Monday, August 19, 2019

In Case You Missed It – Aug 19, 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.


New Orleans: How a Student Graduated Although She Could Not Count or Read

From Diane Ravitch
The parents of a student in New Orleans were dismayed when they realized that their daughter would graduate from high school even though she could neither count nor read. She was surely entitled under federal law to extra help but she never got it. Now she is a statistic: a graduate. A victory for the all-charter system that failed her.


$1,200 in textbook rentals? Parents battle book fees

“If you can’t fund it, you could at least give the families a tax credit or tax deduction for paying that, because we do that for private school parents and we do that for home school parents,” said Shank. “So why can’t we do that for everyday parents who are sending their kids to public schools?”

This month Indiana families will pay millions of dollars in school book fees for their students in public schools, but some families and groups are hoping this could be the last year.

The Indiana Coalition for Public Education states Indiana is one of eight states that charges parents for students’ textbook fees, indicating that 42 other states have “figured out how to do it.”

“We heard from a parent who had lived in three different states where books were covered,” said Marilyn Shank, vice president of the ICPE. “They moved to Indiana with five children and they were astonished to get a bill for $1,200.”


Schools leader: Indiana ‘in desperate need of a lot of teachers’

As many students across the state returned to school, the Indiana Department of Education School Personnel Job Bank on Tuesday showed more than 600 available teacher positions.

“We’re in a teacher shortage. We’re in an administrator shortage. We’re in an educator shortage,” said Jennifer McCormick, the state superintendent of public instruction, on Tuesday. “We’re also in a bus driver shortage. We’re in a school cafeteria worker shortage. The list goes on.”

“A lot of it goes back to pay,” McCormick said. “We can tip-toe around the issue, but a lot of it, when you have unemployment this low across the state of Indiana and across the nation, it goes back to pay.”

McCormick said 3,500 teachers were on emergency teaching permits in 2018. The Department of Education’s website says, “An Emergency Permit is issued at the request of a school district in a content area for which the district is experiencing difficulty staffing the assignment with a properly licensed educator.”

“We’re in desperate need of a lot of teachers,” McCormick said.


Without enough students or cash, 5 Indianapolis charter schools closed. Now, 6 new ones are opening.

Indiana spends money on closing charters instead of using our tax dollars to support public schools which serve all children.

From Chalkbeat*
Six new charter schools are opening in Indianapolis this year. At the same time, five charter schools closed their doors in the face of enrollment, financial, or academics woes.

The new schools have various focuses, such as project-based learning or educating students with autism, and most are expansions of existing Indianapolis charter networks. They serve students in K-12 — notably including two high schools that are taking root just one year after Indianapolis Public Schools closed three campuses due to low enrollment. Indianapolis schools must compete for students and, therefore, viability, and each year a handful of charter schools, which are publicly funded and privately managed, are forced to shutter.

The five schools that closed this year were two schools in one of the city’s highest-performing charter networks, a school that was given a second life after closing once before, a tiny elementary school, and a campus dedicated to serving troubled teens.


Indianapolis ends preschool program, leaving 3-year-olds without access to scholarships

From Chalkbeat
Hundreds of 3-year-olds in Indianapolis will no longer qualify for preschool funding now that the city is ending its scholarship initiative.

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett did not include $4.2 million for the Indy Preschool Scholarship Program in his 2020 budget, unveiled Monday.

The scholarship program, which will end after this school year, paid for 6,526 3- and 4-year-olds from low-income families to attend high-quality programs of their choice over the past four years.

On My Way Pre-K, a state-funded $22 million preschool voucher program that was launched soon after the city’s pilot, will largely take its place. The state program serves some 3,000 4-year-olds from low-income families.

It doesn’t, however, accept 3-year-olds.


Some snow days to become e-learning days at NACS

From Fort Wayne's NBC
Teachers and staff at Northwest Allen County Schools are getting everything ready to welcome students back to class on Wednesday.

The district is instituting a big change this year as it slowly rolls out e-learning days in place of some snow days.

IT staff at Northwest Allen County Schools are in all the buildings, getting the technology cleaned and ready for students to return to class.

“Right now we’re putting new students into them that are coming in at the last minute, taking withdrawal students out. We’re sorting, we’re cleaning, we’re just preparing everything to have the best start for school,” says NACS computer technician Pat Thurber.

