Monday, November 11, 2019

In Case You Missed It – Nov 11, 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.


‘In most professions, you steal office supplies from work to bring home. But teachers steal office supplies from home to bring to work.’

Why does Indiana have a budget surplus? One reason is because Indiana teachers supplement the budget by spending an average of $462 of their own money on supplies for their classrooms. Money which should be going to public schools is sitting in the budget surplus...or has been diverted from the public schools to charter schools or private/parochial school vouchers.

Teachers supplement their classrooms with books, paper, pencils, food for children, and even clothes.

Valerie Strauss has collected anecdotes from teachers all over the country who spend money on their own classrooms.

From the Answer Sheet
I’ve been teaching for 20 years as a 5th grade teacher in a Title 1 school. This year, I’m making a change to 7th grade Science. Completely my choice!!

My first year of teaching, I was given $200 to start the year and then multiple opportunities to turn in receipts for reimbursement. However, the following year, the $200 went away and then after that all reimbursements ended.

What I buy that’s not provided by the district:

Colored Pencils
Books (1000s!)
Teacher’s Books for “required texts”
Dry Erase markers
Snacks (for students)
Science materials

Why? Because every child NEEDS these items and because we are a Title 1 school; many cannot afford the necessities. Kids need to have equal supplies; including food. I don’t regret spending this money as I can teach my students when they have all the tools needed to succeed.

Starting 7th grade Science in a week; I know I’m going to be spending money on experiments and I MUST!! How can I not??


The Red for Ed Action Day is about Indiana's treatment of education professionals. It's about school systems hiring under-qualified staff. It's about programs being cut for lack of staff members.

It's not just about teacher salaries.

The programs being cut and the growth of class sizes has an impact on our students. Teachers' working conditions are students' learning conditions.

School systems don’t have enough money and have to beg for more from the citizens in the form of community-dividing referendums. Wealthy communities have enough money to supplement their schools, but communities with the neediest students cannot.

Meanwhile your tax dollars are being wasted on duplicating systems (charter schools and vouchers) that do not accept ALL children. Indiana cannot afford to fund three parallel school systems. Schools should not have to waste scarce resources advertising for students. Competition, which results in winners and losers, does not work in education.

Our money is going down the sinkhole of high stakes testing which does little more than identify the economic conditions in which students live.  The test scores are misused to grade teachers, students, and schools, yet still we spend millions of dollars on these instruments with money we should be using to fully fund the constitutionally mandated public schools.

Our students, teachers, and schools deserve better.

Allen County teachers, school districts to take part in Red for Ed Action Day

From WANE TV, Fort Wayne
On November 19, thousands of Indiana teachers, including some from Allen County, will throw on red clothes and travel to Indianapolis to rally for more resources for teachers and students in the state, on what they call Red for Ed Action Day.

It is not the first time educators have taken to the capitol, but it is the largest demonstration they’ve had to date.

“At this point we have about 6,600 registered and the numbers keep climbing all the time,” said Steve Brace, UniServ Director for the Indiana State Teachers Association (ISTA). Brace says just a couple of days ago only 2,100 teachers were signed up. At this rate, he expects the number to grow rapidly before the rally.

Over 30 schools in Indiana have decided to close that day so that teachers can attend. Brace said they have gained so much momentum this time around because teachers and administrators alike are more frustrated than ever by issues like testing standards and mandatory externships, which require teachers and administrators to spend 15 hours at an non-school related business in order to renew their teaching license. They are also calling for more funds to be pushed towards education.

Gaining Momentum: GCCS closes for Red for Ed Action Day

From the News and Tribune, Jeffersonville, Indiana
Higher pay.

Lower class sizes.

More school funding.

Teachers statewide are not backing down from their demands and they plan to be heard by legislators on the Red for Ed Action Day, Nov. 19, at the state capital. As more and more Greater Clark County Schools’ teachers vow to be in attendance, the district made the decision to close schools for the day.

“It is important to understand that the decision to support our teachers to attend this event, rather than being present with our students, is not an easy one,” GCCS Superintendent Mark Laughner said in a message to all parents. “We would much rather be at school teaching our students. However, inadequate funding that impacts class sizes, excessive high stakes standardized testing, teacher shortages and failed accountability models are negatively impacting our students and staff.”

