Friday, March 29, 2019

Time to end public-school funding games

This op-ed by NEIFPE co-founder Terry Springer appeared in the March 29 edition of the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette.

Time to end public-school funding games
Remember Jenga, the game in which wooden blocks are first carefully stacked in alternating layers to create a sturdy tower then removed one by one until the tower collapses? The GOP-led legislature has been playing Jenga with public education since 2009.

For a decade, legislators have pulled out support for public education. Legislators have failed to fund public schools adequately. They have taken more and more money from the education coffer for vouchers and thus funded religious education with public dollars. They favor private and parochial parents with tax credits not given to public school parents and fail to require transparency of private, parochial schools. They require public schools to do more with fewer resources. They promote privatization though evidence shows for-profit charters and virtual schools fail students and fail as businesses.

As bills in the 2019 session move from committees to the full House and Senate, legislators continue to remove the blocks from the public education tower:

• Budgeting only a 2 percent increase for education (no real increase when adjusted for inflation and actually a decrease in per-pupil funding).

• Cutting $100 million from the complexity formula providing funds to help our neediest children.

• Voting against the proposal to increase teacher pay despite a growing teacher shortage.

• Expanding vouchers and allowing public dollars to pay for religious education.

• Failing to prohibit voucher-accepting schools from discriminating on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation.

• Doubling grants to charter schools to pay for building, technology and transportation.

• Failing to require education experience as a qualification for an appointed secretary of education.

Public education serves the whole community and all children. It is a public good, mandated by the state constitution. A good school district is an asset to a community, to property values and to growth of business.

Of the 1.1 million children enrolled in Indiana in 2018, 94 percent attend public schools. All of their public schools – rural, urban and suburban – are affected by this legislation; all are losing funding. Public schools, even those in the most affluent neighborhoods, are struggling to maintain programs, buildings and transportation as well as attract qualified staff.

In Jenga, the game ends when the tower falls. If we continue to allow the legislature to pull support from public schools, what happens when the education tower falls and districts cannot maintain buildings, supply classrooms materials, and attract good teachers? What happens to our kids?

There are not enough seats in private, parochial schools for a million children. And as school choice has demonstrated, those schools choose which students they accept. So where will we send our kids to school? If a school fails, what happens to property values in that neighborhood? What happens to businesses? What happens to communities?

Jenga is a game; public education is not. The Jenga tower is easily rebuilt for the next round. That is not the case with our public schools.

The consequences of pulling support from public education, intended or not, are far-reaching and long-lasting. Our legislators ought to be wise enough to see that and act accordingly.

Terry Springer is a retired Fort Wayne teacher and member of Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education.


Monday, March 25, 2019

In Case You Missed It – Mar 25, 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.

****Putting it on facebook, introduce with:
ICYMI Popular posts from the past week.


Public Education Has Lost a Champion

Quite a few of the popular posts this week were tributes to NEIFPE co-founder, Phyllis Bush. We have collected them and published them on our blog. Click the link above.


These charter schools could soon turn to IPS for help with special education

Why are our tax dollars going to schools who can’t or won’t educate children with special needs? If you can't educate all the children of the community then you shouldn't be allowed to run a tax supported school!

From Chalkbeat
Indianapolis Public Schools is considering launching a cooperative that would allow a handful of innovation schools — which are run by outside operators, including charters — to pay the district to help educate special needs students. The move would be a significant step in the district’s development as a service provider to schools it doesn’t manage.

Here’s the tally for how much IPS needs to cut from its budget

While IPS students see cuts and lose resources, IPS board votes to give away resources to charter schools.

From Chalkbeat
The Indy Chamber and Indianapolis Public Schools have put a number on how much the district needs to cut or make up in new revenue over the next eight years: $328 million. But just what sacrifices families and educators will have to make is still uncertain.

Exclusive: Indy Eleven offers to buy Broad Ripple High to build stadium

From IndyStar
A 20,000-seat soccer stadium, the new home of the Indy Eleven, may be built on the campus of now-closed Broad Ripple High School.

The $550 million proposal — which would need IPS Board, state and city approval to move forward — also includes hundreds of apartments, retail space, an office building, a hotel, underground parking, a school and a public plaza.

The development could pump fresh life into Broad Ripple, one of the city's most historic and charming neighborhoods but also one that has struggled in recent years with crime and the nuisances of a popular bar scene.

Marketed to millennials, Indy Eleven has a young, largely upscale fan base. The prospect of walking or taking the new Red Line to a neighborhood stadium — and nearby restaurants and bars before and after matches — would have strong appeal.

Overwhelmed by problems, an Indianapolis charter school is closing — again

The most infuriating word in this headline is the word AGAIN! Charter school operators often jump into the education world without any concept of how difficult it actually is. How can we stop our legislators from creating these disasters?

From Chalkbeat
A far east side charter school that suffered from dwindling enrollment, low test scores, and high teacher and principal turnover will close in June.

Indianapolis Lighthouse East, which reopened four years ago, was expected to graduate only 44 percent of seniors in its first graduating class this year. The school, which includes grades 7-12, also anticipated a budget deficit and fewer students next year, and teachers and students alike have complained that discipline is a major issue there.

With new deal, IPS could pay for 2 KIPP charter schools’ busing with local tax money

While IPS students go without, will the IPS board give away resources to charter schools?

From Chalkbeat
The Indianapolis Public Schools board will vote Thursday on whether to provide some KIPP charter school students free busing, a move that would give the schools rare access to services funded by local property tax money.

The board is considering extending to two KIPP schools the free busing it has been providing to former neighborhood schools that were overhauled by charter partners. While the KIPP schools, like those schools, are part of the district’s innovation network, they were previously independent charter schools and have picked up part of the cost of busing their receives from the district.


People's guardian? Appointed secretary could hasten state's turn away from public education

The Republicans in the Indiana legislature are very vocal about giving "choice" in public education, yet they have removed the choice that voters had in choosing an education leader for the state.

Making the new Indiana Secretary of Education position appointed is bad enough. Allowing someone with no education experience to be appointed to the position is an insult to every education professional in Indiana and more proof that the Republican super-majority hates public education.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
Republican Jennifer McCormick will leave office at the end of 2021 as Indiana's last superintendent of public instruction. She might also leave as the last educator in the top education post. House Bill 1005, approved by the Indiana Senate Tuesday, doesn't require the governor to appoint an educator as secretary of education.

The legislation, which accelerated the appointment by four years after McCormick announced she would not seek a second term, requires the appointee to have an advanced degree, “preferably in education or educational administration (emphasis added),” and to be either a licensed educator or to have at least five years of work experience as a teacher, superintendent or executive in the field of education.

Republican leaders held firm against efforts to amend the bill. When four-term state Superintendent Suellen Reed urged the Senate Education Committee to require an education-related degree, first-term Sen. Aaron Freeman pointed out that such a requirement would have prevented Mitch Daniels' appointment as president of Purdue University or Betsy DeVos' selection as U.S. secretary of education.


Robinson to adults: What can you do for children?

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
Wendy Robinson, superintendent of Fort Wayne Community Schools, today challenged about 300 people to consider what they can do for children.

"If you remember the old saying, 'It takes a village,' our problem today isn't the kids," Robinson said. "The problem today is we don't have a village anymore."


Low test scores and shrinking enrollment cost Indianapolis Academy of Excellence its charter

Why do our legislators keep allowing for charters that fail like this?

From Chalkbeat
The Indiana Charter School Board voted Tuesday not to renew the charter for the Indianapolis Academy of Excellence, a small school it oversees on the city’s northeast side.

The 129-student school, which opened in 2014, was up for charter renewal during what became a tumultuous year, school leaders said. The board voted 4-1 to end the charter, and board staff said the school will likely close at the end of the year.


