Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Presidents Day Rally, 2020

On Presidents Day, February 17, 2020, NEIFPE joined with the Indiana Coalition for Public Education (ICPE) and other public education advocacy groups in a Public Rally for Education at the statehouse in Indianapolis.

NEIFPE member Terry Springer posted her thoughts about the rally on Facebook.

L-R: NEIFPE member Terry Springer, State
Representative  Melanie Wright (D-35),
NEIFPE members Cindi Pastore and Meg Bloom
After nearly a decade of advocating for public education, I came home from yesterday's Red for Ed Rally energized, somewhat hopeful, but realistic about challenges ahead. Here are my takeaways from the rally:
  • Rather small turnout for this annual rally and no ISTA presence suggests the need for more coordination/collaboration among public education advocacy groups.
  • Fewer people but passion and energy still filled the room
  • Every one of us – parents, teachers, students – represented those who weren’t/couldn’t be there. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that each one of us provided a voice for at least 10 teachers, students, parents, citizens who weren’t there.
  • Some hopeful signs this session in legislation on reducing regulations and holding schools and teachers harmless, making 15-hour internship optional, decoupling test scores from evaluations
  • Still key issues ignored: teacher pay, lack of accountability for money going to charters and voucher accepting schools, and now providing one more pathway to qualify for a voucher
  • Legislators continue to put private school students before public school students.  
  • Thought-provoking ideas from speakers:
◊ Jennifer McCormick: We are who we vote for.

◊ Emony Calloway shared her experience of being a student in two schools that were closed. “Students in the neighborhood who look like me are getting shifted around. We need schools that do not open and close on a whim.”

◊ Michelle Smith listed the terrible and often horrifying life experiences her students (ELL) have faced before coming to the U.S. and asserts that testing required of these kids has no value for them and getting the test results eight months later is of no value to her as their teacher. She also asserts that legislators ought to understand that she doesn’t need an externship to learn about reality. Her students bring reality to her classroom every day – something I think is true for all teachers.

◊ Phil Downs, Superintendent of SWACS: Funding for schools has not kept up with inflation and schools have less money than a decade ago; public schools have to account for all money they receive – every penny. The same should be true of voucher accepting and charter schools. They need to show how public dollars are used: Every. Single. Penny.

◊ Dr. Ramon Batts, of Concerned Clergy: Schools are a part of the fabric of society. Teachers deserve to get paid for what they do. "If all you wanted was money, you'd do something else."

◊ Gleneva Dunham, AFT, called for all of us to know the position on education for each candidate before we vote.

◊ Cathy Fuentes-Rowher, ICPE: despite some positive movement in the legislature, there has been a great deal of harm done: 85 million dollars flushed down the toilet in Virtual Charter Schools; closing schools and disrupting student learning and siphoning public money to private schools.
  • There is an irony in holding schools and teachers harmless because the harm was the result of the actions of legislators.
  • We all have to keep contacting legislators – educating them – about the effects of their decisions on our kids.
  • We need to force legislators to listen to the professionals and to treat educators as professionals.
  • There are 16 teachers running for election and two running for re-election. We need to learn who they are and vote.
To everyone who attended the Red for Ed Rally in November, your work is not done. You need to take action; get informed contact legislators; talk to everyone - family, friends, colleagues; and vote. Those of us who represented you yesterday cannot do this work without you.
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Monday, February 17, 2020

In Case You Missed It – Feb 17, 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.

NEIFPE's 2019 YEAR IN REVIEW

YEAR IN REVIEW

NEIFPE Year in Review, 2019
Check out NEIFPE's Year in Review for 2019. This was a difficult task for NEIPFE members to create due to the loss of our hero, Phyllis Bush. Please check out the special tribute to her on pages 2-4.

PUBLIC FUNDS NEED PUBLIC OVERSIGHT

In a damning audit, Indiana calls on two virtual schools to repay $85 million in misspent state funds

Charter schools and voucher receiving schools in Indiana benefit from public funding. They need public oversight, just like public schools. Our legislators laid the groundwork for this fraud.

From Chalkbeat* Indiana
In what has become one of the nation’s largest virtual charter school scandals, Indiana Virtual School and Indiana Virtual Pathways Academy officials showed “substantial disregard” for following the rules and may have “focused on maximizing profits and revenues by exploiting perceived vulnerabilities” in local oversight and state funding processes, the report said.


GUESS WHO IS SKEPTICAL OF BILLIONAIRES SHAPING ED POLICY?

Bill and Melinda Gates have spent billions to shape education policy. Now, they say, they’re ‘skeptical’ of ‘billionaires’ trying to do just that.

From the Answer Sheet
You won’t believe what Bill and Melinda Gates are saying makes them “skeptical.”

For years, they have spent a fortune trying to shape public education policy, successfully leveraging public funding to support their projects, but never having the kind of academic success they had hoped for. That never stopped them from continuing to fund pet projects.

Now, in the newly released 2020 annual letter of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Melinda Gates says that lack of success is no reason to “give up,” and then, she says this:

We certainly understand why many people are skeptical about the idea of billionaire philanthropists designing classroom innovations or setting education policy. Frankly, we are, too. Bill and I have always been clear that our role isn’t to generate ideas ourselves; it’s to support innovation driven by people who have spent their careers working in education: teachers, administrators, researchers, and community leaders.

SADLY, INDIANA RANKS #1

What Charter Advocates Want From States

Charter advocates really like Indiana because our legislators have been helping them take over local and community control for years. We must elect legislators who understand that community public schools need to be supported.

Perhaps Indiana's #1 ranking is why virtual charters were able to steal $85 million from our students.

From Curmudgucation
What exactly would charter proponents like to see in state charter regulations? As it turns out, we don't have to guess, because the National Alliance of Public [sic] Charter Schools regularly publishes a ranking of the states based on the "strength" of their charter laws. This year's edition is the 11th, and it's available right now! Woot!