The district distributes 7500 devices like tablets and laptops for students, plus teachers and staff.


Trump’s War Against Latinos

From Diane Ravitch
Jack Hassard writes about the excitement of the first day of school. The children in their best clothes, looking forward to meeting their new teacher. But when school is over, their parents are nowhere to be found. They were arrested by ICE.

The mass arrest of 680 workers in Mississippi occurred only days after the slaughter in El Paso, where the killer targeted what he thought were Mexicans.

*Note: Chalkbeat sponsors include pro-charter foundations and individuals such as EdChoice, Gates Family Foundation, The Walton Family Foundation, and others.


Sunday, August 18, 2019

Remembering Phyllis

Dan Greenberg
Teacher, Ohio public education activist, and friend of NEIFPE, Dan Greenberg posted this remembrance of NEIFPE co-founder Phyllis Bush this morning on Facebook.
Just like many of my students, I procrastinated when it came to completing my Summer reading homework for English 9, Tuesday's with Morrie.

It took me two days to complete, but the lessons and ideas will take me a lot longer to sort out and reflect upon.

As I read it, I found myself thinking often of my friend Phyllis Bush, who passed away earlier this year. I thought about the in-person lessons she shared, as well as her heartfelt, often humorous posts about her adventures with "cancer schmantzer." She shared life philosophies and stories about riding the electric carts at the grocery store.

She titled a blog entry from last October "Side Effects: The Gift that Keeps on Giving." Always looking to lighten up the serious subject and the serious disease she was fighting...

Mitch Albom, in his Afterword to Tuesdays with Morrie, wrote "[W]hat I miss the twinkle in Morrie's eyes when I came in the room...[W]hen someone is happy - genuinely happy - to see you, it melts you from the start. It is like going home..."

I got that look many times from Phyllis, including the last time I visited with her, in December. When I was ready to leave, she gave me a long hug, heartfelt words and a huge smile. I knew she was saying goodbye to me for the last time.

When I checked Facebook Memories this morning, the image I saw could not have been more fitting; a picture of Phyllis. It was one year ago that Nicki and I went to her 75th birthday party in Fort Wayne.

Missing you and thinking of you Phyllis, today and always.


Monday, August 12, 2019

In Case You Missed It – Aug 12, 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.


Beware of Right-Wing Groups Promoting Union-Busting Shell Called “Free to Teach”

From Diane Ravitch
...These organizations are part of a massive network of right-wing groups called the State Policy Network. These organizations have donated HUNDREDS OF MILLION OF DOLLARS to extreme right causes: many anti-union and pro-educational privatization. These organizations are funded by billionaires including the Koch Brothers and Richard and Helen DeVos—the parents-in-law of Betsy DeVos. They also fund the Mackinac Center in Michigan, a favorite cause of Betsy DeVos, which works to crush unions and workers’ rights...


Charie Gibson was homeless 17 times. Now she helps more than 1,000 homeless students in Indianapolis.

From Chalkbeat
As the sole administrator responsible for serving the more than 1,000 homeless students in Indianapolis Public Schools, Gibson knows, perhaps better than anyone else in the district, the laws, policies, and resources students need to find stability. She also serves students in foster care.


Trump: Kids scared of going to school because of gun violence ‘have nothing to fear'

From the Answer Sheet
“They have nothing to fear.”

That’s what President Trump said Friday when asked if he had any advice for students who are returning to class for the 2019-2020 school year and are afraid because of recent gun violence.

His response came as he was answering questions from reporters on the White House lawn before departing for the Hamptons in New York, where he was expected to attend a high-priced fundraiser. He answered queries about gun-control legislation — saying he wanted “very meaningful” checks to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people — and other issues, including immigration raids in Mississippi and the trade war with China.

More than halfway through the nearly 35-minute exchange, a reporter asked the president if he had advice for children going to school amid fear of gun violence following recent mass shootings in California, Texas and Ohio. This is what he said...


An Indianapolis charter school is going out on its own — and saying goodbye to its longtime network

It would be nice if Chalkbeat would tell us what the success rate for Lighthouse was. Especially since the article indicates that the difference will be mostly just a change in name. And about that $450,000 they’ll be saving? Who was paying for that in the first place? And what are the enrollment figures? Is there really a need for this diversion of resources from the public schools to exist in the first place?

