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
The Northwest Allen County Schools board Monday approved a two-year contract that includes raises for teachers.

The collective bargaining agreement presented at a meeting two weeks ago covers this year and expires in 2021. Board members Kent Somers, Liz Hathaway, Ronald Felger, Steve Bartkus and Kristi Schlatter voted unanimously to approve the contract.

“I thought it was a very thoughtful process,” Somers said, referring to negotiations with the Northwest Allen County Educators Association, which represents more than 400 teachers.

Under the contract, minimum base salaries for full-time teachers increase $1,250 to $41,250. The agreement includes $64,000 base salaries for teachers with bachelor's degrees and $70,125 for those with master's degrees.


Several NEIFPE members will be among those taking action on November 19 in Indianapolis.

Shane Phipps column: Sea of red coming to statehouse

From the The Herald Bulletin, Anderson, IN
Downtown Indianapolis will be a sea of red on Tuesday, Nov. 19.

Thousands of teachers from across the Hoosier State are expected to assemble around the Statehouse that day in a show of solidarity for the Red for Ed movement. This growing movement has been gaining steam for months. Many teachers have been wearing red to school each Wednesday in a show of silent unity.

At the center of the issue is teacher pay. Due to the fact that many thousands of educators across the state have gone years and years without a proper pay raise — or none at all — Indiana teachers (particularly the younger ones) have had a hard time keeping up with the cost of living.

Indiana has fallen into the bottom third in the nation in total teacher compensation. I know a lot of young teachers — and an ever-increasing number of older ones — who’ve had to take on second jobs just to pay the bills. That doesn’t seem fair in a profession that requires at least a bachelor’s degree (most teachers have at least one master’s degree). All that schooling comes at a cost. Most teachers start out in a huge financial hole, carrying student loan debts in the high five figures into the six-figure range. I’ve taught for 19 years and, while I make a comfortable living, I am still paying off student loans — that’s a fact.
Be sure to attend. Click here to Register.

*Note: Financial sponsors of Chalkbeat include pro-privatization foundations and individuals such as EdChoice, Gates Family Foundation, The Walton Family Foundation, and others.


Tuesday, October 29, 2019

NPE Phyllis Bush Memorial Award - Applications now Available

by Donna Roof, NEIFPE

In 2011 Phyllis and I attended the Save Our Schools March in Washington, D.C. Although retired for over 10 years, she still strongly believed in public schools and their teachers and students. Right then and there, she decided that she needed to take the energy from all of those public education advocates back to Indiana. Upon returning home, she gathered friends who also believed in public schools to form the grassroots group, Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education (NEIFPE), to fight against education reform and to bring back the joy of learning and teaching.

Phyllis’ advocacy for public schools, teachers, and students was known not only statewide but also nationally. She encouraged teachers, parents, and concerned citizens to Speak Up! and Speak Out! for public schools, the cornerstone of our democracy.

Do you have a grassroots group that is working to save public education? If so, then complete the Network for Public Education application for the NPE Phyllis Bush Memorial Award.

From the Network for Public Education (NPE):

Applications are now open for The Network for Public Education Phyllis Bush Memorial Award.

This annual award that includes a monetary prize is given to a grassroots group that best exemplifies the ideals of Phyllis Bush. We are looking for a grassroots group that has made a substantial difference in fighting the privatization of public education during 2019. The award will be given at our annual conference March 28 and 29 in Philadelphia. All applications are due by January 1, 2020. The winner of the award will be announced at the 2020 NPE conference.

The picture above shows Phyllis with Arizona SOS, the winners of the first annual Phyllis Bush Award for Grassroots organization.


Monday, October 28, 2019

In Case You Missed It – Oct 28, 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.


Chicago Teacher Strike: Three Things To Remember

Perhaps you have a negative view of teachers going on strike. You may want to reconsider that. The Chicago Teachers Union is fighting to help students and public schools as much as they're fighting for their profession.

For more information see The Schools Chicago Students Deserve.

From Peter Greene in Forbes
“Put the concerns of children ahead of the concerns of adults,” has been one common refrain. Another was to emphasize that education was the solution to the problems of poverty.

