Monday, June 29, 2020

In Case You Missed It – June 29, 2020

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.


Some Indiana schools will reopen without a full-time nurse, raising concerns

Will you feel safe to send your child to a school without a full-time nurse?

From Chalkbeat*
Before the pandemic closed buildings, not every school in Indiana had a dedicated, full-time nurse, according to officials. The state only requires that each district have at least one, even if it includes multiple buildings. And advocates say many districts don’t meet the nationally recommended ratio of one nurse for every 750 students.

Now, the importance of having a medical profession is heightened as districts work through how to reopen safely during the ongoing pandemic.

“I think it’s critical to have a school nurse on site,” Bishop said. “The need is even more amplified right now because of COVID-19. As an educator, I’m not a healthcare professional. Having someone who is is more important now than I think it’s ever been.”


Memphis: Two KIPP Charters Close Suddenly, Stranding Students

Charter schools are businesses. When they stop making money they close, often with no warning.

From Diane Ravitch
In reality, KIPP gave up. They gave up on their students, families, faculty and staff after only a few years of operation. Make no mistake, this was a financial decision that is inequitable to the historic Alcy Ball community in South Memphis.

KIPP cited a “failure to fulfill academic promise” which resulted in the closures, and the only excuse provided for the late notice was that they did not want to mislead the schools’ key stakeholders regarding their future.

This was a cheap and inaccurate shot at the integrity of the teachers and faculty, who spent money out of their own pockets to make sure that their students were adequately clothed, fed and supplied.


Trump Back DeVos On Soaking Scammed Students

Betsy DeVos is quick to deny any loan forgiveness for students. In 2013 the State of Indiana forgave more than $90 million in Charter School Loans. We wonder what DeVos would think about that...

From Curmudgucation
DeVos has been plenty clear in her feelings about debt relief, siding whole-heartedly the corporate interests. She has thoroughly choked off the public service loan forgiveness program as a prelude to proposing to kill it entirely. Called in before the House Education Committee to explain why she was still dragging her feet on loan forgiveness for the scammed students, she offered a very DeVosian quote:

I understand that some of you here just want to have blanket forgiveness for anyone who raises their hand and files a claim, but that simply is not right.
The very idea of people borrowing money and then being excused from paying it back really, really rubs her the wrong way. She hates it. So she wrote new rules, under which hardly anyone would get loan forgiveness.

And Congress finally said, "Enough."


EACS details ‘reopening safety plan’; says full plan still in development

From Fort Wayne NBC
A reopening safety plan published by East Allen County Schools lays out guidelines and expectations for those on campus, though the district says its complete and "official" plan for the coming school year remains in development.

The reopening safety plan includes employee health screening, enhanced cleaning and hygiene protocols, and social distancing measures.

A spokesperson for the district says the plan is a work-in-progress, and administrators are still ironing out more concrete protocols. She describes the document that was published as a district adherence to directives from the governor.

According to the plan, the number of students, employees and visitors allowed in the buildings will be limited and social distancing will be enforced "whenever possible".

Those who enter the school are encouraged to wear masks although they are not required.

Hand wipes and sanitizer will be available at all the main entrances, and common touch points like doorknobs and handles will be cleaned daily by custodians. Drinking fountains will not be in use.


FWCS hands Robinson $20,000: Smith votes against severance check amid uncertainty

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
In her last meeting as superintendent of Fort Wayne Community Schools after 17 years, Wendy Robinson received a going-away gift – a $20,000 severance check.

The board voted 6-1 in favor of the payment. Tom Smith, 3rd District, voted against the measure, saying his vote didn't reflect his opinion of Robinson's performance in her job or as a community leader.

Smith said because of the way COVID-19 has affected parents and taxpayers, with many unemployed or working only part-time or more than one job, he said he could not justify the expense.

The schools also are facing uncertainty in funding from the state, he said.

“I can't imagine a worse time to give someone an extra $20,000 that wasn't contracted for,” Smith said.

“My vote is all about saving money at this time,” he added.

Robinson's final contract included a base annual salary of $210,164.

School board members praised Robinson for leading the schools through tumultuous times that included the rise of charter and voucher schools, shrinking state funds, three building referendums and a student population growing in diversity.

“Through it all, Dr. Robinson has kept the wolves at bay,” said Ann Duff.


5 key recommendations for reopening schools from Indiana’s top health expert

Hoosier schools leaders have to puzzle it out. Let’s hope they do as Dr. McCormick suggests and confer with their local health departments.

From Chalkbeat*
School districts statewide are scrambling to come up with their own plans for reopening next school year, after buildings were closed for months to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Reopening campuses is one of the last and trickiest steps in Gov. Eric Holcomb’s plan to lift statewide restrictions. In Indiana, hundreds of new COVID-19 cases continue to be reported daily.

Here are five key takeaways from Box’s advice for schools:

1. School reopening plans don’t have to be approved by local health departments...

2. Masks will be key to preventing the spread of COVID-19...

3. Self- or home-screening is highly recommended...

4. Water fountains should be shut down...

5. Schools should be cautious about activities, including athletics and choir...

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

**Note: The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette has changed its online access and is now behind a paywall. Digital access, home delivery, or both, are available with a subscription. Staying informed is important, and one way to do that is to support your local newspaper. For subscription information go to


Monday, June 22, 2020

In Case You Missed It – June 22, 2020

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.


The last thing schools need to spend money on is tests. States are going to be very short of cash due to the lack of leadership by the federal government. Education funding ought to go to the classroom, not the corporate board room of a multinational testing company.