If you are concerned about the rankings, I can give you some highlights. Indiana, Colorado and Washington come in at spots 1, 2 and 3. Florida (State motto: "Making sure there is no public school system for Certain People's grandchildren") is down at 7. Maryland, Kansas, and Alaska are at the bottom. Five states are not on the list at all--no charter laws. There are some other surprises, like Ohio at a measly 23.

Teachers and friends of Public Education rally at the Indiana State
House on November 19, 2019. Governor Holcomb did not attend.

HOLCOMB, LEGISLATURE, IGNORE TEACHERS

No funding action after big Indiana teacher protest

Legislators complained that Indiana teachers didn't follow through with lobbying and letters. On the other hand, teachers might find it hard to lobby and write letters during their 50-hour work week.

Meanwhile, Governor Holcomb, who couldn't be bothered to attend the rally and respond to teachers, took time out of his busy schedule to speak to supporters of vouchers and charter schools for "school choice week."

From WANE.com
Several thousand teachers at a boisterous Statehouse rally put complaints about their treatment in front of Indiana lawmakers as this year’s legislative session started.

But those chants for improved school funding didn’t result in additional money as Republican lawmakers pushed through this year’s only planned spending bill even before the session reached its midpoint this past week.


PRESIDENT ATTACKS PUBLIC EDUCATION

Trump Lied About Philly Student in “Failing Government School”

From Diane Ravitch
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Trump singled out a child from Philadelphia who, he said, was “trapped in a failing government school.” In fact, the child attends one of the city’s most elite charter schools. Didn’t Betsy DeVos realize she had given $1.3 million to the self-same charter school in 2019?

President Donald Trump turned a Philadelphia fourth grader into a poster child for the school-choice movement Tuesday when he told the nation that thousands of students were “trapped in failing government schools” and announced that the girl was at last getting a scholarship to attend the school of her choice.

But Janiyah Davis already attends one of the city’s most sought-after charter schools, The Inquirer has learned. In September, months before she was an honored guest at Trump’s State of the Union address, she entered Math, Science and Technology Community Charter School III.


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

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Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #342 – February 10, 2020

Dear Friends,

Here is your chance to stand up for public education! Come to the Statehouse on Presidents’ Day to support public education!

On Monday February 17th, you along with your friends, family and colleagues are invited to a “Rally for Public Education”.

Speakers begin at 2:00 pm in the North Atrium.

Go to the ICPE website for additional information: www.indianacoalitionforpubliced.org

Renewed Attacks

Public education, an institution that has undergirded our democracy for 190 years, remains under attack:
  • Last Tuesday in the State of the Union address, President Trump falsely labeled public schools “failing government schools” as he called for $5 billion taxpayer dollars to go to private school scholarships.
  • We have a private school voucher advocate with no professional experience in public schools as US Secretary of Education.
  • Next year Indiana could mimic this unbelievable “lead without K-12 experience” problem. In 2019, the General Assembly passed a law confirming that the Governor of Indiana can appoint a Secretary of Education in 2021 who is not required to have any experience in K-12 education, replacing our elected State Superintendent of Public Education, an elected office serving Indiana since the 1851 Constitution.
  • Proposals in the current legislative short session to give teachers at least a small bonus from surplus funds were ignored by the supermajority. The excellent economy produced $291 million to be spent now, but it was all given to pay cash for college buildings. Underpaid teachers who came to the Statehouse in record numbers last November have been told to wait until next year.
Public education has been under attack for a long time. For an even longer time, public education has been a tremendous cornerstone to progress and democracy.

It’s time to remind the Statehouse of our support for public education!

Public officials in the Statehouse need to put a higher priority on PUBLIC education. Only constituents and voters can get them to do that. That’s where we need your presence in the Statehouse. I hope to see you there!

Partners and Details

Many groups are partnering with the Indiana Coalition for Public Education, the organizer, to support the “Rally for Public Education” on Presidents’ Day. Others may be added. In alphabetical order, they are:

AFT Indiana

Concerned Clergy

Indiana Parent Teacher Association

IPS Community Coalition

Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education

Washington Township Parent Council Network


Speakers at 2:00 pm in the North Atrium are being coordinated by the Indiana Coalition for Public Education, and Joel Hand, ICPE will serve as MC. Speakers include:
Dr. Jennifer McCormick, Indiana State Superintendent of Public Education

Gleneva Dunham, President, AFT Indiana

Julie Klingenberger, President, Indiana PTA

Dr. Phil Downs, Indiana Superintendent of the Year, Southwest Allen County Schools

Cathy Fuentes-Rohwer, President, Indiana Coalition for Public Education

Dountonia Batts, Indiana Coalition for Public Education

Justin Deem-Loureiro, Student

Zoe Bardon, Student

Emony Calloway, Student

Rev. Ramon Batts, Concerned Clergy
I hope to see you at the Statehouse!

Thank you for actively supporting public education in Indiana!

Best wishes,

Vic Smith

“Vic’s Statehouse Notes” and ICPE received one of three Excellence in Media Awards presented by Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, an organization of over 85,000 women educators in seventeen countries. The award was presented on July 30, 2014 during the Delta Kappa Gamma International Convention held in Indianapolis. Thank you Delta Kappa Gamma!

ICPE has worked since 2011 to promote public education in the Statehouse and oppose the privatization of schools. We need your membership to help support ICPE lobbying efforts. As of July 1st, the start of our new membership year, it is time for all ICPE members to renew their membership.

Our lobbyist Joel Hand is representing ICPE extremely well in the 2020 short session. We need your memberships and your support to continue his work. We welcome additional members and additional donations. We need your help and the help of your colleagues who support public education! Please pass the word!

Go to www.indianacoalitionforpubliced.org for membership and renewal information and for full information on ICPE efforts on behalf of public education. Thanks!

