Monday, May 6, 2019

In Case You Missed It – May 6, 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.


BASIS Private Schools Sold to Chinese Investors, Parents Object

Public schools, run by a locally elected school board, provide stability, accountability, and transparency. Privately owned charter schools, which benefit from taxpayer funds, ought to have the same transparency and accountability. Charter schools are often opened where an additional school isn't needed, draining resources from the public schools. When they close, or like in this case, when they change owners, students and parents are left in limbo...without a voice.

From Diane Ravitch
More than 190 New York City families at the private Basis Independent Schools sent a letter to its leaders Monday to express concerns about its recent purchase by a company backed by a China-based investment firm.

The letter from parents at the Brooklyn site of Basis questioned whether the sale might prompt the school in Red Hook to change curriculum, lose teachers, boost tuition, increase class size and lose its reputation among top college admissions offices.


New York City: Betsy DeVos Praises Charters, Condemns Spending More on Public Schools

From Diane Ravitch
Betsy DeVos was honored by the rightwing Manhattan Institute. In her by now well-rehearsed speech, she ridiculed the idea of spending more money on public schools, and extolled school choice.


After years of debate, some stronger oversight of virtual schools signed into Indiana law

Clearly, cyber charters are a poor choice for students...even charter school advocacy groups question their value.

From Chalkbeat
The struggle to address Indiana’s troubled virtual schools illustrates the state’s dance between protecting school choice and cracking down on failing schools. On one hand, lawmakers defend online education as a critical option for some of the state’s most challenged students, particularly those who haven’t been successful in traditional brick-and-mortar schools.

But Indiana’s virtual charter schools post below-average graduation rates and test scores. They have largely received D and F grades from the state. And the credit data raises questions over how well online schools are educating students, if at all.


Indiana near bottom in teacher pay, school funding

From School Matters
The National Education Associated released its annual report on teacher salaries this week, and, once again, Indiana doesn’t look very good.

The average salary for an Indiana public school teacher in 2018-19 is $50,937, according to the report, compared with a national average of $61,730.


Local schools consider lower kindergarten start age

Indiana parents will now be able to send their children to kindergarten at an earlier age. However, it is up to a school district’s discretion.

Press Secretary for the Indiana Department of Education Adam Baker tells WANE 15 the date for schools to received funding for students is changing.

He says currently, if a child is not five by August 1st of a school year, the school could accept the child into kindergarten, but the school would not receive funding for the student.

Now, the date is changing. For the 2019-20 school year, if a child is five by September 1st, the school will receive funding. For the 2020-21 school year, if a child is five by October 1st, the school will receive funding.


3rd District Democrats honor public education advocate Bush

A well deserved honor for NEIFPE's co-founder.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
Public education advocate and activist Phyllis Bush, who died March 19 at the age of 75, was named this year's recipient of the J. Edward Roush Service Award presented by the 3rd Congressional District Democratic Party.

The party honored Bush posthumously at an April 27 dinner at the Eagle Glen Clubhouse in Columbia City. The annual award is for "contribution of time, talent and treasure" to 3rd District Democrats, said Misti Meehan, Allen County Democratic chairwoman.

Bush had taught English at South Side High School in Fort Wayne, founded Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education and was a board member for the Network for Public Education.


Two award-winning teachers boycott White House ceremony to protest Trump policies

From the Answer Sheet
On Tuesday, Dueñas and Holstine explained why they decided to boycott the 2019 event, saying they felt they could not attend in good faith. (See video below.)

“My frustrations with the current administration are the messages and actions and policies and words that are shared about the population of students that I work with,” said Holstine, who teaches immigrant children.

“It impacts and it hurts them, and it hurts them both in their hearts and in the world because they then have to deal with the fallout of all of that discrimination,” she said. “I cannot implicitly support people who hate my kids and who talk about them in the ways they talk about them.”


This Indianapolis teacher works a second job until 2 a.m. But he doesn’t want to leave the classroom

If the Indiana General Assembly didn't give away tax dollars to charter schools and vouchers that aren’t accountable to us as taxpayers, public schools could afford to pay their teachers closer to what they are worth.

From Chalkbeat
"I wonder, why am I consistently putting in these 50-, 60-hour work weeks as a teacher, trying to make every single day meaningful for my students — just to have to go to my second job whenever life happens? Just to be able to afford to maybe make a trip somewhere, and not even somewhere exciting. I’m talking Michigan! … No shame, Michigan." -- Jack Hesser


Why It's Important To Say There Is No Teacher Shortage

From Curmudgucation
...There is no teacher shortage.