Leonie Haimson: NYC DOE Finds $6 Million for Pearson

From Diane Ravitch
Leonie Haimson, executive director of Class Size Matters, reports that the NYC Department of Education plans to award $6 million to testing giant Pearson, despite the pandemic and looming budget cuts.


Pence’s ‘school choice’ in Indiana

As governor of Indiana, Mike Pence was a fan of private education paid for with public funds. He never missed a chance for a private school photo-op...and generally ignored public education. Now, as VP he -- and his boss -- want to bring the money wasted on privatization to the federal level. With Betsy DeVos and a newly packed federal judiciary leading the charge, he just might be able to do that.

That would be a mistake.

From School Matters
Asked a simple question Tuesday about race in America, Vice President Mike Pence deflected to a soliloquy about all the Trump administration has done for African Americans, including the way it has “stood strong for school choice.”

Pence was following the script laid out by the president, who said that school choice is “the civil rights (issue) of all time in this country.”

How does that look from Indiana, where Pence was governor for four years before he hitched his wagon to Trump’s star? Frankly, not so good.


No one knows what will happen this fall when it's time for schools to open. Will COVID-19 still be a threat? Will students have to work from home? Attend school in shifts? Wear masks?

It’s mid-June and schools still aren’t sure how they will open for 2020-21. Here’s why — and what’s likely to happen.

From the Answer Sheet
It’s mid-June and most school district superintendents still haven’t announced exactly what schools will look like when they open for the 2020-21 school year. In many places, reopening will be in August, which doesn’t give them a lot of time to decide and put the plans in motion.

But we do know that just about every aspect of schooling will be different than it has been in the past. Protective measures will be in place to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, and a “hybrid” model of in-person and remote learning will become commonplace in many, if not most, districts.

Teachers Face A Summer Of Soul Searching. What Do They Do In The Fall?

From Peter Greene in Forbes
Teachers know, in their guts, where this is headed. They have seen versions of this movie before. For instance, in 1975 Congress passed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) which promised every student with disabilities a free appropriate public education. Knowing that meant extra expenses for school districts, Congress promised funding to back IDEA. They have never, in 45 years, honored that promise, and schools have just had to find their own way to meet that unfunded mandate.


GOP Legislators To Schools: Re-Open Or Else.

One size does not fit all.

Indiana's third district US Congressman, Jim Banks, and a Wisconsin colleague have decided that the health of those who attend school, work in schools, or are related to those who attend or work in schools doesn't matter.

In a blatant attempt at extortion, Rep. Banks and Tom Tiffany (R-WI) have introduced a bill that would require schools to open for in-person instruction by September 8, 2020, or face the loss of federal education dollars. It doesn't matter what the local pandemic conditions are. It doesn't matter what the local health risks are. "Damn the torpedoes. Full speed ahead."

From Peter Greene in Forbes
Representative Jim Banks of Indiana and freshly-elected Representative Tom Tiffany of Wisconsin have decided to throw some weight behind the push to re-open schools in the fall by creating the granddaddy of all unfunded mandates.

The Reopen Our Schools Act sends a pretty simple message to schools—open up in the fall, or we will cut off your federal funding. I’ve seen the text of the bill—it’s 37 lines long, including the section of definitions. Its purpose is listed as “To prohibit the Secretary of Education from providing funding to certain educational institutions unless the institutions return to in-person instruction, and for other purposes.“


Charter Schools, Some With Billionaire Benefactors, Tap Coronavirus Relief

Are charter schools public schools or are they private businesses? It depends on which way the money flows. When states began funding charters with public dollars, then they decided that charters are public schools. When the US Congress offered small business relief during the coronavirus pandemic, those same charter schools turned towards the money and claimed to be private businesses. They can't -- or shouldn't -- have it both ways.

From the New York Times
Charter schools, including some with healthy cash balances and billionaire backers like Michael Bloomberg and Bill Gates, have quietly accepted millions of dollars in emergency coronavirus relief from a fund created to help struggling small businesses stay afloat.

Since their inception, charter schools have straddled the line between public schools and private entities. The coronavirus has forced them to choose.

And dozens of them — potentially more because the Treasury Department has not disclosed a list — have decided for the purpose of coronavirus relief that they are businesses, applying for aid even as they continue to enjoy funding from school budgets, tax-free status and, in some cases, healthy cash balances and the support of billionaire backers.


Teach for America’s 2020 Trainees to Enter the Classroom with Only Tutoring Experience

Teach for America had never given their "teachers" much training. Five weeks in the summer was enough because since everyone has gone to school everyone can teach, right?

There's a reason it takes actual teachers four years to complete a teacher training program. Teaching children in public schools is more than just presenting information. If you don't know that -- and TFA trainers apparently don't -- then you shouldn't be in the classroom.

From deutsch29: Mercedes Schneider's Blog
In this time of school closures and social distancing, teacher temp agency, Teach for America (TFA), has decided to “train” its 2020 corps members online.

As former TFAer-gone-career teacher, Gary Rubinstein, writes, pre-COVID, TFA trainees actually teach on average one hour per day over the course of four weeks during the summer, in classrooms which they share with four other TFA trainees.

As such, TFA trainees have no experience teaching even one entire school day in a classroom in which the trainee is responsible for all instruction.

And now, with the social restrictions and classroom complexities introduced by the coronavirus, TFA’s 2020 trainees will have no experience being in charge of a classroom– not even an entire classroom online.


Monday, June 15, 2020

In Case You Missed It – June 15, 2020

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.