Some readers have asked about my background in Indiana public schools. Thanks for asking! Here is a brief bio:

I am a lifelong Hoosier and began teaching in 1969. I served as a social studies teacher, curriculum developer, state research and evaluation consultant, state social studies consultant, district social studies supervisor, assistant principal, principal, educational association staff member, and adjunct university professor. I worked for Garrett-Keyser-Butler Schools, the Indiana University Social Studies Development Center, the Indiana Department of Education, the Indianapolis Public Schools, IUPUI, and the Indiana Urban Schools Association, from which I retired as Associate Director in 2009. I hold three degrees: B.A. in Ed., Ball State University, 1969; M.S. in Ed., Indiana University, 1972; and Ed.D., Indiana University, 1977, along with a Teacher’s Life License and a Superintendent’s License, 1998. In 2013 I was honored to receive a Distinguished Alumni Award from the IU School of Education, and in 2014 I was honored to be named to the Teacher Education Hall of Fame by the Association for Teacher Education – Indiana. In April of 2018, I was honored to receive the 2018 Friend of Education Award from the Indiana State Teachers Association.

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Monday, February 10, 2020

In Case You Missed It – Feb 10, 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.


CHARTERS COMPLAIN ABOUT POOR FUNDING

As Indianapolis districts boost teacher pay, charters say they are struggling to compete

Charters divert dollars/resources away from the public schools which serve over 90% of Hoosier children and then complain about not having enough money to give competitive pay to their teachers. Perhaps they should stop spending their dollars on questionable marketing practices.

From Chalkbeat*
When Victory College Prep Academy did an analysis recently of how salaries at the southside charter school compare to district schools, it revealed some stark differences: Educators there are making roughly $6,000 less per year, on average, than they would make at an Indianapolis Public Schools campus when raises go into effect this fall.

“We started asking ourselves, where can we find money in the budget to get closer to their number?” said Ryan Gall, executive director for Victory, which enrolls about 900 students in kindergarten through 12th grade. “We have to do something.”

TRUMP/DEVOS ATTACK PUBLIC SCHOOLS

The people who currently run the government apparently hate the government and everything in it, including public schools.

How do Trump and DeVos know enough about public schools to hate them so much? Neither of them...or any of their children...ever attended a public school.

PA: DeVos Stumps For Trump, Masters Lying

From Curmudgucation
So this is apparently the school choice lie that Trumpists are going to lean on:

“They want government control of everything — your health care, your wallet, your child’s education,” DeVos said. Democrats “want complete control over where, how, and what American students learn,” she said. “They want to close every charter school, take away every educational option from low-income families, limit choices everywhere for everyone.”
That was Betsy DeVos, the actual secretary of education, out on the campaign trail instead of in her office again Wednesday. A government official raising the specter of government doing things, because thats where we are now, being represented by people whose most fervent desire is to burn down the house they've been given stewardship over.


In State of the Union, Trump makes clear his aversion to public schools

From the Answer Sheet
If for some reason you haven’t been clear about what President Trump thinks about traditional public schools, consider what he said about them in his State of the Union address Tuesday night.

There was this: “For too long, countless American children have been trapped in failing government schools.”

What’s a “government school” to Trump? A public school in a traditional public school district.

MONEY FOR VOUCHERS

Vouchers, choice, and the misuse of tax dollars

From Live Long and Prosper
Indiana's voucher program began as a plan for low-income students to "escape" their "failing schools" and go to the private schools that wealthier people have always been able to afford. In order to qualify, then-governor Mitch Daniels insisted, a student must have spent at least one year at a public school.

Since its inception in 2011, it has changed into a middle-class entitlement program. Most students who get Indiana "scholarships" are students who have never attended a public school. A third of students who get Indiana "scholarships" are students who do not qualify for free or reduced lunches. Less than one percent of Indiana's "scholarship" students are "escaping" from a "failing school."


INDIANA CONTINUES TO MISUSE STANDARDIZED TESTS

Indiana lawmakers passed a 2-year hold harmless. Here’s what that means.

The achievement tests that Indiana students take each year were not been developed to evaluate teachers or schools.

The state continues to misuse standardized tests to punish students, teachers, and schools.

From Chalkbeat*
Schools won’t be punished for low test scores earned during the first two years of the state’s new ILEARN test — a move by state lawmakers Monday that will render schools’ 2019 and 2020 state grades essentially meaningless.

The House approved the hold harmless legislation 89-0, passing the bill through both chambers and showing strong support for Indiana’s first-ever multi-year exemption.

TAX DOLLARS TEACH RELIGION

Those Christian Textbooks Adopted in Schools That Receive Taxpayer Funding

From Diane Ravitch
In 2017, the Orlando Sentinel published a powerful three-part series about unregulated and unaccountable voucher schools in Florida, called “Schools Without Rules.” In Florida, voucher schools receive $1 billion each year of taxpayer funding.

In 2018, the Orlando Sentinel published an article about the textbook companies that supply teaching materials to voucher schools and homeschoolers. Their books incorporate religious values into their content.

Prominent among them is the ABeka company in Florida.

Their textbooks reflect a religious approach to science, history, and other subjects.

Private schools' curriculum downplays slavery, says humans and dinosaurs lived together

From the Orlando Sentinel
...dinosaurs and humans lived together, that God’s intervention prevented Catholics from dominating North America and that slaves who “knew Christ” were better off than free men who did not...

The books are rife with religious and political opinions on topics such as abortion, gay rights and the Endangered Species Act, which one labels a “radical social agenda.” They disparage religions other than Protestant Christianity and cultures other than those descended from white Europeans. Experts said that was particularly worrisome given that about 60 percent of scholarship students are black or Hispanic.


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

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Thursday, February 6, 2020

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #341 – February 5, 2020

Dear Friends,

It’s the elephant in the room.

Consider the teacher pay issue. Then come to the rally for public education on Monday, February 17 at 2 p.m. in the Statehouse.

At the half-way point in the short session of the General Assembly, proposals for a teacher pay bonus have been ignored by the Republican supermajority, with the message: wait until next year.

