Monday, July 15, 2019

In Case You Missed It – July 15, 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.


Your tax dollars at work. The big news last week was the loss of $40 million to virtual charter schools in Indiana. BJ Watts, chair of the State Board of Education, wondered, "How did we miss this?"

The blame for this situation is squarely on the backs of the legislators (and those who elected them) for setting up a system with a glaring lack of built-in oversight, in order to bolster a choice system that both fails to educate and steals funding for resources from our public schools.

It also reminds us of the $91 million in loans from the state to failed charter operators that was forgiven in 2013.

Maybe it is time to rethink funding any charters at all!

Indiana: State Tries to Recover $40 Million from Virtual Charter Frauds

From Diane Ravitch
Indiana is one of the state’s that has been all in for choice. One of the choices pushed by former governors Mitch Daniels and Mike Pence is Virtual Charter Schools. These are online schools that allegedly enroll home-schoolers or students who prefer not to attend a Brick-and-mortar school.

Study after study has found that these online schools have high attrition, low test scores, and low graduation rates. However they are very profitable since their operators are paid far more than their actual costs.

The name of their game is enrollment, since their costs decline as enrollment grows, and they must constantly replace those who drop out.

Unfortunately, the incidence of fraud is high since the online schools are seldom auidited.

Indiana is currently trying to recover $40 million from two online charter corporations and their authorizer, which was stolen by inflating enrollments.

2 virtual schools' misdeeds stun state: Charters' inflated data drew millions in funding

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
That was the question on everyone's minds during Wednesday's State Board of Education meeting discussing two virtual charter schools that vastly inflated enrollment numbers and took millions in undeserved state funding.

Also, a deceased student was found on the rolls, according to a state audit, as were other students who had been removed years before.

Board Chairman B.J. Watts asked the question as members seemed perplexed by the depth of the problems. This was despite stories going back several years from news publication Chalkbeat Indiana about staggering enrollment growth and a limited number of teachers at the schools.

‘How did we miss this?’ Indiana officials blast lack of oversight in $40M virtual school scandal

From Chalkbeat
Facing a $40 million enrollment scandal at two virtual charter schools, Indiana State Board of Education chairman B.J. Watts had a big question at a meeting Wednesday:

“How did we miss this?”

The question tipped off a round of finger-pointing. The schools’ oversight agency, Daleville Community Schools, bore the brunt of the board’s blame for the online schools’ alleged abuse of millions in public dollars.

But Indiana Virtual School and Indiana Virtual Pathways Academy officials remained quiet. The schools’ superintendent Percy Clark watched the discussion from the audience but offered no public comments and later declined to answer questions from Chalkbeat

State could seek $40M after probe finds Indiana Virtual School inflated enrollment — even counting a student who had died

From Chalkbeat
Two school years after a student died, Indiana Virtual School kept him on its rolls and received state funding to educate him.

Five years after two students moved to Florida, they reappeared on enrollment records for Indiana Virtual School and its sister school.

And nearly every one of the more than 900 students kicked out of Indiana Virtual School and its sister school in the 2017-18 school year for being inactive were re-enrolled the next school year, included in per-pupil funding calculations that netted the two online schools more than $34 million in public dollars last year.

These were among the ways that Indiana Virtual School and Indiana Virtual Pathways Academy allegedly inflated their enrollment to at least twice its actual size, according to the findings of a state examiner’s investigation released Monday.


In budget pie, public schools given crumbs: Accountability still scant at virtual, charter sites

State Representative Phil GiaQuinta (D-Fort Wayne) has some words about lack of accountability.

From State Rep. Phil GiaQuinta in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
...nearly half of the education portion of the funding pie – baked with your taxpayer dollars – is giving unaccountable virtual schools a public funding increase of 15%, privately run charter schools a public funding increase of more than 20%, and privately run voucher schools a public funding increase of nearly 15% over the next two years.

Meanwhile, traditional public schools will see a funding increase of just about 2% each year, which narrowly hovers above the change in the cost of living – commonly known as the rate of inflation – from one year to the next.

Many schools, including Fort Wayne Community Schools, won't even reach that 2% threshold.

Mercedes Schneider: Corey Booker’s Brother Was Surprised When Tennessee Expected His Charters to be Accountable

From Diane Ravitch
Mercedes Schneider wrote a post about Cory Booker’s brother, Cary, who opened two charter schools in Tennessee with an ally. His application had lofty goals. He pledged that 95% of his students would score proficient on state tests. He and his partner were astonished when the state took their promise seriously.


Despite Cruel Conditions at the Border and Threatened ICE Raids, Educators Across U.S. Strive to Serve Immigrant Children

From Jan Resseger
There is a disconnect between the education policy debates and what is really happening in public schools. In Wednesday’s NY Times, Miriam Jordan captured that reality. Jordon’s story describes public school educators’ work across the country to serve the needs of children whose schooling has been delayed and interrupted by the journeys they and their families have undertaken.

While legislators have been haggling over the state budgets that generally underfund our public schools, and while our U.S. Secretary of Education and her fellow advocates promote various kinds of school vouchers and privately operated charter schools, Jordan describes the hard work of school district professionals trying to serve the needs of immigrant students who may worry about threatened ICE raids, who may have survived harrowing border crossings, or who may have endured long stays in the detention centers where children are being warehoused.


Melton and McCormick launch their bipartisan listening tour with conversations about charters, pay, and diversity

Nice to see that someone is listening! But high time for politicians in our state to stop listening to charter and voucher supporters. If you have a chance to attend one of these listening sessions, please make sure to stress how important PUBLIC education is!

From Chalkbeat
Democratic Senator Eddie Melton told a crowd of more than 100 people Thursday that good education policy only happens when public officials ask for help: From the experts, yes, but also from the communities that will be affected.

So when Melton decided last month to launch an exploratory committee around a potential bid for governor, he asked State Superintendent Jennifer McCormick, a Republican, to join him on a statewide listening tour to explore Indiana education policy. Their bipartisan collaboration drew curiosity and, among Indiana GOP leaders, criticism. Some of her critics say McCormick is vying to become Melton’s running mate.


Angie Sullivan: The Great Charter Scam in Nevada

From Diane Ravitch
Angie Sullivan teaches children in a Title 1 elementary school in Las Vegas. Many of her children are poor and don’t speak English. Her school is underfunded. Angie frequently sends blast emails to every legislator in the state, as well as journalists. She refuses to allow them to ignore her students, while they cater to the whims of billionaire casino owners, like the chair of the state board of education.


Mitchell Robinson: Tax Credits Are a Zombie Idea

From Diane Ravitch
Mitchell Robinson of Michigan State explains why “tax credit scholarships” are a zombie idea. They are consistently rejected by voters, they fail to educate students, yet they never die.


No comments: