Monday, September 16, 2019

In Case You Missed It – Sep 16, 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.


Play v. Reading: How Flawed Thinking About Preschool Has Become Accepted Practice

Play is the way young children learn. We've all but taken play out of K-12 schools in the name of "rigor" and "accountability" and the same developmentally unsound practice is seeping into our preschools.

For further reading see:
From Nancy Bailey
"...DEY and the Alliance for Childhood have outlined the important role play still has for young children. The research indicates play is more likely to lead to reading than pushing children to do academic work during preschool and kindergarten.

Unfortunately, the talk is now about neurological studies and brain science. The claim is that we live in a new technologically advanced world, so this is justified. But this doesn’t justify pushing children to learn more advanced work where they become frustrated. Nor does it indicate that children need to be pushed to learn faster.

Scientists have known for years that learning happens in rich play environments where children have access to the kind of play found in the Roseville Cooperative Preschool. We know play is not a frivolous waste of time. Serious cognitive learning takes place when children have to think for themselves, and when they are given the kinds of opportunities to raise questions and wonder about the world they see around them.

It’s troubling that replacing play with reading is now the norm..."


Why some students with special needs struggled with ILEARN accommodations

From Chalkbeat
In past years, Bryant said she could read the directions and questions aloud to students who had a visual impairment. But last spring her students had to go to a dropdown menu at the top right of every question and select the speaker symbol. Bryant, who teaches for a special education co-op in southern Indiana, watched as some had trouble accessing it, or gave up trying.

“It wasn’t user-friendly,” she said. “To have to do that every time is just insane.”

Chalkbeat Indiana recently surveyed parents and educators on their experiences with ILEARN. Of the more than 50 respondents, 11 shared concerns related to special education accommodations. Some said problems with appropriate accommodations — including the clunky dropdown menus, lack of American Sign Language interpreters, and the decision to disallow calculators for grades 3-5 — were, in part, responsible for the statewide drop in test scores...


NY State Teachers Retirement Invests In K12 Inc.

One has to wonder why otherwise intelligent and educated people actively work against their own interests.

From Diane Ravitch
Why do teachers’ pension funds invest in stocks of corporations that are actively undermining public schools and their teachers?

K12 Inc. manages a chain of online charter schools that are noted for low performance, high attrition rates, and low graduation rates. Their teachers never meet students. They have large classes, no union.


Which Name Belongs On The List Of Modern Education Philanthropists? Dolly Parton.

Learn more on Dolly Parton's Imagination Library web site.

From Peter Greene (Curmudgucation) on Forbes
Parton the philanthropist has been busy ever since Parton the singer hit the big time. Much of her giving is done anonymously, but some of her projects include scholarships for high school students and a birthing unit for the local hospital. And while you may think of the Dollywood Amusement Park as a piece of country kitsch, it is also a reliable employer and economic engine in a high-poverty region.

But her crowning achievement may well be the Imagination Library.


‘If you love helping kids, do it!’ This retiring Colorado teacher has advice for the next generation

Retiring Colorado teacher featured on Chalkbeat, Indiana has a message for new teachers. It should be a message to our legislators and the public as well. “They need to realize this is an 80 hour a week job...”

From Chalkbeat*
Why did you decide to retire now — and how are you feeling about leaving the classroom? I wanted to do 35 years and ended at 33 years. Part of the reason was that the demands and meetings seemed endless — hours spent writing plans, standards, and collecting data. Class sizes of 30 to 32 kids were daunting. Getting around to each child, building relationships, communicating with all parents (regardless of what language they speak), it all took its toll on me. I will definitely miss the classroom but am tutoring and planning on subbing.

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


Monday, September 9, 2019

In Case You Missed It – Sep 9, 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.


What students do after graduating could determine their high school’s rating

Indiana already misuses standardized tests, developed to measure student achievement, to rate teachers and school. Here we find an absurd proposal to grade schools based on the success or failure of students after graduation -- as if there are no out-of-school variables to success.

From Chalkbeat
High schools in Indiana may soon be rated on what their students do after graduation — not just how many of them pass state tests and earn a diploma.

A committee of educators and lawmakers is considering changing Indiana’s high school grading system to account for the percentage of students that are enlisted, employed, or enrolled in post-secondary education within a year of graduating.

This approach is meant to align with the creation of graduation pathways, which offer Indiana high schoolers multiple options for completing the requirements to graduate. Students choose their path based on their interests, such as going to college or earning a technical certification.


Alabama Only Had 4 Charter Schools, So Betsy DeVos Gave The State $25 Million to Get More

From Diane Ravitch
Betsy DeVos was sad to see that Alabama had only four charter schools. So she awarded $25 million to an organization tasked with generating more private charters to drain money away from the state’s underfunded public schools.

The state charter commission has been mired in controversy since giving its approval to a Gulen charter school in a rural district where it was not wanted.


The biggest news items from the past week were about the new Indiana test, ILEARN.

Harmless? Hardly: Hurt spread wide by new standardized test

Speak Up! Speak Out! for your children and grandchildren! They, and their teachers and schools, are so much more than this test!

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
Taxpayers: You're picking up the bill for the state's broken assessment system. Indiana paid $39.7 million to the American Institutes for Research for the new ILEARN test. The British-owned Pearson Education was paid $38 million for the last version of the ISTEP+ assessment. When legislators boast of the large proportion of tax dollars spent on K-12 education, the figure includes the money paid to test vendors.

Hold harmless? Too late. Let's hold someone responsible.