Indianapolis Public Schools cancel classes for 'Red for Ed Action Day'

From RTV6-Indianapolis
Indianapolis Public Schools is canceling classes later this month for teachers attending "Red for Ed Action Day."

On Nov. 19, teachers and other staff members who plan to participate in the legislative action day won't need to request a personal day, according to a press release from the district.

Dozens of Indiana districts cancel classes for teachers to rally for higher pay

From Chalkbeat*
So many teachers asked to take Nov. 19 off to rally at the Statehouse for higher pay that nearly 30 districts across Indiana have canceled school or scheduled e-learning days.

“We’re going to support our teachers,” said Beech Grove Superintendent Paul Kaiser, who plans to join teachers at the rally that day while students work online from home. “I think it’s important for our leaders and decision-makers to understand that this is a crisis in the state of Indiana.”

The Indiana State Teachers Association and the American Federation of Teachers Indiana both plan to show up in force at the Statehouse on the ceremonial opening day of the legislative session. The unions want to urge lawmakers to find ways to increase teacher pay soon, although it remains to be seen whether legislators will be willing to act when the state’s budget is already set for two years.

Indianapolis Public Schools announced Wednesday that it will cancel classes on Nov. 19 to allow teachers to participate. South Bend, the state’s fifth-largest school district, and Wayne Township in Indianapolis are also among the districts that have canceled school entirely.

South Bend schools to close Nov. 19 for Red For Ed Action Day

From the South Bend Tribune
All South Bend district schools will be closed Nov. 19 to show local teachers support as part of Red For Ed Action Day.

Superintendent Todd Cummings made the announcement during Monday's school board meeting.

Local educators, parents and community members will join the Indiana State Teachers Association (ISTA) at the Statehouse in Indianapolis to encourage state legislators to boost funding of teacher salaries and to promote education. Nov. 19 is the General Assembly’s organization day.

"We want teachers to support themselves and we want to continue to support them as they advocate for themselves," Cummings said. "We want to provide our teachers and staff with the opportunity to exercise their rights and take this day to advocate for public education and for their students."

Cummings said the district "fully supports feeding our students" and will still plan on supplying meals for those who may need them even with the schools closed.


Indiana is known for its K-12 voucher program. But pre-K vouchers are often left out of the conversation.

Vouchers in the K-12 system ARE an economic drain on our public school systems and they promote discrimination and segregation. We should not be wasting our tax dollars on them. Despite the legislative love for them, those are facts. However, vouchers for pre-school are a more complicated issue because of strongly held beliefs about who is primarily responsible for a pre-schooler’s education. The rub here is that if it’s the parents’ responsibility, then why would the state pay for any of it? On the other hand, many believe that the foundational skills that a child learns as a pre-schooler contribute to the child’s well-being which contributes to the public good. And in that case, do we need to think about making pre-school mandatory and regulating it as we would other public services?

From Chalkbeat*
School choice advocates wield heavy influence in Indiana, but not all of them have fully thrown their weight behind the state’s newest voucher program: pre-K.

Both of Indiana’s voucher programs were born from the same idea of educational choice, which allows low-income families to use public money to choose the best school for their children, regardless of whether it’s public or private.

But the preschool program, On My Way Pre-K, doesn’t enjoy the same kind of support among Indiana conservatives as its K-12 counterpart. That reality speaks to widespread attitudes toward preschool — that it’s the purview of the family, not the government.


South Bend schools get $5.5 million to recruit teachers and partner with IUSB

From the South Bend Tribune
The South Bend Community School Corp. received a $5.5 million federal grant to help the district educate, recruit and retain teachers.

Qualified students will earn their bachelor’s degrees from Indiana University South Bend and have their master’s degrees paid for in exchange for a three-year commitment to teach in South Bend schools.

The grant is for five years and addresses a need to recruit and retain elementary, middle, high school and special education teachers in South Bend.


LeBron James paid for a public school in his hometown. Now he’s building transitional housing for at-risk students there.

The I Promise team realized kids can't learn if they don't have stable housing.

From the Answer Sheet
Last year, basketball superstar LeBron James underwrote a new public school in an Akron, Ohio, school district, designed to provide academics as well as social and emotional supports to at-risk students. Now he’s adding to that investment, partnering with a hotel chain to build transitional housing for families whose children attend the I Promise school but are experiencing homelessness or struggle to have stable, safe housing.