From Chalkbeat
After years of being managed from afar by the charter network that started it, the local board that oversees Victory is betting that it can operate independently — all the while saving roughly $450,000 in administrative costs.

The shift is the latest sign that Indianapolis is increasingly a city where charter schools, which are publicly funded and privately run, are local — rather than part of a large national network. In this changing ecosystem, local charter leaders have increasing support to manage their schools without the expertise of larger networks.


West Lafayette Schools Opt Out of 1:1 Technology

Students in the Lafayette School Corporation will head back today with access to 1:1 technology.

The Tippecanoe School Corporation also participates in the program that allows certain grade levels to get their own electronic device to use at school and home.

But the West Lafayette Community School Corporation has opted out of the program.

When it comes to technology in the classroom, the goal is to teach kids to use it constructively.

Superintendent Rocky Killion said teachers focus on instructional research practices. He said the goal is to make kids critical thinkers so they can make more informed decisions when researching.


Bill Phillis: Online For-Profit Charters Are Corrupt

From Diane Ravitch
...unregulated, for-profit online charters are prone to corruption. When will public officials acknowledge that online charters are a public policy mistake?


Pennsylvania Law Meant to Forbid Arming Teachers May Have Done Just the Opposite

From Gadflyonthewall Blog
Pennsylvania teachers, don’t forget to pack your Glock when returning to school this year.

A new law meant to close the door on arming teachers may have cracked it open.

Despite warnings from gun safety activists, the bill, SB 621, was approved by the legislature and signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf this summer.

The legislation explicitly allows security guards – independent contractors who are not members of law enforcement – to carry guns in schools if they go through special training.

And that’s bad enough.

Why you’d want glorified rent-a-cops with guns strapped to their hips running around schools full of children is beyond me.

That’s not going to make anyone safer. It’s going to do just the opposite.

But that’s not even the worst of it.


'Tired Of Being Treated Like Dirt' Teacher Morale In The 2019 PDK Poll

Low pay for a job that is vitally important and that requires both skill and education is a clear sign of disrespect. Gov. Holcomb, his commission, and our Hoosier legislators seem to not understand this point.

From Peter Greene in Forbes
Inadequate pay is the marquee reason, and notably regional. Public school teachers are far less likely to feel fairly paid in the South and Midwest. That reason is followed closely by stress and pressure, which is followed by a lack of respect. Lack of support. Teaching no longer enjoyable. Testing requirements. Workload.

These are tied together with the single thread of distrust and disrespect for teachers. This has been evident on the national stage with issues like installing a Secretary of Education who had previously dismissed public education as a "dead end" or a Secretary of Education who asserts that student failure is because of low teacher expectations. Education has also carried the modern burden of the thesis that poor education is the cause of poverty, or even our "greatest national security threat," and so the entire fate of the nation rests on teachers' backs. And yet, teachers are not trusted to handle any of this; instead, we've had decades of federal and state programs meant to force teachers to do a better job. In the classroom, much of these "reforms" have sounded like "You can't do a good job unless you are threatened, micromanaged, and stripped of your autonomy." There is a special kind of stress that comes from working for someone who says, in effect, "You have a big important job to do, and we do not trust you to do it."


Joe Biden: Where Does He Stand on Race to the Top?

From Diane Ravitch
I am not a one-issue voter but I sincerely hope that Democrats have a candidate who will reverse the ruinous education policies of the past four decades. Our nation has invested in standards, testing, accountability, and choice with nothing to show for it.

Many states today spend less on education than they did eleven years ago, and millions of teachers are not paid or respected as professionals. Many states cut taxes and cut their education budgets yet expanded privatization by charters and vouchers, diverting even more money away from the public schools that most students attend.


Harold Meyerson on Walmart and Guns

From Diane Ravitch
The Walton Family, which owns Walmart, is the richest family in the world. Their family foundation is the single biggest supporter of charter schools. They say they funded one of every four charters in the nation.


Note to the National NAACP: Ignore Michael Bloomberg

From Diane Ravitch
Billionaire Michael Bloomberg spoke to the national convention of the NAACP about why they should believe in the saving power of privately managed charter schools. He tried to persuade them to rescind their brave 2016 resolution calling for a moratorium on new charters.