Superintendents: Make one-year pause on ILEARN scores, school grades permanent

From the Journal & Courier
Standardized test scores should only be used for diagnostic purposes and nothing more. Remember former state Rep. Ray Richardson? Thirty-five years ago he created the legislation that called for a standardized test specifically designed to help teachers figure out which of their students needed help. Thus, ISTEP was born. Now, 35 years later, he regrets getting that legislation passed. As reported by Matthew Tully in the Indianapolis Star on Jan. 28, 2016, Richardson says, “It’s being used exclusively to grade schools and teachers. … That was never the intent.”

Allen County superintendents urge community to look past low ILEARN results

Even with the lower scores, the superintendents said that they are not overly concerned with the low scores because they do not use the results in any way. The tests are administered at the end of one school year and the results do not come until the start of the next, so there is no way to follow up with students who may of been struggling.

Search for your school’s 2019 ILEARN results

This article has a link so you can look up your school’s ILEARN scores. Not happy with what you see? Call a legislator and tell them they need to listen to and value the input of actual educators over business leaders and politicians.

From Chalkbeat
The first year of ILEARN scores were released Wednesday. As many educators warned, results were low, with only 37.1% of students passing both math and English.

The new test is more rigorous than previous versions because it is computer adaptive, meaning questions get harder or easier as students get answers right or wrong, and focuses on different skills more closely linked to college and career readiness.

Indiana education officials delay release of A-F grades amid poor ILEARN scores

From Chalkbeat
Such a move undercuts the test’s role as an accountability metric for the state. It also has fueled debate over whether the test is a useful measure of student achievement.

This year’s test scores didn’t go down as significantly as they did in 2015, but did see the lowest statewide passing percentages in recent history. State officials said they were expecting to see a drop because of the tests new format and increased rigor.

Fewer than half of Hoosier students pass ILEARN

"When asked why Indiana finds itself here again, McCormick said, 'we are who we vote for.'"

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette

Fewer than half of Indiana's students passed the new ILEARN standardized test – a significant drop that state officials already are trying to combat.

In all, 47.9% of students in grades 3 through 8 were deemed proficient in English Language Arts and 47.8% in math. Just 37.1% passed both.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick acknowledged that implementation dips usually come with a new assessment. Compared to last year, scores dropped 16% in English and 11% in math.

But she defended the students – noting college entrance scores and those on the National Assessment of Educational Progress show improvement.

“Their performance is not backsliding,” McCormick said. “There are promising trends of student performance. This assessment and threshold was much more rigorous.”

ILEARN fails as effective student measuring stick

From Chris Himsel, Superintendent of Northwest Allen County Schools wrote this op-ed in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
To stop perpetuating the fallacy of state-mandated testing, we need your help.

We need your help in demanding that policymakers reduce and deemphasize state-mandated testing. We need your help in demanding that policymakers refocus on investing in the development of the many unique talents possessed by each child.


Monday, September 2, 2019

In Case You Missed It – Sept 2, 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.


ILEARN fails as effective student measuring stick

From NACS Superintendent Chris Himsel in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
ILEARN represents the sixth time the state tests, the standards tested on the tests, or the company administering the tests has changed since 2009, and the third since 2015. Each change resulted in a new state-defined passing score. For this and many other reasons, the “passing” results are arbitrary.

Schools and districts have been informed that the percentage of students meeting or exceeding the newly defined “passing” scores is much lower than in previous years.

The lower scores do not reflect a lack of performance by our students, teachers or schools.

Instead, the scores highlight the misuse of standardized tests and the fallacy of one-size-fits-all testing and accountability systems. Indiana began implementing the fallacy with PL 221 more than 20 years ago after passage of the federal law, No Child Left Behind.

McCormick: It’s time to change school grading system

From School Matters
Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick is tapping into the alarm over results of Indiana’s new ILEARN standardized assessment to call for changes in how the state evaluates schools.

She said the test scores “once again show us the importance of developing a modernized, state-legislated accountability system that is fair, accurate and transparent.”

5 times problems derailed Indiana’s standardized tests

How much would you pay for something that has no real use or value to you and doesn’t even work a lot of the time? Asking for some Hoosier legislators.

From Chalkbeat
Standardized testing in Indiana has been called into question repeatedly over the past decade. ISTEP, which was given for 30 years through 2018 and is still being used in Indiana high schools, was plagued with technological issues. And now, following the transition to ILEARN, state test scores are said to be low in both English and math; those scores are set to be released publicly on Sept. 4, though schools received them earlier this month.

This time around, the decline isn’t the result of a technical glitch. School officials are attributing it in large part to ILEARN’s new computer-adaptive format and its introduction of some new content.

ILEARN results: déjà vu all over again

From School Matters
Here we go again. Indiana has a new standardized test, the results sound bad, and educators are calling on the state to hold off on imposing consequences on schools or teachers using new test scores.

Today, Gov. Eric Holcomb joined the call for a “pause” in accountability based on the tests. House and Senate leaders concurred, which means it’s almost certain to happen. Results from the new assessment, called ILEARN, are scheduled to be made public at the Sept. 4 State Board of Education meeting.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because we went through the same thing just four years ago. Then, Indiana adopted new, more stringent learning standards, and the state test, called ISTEP, was revised to incorporate them. Test scores plummeted, and lawmakers approved “hold harmless” legislation that prevented the new test from hurting schools’ letter grades.

ILEARN scores are expected to be low. Holcomb, McCormick don’t want that to hurt teacher pay, school grades.