Reformers have argued that teachers should take responsibility for the problems of childhood poverty–so now the teachers of Chicago are doing exactly that. Critics can say that common good contracts are an overreach, that teachers should stay in their lane and not try to run the city. But teachers have been told repeatedly that it’s up to them to look out for the children and to mitigate the problems of childhood poverty. Now, in Chicago, teachers are doing exactly that.


Her first year ‘felt like a losing battle’ — until this Indianapolis teacher earned her students’ trust

Note that this teacher had minimal resources and huge class sizes since IPS (and the state) spent money funding "innovation" schools for some, rather than fully funding the city's public schools for all.

From Chalkbeat*
In her first year of teaching, Makayla Imrie ate Goldfish crackers for lunch, battled a broken copier, and was on her feet all day in a classroom without working air conditioning.

But those weren’t the hardest parts of her job.

Her fifth-period class posed perhaps the greatest challenge, with 44 chatty seniors who filled every desk in her classroom.

“This has got to be some kind of joke,” Imrie thought to herself. “This is impossible.”


DeVos Sent Millions to Unaccredited Colleges

From Diane Ravitch
The Washington Post reported today that the Education Department spent millions for student aid at for-profit colleges that were ineligible to receive federal funding.

A trove of documents released Tuesday by the House Education and Labor Committee shows the Education Department provided $10.7 million in federal loans and grants to students at the Illinois Institute of Art and the Art Institute of Colorado even though officials knew the for-profit colleges were not accredited and ineligible to receive such aid.


IPS teachers could see raises as high as $9,400 under tentative contract deal

Well paid teachers means more stability for students. If this is approved, it's thanks to some really hard work on behalf of teachers (and students) by the union.

From Chalkbeat*
Mid-career teachers in Indianapolis Public Schools could get “catch up” raises as large as $9,400 if school board members approve a tentative contract for the next two years.

Teachers across the district would see substantial pay increases under the proposal, with the district’s starting salary for teachers rising to $45,200 this school year, according to a union official.

The sweeping raises are the result of a tax referendum approved by the voters last November — with the promise of higher teacher pay — that will inject about $27.5 million a year into the school system for the next eight years. The raises also mark a significant and potentially reinvigorating victory for the Indianapolis Education Association, a teachers union that has been weakened by scandal and the district’s growing collaboration with charter schools.


South Bend school leaders face prospect of closing buildings, including a high school

From the South Bend Tribune
With the budget projecting a loss of nearly $17 million next year, South Bend school leaders say drastic adjustments will have to be made across the district, including closing schools and asking city residents to approve additional tax support.

“I’m pretty sure you will have to look at closing a high school,” Budget Director Jenise Palmer told the school board during its Oct. 14 meeting.

School Board President John Anella later said “buildings have to be closed,” as the the district’s K-12 school buildings “were built for 23,000 to 24,000 students” and now only 16,000 are enrolled.

South Bend could embrace innovation schools with Purdue charter partnership

Hopefully South Bend decides not to be as foolish as IPS.

From Chalkbeat*
In the face of shrinking enrollment and academic problems, the South Bend school district is in talks to form innovation partnerships with at least two charter schools — including Purdue Polytechnic High School, now slated to open its first campus outside the state capital.

If South Bend begins creating innovation schools, it would be the third Indiana district to pursue the strategy, which can bring charter schools under the auspice of the traditional school system. The South Bend schools, which enroll almost 16,000 students, is facing challenges that mirror some of those in Indianapolis Public Schools. Enrollment shrank by nearly 700 students this year, part of a steady decline as families opt for charter, private, and neighboring district schools. In the spring, the district staved off the threat of state takeover at a chronically failing middle school.

*Note: Financial sponsors of Chalkbeat include pro-privatization foundations and individuals such as EdChoice, Gates Family Foundation, The Walton Family Foundation, and others.


Sunday, October 20, 2019

In Case You Missed It – Oct 21, 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.


Betsy DeVos Floods North Carolina with Charter Cash

From Diane Ravitch
Betsy DeVos just dropped $36 million on North Carolina to lure children out of their public schools and into charter schools. The state is not sure it can spend the money.

North Carolina will now have more than $36 million in federal funding to help increase enrollment in charter schools, particularly for children from low-income groups.


Schools were quick to downplay ILEARN results, but experts stand by the test. Here’s why.