Lakeland School Corp. may close 2 elementary schools

LaGrange County - The Lakeland School Corporation is in high economic risk of operating in the red, and one of their proposed solutions against that future is downsizing the number of buildings in the district. Ideas were proposed at a school board meeting Monday night in which more than 125 people attended.

There is currently one high school, one middle school, and three elementary schools in the district.

One of the proposals is for a three-school district. The district would close down both Lima-Brighton and Wolcott Mills elementary schools. What would remain is a primary elementary school for kindergarten through second grade, an intermediate elementary school for third through sixth grade, and a junior/senior high school for seventh through twelfth grade. School attendance numbers are projected to be 399, 563, and 883 students, respectively.

Lakeland leadership said they are expecting an operating loss of nearly $700,000 this year and $900,000 next year. The three-school proposal would save them $1.1 million by the end of 2020.


The New Yorker Defends AOC

From Diane Ravitch
This is a great article by New Yorker editor David Remnick about Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. It is almost funny how she has rattled the GOP. They hate, hate, hate her. Is it her youth, her idealism, her beauty, her brains? Is it because she has a heart and they don’t? Is it because she has a soul and they don’t? She frightens them.


Poor schools neglected in funding plan

From School Matters
Hardly anyone wins in the 2019-21 budget and school funding formula approved by the Indiana House, but some schools lose more than others. And high-poverty school districts continue to fall behind.

Legislators have boasted that the budget increases K-12 funding by over 2 percent each of the next two years. But allowing for inflation and increasing enrollment, that’s effectively no increase at all.

As Northwest Allen County Superintendent Chris Himsel tells the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, the key figure is funding per student. Statewide, that will increase by just 1.5 percent in fiscal 2020 and 1.7 percent in fiscal 2021, according to school funding calculations released by House Republications.

And the increase won’t be distributed equally. That’s because funding for the “complexity” category, which funnels additional support to neediest students, is being cut by over $100 million.


Indiana's twin education deficits: Students' widening achievement gap must be narrowed

From Jennifer McCormick, Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
The department invests its energy and resources toward helping all students achieve their highest potential and receive an equitable education. Indiana must measure what matters to determine progress toward closing the achievement gap.

I appreciate that this debate has opened a dialogue on education policy in our state. All Indiana students deserve sound policies and best practices. This requires Hoosiers to be informed (#beinformed).

As always, under my leadership, the department will continue to advocate for all students, rather than allowing political agendas to misrepresent true educational equity.


Budget shuffle shortchanges public schools

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
At a March 7 board work session, Fort Wayne Community Schools Superintendent Wendy Robinson pointed to mandates the General Assembly continues to heap on public schools that require new administrative positions, including a proposed requirement to track what students do after they graduate.

“We don't have enough counselors now to deal with what we're supposed to do for kids now in school,” she said. “And the question is why? What is the benefit and what resources are you giving us to get this done?”

Indiana lawmakers have not kept up with their obligation to public education. Insisting they have increased spending ignores both the budget restraints they have placed on public schools and their decision to fund schooling for thousands of private and parochial school students without raising taxes. Don't be fooled by their sleight of hand.


Thursday, March 21, 2019

Public Education Has Lost a Champion

NEIFPE co-founder Phyllis Bush passed away on Tuesday, March 19, 2019. Phyllis's passion for public education and her sense of humor helped support NEIFPE members through difficult times with the pro-privatization forces in the Indiana legislature and State Board of Education. No matter how many damaging things they did (and continue to do) she would always come up with a “semi-brilliant idea” to energize her "minions." Her leadership, vision, and strength will be missed.

This page has moved to its permanent home, HERE...


Monday, March 18, 2019

In Case You Missed It – Mar 18, 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.


White House Lays Out Fiscal 2020 Priorities

From Diane Ravitch
...Trump’s priorities...A big boost to the military and border security. Deep cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Science Foundation, Labor, Interior, Agriculture, Justice, Housing, Energy, Education, Transportation, and everything else that has to do with social/human/non-military needs.