The Student-Teacher Relationship is One of the Most Misunderstood and Underrated Aspects of Education

From Gadfly on the Wall Blog
Test-obsessed policy makers will tell educators to manage everything with a clipboard and a spreadsheet – for example, to increase the percentage of positive interactions vs negative ones in a given class period. But such a data-centric mindset dehumanizes both student and teacher.

The goal cannot be to maximize numbers whether they be test scores or some other metric. It has to be about the relationship, itself.

Teachers have to care about their students. All teachers. All students.

Or at least we have to try.


School Funding in the COVID-19 Era

How will we fund public schools when the states are out of money?

From Diane Ravitch
The coronavirus has caused incalculable harm to millions of people. Two million people have been infected. More than 100,000 have died. The death toll increases daily. The scientific response to the pandemic—close down the economy—caused additional harm, with most economic activity halted, millions of people out of work, businesses Closed, livelihoods lost. The economic shutdown caused a dramatic decline in state revenues, which means less funding for schools. As schools plan to reopen, classes must be smaller, more nurses and healthcare workers are needed, and costs will rise, to keep students and staff safe.

How can schools cut costs while costs are rising? They can’t.

With little to no help or guidance from state and federal government, Hoosier schools and parents are left to figure school opening out.

Indiana schools reopening: Why screening for coronavirus could be difficult

From Chalkbeat*
Before she sends her two children back to school next year, Sherry Holmes said she’d like to see every student and staff member in the state tested for COVID-19.

That seems unlikely as tests remain limited and targeted at those who are high risk or symptomatic. So Holmes said she will likely keep her kindergartner and third grader home for a few weeks, at least until she can see what precautions their school is taking.

“For me as a parent, it’s scary just to think about,” she said.

Reopening school buildings is one of the last and trickiest steps in Gov. Eric Holcomb’s plan to lift statewide restrictions brought on by the coronavirus. The Indiana State Department of Health reports hundreds of new COVID-19 cases daily, and the return of thousands of children and educators to classrooms could further spread the virus.

Indiana schools to have flexibility when reopening

State Superintendent Jennifer McCormick addressed teachers and administrators during a webinar Tuesday following the state Department of Education’s release of school reentry guidelines last week. She emphasized the “freedom” local leaders have to determine how their schools will reopen and operate during the coronavirus pandemic. McCormick says that with many schools starting the academic year by early August, some expect to hold all or most classes online. Others, especially in rural areas, plan to return to the “brick and mortar” setting as soon as possible.

To watch the webinar on YouTube, follow this link.

Holcomb: Indiana schools ‘can and should open for instruction’

Apparently, Holcomb has decided COVID-19 is not a threat to our children, our educators and their families, and he has no problem asking schools to do even more impossible things with less funding.

From Chalkbeat*
“We believe, where we are right now, schools can and should open for instruction, and we wouldn’t have made that decision or endorsed the proposal to go forward if we thought otherwise,” Holcomb said during his regular public update.

As one of the final pieces in Holcomb’s plan to reopen Indiana by July 4, the state released guidelines Friday for students and teachers to return to classrooms for the first time since mid-March. Those guidelines included recommendations for screening students and staff for the coronavirus, maintaining social distancing in classrooms and buses, and creating health plans for vulnerable individuals.


The appeals court overturned a ruling that Americans have a right to an education. However, Rep. Jim Banks (IN-03) apparently disagrees with the court when he claims that education is "guaranteed" to all. Which is it?

Federal Appeals Court Rules: No Right to Education

From Diane Ravitch
A federal appeals court overturned a landmark ruling that affirmed the right to an education. Education is necessary for full citizenship, so voters can be fully informed. However the appeals court did not agree.

Indiana lawmaker proposes bill to strip funding from schools if they don't reopen in-person this fall

Emerson's quote, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds..." seems to fit the law proposed by Jim Banks (IN-03). His proposal insists that schools open in the fall or lose federal funding. Meanwhile, the directions from the State of Indiana seems to give local school districts some discretion in how and when to reopen.

Rep. Jim Banks (IN-03) is proposing a bill that would cutoff a school’s federal funding if they refuse to reopen for in-person learning in the fall.

The legislation is called: Reopen Our Schools Act.

“We need to change the subject from ‘our schools might not reopen in the fall’ to ‘our schools will reopen in the fall and here’s what we need to do it,’” Rep. Banks said. “America is the land of opportunity where education is guaranteed to all children. We’re not living up that guarantee at the moment.”

The concern is that remote learning is not effective and lack of internet keeps low-income or rural families from being able to do classwork.


It seems that Betsy DeVos and the U.S. Department of Education under her control is doing everything it can to hurt students.

Trump and DeVos Push School Choice, No $ for Undocumented

From Diane Ravitch
— DeVos said in a statement that the rule was aimed at eliminating any “uncertainty” for colleges about how they must distribute the funds, while carrying out the department’s “responsibility to taxpayers to administer the CARES Act faithfully.”

— Democratic lawmakers have pushed back, saying the rule violates the intent of the CARES Act. “As students across the country are struggling to make ends meet in the face of unprecedented financial challenges, Secretary DeVos’ efforts to deny some much-needed aid is cruel,” said Senate HELP ranking member Patty Murray (D-Wash.). “These extreme eligibility requirements will not only harm students, but they are also contrary to Congressional intent.” Read more from Michael Stratford.

DeVos Insists on Denying Federal CARES Aid to Undocumented Students

From Diane Ravitch
In another act of gratuitous cruelty, Betsy DeVos insists that undocumented students should get no emergency aid, although Congress did not pass such a restriction.