The standardized test is still the most powerful tool in the pocket of Indiana's privatizers. For more on the validity of ILEARN see Stop the Misuse of Tests.

From Chalkbeat*
While school leaders and lawmakers were quick to reason away concerns over shockingly low ILEARN scores, some testing experts and state education leaders are standing by Indiana’s new exam.

Calls to shield schools and teachers from any negative consequences of the low ILEARN scores were swift, after it was revealed that only one-third of students in grades 3-8 passed both the math and English portions of the exam. But when detangled from the question of accountability, experts say the results provide a valid measure of what students know.

Low 2019 scores weren’t a sign of a faulty exam, said Ed Roeber, Michigan’s former testing director and a consultant on Indiana’s technical advisory committee for assessments, said. Rather, Roeber said, it’s a reflection of “what instruction is or is not taking place in our schools.”

“I’m not discouraged by low performance,” he said. “I think it could be a real rallying cry for Indiana schools to evaluate what they are teaching and what students are learning.”


Bill Phillis: Never Thought This Would Happen in America

From Diane Ravitch
The state is in the process of replacing elected school board members in Youngstown. The electors in Youngstown elected board members. These board members will be replaced via the HB 70 process.

The Youngstown Board of Education has not been in control of the district for several years. State control of the district has not resulted in improvement. Therefore, elected board members are being removed from office because the state’s improvement process has failed. Sounds logical.

Youngstown board members have not been convicted of any crimes which would be cause for removal from office. Their hands have been tied by HB 70.

Congress and some state legislatures across the nation have not demonstrated a stellar performance. Should those elected officials be replaced by some convoluted appointment process?


The Koch network says it wants to remake public education. That means destroying it, says the author of a new book on the billionaire brothers.

You can listen to the "Have You Heard" podcast about Kochland at:

From the Answer Sheet
Early this year, the Koch network committed to starting an effort to transform public education. What would that look like?

The author of a new book on the billionaire Charles Koch and his late brother, David, says it would amount to the destruction of public education as we know it.

The Koch network is the influential assemblage of groups funded by billionaire industrialist Charles Koch and more than 600 wealthy individuals who share his pro-business, anti-regulation view of economics and positions on social policy, such as climate change denial.

The focus on K-12 education follows long involvement by the Koch brothers in higher education. As leaders of a conservative movement that believes U.S. higher education is controlled by liberals who indoctrinate young people, they spent as much as an estimated $100 million on programs at hundreds of colleges and universities that support their views.

Now the network says it is going to try to transform K-12 education, though the details are unclear. The Kochs and their allies have long supported the school choice movement — which seeks alternatives to traditional public school districts — as well as the use of public funds for private and religious school education, as does Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.


IPS teachers union membership declines after a year of turmoil

Unions provide a voice for teachers, and this allows teachers to speak up for their students. Let’s hope we see union membership rise.

From Chalkbeat*
The weakened state of the union reduces the influence of educators at a pivotal moment for the state’s largest district. With a new superintendent in place, Indianapolis Public Schools leaders will face decisions on whether to close schools, boost teacher pay, and expand partnerships with charter schools.


These Indiana districts are asking voters to approve a tax increase for more school funding

So sad that our legislators waste our tax dollars on voucher schools and privately run charter schools and force the public schools, the only constitutionally mandated schools in the state, to become beggars.

From Chalkbeat*
One Marion County district is among 10 in Indiana that will ask voters to approve a tax increase on Nov. 5 to supplement state funding for local schools.

Lawrence Township is seeking a construction referendum, which would generate an additional $191 million and is not subject to the property tax cap. The funds would be used to expand and renovate school buildings. This vote marks the first school referendum for Lawrence Township, adding it to the growing number of cash-strapped districts in Indiana that rely on appealing directly to residents.

More than 115 of the state’s nearly 300 districts have put at least one referendum on the ballot since 2009, and they have been increasingly successful in passing them, according to data from Indiana University’s Center for Evaluation and Education Policy.

*Note: Financial sponsors of Chalkbeat include pro-privatization foundations and individuals such as EdChoice, Gates Family Foundation, The Walton Family Foundation, and others.


Monday, October 14, 2019

In Case You Missed It – Oct 14, 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.


