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.

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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.


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