Not only should we hold our teachers and schools harmless, we should also hold the students harmless.

From Chalkbeat
With the scores for Indiana’s new standardized test expected to be low, state officials fear that what was supposed to be a more reliable measure of student, teacher and school performance may prove meaningless.

ILEARN scores are said to be low across the state in both English and math. As a result, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb is asking legislators to pass a “hold harmless” exemption, which would protect schools and teachers from being negatively affected.

Such a move undercuts the test’s role as an accountability metric for the state. It could also fuel the debate over whether the test is a useful measure of student achievement, especially if it isn’t comparable year-over-year.


GEO charter network to get a second chance in Indianapolis

Why are the people in Indiana ok with this waste of money?

From Chalkbeat*
The GEO Academies is returning to Indianapolis eight years after the mayor’s office sought to close one of their schools for poor performance — a conflict that eventually pushed the charter operator out of the city.

The Indiana Charter School Board voted 6-2 Friday afternoon to authorize the new school, which hopes to open its doors in 2020.

Board members quit after two embattled Indiana virtual schools lose their charters

It seems that the people involved with these charters are not the kind of people who take responsibility for their actions on their own. It would be nice to have a legislature which wouldn’t give our tax dollars and free rein to these types of folks.

From Chalkbeat
After losing their charters Monday night, two embattled virtual charter schools were scheduled to hold board meetings Tuesday night to discuss finishing the process of shutting down.

But that discussion never happened because Indiana Virtual School and Indiana Virtual Pathways Academy no longer had any board members.

“There’s no one left,” said the schools’ attorney, Mary Jane Lapointe.

Two board members, Thomas A. Krudy and Sam Manghelli, resigned during an executive session held in the lobby of an Indianapolis office building because they were locked out of the virtual schools’ fourth-floor suite.


Teachers across northern Indiana speak out, demand increased pay: 'It's grim, very grim'

Teachers from across northern Indiana packed the cafeteria at Concord Junior High Tuesday night.

They were there to speak to a commission put together by Governor Eric Holcomb. It's tasked with finding ways to increase teacher pay in Indiana.

Indiana has a reputation as one of the worst states for teacher pay.

Our Operation Education team reported a couple of weeks ago that Indiana teachers rank last in the country for salary growth since 2002.

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


Monday, August 26, 2019

In Case You Missed It – Aug 26, 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.


David Koch Dies, Funder of Attacks on Public Schools

From Diane Ravitch
David Koch died of cancer a few days ago. He and his brother funded the free-market libertarianism that fueled the rise of the Tea Party and Trumpism. They zealously fought to destroy any government program that helped people, from Medicare to Social Security.

They were major funders of ALEC. They opposed any government regulations.

The story in the New York Times falls to mention that they funded attacks on public education and teacher certification, and they zealously supported charter schools and vouchers.


Teachers who continued to work at failing Indiana virtual schools won’t get a final paycheck

These two virtual charter schools over-collected $47 million yet they can’t find the money to pay their teachers for their last month’s work? They suggest the teachers try to get their money from Daleville.

From Chalkbeat*
When Indiana Virtual School and Indiana Virtual Pathways Academy agreed to close amid enrollment scrutiny earlier this summer, special education teacher Andi Helms started looking for another job.

But even after she found a position at another school, Helms kept working for the troubled online schools at night, reviewing special education plans and helping students finish classes and transfer to new schools. Even as the schools began to collapse — their state funding cut off entirely — Helms felt strongly that she couldn’t leave students in the lurch.

“We were pretty sure we weren’t going to get paid,” she said. “They knew there were no funds a month ago. They simply wanted us to finish the job, because they knew we wouldn’t leave our kids high and dry.”

This week, Mary Jane Lapointe, an attorney for the two virtual schools, delivered the anticipated bad news: Teachers wouldn’t be paid for the work they did between July 15 and Aug. 15.

As they ask for more money, two Indiana virtual schools say they are all but closed

From Chalkbeat
...despite painting a picture of schools that are all but shut down, she asked the oversight agency, Daleville Community Schools, for money to finish closing the schools — or even to keep them open, saying the schools’ problems could “go away eventually.” Lapointe also disputed the state auditors’ recent findings that the schools had over-reported enrollment and taken in $47 million more in state funding than they should have.


Six ways Trump’s new ‘public benefits’ immigration policies could hurt children and schools

From the Answer Sheet
This post looks at how children and public schools could be harmed by this legislation. It comes from the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) at the University of Colorado at Boulder, which seeks to publish high-quality research on issues affecting education. It is directed by Kevin Welner, who is a professor at the school specializing in educational policy and law.


Kindergarten has become a critical year of learning, but Indiana still doesn’t require it

Let’s advocate for Kindergarten in our state, but let's make sure the early grades in our schools are developmentally appropriate. Help our legislators know that when we ask for Kindergarten, we are asking for play, music, art, snacks, and stories— and not for sitting at a desk and using a computer screen or a pencil for hours on end.

From Chalkbeat
“The reality is that we have kids who come into kindergarten or first grade classrooms that don’t even know how to hold a book,” McCormick said. “They haven’t been exposed to print. Sometimes they’re not potty trained.”

The sooner those kids can get into a high-quality educational setting, the better, she said.

McCormick said her team will continue to advocate for a variety of strategies to strengthen Indiana’s early childhood education landscape. Mandatory kindergarten is still on the wish list.


The Thirteen Presenters Who Will Ruin Your First Day Back

Beginning of the year teacher inservice should be short, informative, and inspirational. Too often, it is none of those things.