Education Writers Association Invites Betsy Devos to Speak at Its National Seminar

From Diane Ravitch
The Education Writers Association has invited Betsy DeVos to speak every year since she became Secretary of Education, and this year she accepted its invitation. I wonder what they will learn from Betsy DeVos. Probably that public schools are dreadful and that the public should pay to send children to religious schools where the teacher is neither a college graduate or certified. That’s the way they do it in Florida, which Betsy holds up as a model. Her model, by the way, is not tops in the nation on NAEP. It is mediocre.


Great News! Two Civil Rights Legal Teams Join to Fight Theft of Public Schools!

From Diane Ravitch
The Education Law Center and the Southern Poverty Law Center have joined to fight privatization.


Study: Indiana lags on school funding

From School Matters
How did Indiana go from being a state that funded schools well to one that funds them poorly?

Two things happened. Schools took a hit in the Great Recession, especially when Gov. Mitch Daniels cut K-12 funding by $300 million to balance the budget; and they’ve never recovered. Also, Indiana shifted in 2009 to having school operations funded by the state, not local property taxes. That left schools at the mercy of the General Assembly, which hasn’t been especially generous.

Parents and educators plead with Indiana lawmakers not to cut aid for ‘those who need it most’

Teachers, Superintendents, and parents all try to tell the Hoosier GOP that their budget will hurt schools. Will they listen or do we need to vote them out?

From Chalkbeat
Dozens of educators and parents from across Indiana descended on the Statehouse on Thursday to urge lawmakers not to slash dollars sent to school districts for students from low-income families.

Most of the more than 50 people who testified before the state Senate’s school funding subcommittee criticized a House Republican proposal to cut $105 million for high-needs students in the state’s next budget. The proposal would leave some school districts — particularly those in urban and rural areas — with only slightly more funding than last year.

Indiana House Republicans suggest slashing $105 million from aid for low-income students

From Chalkbeat
Indiana House Republicans want to cut more than $105 million from state funds earmarked for students from low-income families. While the updated budget proposal would free up money to boost the per-student dollars the state provides to all districts, many of the state’s wealthier districts stand to benefit more than their higher-need urban counterparts...

Wayne Township would lose more than $3 million dollars under the budget proposal, or about 19 percent of its current complexity funding. That could mean cutting teaching staff and increasing class sizes, Butts said. Meanwhile, the district’s per-student funding would rise by just 1 percent overall. Indianapolis Public Schools would also see its per-student dollars inch up by 1 percent, an increase offset by the $7 million loss.

Yet just to the north, Carmel schools would bring in 5.5 percent more per-student, less $144,196 because of the $105 million cut. In Zionsville, a suburb to the west, the district would actually get more money for its needier students. Both districts are projected to see higher student enrollment compared to some other districts in Marion County, and they have lower percentages of students from low-income families.

Trump’s Proposed 2020 Budget Favors the Rich, Increases Inequality, and Shorts Public Education

From Jan Resseger
Title I funding for disadvantaged students, the single-largest federal funding program for public schools, remains flat at $15.9 billion in Trump’s budget pitch. Special education grants to states would also be level-funded at $13.2 billion. Also flat-funded are the English Language Acquisition formula grants at $737.4 million… (T)he office for civil rights would get $125 million, the same as current funding.” Head Start, which is part of the Health and Human Services budget, would also be funded at the 2019 level.

Several important programs are eliminated in the President’s 2020 budget proposal: Title II for teacher staff development, Title IV for students’ academic support and enrichment, and the 21st Century Community Learning Centers after-school program. DeVos proposed last year that these same programs be eliminated, but Congress preserved the funding.

The proposed education budget would increase the federal Charter Schools Program to $500 million—up by $60 million from last year


Kentucky: Vouchers are Dead This Year, Killed by Pastors and Teachers

From Diane Ravitch
The Kentucky Legislature will not enact a voucher bill this session!

