Sunday, February 3, 2019

In Case You Missed It – Feb 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.


Remember the 2018 teachers strikes in Republican-led states? Now legislators in 3 states are trying to retaliate.

Will the legislators from these states understand the source of their states' teacher shortage?

From The Answer Sheet
Remember the 2018 teachers strikes in Republican-led states that captured the attention of the country?

The Red For Ed — or #RedForEd — movement started when West Virginia teachers who were sick and tired of working for low pay and in resource-starved schools walked out of class even though such labor action is illegal in the state. The teachers started the strikes, and their unions followed.

...Now, in three of those states, Republican-led legislatures are retaliating, trying to pass bills that would make teachers' working lives more difficult.

OK Legislator To Teachers: Shut The Hell Up

Pretty sure this OK legislator has legislator friends in Indiana.

From Curmudgucation
Oklahoma has worked hard to get itself in the front of the pack of States Most Hostile To Public Education. Maybe not number one (relax, Florida), but right up there. Ultra-low teacher pay. Slack charter rules. The kind of state where the idea for improving education is to gear it more toward providing meat widgets for employers. The kind of state where a serious idea about improving teacher pay is to fire half the teachers and give their money to the remaining teachers, who will all teach twice as many students.

So it wasn't a huge surprise last year when teachers in the state walked out. While they didn't get everything they wanted, they were still confident that they has sent a message to the legislature.

Apparently some legislators misunderstood the message.


School lost students but not funding

From School Matters
State Rep. Vernon Smith made a good point Thursday when the Indiana House was discussing legislation to regulate virtual charter schools. The Gary Democrat suggested state funding for the schools should be based on how many students they enroll throughout the school year, not just in the fall.

Indiana schools receive state funding according to the number of students they enroll on a designated count day in September. If students leave after that day, the schools keep the money but no longer incur the cost of serving the students. And that happens a lot – especially at some of the virtual schools.


Lawmakers Weigh Bill To Split Referendum Funds With Local Charter Schools

Once again Indiana State Representative Bob Behning shows his preference for privatization. Charter's get closed school buildings for a $1 and when the charter closes their state loans are forgiven. Now Behning wants to give charters money that public school districts collect through referenda.

Will charters be audited on expenses like public schools? Will charters be required to serve all children? Will charters be required to hire certified teachers? The 'playing field' is not level. Charters don't deserve public school referenda funds.

From WFYI, Indianapolis
Traditional public schools might have to split their voter-approved referenda funding with nearby charter schools under a bill in the House.

House Education Committee chair Bob Behning (R-Indianapolis) is proposing a bill that would require any districts that pass funding referenda to share those dollars with local charter schools.

...executive director of the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents J.T. Coopman says the bill is just another way to strap districts for cash even further, as the state tries to figure out how to boost teacher pay.

If Indiana districts convince voters to boost their funding, should charter schools get a cut?

From Chalkbeat
Some Republican lawmakers want district schools to share extra tax dollars approved by voters for buildings and facilities with nearby charter schools — but the idea is falling flat with some educators and Democrats.


House lawmakers make minor changes to online schools bill, but stricter plans remain up in the air

Too little is being done by the majority of our legislators to check the issues with virtual charter schools.

From Chalkbeat
House lawmakers have added three new amendments to a bill designed to rein in online schools: measures targeting student residencyabsences, and teacher training.

The new amendments unanimously passed Thursday and represented some of the few areas of bipartisan agreement over how Indiana should handle the troubled schools. Tougher proposals and amendments introduced this year and earlier have not gained traction with Republicans, who have been loathe to add regulations for charter schools in general.


Bob Shepherd: How Long Will the Love Affair with Standardized Testing Go On?

From Diane Ravitch
As a nation, we are hypnotized by standardized tests and the scores they produce. We forget that the tests and the answers are written by human beings. The tests are not objective, except for the scoring, which is done by machine. Giving the same bad questions to all students does not reveal who learned the most or who is smartest. They do reveal who is best at figuring out what the person who wrote the question wants them to answer.

Bob Shepherd, who has written about curriculum, assessment, and is now teaching in Florida, writes:

“the field testing that ensued laid bare the intellectual bankruptcy of the testing”


Education savings accounts would be costly, wasteful

From School Matters
Hats off to Indiana’s nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency. Thanks to it, we can put a price tag on a proposal for a private-school voucher program open to all students, regardless of family income:

At least $170 million a year.