Over 15,000 teachers came to the Statehouse in November, a record-shattering number for an education issue. Their message: they need a pay increase to keep going.

Legislators had excess money from a good economy to hand out: $291 million. Did they give a little part of that for a teacher bonus?

No.

HB 1007 was passed quickly through both houses and has already been signed by Governor Holcomb giving all the extra money to pay cash for higher education buildings, rather than borrowing to build them as planned in the 2019 budget. This quick action guaranteed there would be no last minute attempt to fund teacher bonuses in the short session.

Democrats tried to amend the bill to spend the money on teacher pay. The amendments failed.

State Superintendent Jennifer McCormick expressed disappointment in delaying new money for teacher pay in an interview on Channel 8 after Governor Holcomb’s State of the State speech, accurately commenting that “the Governor’s speech highlighted great things in the state, but teacher pay is not one of them.”

The supermajority priorities are clear here: buildings over teachers.

Why?

Why have Gov. Holcomb, Speaker Bosma and the Republican leadership team decided to ignore the plea of Indiana’s underpaid teachers for a bonus this session? Why have teachers been told to wait for another year?

I see four theories which may add to your own analysis.

Theory 1: Perhaps the Governor and Republican leaders have concluded that underpaid and angry teachers will not defeat them in the November election so there is no political need to provide a quick bonus now.

If Governor Holcomb was worried that teachers would rise up to block his re-election, he would have chosen to get on the good side of teachers with a bonus in the current session. Press reports prior to his State of the State address made it sound like he might help teachers now, but if he temporarily felt so inclined, he chose to fall in line with Republican legislative leaders who clearly did not want to add a teacher bonus in the short session. Instead, he announced a $250 million transfer in 2021 from the surplus to pay for local teacher pension payments, a move which he said would free up $50 million each year for extra teacher pay in both 2021-22 and 2022-23.

It is highly unusual to announce budget details more than a year in advance. Obviously, it assumes his re-election.

It is not clear how teachers will respond to this “wait another year” treatment.

Theory 2: Perhaps the Governor and Republican leaders believe they gave enough to K-12 in the 2019 budget, despite the pleas of teachers that the teacher shortage is still a huge problem due to low pay.

Republican leaders keep referring to the $763 million added to the 2019 budget, apparently thinking that was enough for the biennium and teachers shouldn’t be asking for more in a non-budget year.

Here’s how Republican leaders get to the $763 million figure:

Keep in mind that when counting new money, the new money for the first year must be repeated in the second year as the base for an additional increase. Thus, the new money in the 2019 budget was $178 million for a 2.5% increase in the first year plus $178 million to match that increase for the second year, plus $183 million to raise the second year by 2.5%.

That totals to $539 million. Compare this figure to $710 million new dollars added to the 2007 budget and $616 million new dollars (which then included property tax) added to the 1997 budget. Adding $539 million in the 2019 budget was not a historic high for K-12 tuition support.

Then the Governor’s 2019 plan to reduce pension payments by $150 million over two years was enacted.

Adding $150 million to the $539 million raised the 2019 total to $689 million.

Then categorical funding for specific programs like the Teacher Appreciation Fund received $74 million in new money.

Adding $74 million to $689 million raised the 2019 total to the number you have heard: $763 million.

Governor Holcomb has now clarified that his pension payment of $150 million last year freed up $65 million in each year of the biennium for teacher pay. Interestingly, that adds up to $130 million and the mantra of $763 million has apparently been reduced by $20 million. The Governor did not explain the $20 million discrepancy.

These are not numbers for a satisfied victory lap. The 2019 budget did not provide teacher pay increases that would keep teachers from moving to higher paying jobs in neighboring states or in another career.

Theory 3: Perhaps Republican leaders believe their own faulty analysis that local school boards are at fault for low teacher pay because they are spending too much on “overhead” and not enough on “classroom” spending.

Speaker Bosma’s response to the enormous teacher rally in November was to say that local school boards have had the money to pay teachers but are not spending it correctly on the classroom. He cites the statistics on classroom spending which say 58% of education dollars are spent on “the classroom.”

Public school advocates should know that the statistics he cites give a misleading and bogus narrative to the teacher pay issue.

“Dollars to the Classroom” has been a mantra of Republicans since a controversial 2006 law passed narrowly by the House 51-49 allowed Gov. Daniels to say: “We can’t keep shoveling money into a system where 40 cents off the top of every dollar goes to what is not essential.” (Jan. 18, 2009, Indiana Lawmakers, WFYI-TV)

Creating these misleading statistics was only designed to allow sound bites such as that from Governor Daniels above. It is completely unfair to criticize local school boards for non-classroom spending without knowing the circumstances of the district. Many essentials including facilities and debt are defined as “non-classroom” spending. Growing districts have to build new buildings and carry higher debt. That would lift their non-classroom spending and lower their percentage.

The classroom spending statistics are a cover for legislative leaders who have not put enough into K-12 education over the last decade to keep up with surrounding states.

What are the “overhead” spending categories defined in accordance with Indiana Code 20-42.5? Here is a complete listing of what Speaker Bosma thinks can and should be trimmed to boost teacher pay: (Numbers are from the chart of accounts)

23100 Board of Education
23200 Executive Administration/Superintendent Office Services
25100 Fiscal Services/Business Manager
25200 Purchasing Services
25300 Printing Services
25200 Planning, Research, Development and Evaluation
25600 Public Information Services
25700 Personnel Services
25800 Technology Services
25900 Other Support Services
26000 Maintenance Services
27000 Student Transportation
30000 Noninstructional Services (including food services)
40000 Facilities Acquisition and Construction
50000 Debt Services
60105 Donations to Foundations
60700 Scholarships

That’s the complete list for “non-classroom” spending. All other categories are called “classroom” spending and are then figured as a percentage of total spending, giving politicians the opportunity to criticize schools that fall below the arbitrary standard of 65%.