Here is one reason why: Pastors for Kentucky Children stood strongly against the bill and in favor of public schools. Reverend Sharon Felton led the way in Kentucky. Please read her wonderful letter in support of public schools and the principle of separation of church and state.


Accountability issues: Charters weaken state's commitment to students

From Jenny Robinson, chair of ICPE-Monroe County, in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
The charter school statute – developed under his watch – exempts these schools from much of the state law that governs public school districts. Charter schools' lesser mission, minimal oversight, lack of transparency and reduced requirements for teacher certification represent an erosion of protections for children and taxpayers.

The most basic difference from the public school system is frequently skipped over. Charter schools do not have a responsibility to serve all children in a community.

Admission is through application and lottery, with spots for a limited number of students.

In contrast, our public school districts must serve all students in our communities.


Texas: Mayor Bans STAAR Test from His Town

From Diane Ravitch
The mayor of Devers, Texas, happens to be a fifth-grade teacher. Steve Horelica knows how phony the state test (STAAR) is. He has proclaimed that it won’t be allowed in his town. Very likely, the Texas Education Agency won’t let him get away with it. But what can they do? Send in the Texas Rangers and force kids to take the Tests?


To close racial gaps, Indiana sets a lower bar for black students. Advocates say that’s wrong.

From Chalkbeat
This debate, they say, underscores the need to tackle these gaps — and what’s needed to effectively close them, such as more funding, more wraparound services, and more lessons that reflect and include people of color and diverse cultures.


Poverty adjustment a negative for FWCS

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
The analysis shows Fort Wayne Community Schools losing $5.5 million in complexity funding in 2020 compared to 2019. Overall the district will see only 0.3 percent funding growth in the first year of the House budget and 1.6 percent in the second year.

FWCS enrollment is expected to remain flat.

Kathy Friend, the local district's chief financial officer, said the district isn't seeing the large decrease in complexity that the data show. But even if there were a drop in state aid to students of the district, she noted the base rate for complexity hasn't been increased along with inflation.

“Complexity is more than poverty,” she said, noting the large special-education and English learners' population the district has. Although there are separate pots of money for that, she said they aren't enough to cover the programs' costs.


The Vouchers Scam

From Sheila Kennedy
Vouchers have now been around long enough to allow for a fair amount of academic research, and–as Doug points out–that research has pretty thoroughly rebutted the assumption that sending children to private religious schools would lead to improvement in classroom performance. At best, students post academic results that are the same as those of their peers who attend public schools, and in several studies, academic outcomes were actually worse.

What vouchers have done successfully is re-segregate student bodies, and there is some emerging evidence that avoiding racial integration was the real motive for a number of proponents. For others–notably, former Indiana Governor Mike Pence and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos–the voucher program was a way to prop up the declining finances of Christian religious schools.

If they could also destroy the teachers’ unions, well, that was just icing on the cake.


Indiana teachers call on lawmakers to ‘do what’s right’ and raise pay during statewide rally

From Chalkbeat
“Senators, representatives, listen to teachers: Give us the resources we need, give us the professional salary we deserve, and respect our profession,” said Connor McNeeley, a member of the union in Perry Township who spoke to the crowd. “What’s best for teachers is what’s best for students.”

The rally, hosted by the Indiana State Teachers Association, the state’s largest teachers union, comes as teacher salaries have dominated this year’s legislative debates. Indiana teachers have largely not organized more aggressive protests, such as the walkouts or strikes that their peers have recently held in other states. But Saturday’s protest was one of the first showings of widespread, unified action by Hoosier educators.


Monday, March 11, 2019

In Case You Missed It – Mar 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.


Rochester, New York: Students, Parents, and Educators Fight State Takeover of Public Schools

From Diane Ravitch
State takeovers have not worked anywhere. The Michigan Education Achievement Authority was a disaster and has closed down. The schools in the Achievement School District in Tennessee made zero gains as compared to similar schools not in the state district. Contrary to public relations, the New Orleans takeover district performs below the state average in one of the nation’s lowest performing states, and its “gains” relied on a mass exodus of poor kids who never returned and a mass influx of additional money from the federal government and foundations.