In the Public Interest: Inside the LA Teachers’ Strike

From Diane Ravitch
The photograph below was taken during the UTLA strike last January. The guy in the center is famous rocker Stevie Van Zandt, who loves teachers and public schools and unions. Stevie is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He played in Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band.


Florida: Principal Doubles Salary When Public School Turns Charter

From Diane Ravitch
What a payoff!

A principal in Florida doubled his salary when his public schools converted to a charter, which is what the rightwing governor and legislator want to happen.

Meanwhile teachers In the state are raising money to pay for basic school supplies for their students.


WLCSC Feeling the Impact of Statewide Teacher Problems

The West Lafayette Community School Corporation starts classes Thursday, and it's beginning the school year with about 15 new educators. However, it isn't because they're hiring additional teachers.

Superintendent Rocky Killion said most of the positions opened due to teachers retiring, leaving the profession or moving on to states that pay educators more.

Killion said filling the jobs is becoming harder and harder due to a dwindling number of candidates. While positions are hard to fill across the board, he said secondary teachers in specialized topics, like vocational and foreign language, are the most difficult to hire.

He said the state isn't funding education enough to allow school to pay teachers well.


Monday, August 5, 2019

In Case You Missed It – Aug 5, 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.


Indianapolis charter school for troubled youth closes days before school starts

Charters don't seem to be "the answer." Real public schools are part of the community and the community has a stake in their support. Charter schools feel free to bolt when they get in a "financial bind."

From Chalkbeat
A struggling Indianapolis charter school designed to serve the city’s most troubled youth will close just days before the beginning of the school year, officials said Friday.

Marion Academy, which enrolled about 120 students in grades 6 to12 last year, was created for students who have been in the juvenile justice system, were expelled or were at-risk of expulsion. It also ran a program for students in the Marion County Juvenile Detention Center that served about 60 students.

The school was in a financial bind because it struggled to recruit students and the juvenile detention center chose to find another education partner, according to a press release. “Budget projections were not strong enough to get the school through the 2019-20 year,” the release said. In 2018, Marion Academy had among the lowest passing rates on state tests in the county for 3-8 grades, and no students passed both the math and English state high school tests.


Kentucky: Governor Bevin and GOP Legislators Steal Teachers’ Pension Funds

From Diane Ravitch
The Kentucky public pension “deform” abomination signed by Governor Bevin July 24, 2019 – opposed by all Senate Democrats and 9 Republicans in the Kentucky Senate, deforms the pensions – it does not reform them.

The essential knife-thrusts to the heart of the government retiree pension are these:

1) It clips future hires from the plan (and future pay-ins).

2) It allows 118 quasi-governmental agencies (rape crisis centers; health departments, regional universities, etc.) to buy out of the retirement plan with only vague plans to pay off their 30-year pension deb.

The amounts owed are so large it is daft to think the agencies could meet their obligations without declaring bankruptcy and then consequently cutting the benefits of retirees…


Should A Teacher Be Secretary of Education

"The devil, as always, is in the details."

From Curmudgucation
One up-and-coming education policy idea that was first proposed by Elizabeth Warren, but has now garnered wider candidate support, is the notion that a teacher should be the next secretary of education. At last count, four major candidates were supporting some version of the idea. It's an arresting and appealing idea. Betsy DeVos is widely seen as a controversial opponent of public education, and in many education circles, predecessors like Arne Duncan were not much loved, either. Many teachers feel that the folks in D.C. just don't get it, so the idea of someone from the trenches who would, presumably, get it--well, it's an attractive idea. Now we have to ask--is it a good idea?


To recruit teachers, Indianapolis built an Educators’ Village. But was it enough of an incentive?

The Teacher Village seems like a pretty convoluted plan to attempt to entice people to teach. Perhaps committing to paying them decent salaries would have been a more successful plan.

From Chalkbeat
Each stakeholder admitted the development so far hasn’t been effective in recruiting and retaining teachers in the Indianapolis Public Schools area, a high-turnover district in a state where nearly 9% of teachers left the classroom for reasons other than retirement in recent years. Although at least one buyer teaches at Thomas Gregg Neighborhood School — an IPS school within walking distance of the village — it remains unclear how many of the seven teachers work in the urban core. And several buyers, including Lefler, chose to teach in different districts.