Racial Disparity in Student Discipline Isn’t All About Race

From Gadfly On The Wall Blog
Black students are suspended from school at substantially higher rates than white ones.

That’s indisputable.

When teachers send kids to the office, when principals issue detentions and suspensions, the faces of those students are disproportionately black or brown.

So what does that mean?

Are minority children more badly behaved than white ones?

Or is it an indication that our public schools are overrun with racist teachers and principals?

Those appear to be the only choices in Trump’s America.

There’s either something desperately wrong with children of color or the majority of white staff at public schools can’t handle them.

But the reality is far more complex, and no matter who you are, it will probably make you uncomfortable.

The problem is that there are variables the binary choice above doesn’t even begin to explain, and chief among them is child poverty.


Indiana's next governor will have a greater impact on public education than in the past. For the first time the position of State Superintendent of Public Instruction will be an appointed position instead of elected.

Indiana's Governor will now have a much greater impact on education policy and the voters will have a lesser one. The Governor will not only appoint the State Superintendent, but also appoints seven of the remaining nine members of the State Board of Education (SBOE). The other two members are appointed by legislative leaders. In Indiana, this means that all members of the SBOE as well as the State Superintendent are appointed by the State's Republican supermajority.

Voters of Indiana no longer have any direct impact on education policy in Indiana. We will have to choose a Governor very carefully in order to protect public education.

Why a candidate for governor wants to end vouchers, even though it’s politically ‘not possible’

Look very carefully at this candidate’s past as you consider him.

From Chalkbeat*
One candidate vying for the Democratic nomination in Indiana’s governor’s race is seizing on the frustration of public school educators by proposing a plan so sweeping that even he acknowledges it isn’t politically viable.

In his education plan, released Thursday, candidate Josh Owens calls for raising teacher pay by dissolving the state’s voucher program, which now serves some 35,000 Indiana students. It’s one of many of his ideas that — like previous progressive proposals, including using the state’s $2 billion budget reserves to fund teacher pay initiatives — are unlikely to win the backing of the state’s Republican supermajority.

GOP schools chief Jennifer McCormick stands by Democrat Eddie Melton as he launches run for governor

It seems logical that the Superintendent of Public Instruction would be for the candidate who actually supports public schools.

From Chalkbeat
While touting bipartisanship, Republican State Superintendent Jennifer McCormick stood by Sen. Eddie Melton on Tuesday night as he announced his run for Democratic nomination for Indiana governor.

But her show of support for a potential opponent of Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb also shows the strained relationship between McCormick and Holcomb’s administration.

“When I got into office I learned two things rather quickly,” she said while introducing Melton. “One, do not over-assume there is an appetite for bipartisan activity in Indiana. Secondly, I learned, do not underestimate the power of bipartisan activity when it is used in a positive manner.”


Betsy DeVos Breaks the Law by Continuing to Collect Debt from Students After Judge Told Her Not to

From Diane Ravitch
Will billionaire Betsy DeVos go to jail for defying the direct order of a judge?

In 2015, for-profit Corinthian Colleges went bankrupt after state attorney generals complained of fraud. Thousands of its former students were left in the lurch with a mountain of debt for a worthless “education.” After the company filed for bankruptcy protection, the federal department of education ruled that as many as 335,000 students might have their debts canceled, “under The Borrower Defense to Repayment program—an initiative started in 2016 to provide loan relief for students who had been defrauded by predatory schools.” This was during the Obama administration.

However, when DeVos became Secretary of Education, she limited the program of loan forgiveness and began to hound many of the students who had been defrauded. The applications of some 160,000 students for loan forgiveness were shelved. DeVos was ordered by Judge Sallie Kim to stop hounding students to repay student loans that should have been forgiven.

But, as we have seen before, Secretary DeVos has great sympathy for for-profit corporations and no sympathy for students who were defrauded.


K12 Inc. Welcomes Education Reform Leader to Executive Team

Missing from this puff piece about former State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tony Bennett, is any mention of his charter school grade-fixing scandal. In 2013, Bennett resigned as Florida Education Commissioner when news came out that he changed grades for an Indiana charter school run by a powerful Republican political donor.

The author of this article refers to Bennett as "one of the nation's foremost experts in education policy." We find that description ironic given his history of cheating in favor of political donors.