From Rochester: Please open the link and sign the petition to stop a state takeover.


D.C.: Teachers Unfairly Terminated by Michelle Rhee Win $5 Million Settlement: VICTORY!

From Diane Ravitch
“This settlement doesn’t take away the hurt and shame Michelle Rhee inflicted on so many great D.C. teachers—but after a long fight, it is a small step toward vindication for those who suffered from her top-down, test-and-punish policies that have failed both the arbitrator’s test and the test of time.

“Instead of helping teachers get what students need, Rhee embarked on a blame-and-shame campaign that was as ineffective as it was indefensible. There is a straight line between the Rhee agenda—which tried to strip educators of any voice and dignity and reduced students to test scores and teachers to algorithms—to the current walkouts in which educators are fighting for an appropriate investment in public schools. Teachers fight for what students need. That is as true now as it was when Michelle Rhee denigrated their voice.

“What happened a decade ago still stings, but the teachers in Washington, D.C., who were wrongly fired will take some measure of comfort from this settlement; and their unions will continue to fight to make sure the wrong-headed mentality that pitted students against their teachers never arises again.”


Thinking Strike

From Live Long and Prosper
The strikes are in response to years of neglect. Teachers are tired of being disrespected. They're tired of seeing their students left behind by shrinking budgets. Teachers are tired of seeing funds meant for their schools and their students being used for private, religious, and privately run charter schools. Scores of teachers are leaving their profession in frustration. Those who have stayed are standing up and fighting back.


2 EACS schools among kindest

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
When Marilyn Hissong, superintendent of East Allen County Schools, invited students and staffers to participate in the Middle School Kindness Challenge, she didn't expect it to end with a celebration complete with glittering gold and silver confetti.

She sought to add more kindness to the world, not accolades.

Yet recognition is what two EACS buildings received Tuesday. New Haven Middle School and Southwick Elementary School were among 10 national finalists in the most recent challenge cycle, during which nearly 600 schools participated.


Georgia: State Senate Says NO to Vouchers!

Learning from Indiana's mistakes?

From Diane Ravitch
The Georgia State Senate, controlled by Republicans, voted not to create a private school voucher program.

Critics said the program would eventually cost the state half a billion a year, defunding public schools.


Indiana is set to spend more than $160 million on vouchers this year, though growth has slowed

From Chalkbeat
In budget drafts currently up for debate, House Republicans are proposing Indiana set aside $4 million per year more to expand the state’s private school voucher program to increase funding for certain families above the poverty line. Under the plan, a family of four making between $46,000 and $58,000 annually could receive a voucher for 70 percent of what public schools would have received in state funding for the student. Currently, those families receive a 50 percent voucher.

Voucher program serves the top 20 percent

The budget approved last month by the Indiana House would create a new category of voucher. It would cover 75 percent of cost of attendance for families making up to 125 percent of the cutoff.

From School Matters
Over 1,300 households that participate in Indiana’s school voucher program have incomes over $100,000, according to the 2018-19 voucher report from the Indiana Department of Education.

That puts them in the top 20 percent of Hoosier households by income. So much for the argument that the voucher program, created in 2011, exists to help poor children “trapped” in low-performing schools.

Like previous state reports on the voucher program, the current report paints a picture of a program that primarily promotes religious education and serves tens of thousands of families that could afford private school tuition without help from the taxpayers.


Indiana Pays Millions to Virtual Charters that Educate No One

From Diane Ravitch
“This should be a massive alarm bell that outright fraud has been committed against Hoosier taxpayers to the tune of millions of dollars,” said Gordon Hendry, a state board of education member who led a committee last year to review virtual schools. “If this isn’t a scandal, I don’t know what is.”