Politico reports:

DEVOS SEEKS TO ENFORCE RESTRICTIONS ON PANDEMIC RELIEF GRANTS THROUGH REGULATION: The Trump administration will roll out a new regulation this week that restricts which college students may receive emergency grants to cover expenses like food and housing.

DeVos Illegally Seizes $2.2 Billion from Indebted College Students

From Diane Ravitch the middle of a global pandemic and an economic meltdown, with millions of people out of work, the DeVos Department of Education illegally seized $2.2 billion from students who were in debt.

Adam S. Minsky wrote in Forbes:

In response to a class action lawsuit filed by student loan borrowers, the U.S. Department of Education disclosed that it had intercepted and seized over $2.2 billion in tax refunds owed to a million student loan borrowers, in violation of the CARES Act.


A Classic: John Oliver on Charter Schools

From Diane Ravitch
In 2016, John Oliver presented a shocking episode about charter schools.

It has been viewed by 12 million people.

Oliver was the first and possibly the only major media figure to discover that charter schools had some serious problems.

Some close in the middle of the year.

Watch his clip with John Kasich comparing education to getting more pepperoni on a slice of pizza.

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


Monday, June 8, 2020

In Case You Missed It – June 8, 2020

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.


Indiana Department of Education Announces 2020-2021 School Year COVID-19 Reentry Considerations

From the Indiana Department of Education
“The health and safety of Hoosier students, school staff, and communities is priority one. Providing students with a quality education is critical and therefore it is crucial we offer considerations focused on getting students back in the classroom in a safe manner,” said State Superintendent Dr. Jennifer McCormick. “Considering the many unknowns associated with COVID-19, we also recognize the importance of alternative learning opportunities. We appreciate the thoughtful and collaborative spirit in which IN-CLASS was developed.”


School support: FWCS' stewardship made voters' choice easy

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
In terms of importance, an election night without final results falls low on the list of COVID-19's ill effects. It was reassuring, nonetheless, to know one outcome seemed clear Tuesday night: Voters residing in the Fort Wayne Community Schools district overwhelmingly supported its $130 million building referendum.

At polls, 74% favor FWCS measure: Absentee votes yet to count

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Voters haven't wavered in their support of Fort Wayne Community Schools' quest to renovate and upgrade buildings – at least according to incomplete ballot totals Tuesday night.

About 74% of voters who came to the polls supported the third phase of Repair FWCS, a $130 million bond program that will lead to major renovations...


With schools shuttered, learning lags and students left behind, Reuters survey shows

From Reuters
A Reuters survey of nearly 60 school districts across the country provides hard evidence confirming parents’ fears: Distance learning is no substitute for in-class teaching, with students missing classes, meals and hands-on instruction.


Helping Students Heal

From Live Long and Prosper
Public schools have always been a stable force in students' lives and when the next school year begins -- whenever that is -- they will have to take on the additional role of helping students heal from multiple traumas.

How can teachers and schools help their students and likely their families, too, heal after the pandemic and the societal upheaval?



‘Unconscionable and unacceptable’: Indianapolis school leaders promise to fight racism

From Chalkbeat*
At the end of her weekly video update Friday, Indianapolis Public Schools Superintendent Aleesia Johnson acknowledged the “incredibly tough week in our country.”

She laid out the litany of traumatic current events disproportionately affecting black students: high-profile national incidents of police brutality, gun violence in local neighborhoods, and the coronavirus pandemic’s outsized effect on African Americans.

“There is just so much loss,” Johnson said. “And so in the midst of that, I want to remind all of our students — but especially our black and brown students — that you are so valued. You are loved. You are brilliant. You are powerful. You are magic. And we are so proud of you.”


While the Press Covers the Police Killing of a Black Man, Riots, and the Pandemic, Trump Quietly Vetoes Rule to Protect Defrauded Student Borrowers

From Jan Resseger
... On Friday, President Trump vetoed a joint congressional resolution, passed by bipartisan majorities in both chambers of Congress, to overturn Betsy DeVos’s re-write of the “borrower defense to repayment” rule. Trump’s veto will make it much harder for students defrauded by unscrupulous for-profit colleges to force the federal government to forgive their federal college debts. It seems unlikely that Congress will have enough votes to override Trump’s veto.

The Obama era “borrower defense to repayment” rule made it easier for student borrowers with federal student loans to have their loans forgiven if they had been defrauded. However, an enormous backlog of claims has been building since DeVos took over the department and her staff slowed processing of students’ claims. Finally, last September, DeVos’s department rewrote a new version of the rule more friendly to the for-profit colleges and less protective of defrauded student borrowers burdened with enormous debt.

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

**Note: The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette has changed its online access and is now behind a paywall. Digital access, home delivery, or both, are available with a subscription. Staying informed is important, and one way to do that is to support your local newspaper. For subscription information go to


Monday, June 1, 2020

In Case You Missed It – Jun 1, 2020

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.


Carol Burris: Charters Are Looting Federal Funds Meant to Save Small Businesses

From Diane Ravitch
...Carol Burris and Marla Kilfoyle of the Network for Public Education wrote an article in Valerie Strauss’s “Answer Sheet” about the charter schools that are claiming federal funds designated for small businesses, thwarting the intention of the legislators. Public schools are not eligible for the PPP relief funds, but—presto chango—the money-hungry charters decided they are not public schools after all, they are really small businesses. Next week, they will again claim to be public schools, not small businesses.


Potential partnership sours as charter leader opposes South Bend school referendums

He says he's "not trying to harm the schools," but harming them will likely put more money in his pocket.