From Olean Times Herald
A powerhouse in the education reform movement has joined K12 Inc., the nation’s leading provider of online curriculum and school programs for students in kindergarten through high school.

Dr. Charles A. “Tony” Bennett—who has more than three decades of experience in school management, strategic planning, and operations—has been named Senior Vice President, Academics and External Relations. As one of the nation’s foremost experts in education policy, he will manage and implement a diverse portfolio of initiatives and programs that support, measure, track and ultimately improve student academic achievement and growth across K12-powered schools.


Advantage, public schools

From School Matters
Christopher Lubienski and Sarah Theule Lubienski challenged conventional wisdom when they published research that found public schools were better than private schools at boosting student achievement.

Five years later, their conclusions have been confirmed several times over – especially by studies of state voucher programs that provide public funding for students to attend private schools.


Andrea Gabor: To Succeed in Business, Major in the Liberal Arts

From Diane Ravitch
Andrea Gabor blows up the myth that the path to success in business requires a major in business or that there is a “skills gap” in STEM subjects.

If you want to succeed in business, she writes, major in the liberal arts.

*Note: Financial sponsors of Chalkbeat include pro-privatization foundations and individuals such as EdChoice, Gates Family Foundation, The Walton Family Foundation, and others.


Sunday, October 6, 2019

In Case You Missed It – Oct 7, 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.


A Teacher's Final Lesson

NEIFPE members remember our own Phyllis Bush as we read about this teacher's fight with "Cancer Schmantzer" and her parting words. We remember Phyllis’s call to stand up and fight for what we are passionate about. Don’t waste time on insignificant things...and don't give up.

From Curmudgucation
One positive outcome from having recurrent cancer was that it taught me to let go of the insignificant things and to just enjoy the people and places. After three recurrences, my body finally had enough and I passed away on Sunday, September 22, 2019 at the Cleveland Clinic.

I am extremely grateful for the life that I lived. I was fortunate to have a loving family, supportive friends, a stable and meaningful job, and a house to call my own. My wish for you is to stop letting insignificant situations stress you out. Do what is important to you. Relax and enjoy the company of those around you. What do you value in your life? In the end, that's what matters.

This obituary was written by Ashley preceding her passing as part of the many preparations to make the transition easier on her family.


Trump administration sides with Catholic school that fired gay teacher

The Catholic Church seems to be fine with accepting a religious tax exemption, and seems to be fine with accepting tax money through vouchers, but abiding by anti-discrimination laws is, apparently, a step too far.

From the Answer Sheet
The Trump administration is backing a Roman Catholic archbishop in Indiana who pushed a Catholic school to fire a gay teacher, saying in a legal document that the First Amendment protects the church’s right to make such decisions.


Teachers Are More Stressed Out Than You Probably Think

From Gadflyonthewall Blog
When I was just a new teacher, I remember my doctor asking me if I had a high stress job.

I said that I taught middle school, as if that answered his question. But he took it to mean that I had it easy. After all – as he put it – I just played with children all day.

Now after 16 years in the classroom and a series of chronic medical conditions including heart disease, Crohn’s Disease and a recent battle with shingles though I’m only in my 40s, he knows better.

Teaching is one of the most stressful jobs you can have.


A Good Teacher Is Not Like A Candle

From Curmudgucation
This is a close relative of the hero teacher myth, and it shares the notion that someone becomes a teacher out of some outsized level of nobility and self-sacrifice. And there are all sorts of problems with this baloney.

One is that, of course, someone who is teaching out of noble impulses of heroic self-sacrifice couldn't possibly be worried about making a living wage or having decent benefits. It's people who buy this sort of baloney who get all pearl-clutchy over teachers who want a decent contract, as if the desire to be able to support a family is sullying their noble calling, distracting from their "personal mission." This model becomes an excuse to take and take and take from teachers-- their money, their time, because, hey, you want to give your all to the kids, right?

More importantly, this is the kind of crap that saddles young teachers with a huge pile of guilt. Six years ago I wrote a piece that is still the most-read piece I've ever written.


Milwaukee School Board Votes to Restore Music Education in Every Public School!