Libertarians: Cory Booker is the Champion of Charters and Vouchers

From Diane Ravitch
In this article, a writer for the libertarian Reason magazine–which supports free-market solutions to all government problems–praises Cory Booker for his advocacy on behalf of charters and vouchers, and even dares to mention that he worked closely with Betsy DeVos, his ideological ally on education issues.

Booker is proud of his record as an advocate of privatization and a supporter of non-union schools.


Former senator: Teachers should think strike

From the Tribune Star
A retired Vigo County teacher and former Democratic state senator has turned to social media to gauge educator interest in a teacher strike.

Former senator: Teachers should think strike
Tim Skinner was known for being outspoken during his days in the Statehouse, and now he's speaking out about an issue near to his heart — the teaching profession in Indiana.

He believes that public education has been the target of the Republican Party for the past 15 years and refers to "senseless budget cuts, expansion of vouchers and crippling regulations."

Furthermore, he doesn't believe the Indiana State Teachers Association is taking a strong enough stand in response.

In an interview with the Tribune-Star on Feb. 22, ISTA president Teresa Meredith noted that many teachers across the state are calling for a walkout to raise awareness about the need to improve public school funding and teacher pay.


WFYI documentary peers inside Indiana’s radical attempt to take over failing schools

From Chalkbeat
A new radio documentary that aired this week dove into Indiana’s radical experiment to take over and turn around failing schools, weighing whether the extreme intervention into four Indianapolis Public Schools was worth it.

“It is not a simple answer,” WFYI reporter Eric Weddle said in his report. “It’s complex, and it’s messy.”

The hour-long documentary looks back on the eight years of state takeover. Next week, the state is expected to make a decision about the future of three of those schools.


Monday, March 4, 2019

In Case You Missed It – March 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.


Guess which state spends the most public funds on private and religious school education. Hint: Betsy DeVos has a house there.

SPOILER ALERT: The answer to the question in the title of this story isn't Indiana. On the other hand, Indiana is #6 in the nation on money spent on private and religious school education at $174.5 million. (NOTE, states are ranked by the percentage of K-12 expenditures which is why the actual dollar amount in #4, Vermont, for example, is lower than #6 Indiana.)

1. Florida: ESA, Voucher, Tax-Credit Scholarships, 3.69%, $969.6 million

2. Arizona: ESA, Tax-Credit Scholarships, 2.83%, $211.8 million

3. Wisconsin: Vouchers, 2.66%, $271.9 million

4. Vermont: Voucher, 2.60%, $44.1 million

5. Maine: Voucher, 2.03%, $51.7 million

6. Indiana: Voucher, Tax-Credit Scholarship, 1.72%, $174.5 million

From The Answer Sheet
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos just announced she is backing Senate legislation that would create the first federally funded school tax credit, so it seems like a good time to see which states spend public money to send kids to private and religious schools — and how much.

To be clear, the legislation has virtually no chance of passing Congress; Democrats control the House, and most of them wouldn’t support it. A similar idea couldn’t muster enough enthusiasm a few years ago when Republicans controlled the House and the Senate.

It is worth noting that DeVos opposes federal involvement in education — she once said “government sucks” — and she believes that choice programs, like all education, are best at the state and local level. She couldn’t, of course, oppose a federal choice program. But she isn’t likely to appreciate federal restrictions that would necessarily be attached to the money.


Almost 10,000 students went to this online school last year. 851 stayed the whole time

Why has our legislature allowed charters to play fast and loose with your tax dollars and not insisted on accountability?

From Chalkbeat
Nearly 10,000 students attended Indiana Virtual School at some point last school year, but about 91 percent didn’t stay for an entire year, new data released by Daleville public schools show.

Of the 851 students who made it a full year, almost 60 percent didn’t earn a single credit — and the district claims some students weren’t signed up for classes at all.

This churn of students and lack of credits were among the red flags that prompted Daleville’s school board to vote earlier this week to begin the process of revoking the charters for Indiana Virtual School and its sister school, Indiana Virtual Pathways Academy.