There's a slow-motion walkout, a one-by-one exodus, a piecemeal rejection of the terms of employment for educators in 2019.

Why is it important to keep saying this? Why keep harping on this point?

Because if you don't correctly identify the problem, you will not correctly identify a solution...


These Indianapolis schools are overhauling their libraries to encourage reading

This is great, but wouldn’t it be better if the general assembly made sure all of our public school libraries were well stocked and well-staffed by real librarians?

From Chalkbeat
When it comes to encouraging children to read, it sometimes helps to judge a book by its cover.

Staff at three Indianapolis Public School campuses are “weeding” through their libraries to remove out-of-date books and those that have attracted little interest from students — and to make space for new additions that reflect students’ communities and catch their attention.

The weeding and restocking of the libraries is one piece of the Love of Reading project, which was funded with a grant up to about $1.3 million from Herbert Simon Family Foundation and aims to inspire students and their families to read. In addition to adding to library collections, the grant will pay for three dedicated staff members, library renovations, and programing for families. Books that are removed are available for families to take home.


‘We’re not there yet,’ Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb says on raising teacher pay

News from Indiana Governor Holcomb...making excuses.

From Chalkbeat
For some schools, funding will drop in the coming years. Others will see more significant increases. And some schools say they’re still pinched, sometimes forced to ask voters to approve referendums to drum up the funds they need to operate.

Education groups voiced appreciation for the funding increases, but some said schools still need more.

The Indiana State Teachers Association promised to “continue to fight for increased teacher pay and funding for every student,” the group said in a statement last week. “Our members are just getting started and will continue advocacy efforts into the future.”


How racial bias helped turn Indianapolis into one city with 11 school districts

From Chalkbeat
The racial segregation and declining enrollment that plagues Indianapolis Public Schools today can be traced back to the decision made 46 years ago to merge Indianapolis with its surrounding suburbs.

The celebrated unified government, or “Unigov,” law brought together about a dozen communities in Marion County into a single large city in 1970. The idea was to put a bigger, more powerful Indianapolis onto the national map, simplify city services and grow the city’s tax base.

Indianapolis was not the only city in the country to merge with its surrounding county at that time — but it was the only one to explicitly leave schools out of the deal.


The Writer Who Couldn't Answer Standardized Test Questions About Her Own Work (Again)!

The blogger Curmudgucation passes on some advice about tests.

From Peter Greene in Forbes
[Sara] Holbrook, as a poet and an educator, has several thoughts about remedies to these sorts of tests. "Parents, demand to see the test prep materials. Teachers, don't waste time on test prep: you can't teach nonsense. Administrators, take the money you are spending on test prep and spend it on classroom libraries instead. There are no quick fixes. Kids need to read and write voluminously." She advocates for transparency. "If a bike helmet fails top protect a child from injury, consumers can sue the manufacturer. These tests are injurious, but shrouded in secrecy and thereby beyond the reach of most teachers and all parents."


The people's priorities shorted

The Governor and legislators brag about all the additional "money for education," but neglect to mention the large increases for privatization.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
...School officials look at per-pupil funding for a more accurate measure of dollars available. For Fort Wayne Community Schools (FWCS), that's 2.2% next year and 1.1% the following year – much less than the 2.3% and 2% statewide average per pupil.

The total increase in education funding also conceals allocations favoring charter and voucher schools over traditional public schools. Indiana taxpayers are likely to spend an additional $25 million over the next two years by giving larger vouchers to families just above the income limit for free or reduced price lunch. An additional $2.5 million in tax credits also was made available to donors supporting private and parochial school scholarships.

Overall, voucher schools are expected to see a 9.3% increase in 2020 and a 5.6% increase in 2021.

Hamilton Schools Superintendent Tony Cassel said the General Assembly's decision to support voucher and charter schools has had an impact there and across the state. He acknowledged raises are unlikely for his 26 teachers, whose only recent pay increase was a one-time stipend.

“I'm glad there was an increase in funding, but at some point the legislature is going to have to take a look at where the money is going,” Cassel said. “It's a continual attack on public education. When you look at the percentage going to charters and vouchers and – that's been the agenda.”


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