From Curmudgucation
It's been a great summer. You've had a chance to recharge and reflect. You've developed some new ideas, units, and materials, and most importantly, away from the dailiness of the job, you have gotten back in touch with all the reasons you love the work. You cannot wait to get back to it., take a couple of in service days to get fully up to speed, and then-- bring on the students!

Unfortunately, your administration thinks that your very first day(s) back should be spent sitting in some professional development sessions. In some lucky few school districts, these sessions will actually be useful and even inspiring. But if you are really unfortunate, you'll spend those sessions with one of these soul-crushing people...


‘This is not rocket science’: Indiana educators bring ideas for raising teacher pay to Holcomb’s commission

From Chalkbeat
The suggestions put forth over more than two hours largely reiterated familiar calls: to reallocate funding from charter schools to public schools, strengthen teachers’ power to bargain their contracts, and bring back a pay scale that guarantees more pay for teachers each year they work.

Many teachers said they were thankful for the opportunity to be heard — but said they had shared these suggestions before.


Remembering Phyllis

From Facebook and NEIFPE
Teacher, Ohio public education activist, and friend of NEIFPE, Dan Greenberg posted this remembrance of NEIFPE co-founder Phyllis Bush this morning on Facebook.


A true public education: To fully prepare students for life outside school, a curriculum of citizenship is essential

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
For our democracy to thrive, we citizens must be engaged in the community, understand how local, state, and national policies and rhetoric affect our lives, and be informed voters. We must work toward the day when no elected official ever misrepresents American history (even if the teleprompter is covered with raindrops), where elected representatives speak truth to power, and where the average citizen can differentiate between legitimate information and propaganda, real news and fake news, truth and lies.

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


Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #339 – August 19, 2019

Dear Friends,

“Traditional public education is nothing less than the cornerstone of democracy.” Unraveling Reform Rhetoric, p. 81

Two of the three authors of an important new book will lead off the annual ICPE membership meeting in Indianapolis this coming Saturday, August 24th. Don’t miss it!

If you support public schools and want to keep them public, we need you!

When: Saturday, August 24, 2019, 2 – 4 p.m.

Where: H. Dean Evans Community Center, MSD of Washington Township
86th & Woodfield Crossing Blvd, Indianapolis

What: Annual Indianapolis meeting of the Indiana Coalition for Public Education

Open to all ICPE members and to all who support public education.

Speakers are: Dr. Michael Shaffer (Ball State University) and Dr. Jeff Swensson (Ball State retired, former superintendent in Carmel) will speak. They have authored (along with Dr. John Ellis, former executive director of the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents after serving as superintendent in Noblesville and Jennings County) a new book entitled Unraveling Reform Rhetoric: What Educators Need to Know and Understand, which raises questions about recent education reforms. They will share their concerns described in the book about the differences between traditional public education and free-market schooling.

The three authors address fundamental questions about the current battle to maintain traditional public schools:

“If free market theory disconnects individuals from their responsibilities and obligations to create and maintain the public good, what happens to U.S. democracy? If what is known about the potential of traditional public education is lost, can the primacy of self-interest suffice for the good of the nation?” (Unraveling Reform Rhetoric, p. 79)

The book’s analysis is based on a premise familiar to public school advocates: “The future of U.S. students and the future of democracy depend on an inclusive, academically rigorous, and socially just traditional public education.” (p. 8)

Come and hear more from the authors!

PLUS Joel Hand will speak, our outstanding ICPE lobbyist for all nine General Assembly sessions since ICPE was founded in 2011. He will overview the 2019 session, especially ICPE’s efforts to improve the budget, and then share what he expects to emerge in the 2020 session.

9th Annual Fall Membership Meeting in Indianapolis

For the ninth fall, the Indiana Coalition for Public Education is inviting all ICPE members as well as all who support public education to come to the Washington Township Community and Education Center. The future of public education in Indiana hangs in the balance.

Come for information and great networking with other public school advocates. Come in support of public education!

Please join us on August 24 at 2 p.m.!

Bring a public education friend with you! RSVPs aren’t required, but feel free to email us at to let us know you’re coming.

Thank you for your active support of public education in Indiana!

Best wishes,

Vic Smith

“Vic’s Statehouse Notes” and ICPE received one of three Excellence in Media Awards presented by Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, an organization of over 85,000 women educators in seventeen countries. The award was presented on July 30, 2014 during the Delta Kappa Gamma International Convention held in Indianapolis. Thank you Delta Kappa Gamma!

ICPE has worked since 2011 to promote public education in the Statehouse and oppose the privatization of schools. We need your membership to help support ICPE lobbying efforts. As of July 1st, the start of our new membership year, it is time for all ICPE members to renew their membership.

Our lobbyist Joel Hand represented ICPE extremely well during the 2019 budget session. We need your memberships and your support to continue his work. We welcome additional members and additional donations. We need your help and the help of your colleagues who support public education! Please pass the word!

Go to for membership and renewal information and for full information on ICPE efforts on behalf of public education. Thanks!