From Chalkbeat*
According to election committee filings, Garatoni [founder and board president of three local charter schools] has contributed $30,000 to his anti-referendum campaign, which has no other donors, and has spent around $10,000 so far. The pro-referendum committee has raised nearly $17,000 and spent more than $14,000.

Garatoni acknowledged that his growing network of charter schools, which together serve around 1,300 students in grades K-12, could benefit from the referendum failing, because it might force the district to close more schools. Under state law, empty school buildings are available for charter schools to purchase for $1. But Garatoni said that’s not why he opposes the referendum.

“I’m not trying to harm the schools,” Garatoni said. “Basically, I’m saying fix the schools. If they get the money then they can coast again and they won’t confront the issue.”


How the politics behind rural internet access leave parts of Indiana ‘in the dark ages’

From Chalkbeat*
Before the coronavirus crisis, schools in hilly, forested Brown County, Indiana, didn’t expect students to work online at home.

Even with a growing fiber network in the area, too many families couldn’t connect to the internet, and those who did often used hot spots or unreliable connections. So schools used workarounds: Students did their assignments offline at home and logged on once they got to school to upload work, said Superintendent Laura Hammack.

But during the pandemic, that approach no longer works, and school leaders are finding longstanding access gaps more difficult to bridge...

“We’re still over-relying on the private sector to make good on these promises, and the private sector hasn’t delivered,” said Kerwin Olson, executive director of the Citizens Action Coalition, a consumer advocacy group that focuses on utility and environmental issues in Indiana. “No question about it, campaign cash and lobbying influence has a lot to do with why so many folks lack access to this service..."


Holcomb applied for $61M in relief for schools. Here are 3 things to know.

From Chalkbeat*
Indiana is eligible to receive up to $61.6 million in discretionary funding for schools. The amount was determined by the number of school-age children in the state. That’s on top of the $215 million Indiana’s K-12 schools are already set to receive through the federal coronavirus relief bill known as the CARES Act...

...the application doesn’t reveal a detailed plan — governors were asked just three questions — it does give us a first look at how Holcomb will spend the money. Here are three things to know:

1. Holcomb wants to create more technology and remote learning grant opportunities...

2. The state would create “needs-based criteria” to decide how to distribute the money...

3. There’s no mention of a statewide plan for closing technology access gaps.


David Berliner: Kids Missing School? Don’t Worry.

From Diane Ravitch
...what if they do lose a few points on the achievement tests currently in use in our nation and in each of our states? None of those tests predict with enough confidence much about the future life those kids will live. That is because it is not just the grades that kids get in school, nor their scores on tests of school knowledge, that predict success in college and in life. Soft skills, which develop as well during their hiatus from school as they do when they are in school, are excellent predictors of a child’s future success in life.


Why shouldn't high stakes testing be abandoned next year?

We do not need testing in the fall or even at all when our children go back to school. “We just need smart teachers with the RESOURCES they need to do the work.”

From Curmudgucation
[Standardized testing] would also waste precious instructional time, waste resources, and provide meaningless bad data. Look-- if testing really worked, if it really told us all the things that guys like Toch want to claim it does, don't you think teachers would be clamoring for it? If it were an actual valuable tool, don't you think that teachers, struggling with spotty resources against unprecedented challenges, would be hollering, "If I'm going to try to do this, at least find a way to get me those invaluable Big Standardized Test!"

But no-- in the midst of this hard shot to the foundations of public education, a lot of professional educators are taking a hard look at what is really essential, what they really need to get the job done. The Big Standardized Test didn't make the cut. We don't need the "smart testing," especially since it isn't very smart anyway. We just need smart teachers with the resources they need to do the work.

Disadvantaged kids 'fell further in maths, reading due to COVID'

Here’s an idea...Instead of testing as soon as schools open again, or worrying about what kids have missed...

From the Sydney Morning Herald
“... schools should prioritise helping students settle down after a strange and often stressful experience.

Pasi Sahlberg, research director at the Gonski Institute for Education, said schools should put social and emotional wellbeing first. "I think we should let children play and learn outside as much as possible," he said.

"Schools should not worry too much about how much teaching kids have missed when they were not at school and instead focus more on what they learned when they had more time to do their own things on their own pace. I bet many of us would be surprised about the latter."


Reading, writing and REOPENING: Two months into lifewith COVID-19, schools still have more questions than answers

From NACS Superintendent, Chris Himsel in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Despite the work that remains, we continue to be hopeful we will be able to take steps toward normal. However, we will not jeopardize the health of our students, staff or their families simply because all of us desire a rapid return to our previous normal.

From what we are learning at this moment, school will look significantly different until there is a vaccine. Until then, we must learn to coexist with COVID-19. Over the next several weeks, we will continue gathering facts and developing plans for safely engaging our students.

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

**Note: The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette has changed its online access and is now behind a paywall. Digital access, home delivery, or both, are available with a subscription. Staying informed is important, and one way to do that is to support your local newspaper. For subscription information go to


Monday, May 25, 2020

In Case You Missed It – May 25, 2020

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.


How Hard Are CDC Guidelines To Follow

Curmudgucation writes on the realities of opening schools safely. It’s not looking feasible for two reasons- cost and human nature.

From Curmudgucation
So now everyone is freaked out about the CDC "guidelines" as reported on that blue meme that was going around. This, of course, was the point-- to sell the idea that public schools will be like prisons, so everyone should pull their kids out. Because in the spirit of never letting a crisis go to waste, there are folks from your neighbor with the tin hat all the way up to the US Secretary of Education who see the pandemic as one more chance to dismantle public schools. So the blue list was framed, worded, and occasionally misrepresented in order to create maximum outrage. Mission accomplished.