From Diane Ravitch
A great victory for real education in Milwaukee, where the business community and politicians have been obsessed with “choice” for 30 years. From the FB page of the Milwaukee Teachers Education Association.

This is a victory for students!

This is a victory for real education!


Boston: New Superintendent Reduces Testing Overload!

From Diane Ravitch
The new superintendent of the Boston Public Schools Brenda Casellius announced a reduction of district tests.

This does not affect the state-mandated tests, but it is a welcome acknowledgement that students need more instruction, not more testing.

School Superintendent Brenda Cassellius has announced a moratorium on district-mandated standardized tests, according to a Sept. 19 memo to school leaders.

To read the memo, click here.


New Reports Confirm Persistent Child Poverty While Policymakers Blame Educators and Fail to Address Core Problem

Diane Ravitch comment, "Charters and Vouchers address none of these issues."

From Jan Resseger
The correlation of academic achievement with family income has been demonstrated now for half a century, but policymakers, like those in the Ohio legislature who are debating punitive school district takeovers, prefer to blame public school teachers and administrators instead of using the resources of government to assist struggling families who need better access to healthcare, quality childcare, better jobs, and food assistance.

Ohio’s school district grades arrived this week. At the same time, and with less fanfare, arrived a series of reports on the level of federal spending on children, reports documenting that, as Education Week‘s Andrew Uifusa explains: “The share of the federal budget that goes toward children, including education spending, dipped to just below 2 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product in 2018—the lowest level in the decade.”

"No one is too small to make a difference." -- Greta Thunberg


What Greta Thunberg Told the UN Today

From Diane Ravitch
And a little child shall lead them.


Pennsylvania: Speaker of the House Berates Public Schools and Their Teachers, Praises Charters

Apparently "loving our public schools" is offensive to some. This Pennsylvania Representative, the Speaker of the Pennsylvania House, doesn't realize that supporting public schools is one of his jobs as a member of the Pennsylvania legislature...he needs to read the state Constitution.

From Diane Ravitch
Once again, we are reminded that charter schools are a Republican cause, and their champion is Betsy DeVos.

Mike Turzai, Republican Speaker of the House in Pennsylvania, was on his way to a meeting with Betsy DeVos when he encountered some public school teachers, who were picketing with signs saying they loved their public schools.

Turzai found this deeply offensive, and he proceeded to lambaste the teachers as a “special interest group” defending a “monopoly.”


Monday, September 23, 2019

In Case You Missed It – Sep 23, 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.


PA: Zombie Board Says Charter Free To Do Whatever The Heck It Wants

See the similarities with Indiana?

From Curmudgucation
The charter in question is Franklin Towne Charter. The charter has attracted attention in the past for a variety of reasons.

There's the time a fired principal filed a whistle blower suit, charging that he's been terminated because he pointed out that some Franklin Towne practices such as non-serving ESL students, serious nepotism, and billing the Philly school district for a non-existent all-day kindergarten program. Also, that they had lied to him in his initial interview in order to cover up their high principal turnover rate (it was only later that he learned that the Chief Academic Officer who helped interview him had been removed from the principalship because of outcry over shoplifting and excessive use of force against students). After a pattern of retaliation developed against him, he took it to the board president who allegedly replied, "You know we cannot move forward with you as principal."

Franklin Towne's CEO also pulled the old "rent the building from yourself" dodge, a great way to rake in those public taxpayer dollars (Franklin Towne was not the only charter to pull this stunt). You can (and they apparently did) make even more money by mortgaging the building to the hilt-- essentially extracting the equity value, converting it to cash, and sticking the cash in your pocket.


How a Minnesota Foundation Wasted $45 Million on a Failed Plan to Reform Teacher Education

From Diane Ravitch
Rob Levine, a Resistance-to-Privatization blogger in Minneapolis, reports here on the failure of the Bush Foundation’s bold “teacher effectiveness” initiative, which cost $45 million. All wasted.

The foundation set bold goals. It did not meet any of them.


One-third of Indiana 10th graders passed ISTEP in 2019. Find your high school’s results.

A great thing to ponder about both ILEARN and ISTEP is how the cut scores are decided upon. And what do those scores show or prove exactly? It also might be good to ponder the overall question of why we are wasting our tax dollars on these tests and how they are used against our public schools in terms of funding.

