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.


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