Let's look instead at the actual CDC guidelines. I won't lie-- as I pointed out when they were just a few suggestions, they are not particularly awesome. But let's take a look-- Just how big a challenge do schools face when it comes to re-opening in the fall?

NACS superintendent says returning to classrooms next semester is still unknown

Northwest Allen County Schools Superintendent, Chris Himsel, plans to open schools when they are safe.

From Fort Wayne's NBC
After an unprecedented end to the spring semester, Rep. Jim Banks is urging schools to make a commitment to return to the classrooms in the fall. NACS superintendent, Chris Himsel, says it's too soon to decide out of the safety of his students and staff.

I’m a former district leader. Here’s what Indiana schools will need to reopen with confidence.

From Chalkbeat*
In my more than 30 years of experiences in roles from classroom teacher to Washington Township superintendent, I’ve learned that there are no simple solutions to complicated problems.

Re-opening our public schools is one of those complicated problems. Let’s face it: Indiana is not going to recover economically until our more than one million school children go back to school. “Who will care for my children when I’m back to work?” needs an answer, or our efforts to restore the economy will fail.

Getting students back into school buildings, though, is going to be tougher than many realize. If I were a superintendent today, I would be assuming that at least 25% of the parents in my district would be reluctant to send their kids to school because they don’t think schools will be safe. I’d bet the percentage would be similar for employees, from teachers to bus drivers, custodians, and food service employees. Parents do not knowingly put their children in dangerous places, and teachers and staff do not want to work in dangerous places, either.


Betsy DeVos Has, In Fact, Become Arne Duncan 2.0

Politics, thy name is hypocrisy.

From Curmudgucation
For many conservatives, one of the greatest sins perpetrated by Obama’s secretary of education was using the powers of his office to bypass the legislature. Arne Duncan oversaw Race to the Top, which was instrumental in pushing Common Core and other preferred policies into schools across the country. Now Betsy DeVos is using nearly identical tactics to push for her own favorite educational ideas.


She CARES: McCormick rightly overrides feds on schools' pandemic relief distribution

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, is clear in how billions in assistance to K-12 schools should be distributed: School districts “shall provide equitable services in the same manner as provided under Title I” for educating disadvantaged students. Federal lawmakers clearly intended the money to be distributed based on poverty.

But DeVos directed public school districts to distribute the money to the private schools within their boundaries based not on the number of students from poverty they serve, but on total enrollment.

“The way we are distributing monies now does not eliminate (funding for non-public schools),” McCormick said in an online information session Tuesday. “It just makes sure that the equitable services for (private) and public schools goes to those students who are most at risk. ... We chose to go with the intent of the law, to address the most at-risk.”

DeVos' directive shortchanges even children from poverty within private and parochial schools. If relief funds were distributed on the basis of enrollment, Bishop Dwenger High School, with just 16% of its 1,014 students qualifying for free- or reduced-price lunch, would collect more federal money than Bishop Luers High School, with about 44% of its 511 students within the poverty guidelines.

Indiana: State Chief Jennifer McCormick Turns Down DeVos Guidance

From Diane Ravitch
Hooray for State Superintendent Jennifer McCormick of Indiana!

She rejected Betsy DeVos’ guidance to share CARES relief funding between public and private schools.

No wonder Republicans are planning to get rid of her and replace her with an appointed state superintendent whom they can control, on behalf of charter schools and voucher schools.

The state education department estimates that if they followed DeVos’ plan, poor kids in public schools would lose more than $15 million to private schools.


With IREAD canceled this year, some Indiana educators push to get rid of it for good

IREAD with 3rd grade retention is educational malpractice that our legislators force upon schools . It is time to end it!

From Chalkbeat*
In a few months, thousands of Indiana students will start fourth grade without ever having taken the state’s third grade literacy exam — the test that typically decides whether or not a student can advance.

It marks the first time in nine years that third-graders haven’t taken IREAD, which was among the statewide standardized tests canceled when the coronavirus forced schools to close and shifted learning online. And the gap year has already opened the door for questions about its value.

As state and school leaders grapple with how to move forward, State Superintendent Jennifer McCormick has said the current situation bolsters her argument for Indiana to get rid of the specialized test. She favors assessing reading progress as part of the more general standardized exam students take in grades 3-8, ILEARN.


Indiana Department of Education Recognizes All Indiana Teachers as 2021 Teacher of the Year

From the Indiana Department of Education
“The COVID-19 pandemic brought new complexities and challenges to schools with no advance warning,” said State Superintendent Dr. Jennifer McCormick. “Teachers across our state have displayed a level of flexibility and commitment, underscoring the fact Hoosiers really are #INthisTogether.”


CREDO’s New Study Biased against Public Schools

From Tultican
The CREDO study is singularly focused on test results as determinate of school quality and ignores other advantages of public schools. It is a well known fact that many charter school systems like IDEA and Success Academy spend an inordinate amount of time teaching to and preparing for standardized tests. To these criticisms, Professor Mark Weber of Rutgers University adds a few more observations:
  • “The definition of the treatment — enrolling in a charter school — does not account for factors such as increased spending, peer effects, and other advantages which have nothing to do with ‘charteriness.’”
  • “The consistently small effect sizes have been pumped up by an unvalidated conversion into ‘days of learning’ which has never been properly justified by the authors.”


Obama tells 2020 graduates: ‘If the world’s going to get better, it’s going to be up to you.' Read the transcripts of two speeches.