Some readers have asked about my background in Indiana public schools. Thanks for asking! Here is a brief bio:

I am a lifelong Hoosier and began teaching in 1969. I served as a social studies teacher, curriculum developer, state research and evaluation consultant, state social studies consultant, district social studies supervisor, assistant principal, principal, educational association staff member, and adjunct university professor. I worked for Garrett-Keyser-Butler Schools, the Indiana University Social Studies Development Center, the Indiana Department of Education, the Indianapolis Public Schools, IUPUI, and the Indiana Urban Schools Association, from which I retired as Associate Director in 2009. I hold three degrees: B.A. in Ed., Ball State University, 1969; M.S. in Ed., Indiana University, 1972; and Ed.D., Indiana University, 1977, along with a Teacher’s Life License and a Superintendent’s License, 1998. In 2013 I was honored to receive a Distinguished Alumni Award from the IU School of Education, and in 2014 I was honored to be named to the Teacher Education Hall of Fame by the Association for Teacher Education – Indiana. In April of 2018, I was honored to receive the 2018 Friend of Education Award from the Indiana State Teachers Association.


Monday, August 19, 2019

In Case You Missed It – Aug 19, 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.


New Orleans: How a Student Graduated Although She Could Not Count or Read

From Diane Ravitch
The parents of a student in New Orleans were dismayed when they realized that their daughter would graduate from high school even though she could neither count nor read. She was surely entitled under federal law to extra help but she never got it. Now she is a statistic: a graduate. A victory for the all-charter system that failed her.


$1,200 in textbook rentals? Parents battle book fees

“If you can’t fund it, you could at least give the families a tax credit or tax deduction for paying that, because we do that for private school parents and we do that for home school parents,” said Shank. “So why can’t we do that for everyday parents who are sending their kids to public schools?”

This month Indiana families will pay millions of dollars in school book fees for their students in public schools, but some families and groups are hoping this could be the last year.

The Indiana Coalition for Public Education states Indiana is one of eight states that charges parents for students’ textbook fees, indicating that 42 other states have “figured out how to do it.”

“We heard from a parent who had lived in three different states where books were covered,” said Marilyn Shank, vice president of the ICPE. “They moved to Indiana with five children and they were astonished to get a bill for $1,200.”


Schools leader: Indiana ‘in desperate need of a lot of teachers’

As many students across the state returned to school, the Indiana Department of Education School Personnel Job Bank on Tuesday showed more than 600 available teacher positions.

“We’re in a teacher shortage. We’re in an administrator shortage. We’re in an educator shortage,” said Jennifer McCormick, the state superintendent of public instruction, on Tuesday. “We’re also in a bus driver shortage. We’re in a school cafeteria worker shortage. The list goes on.”

“A lot of it goes back to pay,” McCormick said. “We can tip-toe around the issue, but a lot of it, when you have unemployment this low across the state of Indiana and across the nation, it goes back to pay.”

McCormick said 3,500 teachers were on emergency teaching permits in 2018. The Department of Education’s website says, “An Emergency Permit is issued at the request of a school district in a content area for which the district is experiencing difficulty staffing the assignment with a properly licensed educator.”

“We’re in desperate need of a lot of teachers,” McCormick said.


Without enough students or cash, 5 Indianapolis charter schools closed. Now, 6 new ones are opening.

Indiana spends money on closing charters instead of using our tax dollars to support public schools which serve all children.

From Chalkbeat*
Six new charter schools are opening in Indianapolis this year. At the same time, five charter schools closed their doors in the face of enrollment, financial, or academics woes.

The new schools have various focuses, such as project-based learning or educating students with autism, and most are expansions of existing Indianapolis charter networks. They serve students in K-12 — notably including two high schools that are taking root just one year after Indianapolis Public Schools closed three campuses due to low enrollment. Indianapolis schools must compete for students and, therefore, viability, and each year a handful of charter schools, which are publicly funded and privately managed, are forced to shutter.

The five schools that closed this year were two schools in one of the city’s highest-performing charter networks, a school that was given a second life after closing once before, a tiny elementary school, and a campus dedicated to serving troubled teens.


Indianapolis ends preschool program, leaving 3-year-olds without access to scholarships

From Chalkbeat
Hundreds of 3-year-olds in Indianapolis will no longer qualify for preschool funding now that the city is ending its scholarship initiative.

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett did not include $4.2 million for the Indy Preschool Scholarship Program in his 2020 budget, unveiled Monday.

The scholarship program, which will end after this school year, paid for 6,526 3- and 4-year-olds from low-income families to attend high-quality programs of their choice over the past four years.

On My Way Pre-K, a state-funded $22 million preschool voucher program that was launched soon after the city’s pilot, will largely take its place. The state program serves some 3,000 4-year-olds from low-income families.

It doesn’t, however, accept 3-year-olds.


Some snow days to become e-learning days at NACS

From Fort Wayne's NBC
Teachers and staff at Northwest Allen County Schools are getting everything ready to welcome students back to class on Wednesday.

The district is instituting a big change this year as it slowly rolls out e-learning days in place of some snow days.

IT staff at Northwest Allen County Schools are in all the buildings, getting the technology cleaned and ready for students to return to class.

“Right now we’re putting new students into them that are coming in at the last minute, taking withdrawal students out. We’re sorting, we’re cleaning, we’re just preparing everything to have the best start for school,” says NACS computer technician Pat Thurber.

The district distributes 7500 devices like tablets and laptops for students, plus teachers and staff.


Trump’s War Against Latinos

From Diane Ravitch
Jack Hassard writes about the excitement of the first day of school. The children in their best clothes, looking forward to meeting their new teacher. But when school is over, their parents are nowhere to be found. They were arrested by ICE.

The mass arrest of 680 workers in Mississippi occurred only days after the slaughter in El Paso, where the killer targeted what he thought were Mexicans.