Pressure from Speaker Bosma and others to lower “operational, non-classroom” spending is egregiously wrong on two points:
1) Safe schools – Spending on safe schools, both on hardening buildings and on training, is an obvious priority in Indiana in the past two years, but it is considered “non-classroom” spending. It is wrong for Speaker Bosma and his supermajority leaders to pressure local leaders to spend less on school safety.

2) Public information and parent information – School choice requires schools to inform parents and to market their school to the community. If they don’t, their school will die from dwindling enrollment. Spending on parent information and marketing is categorized as “non-classroom” spending. If Speaker Bosma pressures local school districts to spend less on marketing in order to pay teachers, he is pushing for them to risk the very existence of the school which depends on parent information for enrollments. He can’t support school choice and simultaneously support cutting the money spent on marketing the school to parents.
Theory 4: Perhaps Republican leaders don’t see low teacher pay and the resulting teacher shortage as a big problem. They think it can wait. If teachers leave the classrooms of our public schools, then private schools look better and students may transfer to private schools, which some Republican leaders who want to privatize all of our schools would favor.


The step by step privatization of all public schools is the goal of those who favor the policies of Milton Friedman and libertarians like Charles Koch. To this faction, destabilizing traditional public schools with severe teacher shortages and teacher turnover will help bring about the deconstruction of public education and lead to the privatization transition they want.

Consider these four theories and let your legislators know you are concerned about teacher pay.

Two Things You Can Do
1) Communicate with your legislators to let them know you think teachers need a bonus in pay now, not next year. Too many schools are having real problems with teacher shortages and teacher turnover when teachers go for higher paying positions in other states or in other careers.

2) Come to the “Rally for Public Education” sponsored by the Indiana Coalition for Public Education to speak up for better K-12 funding for teacher pay and for other needs:

When? Monday, February 17, 2020, 2 p.m.

Where? The North Atrium of the Indiana Statehouse

Bring friends! Bring posters! Bring your voices! Wear RED for PUBLIC ED!

Check out rally details on the ICPE website: www.indianacoalitionforpubliced.org

Thank you for your strong support for public education!

Best wishes,

Vic Smith

“Vic’s Statehouse Notes” and ICPE received one of three Excellence in Media Awards presented by Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, an organization of over 85,000 women educators in seventeen countries. The award was presented on July 30, 2014 during the Delta Kappa Gamma International Convention held in Indianapolis. Thank you Delta Kappa Gamma!

ICPE has worked since 2011 to promote public education in the Statehouse and oppose the privatization of schools. We need your membership to help support ICPE lobbying efforts. As of July 1st, the start of our new membership year, it is time for all ICPE members to renew their membership.

Our lobbyist Joel Hand is representing ICPE extremely well in the 2020 short session. We need your memberships and your support to continue his work. We welcome additional members and additional donations. We need your help and the help of your colleagues who support public education! Please pass the word!

Go to www.indianacoalitionforpubliced.org for membership and renewal information and for full information on ICPE efforts on behalf of public education. Thanks!

Some readers have asked about my background in Indiana public schools. Thanks for asking! Here is a brief bio:

I am a lifelong Hoosier and began teaching in 1969. I served as a social studies teacher, curriculum developer, state research and evaluation consultant, state social studies consultant, district social studies supervisor, assistant principal, principal, educational association staff member, and adjunct university professor. I worked for Garrett-Keyser-Butler Schools, the Indiana University Social Studies Development Center, the Indiana Department of Education, the Indianapolis Public Schools, IUPUI, and the Indiana Urban Schools Association, from which I retired as Associate Director in 2009. I hold three degrees: B.A. in Ed., Ball State University, 1969; M.S. in Ed., Indiana University, 1972; and Ed.D., Indiana University, 1977, along with a Teacher’s Life License and a Superintendent’s License, 1998. In 2013 I was honored to receive a Distinguished Alumni Award from the IU School of Education, and in 2014 I was honored to be named to the Teacher Education Hall of Fame by the Association for Teacher Education – Indiana. In April of 2018, I was honored to receive the 2018 Friend of Education Award from the Indiana State Teachers Association.

Monday, February 3, 2020

In Case You Missed It – Feb 3, 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.


CATCHING UP ON SCHOOL FUNDING

Wisonsin

Schools Lost $4 Billion After Decade of Cuts, Diversions

Like Indiana, the Wisconsin legislature has yet to fund public education at pre-recession levels. And, like Indiana, public money has been diverted to privatization.

From Up North News
By the conclusion of 2021, the state of Wisconsin will have invested $3.9 billion less in its public schools than if education funding had remained at 2011 levels, according to a new analysis of state funding.

That is according to a report released Wednesday by the Wisconsin Budget Project, a Madison-based organization that analyzes state budget and tax issues.

In compiling the report, the organization traced a decades’ worth of budget decisions enacted by the GOP-controlled Legislature that resulted in record cuts to public education.

In short, the report found many state lawmakers have deemed tax cuts more important than supporting Wisconsin’s 400-plus public school districts.

The loss in public education dollars was accomplished by diverting millions toward the expansion of the private voucher school program, offering tax cuts primarily aimed at the wealthiest households and wiping out business taxes in manufacturing agriculture, according to the report.

CORPORATE "REFORM" HAS FAILED

TIME Magazine: How the “Reform” Movement Has Failed America

From Diane Ravitch
Piling on tests and punishments for students and teachers and closing schools doesn’t solve any problems, and it certainly doesn’t improve education.

The article gives a much abbreviated history of “reform” from George W. Bush to Barack Obama to Betsy DeVos. Testing and choice, they assumed, would fix all the problems.

Not true.

For almost twenty years, the Bush-Obama-Trump program of standardized testing, punitive accountability, and school choice has been the reform strategy. It has utterly failed.