Observers believe several issues led to the development not attracting more teachers. While the homes were set below market value for buyers of a certain income, there was no incentive specifically for teachers set by area schools, and housing laws prohibit restricting buyers to a particular group of people. Outreach efforts fell short, and the application and income eligibility processes were lengthy.


Report: Most states find public money to pay for charter school buildings. Not Michigan.

Wondering why charters with no proof of academic success, fiscal accountability or consideration for the real needs of a community think they should just be given a building to operate in or the cash to buy one.

From Chalkbeat
To critics in Michigan, less charter growth is a good thing. Charter schools can cause financial problems for traditional districts by taking their students — and the students’ roughly $8,000 in annual state funds. Unlike Massachusetts, which sends money to traditional districts to offset the effects of losing students to charter schools, Michigan has no such policy in place.

Other states help charter schools find buildings by giving them access to property tax dollars — the same method used by traditional districts in Michigan to cover facilities costs. Dozens more states provide loans, grants, or direct funding for charter school facilities.


Peter Greene: Charter Schools and the Elephant in the Room

From Diane Ravitch
Peter Greene points out in this post that legislatures have a nasty habit of overlooking the central question about charter schools: their funding.

They pretend that they can run two publicly funded school systems without any additional cost.

They pretend that the funding for charters is not subtracted from the funding for public schools.


Florida: Teachers in Orange County Overwhelmingly Reject New Contract

From Diane Ravitch
It is outrageous that teachers are paid so little, and that the state continues diverting public money to charters and vouchers.

What does the future hold for Florida, where education is a political football and held in such low regard?


Kamala Harris promises $2.5 billion for teacher prep programs at HBCUs to improve educator diversity

From Chalkbeat
Presidential candidate Kamala Harris proposed Friday infusing $2.5 billion into teacher preparation programs at historically black colleges and universities to help produce more educators of color.

The California senator also pledged $60 billion for scholarships and facilities to boost science, technology, engineering, and math studies on those campuses.

Harris was among four Democratic presidential candidates speaking to the National Urban League’s annual conference in Indianapolis. Five other candidates spoke Thursday.


Mayor Pete Doesn't Get It (And If He Does, That's Even Worse)

It’s sad to see this promising candidate taking the wrong turn on education.

From Curmudgucation
...Buttigieg would likely be a repeat of the Bush-Obama education program. He's said some salty things about Betsy DeVos, but beyond his dislike of vouchers, it's not clear just how different his education policy would be from hers.

It would be interesting to see what, exactly, his campaign believes is the critical difference between a school accepting a voucher and a non-profit charter school. Because depending on the state you're in, there's not a large enough space between the two to drive a bicycle, let alone a campaign van.

Why I Do Not Support Mayor Pete

From Diane Ravitch
There are many reasons why I would like to support Mayor Pete Buttigieg. He’s young, he is well-educated, he is smart, he has an admirable record of service to his country, he’s brimming with ideas. I find him very attractive on many levels.

But on education, he is a stealth corporate reformer.


Critics of charter schools say they’re hurting school districts. Are they right?

An older post from Chalkbeat. From June 11, 2019.

From Chalkbeat
“I’m striking to stop charter schools from draining our schools,” wrote Los Angeles teacher Adriana Chavira during the January teachers strike, saying her school has had to cut teachers as it lost students to charter schools. A number of states, most prominently California, are considering efforts to limit charter school expansion in response to such concerns.

Presidential candidates like Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden have recently raised it, too. “The bottom line is, it siphons off money for our public schools, which are already in enough trouble,” Biden said of some charters.


Districts face finance reality - 'it's just us'

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
Fort Wayne Community Schools' ongoing building repair program goes before voters a third time next May when a ballot referendum seeks an additional $125 million from property taxes. Following successful referendums in 2012 and 2016, the district is prepared to tackle major projects at Wayne High School and Blackhawk and Miami middle schools, plus repairs and improvements at dozens of other schools.

The district's track record on repairs and renovations makes the Repair 2020 referendum worthy of continued support. But the referendum also represents the only option Fort Wayne Community Schools and other public school districts in Indiana have to meet their building and operations needs.

Consider Terre Haute, where voters in November will be asked to approve a property tax increase to avoid doubling the $4 million in cuts Vigo County Schools will make over the next two years.

“Nobody is coming to help,” Superintendent Rob Haworth told the school board this month. “Washington, D.C., is not coming to help. Indy is not coming to help. ... It's just us.”