From the Answer Sheet
...This pandemic has shaken up the status quo and laid bare a lot of our country’s deep-seated problems – from massive economic inequality to on-going racial disparities to a lack of basic health care for people who need it. It’s woken a lot of young people to the fact that the old ways of doing things just don’t work; that it doesn’t matter how much money you make if everyone around you is hungry and sick; and that our society and our democracy only work when we think not just about ourselves, but about each other.

It’s also pulled the curtain back on another hard truth, something that we all have to eventually accept once our childhood comes to an end. All those adults that you used to think were in charge and knew what they were doing? It turns out that they don’t have all the answers. A lot of them aren’t even asking the right questions. So, if the world’s going to get better, it going to be up to you.

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

**Note: The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette has changed its online access and is now behind a paywall. Digital access, home delivery, or both, are available with a subscription. Staying informed is important, and one way to do that is to support your local newspaper. For subscription information go to


Monday, May 18, 2020

In Case You Missed It – May 18, 2020

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.

Indiana State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Jennifer McCormick (fourth from right),
with Indiana public school advocates (and NEIFPE members).


The Republicans in Indiana's General Assembly continue to push for the privatization of public education as does U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. They don't much care for the education policies of fellow Republican, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Jennifer McCormick. To assure that privatization gets even more support the position of the state education leader, along with every member of the State Board of Education will soon be appointed either by the Governor or the majority leaders in both the State Senate and State House of Representatives. The voters of Indiana will no longer have the opportunity to elect any state-level education decision-makers.

Jennifer McCormick, is a public school veteran. As such she is wise enough to disregard the "guidance" of the U.S. Department of Education in the distribution of federal money from the CARES Act. Dr. McCormick has been supporting public education since she took over the job three years ago, while her counterpart in the federal government has done the opposite. Betsy DeVos has no public education experience. She neither attended nor worked in public schools. She was never a public education parent. She has no educational training whatsoever. Fortunately for the students of Indiana, Dr. McCormick has seen to it that the money from the CARES Act will go where it's most needed.

Indiana schools chief stands up to DeVos

From School Matters
Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick is taking bold action by rejecting guidance from the U.S. Department of Education and distributing emergency aid for schools the way Congress intended.

It’s remarkable that, thanks to McCormick, Indiana appears to be the first state to openly push back against U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and refuse to follow guidance that it deems to be contrary to the law.

At issue is funding from the CARES Act, which provides $13.2 billion to help schools respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools can use the money to improve technology, protect student health and plan for the next school year.

Indiana rejects guidance from DeVos to reroute more coronavirus relief to private schools

From Chalkbeat*
Indiana is instructing public school districts to ignore controversial guidance from U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos that would have rerouted millions in federal coronavirus relief money to private schools.

In a memo to school districts dated Tuesday, Republican State Superintendent Jennifer McCormick said ignoring the advice means Indiana is following the “intent” of the federal CARES Act — to prioritize schools with high poverty. DeVos’ guidance conflicts with the federal law, said Indiana Department of Education spokesperson Adam Baker.

“The guidance issued by the [U.S.] Department of Education is just that, guidance,” said the Indiana Attorney General’s Office, according to the memo.

McCormick sides with 'Congressional intent' to give public schools priority

A free article from the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
The federal CARES Act provided billions for schools in an education stabilization fund that was to be distributed using the Title I formula – or based on the number of low-income students a school has. Both public and private schools are eligible.

Indiana's K-12 cut is about $215 million.

But Betsy DeVos, the U.S. Secretary of Education, released guidance that directed the money be distributed based on total enrollment instead.

That meant Indiana private schools would have seen their share tripled – from $4.9 million to $15.4 million.


Small Things: Secretary DeVos, Twitter and Teachers Vs. Charters

"...a weird way to run a national education system."

From Curmudgucation these exceedingly weird times, I think it's worth highlighting once again that we have a Secretary of Education who is not a supporter of public education or the people who work there, who is, in fact, far more excited about a privately-run system for replacing the institution that she is charged with overseeing. I can't say that it's highly abnormal, because the office has never attracted many people who really support public education, but it's still weird that when public school teachers look up at state and federal authorities, they find people who are lined up against them. It's a weird way to run a national education system.


Without The Big Standardized Test, Would Schools Be Flying Blind?

If anything, the coronavirus pandemic has confirmed that the standardized testing madness, which has tortured America's students and teachers for the last two+ decades, has been a waste of time and money.

From Peter Greene in Forbes
There is a long list of things that people have in mind when they ask “How is this school doing” that are not addressed by the test.

And what the test does address, it doesn’t address very well. School results can be predicted fairly effectively just by using demographic information, and individual student results take far too long to come back for them to be of any use to classroom teachers.

The notion that parents, teachers and students will have no idea what’s going on in their school unless they can see scores from that one special test is absurd. When students return, teachers will do what they have always done. They will do their own formal and informal assessments of students for quick, on the spot information about where those students are. They won’t be flying blind, and they won’t miss the scores from the Big Standardized Test.


Carroll High School to hold in-person commencement at Coliseum

One area high school is planning to hold a graduation ceremony while, at the same time, complying with social distancing standards.

Carroll High School will hold an in-person graduation later this summer at Memorial Coliseum, according to a letter obtained by WANE 15.

The ceremony will be split into two nights with the first half of the alphabet scheduled for Wednesday, July 8 at 7 p.m. in the main arena of the Coliseum. The second half of the alphabet will be the following night, Thursday, July 9, at 7 p.m.

School officials said they haven’t put a definitive break in where the graduating class will be split as they are limited to the number of graduates they can have on the floor. The number of spectators will also be limited, but the school says breaking the ceremony into two events will allow parents to attend.