SOUTH BEND PASSES ON PURDUE POLYTECHNIC

South Bend superintendent moves to end negotiations with Purdue charter school

From the South Bend Tribune
A potential partnership between South Bend schools and a charter school network appears to be off the table.

According to the agenda for Monday’s South Bend school board meeting, the board will vote on a recommendation by Superintendent Todd Cummings to “terminate efforts” to negotiate an agreement with Purdue Polytechnic High School South Bend for next school year...

Linda Wolfson, vice president of the Community Forum for Economic Justice, is one opponent. She has called for the school district to strengthen its own science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) magnet programs, namely the one at Riley High School.

“There seems to be a consistent effort to destroy public education,” Wolfson said at a community meeting, “not to provide an alternative.”

STUDENT HOMELESSNESS

Homeless students on rise in US: Study: FWCS has 685; EACS, 131; both let kids stay in school

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
A record-high 1.5 million public school students nationwide experienced homelessness in the 2017-18 academic year, and 74% of those lived with other people for lack of alternatives, according to federal data the National Center for Homeless Education released Wednesday.

Indiana's homeless student population for that year was 18,625, up by 4.3% from the 2015-16 school year, the center reported...

Fort Wayne Community Schools and East Allen County Schools are among the districts serving homeless students. The districts serve about 30,000 and 10,000 total students, respectively.

The homeless population has steadily grown at FWCS, which had 367 such students in 2013-14 and 951 in 2018-19. This year's count is at 685 as of Jan. 1, the district reported.

“A lot of people are surprised by the number of homeless students we serve,” FWCS spokeswoman Krista Stockman said.

At EACS, the homeless population this academic year as of Thursday was 131, and the majority are students whose family is or was living with others for economic reasons, said Michelle Wenglikowski, director of student services.


FORCING "INNOVATION"

Parents, teachers speak out against restarting School 67 as an IPS innovation school

Why does IPS want to go against the will of the parents and the community? Why not provide this school and staff with the resources they need instead of forcing “innovation” on them. This school is not failing. IPS is failing it.

From Chalkbeat*
Through tears, parent Christina Brown asked the board not to change School 67, which is also known as Stephen Foster.

“That whole staff is a family. They love the parents. They are so welcoming. They are so helpful,” said Brown, who has four children at School 67. “Keep that building. Keep that family.”

None of the board members addressed the comments or spoke about the school. Johnson declined to comment on the recommendation before it is officially presented to the board Thursday.

CAMPAIGN 2020: DEVOS TO STUMP FOR #45

Trump Picks DeVos as Surrogate for His Campaign

Public school hater, Betsy DeVos will be on the campaign trail this year. Protect your public schools.

From Diane Ravitch
Politico Morning Education writes that Trump has chosen billionaire Betsy DeVos as a campaign surrogate, despite the fact that she is the most disliked member of his Cabinet. No doubt he hopes for DeVos campaign money but also wants to stick his thumb in the eye of teachers and supporters of public schools. DeVos champions charter schools and vouchers. She despises public schools.


VIRTUAL SCHOOLS...VIRTUAL PAYCHECKS

To recover missing paychecks, Indiana Virtual School counselors file a federal lawsuit

Like other charter school failures in Indiana,  the taxpayers will wind up paying for this.

From Chalkbeat*
When the online schools lost their charters in August, school board members immediately resigned — despite pending state and federal investigations, an unpaid state debt of $40 million, and thousands of student records still needing to be transferred.

The lawsuit zeroes in on the school’s founder, Thomas Stoughton, who it claims was responsible for the day-to-day management of the schools, the nonprofit board, and the companies running the schools, AlphaCom and Bitloft...

An attorney for Daleville Community Schools, the virtual charter schools’ authorizer, declined to comment on pending litigation. Virtual school officials had sought funds from the district to pay teachers after they said the schools had run out of money — a request that Daleville did not grant.

While some blame Daleville’s lax oversight for leading to the problems at Indiana Virtual School and Indiana Virtual Pathways Academy, Daleville officials have contended that they intervened as soon as they discovered potential wrongdoing at the schools.

LOCAL ED FORUM -- TEACHERS SPEAK OUT

Education frustration: State lawmakers get an earful on school resources

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
Teachers described working to the point of exhaustion, spending money from their own pockets to supplement classroom activities and struggling to help kids with no funding to help. Others talked about discouraging their own family members from pursuing a career as an educator.

“I feel disenfranchised,” one elementary school teacher said, adding that when his parents and grandparents were teachers, there was more support for public schools.

Although pay and benefits were a concern, none of the teachers said they believed it was the biggest issue facing northeast Indiana schools.


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

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Monday, January 27, 2020

In Case You Missed It – Jan 27, 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.


DISRESPECTING A PROFESSION

Letters: Pay is just one way teachers are devalued

Teachers in Indiana, like others around the country, want to have decent salaries, but they also want the respect they deserve for the job they do. When beginning teachers, who spent at least four years preparing for their profession, and are likely burdened with college debt, are offered salaries which qualify their own children for the poverty level federal school lunch program for children, they they are being disrespected as well as underpaid.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette Letters to the Editor
Indiana expects...teachers to educate students to the highest standards while denying the financial benefits of professional achievement to our teachers and their own children. Indiana legislators and governors past and present have talked about improving schools by helping teachers and improving salaries – nothing but promises, empty and delayed, at least for the past 44 years.

We need bright, multitalented individuals to take on the diverse challenges of teaching, but as a state and culture, through low salaries, social and political attacks on the profession, and continued erosion of public school funding by privatization, we do little to incentivize talented young people to consider the profession. As a state, we need to reevaluate our priorities and take action to improve public schools by respecting teaching as a profession and teachers as skilled professionals.


THE END OF AN ERA?

How shifting political tides ended Indiana’s ambitious school takeover effort

The entire education "reform" movement has been built on the false narrative of "failing schools." In truth, society has failed the poorest and most at-risk students in our schools. Public education cannot solve the problems of racism and poverty alone. Public education is not responsible for the problems of racism and poverty. Legislators and policy-makers must accept their share of responsibility.