The LeBron James Family Foundation made the announcement Monday along with Graduate Hotels, saying that the housing will be located within a few blocks of the school in a building that will be renovated and furnished.

In making the announcement, the foundation issued a release that quoted James as saying he and others involved in the I Promise school have come to realize that students need stable housing to learn.


Did Indianapolis students do better after struggling schools were restarted? A new study takes a look.

"Overall, innovation restart schools continue to post some of the lowest passing rates in the district."

From Chalkbeat*
Indianapolis Public Schools will soon have to review the performance of its first innovation schools, which launched in 2015. Next year, district officials will evaluate Phalen’s progress at School 103 in deciding whether to renew the innovation contract.

Innovation advocates have taken test score growth as a promising sign of improvement, though School 103 struggled significantly this year as passing rates tumbled across the state on the new ILEARN exam. Overall, innovation restart schools continue to post some of the lowest passing rates in the district.

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


Monday, November 4, 2019

In Case You Missed It – Nov 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.

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.


NAEP scores were released last week. Here are four articles about the results.

NAEP Test Scores Show How Stupid We Are… To Pay Attention to NAEP Test Scores

Testing measures economic status.

From Gadfly on the Wall Blog
Brace yourselves!

America’s NAEP test scores in 2019 stayed pretty much the same as they were in 2018!

And the media typically set its collective hair on fire trying to interpret the data.

Sometimes called the Nations Report Card, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) test is given to a random sampling of elementary, middle and high school students in member countries to compare the education systems of nations.

And this year there was one particular area where US kids did worse than usual!

Our scores went down in 8th grade reading!

To be honest, scores usually go up or down by about one or two points every year averaging out to about the same range.

But this year! Gulp! They went down four points!


What does that mean?

Absolutely nothing.

They’re standardized test scores. They’re terrible assessments of student learning.

Indiana NAEP results show widening gap in reading

NAEP scores reflect a growing divide between affluent and poor people in Indiana...and across the U.S.

From School Matters
“The most disturbing pattern we see in the 2019 NAEP results is that both fourth- and eighth-grade reading scores decreased most among our lowest performing students,” Indiana University professor Sarah Theule Lubienski said by email. “For example, while reading scores slipped just 1 point for students scoring among the top 10%, they fell 3-6 points among those scoring within the bottom 10%.”

That’s nationwide, and the fall-off among lowest-performing test-takers was even more pronounced in Indiana. Reading scores for the bottom 10% of Indiana eighth-graders fell by 14 points. Reading scores for the bottom 10% of fourth-graders fell by 9 points. Results for highest-scoring test-takers were stable.

‘Nation’s report card’ tells a similar story to ILEARN — most Indiana students are behind

Indiana Chalkbeat should be absolutely ashamed of this headline. It is misleading, and it demonstrates a very poor understand of the NAEP scores and what they mean. Comparing the ILEARN tests and scores to NAEP scores ignores the true picture of students in Indiana schools.

From Chalkbeat*
Amid concerns over low scores on Indiana’s new standardized test, ILEARN, new results from a national exam tell a similar story about student performance.

Scores from the National Assessment Educational Progress, or NAEP, released Wednesday, showed 37% of eighth graders statewide were proficient in reading and math, and 37% of fourth graders were proficient in reading and 47% were proficient in math.

NAEP 2019 Released: No Progress in Math, Reading

NAEP scores should encourage us to invest in public education.

From Diane Ravitch
After a generation of disruptive reforms—No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top, VAM and Common Core—after a decade or more of disinvestment in education, after years of bashing and demoralizing teachers, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) for 2019 shows the results:

Over the past decade, there has been no progress in either mathematics or reading performance, and the lowest-performing students are doing worse,” said Peggy Carr, the associate commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, which administers the NAEP. “In fact, over the long term in reading, the lowest-performing students—those readers who struggle the most—have made no progress from the first NAEP administration almost 30 years ago.”



The Indiana Public Retirement System (INPRS) board voted last week to increase the monthly administrative fee for PERF and TRF members’ Defined Contribution (DC) plans from $3 to $3.75. The increase is based on higher management costs for the DC plan than original INPRS estimates accounted for the previous year. Fees cover record keeping and required Internal Revenue Service administrative oversight.

Retirees will not be affected, only members with active accounts.