House Bill 1675, sponsored by Columbus Republican Ryan Lauer, would create what’s called an education savings account program. Students who attend accredited private schools could set up the accounts, and the state would deposit funds that they could use to pay tuition and other expenses.

Indiana can't afford voucher money-grab

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
Southwest Allen County Schools Superintendent Phil Downs, who has closely tracked the financial effects of the voucher program on Indiana school districts, points out the cost of HB 1675 could double the cost of the state's voucher program.

“I would like to have it explained to me how this is fiscally conservative or responsible – at a time when per-student funding in the state has only grown at 10 percent over 10 years,” Downs said, noting a proposal to weaken the pension program for newly hired teachers. “I want to know how any of this shows that they value teachers at the level they claim they do.”


2019 Medley #2: False Promises

From Live Long and Prosper
We keep looking for ways to fix public schools, but it's just as important for us look for ways to fix inequity and poverty. Our schools are just a mirror, reflecting the societal conditions our policy-makers, and we the voters, are unable or unwilling to correct. Until we focus on the source of the problem -- that some people are given rights and privileges denied to others -- we'll continue to fail.

"Students who enter charter school lotteries are not equivalent to students who don't. Plenty of research backs this up (see the lit review in this paper for a good summary of this research). Combine this with the high attrition rates in many "successful" charters, and the high suspension rates at many more, and you have a system designed to separate students by critical family characteristics that do not show up in student enrollment data." -- Jersey Jazzman


There Is No Teacher Shortage

Attention Hoosier Legislators! There is NO teacher shortage!

From Curmudgucation
For almost twenty years (at least) the profession has been insulted and downgraded. Reformy idea after reformy idea has been based on the notion that teachers can't be trusted, that teachers can't do their job, that teachers won't do their jobs unless threatened. Teachers have been straining to lift the huge weight of education, and instead of showing up to help, wave after wave of policy maker, politician and wealthy dilettante have shown up to holler, "What's wrong with you, slacker! Let me tell you how it's supposed to be done." And in the meantime, teachers have seen their job defined down to Get These Kids Ready For A Bad Standardized Test.

And pay has stagnated or, in some states, been inching backwards. And not just pay, but financial support for schools themselves so that teachers must not only make do with low pay, but they must also make do with bare bones support for their workplace.


Koch Brothers Plan to Disrupt Public Education, the “Lowest Hanging Fruit”

From Diane Ravitch
This is a shocking development: The infamous billionaire Koch brothers have a plan to disrupt American education, beginning with five states.

Their goal is to break up the public education system and enable public funding to flow to every kind of school, whether religious, private, homeschooling, for-profit, anything and everything. They call it “educational pluralism.” At the Koch Conference last year (700 people who paid $100,000 to attend), they declared that K-12 schooling was “the lowest hanging fruit,” and they planned to enter the field to disrupt public schools. Their ally Betsy DeVos paved the way.

The Koch brothers are living proof that this country needs a new tax structure to disrupt their billions, which they use to destroy whatever belongs to the public.


Where else teachers are primed to strike in 2019 — and why

From The Answer Sheet
In Indiana, where pay for teachers is below the national average, educators have pushed for lawmakers to increase salaries and school funding during the 2019 legislative session. Union leaders are not ruling out a strike. Last year, they decided not to join the strikes that spread from West Virginia to other states, including Oklahoma, Arizona and Kentucky.

The Indianapolis Star quoted union leaders as saying they would monitor the legislative session before deciding what to do. It said that although Indiana ranks about in the middle of states for teacher pay and class size, inflation-adjusted salaries for Indiana teachers dropped by more than 13 percentage points over the past 15 years. Indiana has one of the lowest per-pupil funding levels in the nation.


Bill gives governor unusual power over schools

From School Matters
Legislators are fast-tracking a bill to give Indiana’s governor unusual power over education. If House Bill 1005 becomes law, the governor will soon be one of only five in the United States with total control over who serves as chief state school officer and on the state board of education.

The legislation would move up the effective date for having the governor appoint the chief state school officer. Current law gives the governor the appointment in January 2025; the bill moves the date to 2021.

The measure also changes the name Indiana’s chief state school officer from superintendent of public instruction to secretary of education. It was approved last week by the House and sent on to the Senate.


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