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


Sunday, August 18, 2019

Remembering Phyllis

Dan Greenberg
Teacher, Ohio public education activist, and friend of NEIFPE, Dan Greenberg posted this remembrance of NEIFPE co-founder Phyllis Bush this morning on Facebook.
Just like many of my students, I procrastinated when it came to completing my Summer reading homework for English 9, Tuesday's with Morrie.

It took me two days to complete, but the lessons and ideas will take me a lot longer to sort out and reflect upon.

As I read it, I found myself thinking often of my friend Phyllis Bush, who passed away earlier this year. I thought about the in-person lessons she shared, as well as her heartfelt, often humorous posts about her adventures with "cancer schmantzer." She shared life philosophies and stories about riding the electric carts at the grocery store.

She titled a blog entry from last October "Side Effects: The Gift that Keeps on Giving." Always looking to lighten up the serious subject and the serious disease she was fighting...

Mitch Albom, in his Afterword to Tuesdays with Morrie, wrote "[W]hat I miss the twinkle in Morrie's eyes when I came in the room...[W]hen someone is happy - genuinely happy - to see you, it melts you from the start. It is like going home..."

I got that look many times from Phyllis, including the last time I visited with her, in December. When I was ready to leave, she gave me a long hug, heartfelt words and a huge smile. I knew she was saying goodbye to me for the last time.

When I checked Facebook Memories this morning, the image I saw could not have been more fitting; a picture of Phyllis. It was one year ago that Nicki and I went to her 75th birthday party in Fort Wayne.

Missing you and thinking of you Phyllis, today and always.


Monday, August 12, 2019

In Case You Missed It – Aug 12, 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.


Beware of Right-Wing Groups Promoting Union-Busting Shell Called “Free to Teach”

From Diane Ravitch
...These organizations are part of a massive network of right-wing groups called the State Policy Network. These organizations have donated HUNDREDS OF MILLION OF DOLLARS to extreme right causes: many anti-union and pro-educational privatization. These organizations are funded by billionaires including the Koch Brothers and Richard and Helen DeVos—the parents-in-law of Betsy DeVos. They also fund the Mackinac Center in Michigan, a favorite cause of Betsy DeVos, which works to crush unions and workers’ rights...


Charie Gibson was homeless 17 times. Now she helps more than 1,000 homeless students in Indianapolis.

From Chalkbeat
As the sole administrator responsible for serving the more than 1,000 homeless students in Indianapolis Public Schools, Gibson knows, perhaps better than anyone else in the district, the laws, policies, and resources students need to find stability. She also serves students in foster care.


Trump: Kids scared of going to school because of gun violence ‘have nothing to fear'

From the Answer Sheet
“They have nothing to fear.”

That’s what President Trump said Friday when asked if he had any advice for students who are returning to class for the 2019-2020 school year and are afraid because of recent gun violence.

His response came as he was answering questions from reporters on the White House lawn before departing for the Hamptons in New York, where he was expected to attend a high-priced fundraiser. He answered queries about gun-control legislation — saying he wanted “very meaningful” checks to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people — and other issues, including immigration raids in Mississippi and the trade war with China.

More than halfway through the nearly 35-minute exchange, a reporter asked the president if he had advice for children going to school amid fear of gun violence following recent mass shootings in California, Texas and Ohio. This is what he said...


An Indianapolis charter school is going out on its own — and saying goodbye to its longtime network

It would be nice if Chalkbeat would tell us what the success rate for Lighthouse was. Especially since the article indicates that the difference will be mostly just a change in name. And about that $450,000 they’ll be saving? Who was paying for that in the first place? And what are the enrollment figures? Is there really a need for this diversion of resources from the public schools to exist in the first place?

From Chalkbeat
After years of being managed from afar by the charter network that started it, the local board that oversees Victory is betting that it can operate independently — all the while saving roughly $450,000 in administrative costs.

The shift is the latest sign that Indianapolis is increasingly a city where charter schools, which are publicly funded and privately run, are local — rather than part of a large national network. In this changing ecosystem, local charter leaders have increasing support to manage their schools without the expertise of larger networks.


West Lafayette Schools Opt Out of 1:1 Technology

Students in the Lafayette School Corporation will head back today with access to 1:1 technology.

The Tippecanoe School Corporation also participates in the program that allows certain grade levels to get their own electronic device to use at school and home.

But the West Lafayette Community School Corporation has opted out of the program.

When it comes to technology in the classroom, the goal is to teach kids to use it constructively.

Superintendent Rocky Killion said teachers focus on instructional research practices. He said the goal is to make kids critical thinkers so they can make more informed decisions when researching.


Bill Phillis: Online For-Profit Charters Are Corrupt

From Diane Ravitch
...unregulated, for-profit online charters are prone to corruption. When will public officials acknowledge that online charters are a public policy mistake?


Pennsylvania Law Meant to Forbid Arming Teachers May Have Done Just the Opposite

From Gadflyonthewall Blog
Pennsylvania teachers, don’t forget to pack your Glock when returning to school this year.

A new law meant to close the door on arming teachers may have cracked it open.

Despite warnings from gun safety activists, the bill, SB 621, was approved by the legislature and signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf this summer.

The legislation explicitly allows security guards – independent contractors who are not members of law enforcement – to carry guns in schools if they go through special training.

And that’s bad enough.

Why you’d want glorified rent-a-cops with guns strapped to their hips running around schools full of children is beyond me.

That’s not going to make anyone safer. It’s going to do just the opposite.

But that’s not even the worst of it.