From Chalkbeat*
Low-income students saw a passing rate more than 25 percentage points lower than students who don’t qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.


Meet the Democrats Who Support the Betsy DeVos Agenda

Democrats at these meetings have included Colorado Governor Jared Polis, Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Democratic presidential candidate Senator Michael Bennett, Former Secretaries of Education Arne Duncan and John King, Senator Chris Murphy, and for 2019, former US Attorney General Eric Holder.

From Diane Ravitch
Every year since 2014, Democrats who fervently support the privatization of public schools have gathered at a conference they pretentiously call “Camp Philos.”

Check the agenda of meetings present and past.

There you will see the lineup of Democrats who sneer at public schools and look on public school teachers with contempt.

These are the Democrats who support the DeVos agenda of disrupting and privatizing public schools.


Hidden dropouts: How Indiana schools can write off struggling students as home-schoolers

Charter Schools USA doesn’t seem to be a good choice for Indianapolis.

From Chalkbeat*
A Chalkbeat analysis of Indiana Department of Education data found that of the roughly 3,700 Indiana high school students in the class of 2018 officially recorded as leaving to home-school, more than half were concentrated in 61 of the state’s 507 high schools — campuses where the ratio of students leaving to home-school to those earning diplomas was far above the state average. Those striking numbers suggest that Indiana’s lax regulation of home schooling and its method for calculating graduation rates are masking the extent of many schools’ dropout problems.

“There’s no accountability or follow up or monitoring” of students who leave public education to home-school, said Robert Kunzman, managing director of the International Center for Home Education Research and a professor of education at Indiana University. “That’s clearly working against children’s interests.”


Want better readers? Spend less time teaching kids to find the main idea, ‘Knowledge Gap’ author Natalie Wexler argues

This is why teachers, not legislators, should determine how to teach Indiana's students. Excessive testing has caused (and will continue to cause) great harm to students. When we focus only on reading and math -- because those are on "the test" -- we're hampering our children’s ability to read by cutting out all the learning of background knowledge (science, social studies, the arts, etc.) that allows them to comprehend what they read. If you are not outraged about this, you are not paying attention.

From Chalkbeat
In the average public elementary school, third graders spend nearly two hours a day on reading instruction, according to a recent federal survey. That far outstrips any other subject, with math coming in second at around 70 minutes a day, and science and social studies getting about half an hour a day each.

Teachers may think this approach is the best way to improve students’ reading ability. But in her new book “The Knowledge Gap,” journalist Natalie Wexler argues against skimping on science and social studies and emphasizing specific reading skills. She says that this approach, paradoxically, hurts students’ ability to make sense of what they read. (Find an excerpt of the book here.)

She builds her case with cognitive science that suggests that once students have learned to sound out words — “decode” — the key to understanding a text is having solid background knowledge on the subject.

In other words, if you already know a lot about education, you’ll probably have an easier time making sense of articles in Chalkbeat than, say, in Foreign Policy.

The implication, Wexler says, is that schools should start teaching science and social studies content early and often. Wexler draws from the work of E.D. Hirsch, the University of Virginia professor and prominent advocate of these ideas.


Over 99% of Indiana voucher money goes to religious schools

From the Indiana Coalition for Public Education -- Monroe County
Since there are no financial reporting requirements for voucher schools, Indiana’s citizens have no way of knowing. Unlike public schools, which are held to transparency standards, private schools do not publish budgets and are not subject to public records requests. Neither are the private schools receiving vouchers audited by the State Board of Accounts. Are schools spending the money on teachers, curricular materials, and academic programs? Are they constructing new buildings, like the St. Nicholas School in Ripley County?

Are they directing some of it to the churches that historically supported them? Are they providing deserved benefits to their employees or outsized salaries for administrators? The legislators who lifted the voucher legislation from the American Legislative Exchange Council model bill did not think the public deserved to know.


Jeb Bush’s Chiefs for Change Plead for End to Backlash Against School Choice

From Diane Ravitch
The backlash against school choice, the demand to halt charter expansion, comes from an outraged public that supports their community public schools.

Only 6% of the students in the U.S. attend charter schools, most of which perform no better than or much worse than public schools. An even smaller number of students use vouchers, even when they are easily available, and the research increasingly converges on the conclusion that students who use vouchers are harmed by attending voucher schools.