KIPP, IDEA Corporate Charter Chains Criticize Elizabeth Warren’s Plan to Cut Their Federal Funding

From Diane Ravitch
In her education plan, Elizabeth Warren proposed eliminating the federal Charter Schools Program. This program was started in 1994 to help jumpstart new charter schools at a time when there were fewer than 100 charter schools in the nation. Now there are 7,000.

Today, the CSP has a budget of $440 million a year (which BETSY DeVos proposes to increase to $500 million a year). DeVos uses CSP as her personal slush fund to expand corporate charter chains. This past year, she gave $89 million to KIPP, $67 million to IDEA, and $10 million to Success Academy. None of these charter chains are struggling financially. All receive huge grants from the Waltons and other billionaires.

The Network for Public Education studied the expenditure of $4 billion by CSP from 2006-2014, predating the DeVos era. It’s report “Asleep at the Wheel,” determined that at least $1 billion of the funds spent by CSP during that period were wasted on charter schools that either never opened or closed soon after opening. Warren cited this report in her education plan, to justify eliminating the wasteful CSP.


The Walton Family: Ungrateful Graduates of Public Schools

Every dollar you spend at Walmart is a dollar spent against public education.

From Diane Ravitch
No philanthropy has spent more money to undermine and privatize public schools than the Waltons. The Waltons are the richest family in the U.S., possibly in the world, with a net worth in excess of $200 billion.

The Walton Family Foundation claims credit for launching at least one of every four charter schools in the nation. The foundation aims to eliminate public education, crush teachers’ unions, and destroy the teaching profession. The foundation has given nearly $100 million to Teach for America to supply inexperienced, ill-trained teachers to public and charter schools.


Michael Hicks: Education policies to blame for employment drop

From the Star Press, Muncie, IN
Since the third quarter of 2007, when the economy was booming, Indiana’s workforce down-skilled profoundly. We’ve seen 31 percent growth in workers with less than a high school diploma, nearly no change among those with high school diploma and under 5.0 percent growth among those who have been to college or have an Associate’s degree. The simple fact is from third quarter 2007 to third quarter 2018, a whopping 55 percent of new workers had less than a high school diploma.

I believe much of this is attributable to education policies that focus on supplying our economy with workers instead of citizens. While this might have pleased a few important political donors, it remains deeply misguided. I call it the Mississippi strategy, because it pushes Indiana into the bottom tier of educational attainment. And from the looks of it, it is doing just that.


NACS approves teacher raises

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
The Northwest Allen County Schools board Monday approved a two-year contract that includes raises for teachers.

The collective bargaining agreement presented at a meeting two weeks ago covers this year and expires in 2021. Board members Kent Somers, Liz Hathaway, Ronald Felger, Steve Bartkus and Kristi Schlatter voted unanimously to approve the contract.

“I thought it was a very thoughtful process,” Somers said, referring to negotiations with the Northwest Allen County Educators Association, which represents more than 400 teachers.

Under the contract, minimum base salaries for full-time teachers increase $1,250 to $41,250. The agreement includes $64,000 base salaries for teachers with bachelor's degrees and $70,125 for those with master's degrees.


Several NEIFPE members will be among those taking action on November 19 in Indianapolis.

Shane Phipps column: Sea of red coming to statehouse

From the The Herald Bulletin, Anderson, IN
Downtown Indianapolis will be a sea of red on Tuesday, Nov. 19.

Thousands of teachers from across the Hoosier State are expected to assemble around the Statehouse that day in a show of solidarity for the Red for Ed movement. This growing movement has been gaining steam for months. Many teachers have been wearing red to school each Wednesday in a show of silent unity.

At the center of the issue is teacher pay. Due to the fact that many thousands of educators across the state have gone years and years without a proper pay raise — or none at all — Indiana teachers (particularly the younger ones) have had a hard time keeping up with the cost of living.

Indiana has fallen into the bottom third in the nation in total teacher compensation. I know a lot of young teachers — and an ever-increasing number of older ones — who’ve had to take on second jobs just to pay the bills. That doesn’t seem fair in a profession that requires at least a bachelor’s degree (most teachers have at least one master’s degree). All that schooling comes at a cost. Most teachers start out in a huge financial hole, carrying student loan debts in the high five figures into the six-figure range. I’ve taught for 19 years and, while I make a comfortable living, I am still paying off student loans — that’s a fact.
Be sure to attend. Click here to Register.

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