‘It takes your breath away.’ Advocates shocked by special education problems at embattled virtual schools

“It takes your breath away.” It also took your tax dollars. Imagine the outcry if this sort of fiscal dishonesty had been perpetrated by a real public school!

From Chalkbeat
Between the two schools, three teachers and two counselors were assigned to 616 students with disabilities, the state said — a ratio that one expert said spreads educators far too thin. The state also detailed requests from the schools to use public special education funds to reimburse employees’ travel expenses and foot the bill for a trip to Hawaii.

“That’s just extremely suspicious,” said Kim Dodson, executive director of The Arc of Indiana, an organization that supports people with disabilities.

Troubled Indiana virtual schools poised to lose charters amid claims thousands of students weren’t put in classes

Maybe we ought to rethink charters overall.

From Chalkbeat
Two of the state’s largest, most troubled virtual schools were put on notice Monday night that their charters could be revoked after their authorizer alleged that thousands of enrolled students went semesters or sometimes years without earning any credits or even signing up for classes.

Indiana Virtual School and its sister school, Indiana Virtual Pathways Academy, also failed to properly accommodate students with disabilities or file required audits in recent years, said Daleville Public Schools Superintendent Paul Garrison, who recommended that his district’s board vote to begin the process to pull the schools’ charters. One school also allegedly failed to follow protocols for administering state standardized tests.


McCormick unbound

From School Matters
I don’t think Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick has ever been shy about saying what she thinks, but she seems to have become even more outspoken since announcing in October that she won’t seek re-election when her term expires in January 2021.

She called out legislators on several issues Wednesday in a Bloomington discussion sponsored by the Indiana Coalition of Public Education-Monroe County and the Monroe County Community School Corp.

School funding: McCormick said the school funding increase in the budget that the Indiana House has approved – just over 2 percent each of the next two years – isn’t enough. Low pay and working conditions are creating a severe teacher shortage, she said, and more money is needed. Thirty-five percent of teachers leave the profession in their first five years.


Betsy DeVos and her allies are trying to redefine ‘public education.' Critics call it ‘absurd.'

From The Answer Sheet
In September 1875, President Ulysses S. Grant traveled to Des Moines, where he gave a speech that said in part:

"Encourage free schools and resolve that not one dollar of money appropriated to their support no matter how raised, shall be appropriated to the support of any sectarian school. Resolve that either the state or Nation, or both combined shall support institutions of learning sufficient to afford every child growing up in the land the opportunity of a good common school education, unmixed with sectarian, pagan or atheistical tenets. Leave the matter of religion to the family circle, the church and the private school supported entirely by private contributions. Keep the church and state forever separate.”


2019 Medley #4: Disrespecting Teachers

From Live Long and Prosper
"As a teacher who has been told to teach a program as it’s written, how the hell is it my fault if the assignments students get are not challenging enough? I’m not the one who designed the assignments.

If you’re requiring me to read from some stupid script written by publishers who’ve never met my students, then how can you fairly evaluate my instruction? It’s not my instruction.

Should we be surprised that students aren’t engaged during a lesson that’s delivered by a teacher who had no hand in creating it and who sees it as the contrived lump that it is? I’m not a terrible actor, but hand me a lemon and I’m going to have trouble convincing even the most eager-to-learn student that I’m giving them lemonade." -- Paul Murphy (Teacher Habits blog)


Charter Schools Are Not Public Schools

Charter schools are NOT PUBLIC schools. Do not let your legislator tell you or believe otherwise!

From Curmudgucation
Modern charter schools prefer to attach the word "public" to their descriptions. Many of the charter advocacy groups include "public charter" in their title. And truthfully, there are no regulations attached to the term--any school can attach the word "public" to its title without having to worry about any sort of penalty.

So technically, any charter school can call itself a public school. Heck, any private or parochial school can call itself a public school if it's so inclined. But while modern charter schools are financed by public tax dollars, they are not truly public schools for the following reasons.