Thoughts on Reimagining Public Schools

How do you "reimagine" public education after the coronavirus pandemic?

From Live Long and Prosper
"Just one day earlier, Cuomo had announced a similar partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop 'a smarter education system.' Calling Gates a 'visionary,' Cuomo said the pandemic has created 'a moment in history when we can actually incorporate and advance [Gates’s] ideas … all these buildings, all these physical classrooms — why with all the technology you have?' he asked, apparently rhetorically.

"It has taken some time to gel, but something resembling a coherent Pandemic Shock Doctrine is beginning to emerge. Call it the 'Screen New Deal.' Far more high-tech than anything we have seen during previous disasters, the future that is being rushed into being as the bodies still pile up treats our past weeks of physical isolation not as a painful necessity to save lives, but as a living laboratory for a permanent — and highly profitable — no-touch future." -- Naomi Klein


Applications for vote-by-mail ballots are due by 11:59 pm May 21, 2020.

You can get forms by phone, email, or directly from the election board web site. For more information click the image below.

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

**Note: The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette has changed its online access and is now behind a paywall. Digital access, home delivery, or both, are available with a subscription. Staying informed is important, and one way to do that is to support your local newspaper. For subscription information go to


Monday, May 11, 2020

In Case You Missed It – May 11, 2020

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.


Why Bill Gates Is Not The Man To Reimagine New York Education

Having boatloads of money does not mean you have the training or experience to determine public education policy. Billionaires should not have more input into public education than educators, parents and taxpayers.

Peter Greene (Curmudgucation) reminds us that Bill Gates is not a friend to public education.

From Peter Greene in Forbes
It literally took less than an hour for the pushback to start. Governor Andrew Cuomo dismissively questioned why school buildings even exist these days, and announced that he was enlisting Bill Gates to help reimagine education in the Empire State. From a dozen different corners, the objections came.

One day later, Cuomo’s Facebook page attempted to soften the announcement. “Teachers are heroes & nothing could ever replace in-person learning,” the post began, before assuring readers that the reimagining would be done “in full partnership with educators and administrators.” That does not appear to have calmed anybody’s fears.

So what’s the concern?

NY: Cuomo Adds Another Billionaire To His Team to “Reimagine” Education Post-Pandemic

From Diane Ravitch
Reporter Rebecca C. Lewis of “City and State” just tweeted this report:
Cuomo has announced the third billionaire to lead state efforts amid the coronavirus crisis: former Google CEO Eric Schmidt will be focused on new technology utilization. He joins Michael Bloomberg, who’s doing contact tracing, and Bill Gates, who’s doing education
Neither Bill Gates nor Eric Schmidt is an educator. They made their fortune selling software. Selling stuff to schools does not make you an education expert.


Fall enrollment slows at Indianapolis charter and choice schools amid coronavirus

Or maybe during this time when we crave stability and normalcy, it’s beginning to dawn on families that the consistency, stability, and dependability of a neighborhood public school is a good thing.

From Chalkbeat*
Throughout Indianapolis, where the school system allows parents to choose where their children attend, enrollment for the next academic year is in upheaval as families and schools grapple with the urgent crises caused by the coronavirus.

There were nearly 15% fewer applications for spots through the city’s enrollment portal, Enroll Indy, compared to last year. Parents’ interest in Indianapolis Public Schools pre-kindergarten dipped significantly, with the number of applications falling by over 35%. In total, there were about 8,000 applications to enroll in new schools for the fall through Enroll Indy, which includes most city charter schools and Indianapolis Public Schools choice schools.

At a time when some families are struggling to pay rent or buy food due to the economic fallout from the virus, and officials are still uncertain whether schools will be able to operate normally in the fall, plans for next year are on the back burner. As a result, families eager for stability may avoid transferring even if they are dissatisfied. That means schools that were already struggling to survive could be further weakened by low enrollment.


Mike Turzai is Willing to Sacrifice Pennsylvania’s Students and Families to the Economy

From Gadfly on the Wall Blog
On Facebook, after a long list of activities that [Turzai] said kids enjoy doing like sports and lab experiments, he said this:

All of those can be done safely, and [kids] are not at risk unless they have an underlying medical issue. The fact of the matter is kids can develop herd immunity, and if you [Rivera] have not yet developed a plan where we can safely educate kids in schools, then you are going to have to rethink education forward…
So there you have it, folks.

Turzai wants Pennsylvania to reopen schools on time whether scientists and health experts think it’s safe or not because – Turzai knows best.

Pennsylvania’s village idiot thinks he knows best about schools.

And as usual he’s as wrong as you can get.


BREAKING NEWS: Tennessee Judge Declares Voucher Law Unconstitutional

For updated information on this important court decision, see Tennessee: Details About the Ruling Against Vouchers

From Diane Ravitch
@EdLawCenter: Breaking: Judge declares Tennessee voucher law unconstitutional, enjoins State from implementing program @pfpsorg @splcenter


Returning to school buildings in the fall will be complicated. In some places, it’s far from clear it will happen.

From Chalkbeat*
When school buildings started to close due to the coronavirus, many teachers and parents thought the disruption would last a few weeks. As the school closures extended, many have clung to the idea that if they made it to fall, life would return to normal.

That’s not looking so certain right now.

Teachers unions are warning that sending educators into crowded buildings without widespread testing for coronavirus will amount to an unacceptable risk. Officials in big city districts are finding that some ideas for keeping students further apart, like running extra bus routes and reducing class sizes, could be expensive at a time when budgets are tight. And worries about a second wave of infections have some wondering what once felt far-fetched: Should students just keep staying home?

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