'Tired Of Being Treated Like Dirt' Teacher Morale In The 2019 PDK Poll

Low pay for a job that is vitally important and that requires both skill and education is a clear sign of disrespect. Gov. Holcomb, his commission, and our Hoosier legislators seem to not understand this point.

From Peter Greene in Forbes
Inadequate pay is the marquee reason, and notably regional. Public school teachers are far less likely to feel fairly paid in the South and Midwest. That reason is followed closely by stress and pressure, which is followed by a lack of respect. Lack of support. Teaching no longer enjoyable. Testing requirements. Workload.

These are tied together with the single thread of distrust and disrespect for teachers. This has been evident on the national stage with issues like installing a Secretary of Education who had previously dismissed public education as a "dead end" or a Secretary of Education who asserts that student failure is because of low teacher expectations. Education has also carried the modern burden of the thesis that poor education is the cause of poverty, or even our "greatest national security threat," and so the entire fate of the nation rests on teachers' backs. And yet, teachers are not trusted to handle any of this; instead, we've had decades of federal and state programs meant to force teachers to do a better job. In the classroom, much of these "reforms" have sounded like "You can't do a good job unless you are threatened, micromanaged, and stripped of your autonomy." There is a special kind of stress that comes from working for someone who says, in effect, "You have a big important job to do, and we do not trust you to do it."


Joe Biden: Where Does He Stand on Race to the Top?

From Diane Ravitch
I am not a one-issue voter but I sincerely hope that Democrats have a candidate who will reverse the ruinous education policies of the past four decades. Our nation has invested in standards, testing, accountability, and choice with nothing to show for it.

Many states today spend less on education than they did eleven years ago, and millions of teachers are not paid or respected as professionals. Many states cut taxes and cut their education budgets yet expanded privatization by charters and vouchers, diverting even more money away from the public schools that most students attend.


Harold Meyerson on Walmart and Guns

From Diane Ravitch
The Walton Family, which owns Walmart, is the richest family in the world. Their family foundation is the single biggest supporter of charter schools. They say they funded one of every four charters in the nation.


Note to the National NAACP: Ignore Michael Bloomberg

From Diane Ravitch
Billionaire Michael Bloomberg spoke to the national convention of the NAACP about why they should believe in the saving power of privately managed charter schools. He tried to persuade them to rescind their brave 2016 resolution calling for a moratorium on new charters.


In the Public Interest: Inside the LA Teachers’ Strike

From Diane Ravitch
The photograph below was taken during the UTLA strike last January. The guy in the center is famous rocker Stevie Van Zandt, who loves teachers and public schools and unions. Stevie is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He played in Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band.


Florida: Principal Doubles Salary When Public School Turns Charter

From Diane Ravitch
What a payoff!

A principal in Florida doubled his salary when his public schools converted to a charter, which is what the rightwing governor and legislator want to happen.

Meanwhile teachers In the state are raising money to pay for basic school supplies for their students.


WLCSC Feeling the Impact of Statewide Teacher Problems

The West Lafayette Community School Corporation starts classes Thursday, and it's beginning the school year with about 15 new educators. However, it isn't because they're hiring additional teachers.

Superintendent Rocky Killion said most of the positions opened due to teachers retiring, leaving the profession or moving on to states that pay educators more.

Killion said filling the jobs is becoming harder and harder due to a dwindling number of candidates. While positions are hard to fill across the board, he said secondary teachers in specialized topics, like vocational and foreign language, are the most difficult to hire.

He said the state isn't funding education enough to allow school to pay teachers well.


Monday, August 5, 2019

In Case You Missed It – Aug 5, 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.


Indianapolis charter school for troubled youth closes days before school starts

Charters don't seem to be "the answer." Real public schools are part of the community and the community has a stake in their support. Charter schools feel free to bolt when they get in a "financial bind."

From Chalkbeat
A struggling Indianapolis charter school designed to serve the city’s most troubled youth will close just days before the beginning of the school year, officials said Friday.

Marion Academy, which enrolled about 120 students in grades 6 to12 last year, was created for students who have been in the juvenile justice system, were expelled or were at-risk of expulsion. It also ran a program for students in the Marion County Juvenile Detention Center that served about 60 students.

The school was in a financial bind because it struggled to recruit students and the juvenile detention center chose to find another education partner, according to a press release. “Budget projections were not strong enough to get the school through the 2019-20 year,” the release said. In 2018, Marion Academy had among the lowest passing rates on state tests in the county for 3-8 grades, and no students passed both the math and English state high school tests.


Kentucky: Governor Bevin and GOP Legislators Steal Teachers’ Pension Funds

From Diane Ravitch
The Kentucky public pension “deform” abomination signed by Governor Bevin July 24, 2019 – opposed by all Senate Democrats and 9 Republicans in the Kentucky Senate, deforms the pensions – it does not reform them.

The essential knife-thrusts to the heart of the government retiree pension are these:

1) It clips future hires from the plan (and future pay-ins).

2) It allows 118 quasi-governmental agencies (rape crisis centers; health departments, regional universities, etc.) to buy out of the retirement plan with only vague plans to pay off their 30-year pension deb.

The amounts owed are so large it is daft to think the agencies could meet their obligations without declaring bankruptcy and then consequently cutting the benefits of retirees…


Should A Teacher Be Secretary of Education

"The devil, as always, is in the details."