The claim that poor kids should get “the same” access to elite private schools as rich kids is absurd. Rich parents pay $40,000-50,000 or more for schools like Lakeside in Seattle or Sidwell Friends in D.C. The typical voucher is worth about $5,000, maybe as much as $7,000, which gets poor kids into religious schools that lack certified teachers, not into Lakeside or Sidwell or their equivalent.


Finally, Democratic candidates talk about education in a debate. But nobody raised this key issue.

From the Answer Sheet
Finally, after three debates among Democratic presidential candidates with scarcely a question about education, a moderator, Linsey Davis of ABC News, raised the issue Thursday night. She asked some good questions — even if some candidates tried to skirt them or stated as fact things that may not, in fact, be true...

Some important issues were briefly raised, such as when Julián Castro, the former housing and urban development secretary in the Obama administration, said that improving schools cannot be divorced from housing, health care and social policy: “Our schools are segregated because our neighborhoods are segregated.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) raised another key issue when he noted that the United States has one of the world’s highest child poverty rates, which is a factor in academic achievement.

But the one thing that nobody discussed onstage is what many public education activists see as the root of public education’s problems: the funding system, which relies heavily, though not exclusively, on property taxes. The obvious result is that poorer neighborhoods have fewer funds and more cash-strapped schools. Federal money intended to help close the gap hasn’t come close.


Indiana: West Lafayette Public Schools Sues the State for Taking Their Property and Giving It to Charter Industry for $1

From Diane Ravitch
Rocky Killion, superintendent of the West Lafayette, Indiana, public school district, is a fighter for public schools. A few years ago, he helped to launch an outstanding film about the extremist assault on the public schools by privatizers; it is called Rise Above the Mark, and it showcases the good work done in Indiana’s public schools.

Now Rocky Killion is suing the state of Indiana for permitting an “unconstitutional land grab.” The legislature passed a law in 2011 declaring that any unused schools must be sold to charter operators for $1. Rocky Killion says this is wrong. The schools were paid for by the taxpayers, and they belong to the district, not to charter operators.


Texas Charter Schools: Don’t Believe the Boasting and Hype

From Diane Ravitch
William J. Gumbert has prepared statistical analyses of charter performance in Texas, based on state data.

Charters boast of their “success,” but the reality is far different from their claims. They don’t enroll similar demographics, their attrition rate is staggering, and their “wait lists” are unverified.

Their claims are a marketing tool.

They are not better than public schools.

They undermine and disrupt communities without producing better results.

Yet Texas is plunging headlong into this strategy that creates a dual system but benefits few students.


Two excellent articles about the charter privatization industry from blogger Steven Singer.

Charter School’s Two Dads – How a Hatred for Public School Gave Us School Privatization

From Gadflyonthewall Blog
...Nathan and Kolderie proposed that schools be authorized by statewide agencies that were separate from local districts. The state had the power, not communities or their elected representatives. That meant charters could be run not just by teachers but also by entrepreneurs. And that’s almost always who has been in charge of them ever since – corporations and business interests.

This was the goal Friedman and the deregulators had been fighting for since the 1950s finally realized – almost the same goal, it should be noted, as that behind school vouchers.

From the start, this was a business initiative. Competition between charters and authentic public schools was encouraged. And that included union busting. Thus charters were free of all the constraints of collective bargaining that districts had negotiated with their unions. The needs of workers and students were secondary to those of big business and the profit principle.

Shanker eventually realized this and repudiated what charter schools had become. But by then the damage was done...

Charter Schools Were Never a Good Idea. They Were a Corporate Plot All Along

From Gadflyonthewall Blog
America has been fooled by the charter school industry for too long.

The popular myth that charter schools were invented by unions to empower teachers and communities so that students would have better options is as phony as a three dollar bill.

The concept always was about privatizing schools to make money.

It has always been about stealing control of public education, enacting corporate welfare, engaging in union busting, and an abiding belief that the free hand of the market can do no wrong.
*Note: Financial sponsors of Chalkbeat include pro-privatization foundations and individuals such as EdChoice, Gates Family Foundation, The Walton Family Foundation, and others.