Out of another frying pan and into yet another fire? The failures of the Daniels-Pence administrations come to an end, but now IPS will subject their returned schools/children to the “Innovation model.” We’ll see how that “charter by another name” experiment works out.

From Chalkbeat*
When Indiana leaders took over five failing schools nearly a decade ago, the decision was an act of desperation. The campuses were languishing: Fights frequently broke out in the hallways and students spent class time filling out McDonald’s job applications.

But it was also ambitious, a sign that Indiana education officials would aggressively push districts to improve schools that had long failed to meet state expectations and would even seize control of campuses that didn’t improve test scores and graduation rates.


CHURCH AND STATE

The United States Supreme Court is considering a school voucher case which could have far-reaching implications for public education in the U.S. Should states give tax dollars to schools which discriminate for religious reasons? Should your tax dollars go to a schools that teaches that your religion is somehow less than theirs? Should public funds support schools which play by a different set of accountability rules? Should your children of a minority religion -- or of no religion -- be subjected to a state sponsored prayer in school?

Here are three articles dealing with public school church-state issues.

Who Will Protect My Right NOT to Pay for Your Child’s Religious Education?

Blogger Steven Singer was subjected to anti-semitic stereotypes as a child. Should his tax dollars support schools which perpetuate those beliefs?

From Gadfly on the Wall Blog
If successful, the case would open the door to publicly-funded private religious education across the country – not to mention siphoning much-needed money away from the public schools.

It’s bad enough that kids learn prejudicial lies from the pulpit and parochial schools. It’s worse if the victims of such prejudice have to pay for their tormentors to be thus indoctrinated.

In the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom of 1779, Thomas Jefferson wrote “to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical...”


Bill to ban school voucher discrimination should be heard

Senate Bill 250 sponsored by State Sen. JD Ford (D-Indianapolis) would prevent schools using taxpayer funds to discriminate against children of Indiana taxpayers.

From School Matters
...some voucher-funded Christian schools condemn homosexuality and require families and employees to sign “statements of faith.” Some voucher schools do not serve students with disabilities.

SB 250 would bar state voucher funding for schools that discriminate by disability, race, color, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, religion, or ancestry. (Current law prohibits discrimination by race, color or national origin).

At a news conference to promote the bill, Ford was joined by Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick and Dominic Conover, a 2019 Roncalli High School graduate who said school officials warned him to be silent after he organized support for the school’s counselors.

McCormick said it’s contrary to Hoosier hospitality for the state to fund schools that turn away students and staff because of who they are and whom they love.

School Prayer Isn’t in Question, but Wednesday, Supreme Court Will Hear Important Church-State Separation Case

From Jan Resseger
President Donald Trump made a splash last week pretending that students’ right to pray at school has been threatened. While this subject may appeal to his base, the law is settled on this matter...

Although prayer in school is not really at issue this week, another controversy involving religion and public education will reach the U.S. Supreme Court. The justices will hear oral arguments on Wednesday in an important case involving the First Amendment’s protection of the separation of church and state. The subject is the long fight over the First Amendment’s prohibition of “establishing” religion, in this case by using public tax dollars to pay for religious schools.


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

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Monday, January 20, 2020

Bend the Arc


Take some time to bend your life's part of the arc toward justice.

"Don't just complain...put some skin in the game!"
  • Become informed; read your local paper, watch the news.
  • Talk to your friends, neighbors, and family about issues that concern you.
  • Be a voice for those who have no voice: your children, your grandchildren, your nieces and nephews, your students.
  • Register to vote, then vote on election day (or earlier).
  • Help a friend register to vote then make sure they get to their polling place on election day (or earlier).
  • Find out who your legislators are. Call or write them with your opinions.
  • Take an afternoon and drive to Indianapolis to talk to your legislator(s) in person.
  • Volunteer.
  • Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper about a subject that concerns you.
  • Join with others to change the world.
  • Never give up.

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In Case You Missed It – Jan 20, 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.


NATIONAL PARENTS UNION: PAID FOR BY PRIVATIZERS

Two Master Bloggers–Peter Greene and Steven Singer–Deconstruct the “National Parents Union”

From Diane Ravitch
In the world of ed reform (ed deform), billionaires must always wear masks, because parents and teachers don’t trust their motives. What are they after? What are they trying to do? What gives them the right to rearrange my local public school? Who elected them? Best to find a front group to carry their water for them. Or their spear.

TRUMP PANDERS TO RELIGIOUS RIGHT

Trump said he will move to ensure students and teachers can pray in school. They already can.

How many ways can you say "pandering?"

From the Answer Sheet
President Trump has promised to ensure that students and teachers can exercise First Amendment rights to pray in school. Actually, they already can, and many do...

students of all faiths are free to pray alone or in groups during the school day, as long as they don’t disrupt the school or interfere with the rights of others. Nobody can compel students to participate in prayer, and courts have ruled that nobody should pray in front of a school assembly. But nobody can stop a student or teacher or custodian or principal or anybody else from praying.


INDIANA GOVERNOR HOLCOMB TELLS TEACHERS TO WAIT

While the Governor provides up to a 6% increase for state workers, the annual inflation rate is hovering around 2%. Indiana teachers are losing economic ground every day.

Indiana governor says again wait a year on teacher pay boost

From WPTA.com
Indiana’s governor has outlined to state legislators how to free up tens of millions of dollars toward boosting teacher pay but he doesn’t want them to act on it until next year

Holcomb offers plan to boost teacher pay

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
Gov. Eric Holcomb proposed a budgetary maneuver in Tuesday's State of the State speech to free up money for teacher pay in 2021 – a down payment of sorts on the next budget cycle as teachers continue to pressure lawmakers to increase their lagging salaries...

But Democrats said Holcomb's proposal can be put into place now for immediate increases.