From Curmudgucation
One up-and-coming education policy idea that was first proposed by Elizabeth Warren, but has now garnered wider candidate support, is the notion that a teacher should be the next secretary of education. At last count, four major candidates were supporting some version of the idea. It's an arresting and appealing idea. Betsy DeVos is widely seen as a controversial opponent of public education, and in many education circles, predecessors like Arne Duncan were not much loved, either. Many teachers feel that the folks in D.C. just don't get it, so the idea of someone from the trenches who would, presumably, get it--well, it's an attractive idea. Now we have to ask--is it a good idea?


To recruit teachers, Indianapolis built an Educators’ Village. But was it enough of an incentive?

The Teacher Village seems like a pretty convoluted plan to attempt to entice people to teach. Perhaps committing to paying them decent salaries would have been a more successful plan.

From Chalkbeat
Each stakeholder admitted the development so far hasn’t been effective in recruiting and retaining teachers in the Indianapolis Public Schools area, a high-turnover district in a state where nearly 9% of teachers left the classroom for reasons other than retirement in recent years. Although at least one buyer teaches at Thomas Gregg Neighborhood School — an IPS school within walking distance of the village — it remains unclear how many of the seven teachers work in the urban core. And several buyers, including Lefler, chose to teach in different districts.

Observers believe several issues led to the development not attracting more teachers. While the homes were set below market value for buyers of a certain income, there was no incentive specifically for teachers set by area schools, and housing laws prohibit restricting buyers to a particular group of people. Outreach efforts fell short, and the application and income eligibility processes were lengthy.


Report: Most states find public money to pay for charter school buildings. Not Michigan.

Wondering why charters with no proof of academic success, fiscal accountability or consideration for the real needs of a community think they should just be given a building to operate in or the cash to buy one.

From Chalkbeat
To critics in Michigan, less charter growth is a good thing. Charter schools can cause financial problems for traditional districts by taking their students — and the students’ roughly $8,000 in annual state funds. Unlike Massachusetts, which sends money to traditional districts to offset the effects of losing students to charter schools, Michigan has no such policy in place.

Other states help charter schools find buildings by giving them access to property tax dollars — the same method used by traditional districts in Michigan to cover facilities costs. Dozens more states provide loans, grants, or direct funding for charter school facilities.


Peter Greene: Charter Schools and the Elephant in the Room

From Diane Ravitch
Peter Greene points out in this post that legislatures have a nasty habit of overlooking the central question about charter schools: their funding.

They pretend that they can run two publicly funded school systems without any additional cost.

They pretend that the funding for charters is not subtracted from the funding for public schools.


Florida: Teachers in Orange County Overwhelmingly Reject New Contract

From Diane Ravitch
It is outrageous that teachers are paid so little, and that the state continues diverting public money to charters and vouchers.

What does the future hold for Florida, where education is a political football and held in such low regard?


Kamala Harris promises $2.5 billion for teacher prep programs at HBCUs to improve educator diversity

From Chalkbeat
Presidential candidate Kamala Harris proposed Friday infusing $2.5 billion into teacher preparation programs at historically black colleges and universities to help produce more educators of color.

The California senator also pledged $60 billion for scholarships and facilities to boost science, technology, engineering, and math studies on those campuses.

Harris was among four Democratic presidential candidates speaking to the National Urban League’s annual conference in Indianapolis. Five other candidates spoke Thursday.


Mayor Pete Doesn't Get It (And If He Does, That's Even Worse)

It’s sad to see this promising candidate taking the wrong turn on education.

From Curmudgucation
...Buttigieg would likely be a repeat of the Bush-Obama education program. He's said some salty things about Betsy DeVos, but beyond his dislike of vouchers, it's not clear just how different his education policy would be from hers.

It would be interesting to see what, exactly, his campaign believes is the critical difference between a school accepting a voucher and a non-profit charter school. Because depending on the state you're in, there's not a large enough space between the two to drive a bicycle, let alone a campaign van.

Why I Do Not Support Mayor Pete

From Diane Ravitch
There are many reasons why I would like to support Mayor Pete Buttigieg. He’s young, he is well-educated, he is smart, he has an admirable record of service to his country, he’s brimming with ideas. I find him very attractive on many levels.

But on education, he is a stealth corporate reformer.


Critics of charter schools say they’re hurting school districts. Are they right?

An older post from Chalkbeat. From June 11, 2019.

From Chalkbeat
“I’m striking to stop charter schools from draining our schools,” wrote Los Angeles teacher Adriana Chavira during the January teachers strike, saying her school has had to cut teachers as it lost students to charter schools. A number of states, most prominently California, are considering efforts to limit charter school expansion in response to such concerns.

Presidential candidates like Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden have recently raised it, too. “The bottom line is, it siphons off money for our public schools, which are already in enough trouble,” Biden said of some charters.


Districts face finance reality - 'it's just us'

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
Fort Wayne Community Schools' ongoing building repair program goes before voters a third time next May when a ballot referendum seeks an additional $125 million from property taxes. Following successful referendums in 2012 and 2016, the district is prepared to tackle major projects at Wayne High School and Blackhawk and Miami middle schools, plus repairs and improvements at dozens of other schools.

The district's track record on repairs and renovations makes the Repair 2020 referendum worthy of continued support. But the referendum also represents the only option Fort Wayne Community Schools and other public school districts in Indiana have to meet their building and operations needs.

Consider Terre Haute, where voters in November will be asked to approve a property tax increase to avoid doubling the $4 million in cuts Vigo County Schools will make over the next two years.

“Nobody is coming to help,” Superintendent Rob Haworth told the school board this month. “Washington, D.C., is not coming to help. Indy is not coming to help. ... It's just us.”