FUNDING INDIANA'S SCHOOLS

Indiana School Funding Explained

Indiana is:
  • 47th in per pupil spending
  • 39th in teacher retention
  • 51st in teacher salary growth
From ISTA


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Monday, January 13, 2020

In Case You Missed It – Jan 13, 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.


TEACHER PAY IN THE NEWS

Teacher pay touted, testing derided at education forum

At a local education forum last week, some local legislators encouraged the state to increase teacher pay. Let's see how they vote when the time comes.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
“Teacher salaries are set at the local level. ... It is a local decision on how many of those dollars actually go into the classroom,” Brown said.

Abbott said legislators should consider reducing or removing “unnecessary burdensome regulations” imposed by the state that add to school expenses.

GiaQuinta said, “We need to keep putting more money into the system, in my mind, for traditional public schools.”

The General Assembly has increased public education spending by $1 billion in the last three years, Kruse said, “and I think we need to keep doing that. I think it's not good that our teachers are not getting a starting salary of at least $40,000. I think there's still some schools where you're making $32,000 or $33,000 ... (for) a beginning teacher, which I think is too low.”

Panel chooses $291 million for university projects, not teacher pay hike

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
Legislators gave initial approval Tuesday to spending $291 million in cash on six university projects despite Democratic attempts to push the money to teacher pay.

The House Ways and Means Committee passed House Bill 1007 by a party-line vote of 13-7 with Republicans supporting the measure and Democrats against.


Indiana governor changes stance on teacher pay action

Indiana Governor Holcomb continues to postpone any decision on teacher pay. Meanwhile, Indiana schools are experiencing difficulty finding teachers, pay for Indiana teachers is lower than surrounding states and lower than the national average, and schools are working with funding which still hasn't caught up to pre-2008 funding (when adjusted for inflation).

From Indiana Business Journal
Republican Eric Holcomb has said he would wait for recommendations later this year from a teacher pay commission he appointed in February, but he told reporters Monday—on the first day of the legislative session—that might change with state tax revenues growing faster than expected.

SANDERS - JUST SAY "NO" TO ANNUAL STANDARDIZED TESTS

Bernie Sanders Calls for an End to Annual Standardized Testing

From Diane Ravitch
Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders was one of the few members of the U.S. Senate to vote against No Child Left Behind when it was approved by Congress in 2001.

Today is the anniversary of the signing of that law.

Sanders writes that the federal mandate for annual testing in grades 3-8 has been an expensive failure.

In this article in USA Today, Sanders calls for an end to the NCLB mandate...


BLOOMBERG CONTINUES HIS PRO-CHARTER WAYS

Mike Bloomberg Announces Centerpiece of His Education Agenda: Charter Schools Galore!

Is there something about being uber-rich that leads one to support public school privatization? Why do folks like Bill Gates, Eli Broad, and now Mike Bloomberg, consistently support the defunding of public education?

From Diane Ravitch
So pleased was Bloomberg with his charter policy [as mayor of New York City] that it is now the centerpiece of his national education agenda.

He doesn’t care about the nearly 90% of kids who are enrolled in public schools.

He believes in privatization.

MELTON DROPS OUT OF RACE FOR IN GOV

Melton cancels run for governor

From WPTA21.com
A Gary Democrat who had launched a campaign to challenge incumbent Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb in 2020 has withdrawn from the race.

In a statement released Monday, State Sen. Eddie Melton said he will instead file for re-election in his current office.

"Over the past six months, I have had the privilege of traveling our state and engaging with thousands of Hoosiers, hearing their concerns about educational funding, economic mobility, draconian laws oppressing women’s ability to make their own health care decisions, and failure to honor our Veterans' sacrifices," he said. "The ability to engage my fellow citizens in frank conversations has been a true privilege and honor.

"But, unfortunately politics today require way too much of a candidate’s time being spent on the phone chasing dollars."
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Sunday, January 12, 2020

Letters: DeVos failing public schools

NEIFPE member Kathy Candioto sent this letter to the editor about Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

DeVos failing public schools

Published: January 12, 2020
I challenge anyone to name something positive that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has done for public education.

A longtime Republican donor from Michigan (whose family's worth is $5.4 billion), Devos got off to a rough start when her 2017 Senate confirmation hinged on a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence. The hearings revealed her amazing lack of knowledge on education law and policy.

DeVos attended private schools, as did her children. Caring little about public schools, she is strong advocate for vouchers and charters. It is shameful that Cabinet member DeVos should be held in contempt of court and her department fined $100,000. (October, 2019).

Public school supporters look forward to the end of DeVos' tenure in 2020. DeVos has been a complete failure to our public school teachers and students.

Kathy Candioto

Fort Wayne
✏️✏️✏️

Monday, January 6, 2020

In Case You Missed It – Jan 6, 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.

CHARTER SCHOOL LAW CHALLENGED

Indiana’s $1 charter school law challenged by 2 more districts, following West Lafayette case

Communities pay for their local schools yet the State of Indiana allows private companies to buy those schools which have closed for $1.

From the Journal & Courier
A pair of Northwest Indiana school districts, fearing they might have to give up recently vacated classroom space for $1 to a charter school, followed West Lafayette Community School Corp.’s lead this week, filing a lawsuit challenging a state law they say is unconstitutional.

On Thursday, the Lake Ridge School Corp. and School City of Hammond filed a suit naming Gov. Eric Holcomb, the State Board of Education and the Indiana Department of Education, arguing that the state law – passed in 2011 and designed as a key piece of Indiana’s school reform movement – treated the districts unfairly and amounted to a “taking without just compensation.”


INDIANA GRADUATION EXAM

Indiana’s 2019 graduation rate is steady, but fewer students are passing the exit exam

Perhaps decisions about education should be made by actual educators rather than the reform-informed/influenced legislators.

From Chalkbeat*
Indiana could see fewer students require waivers as it adopts what’s known as graduation pathways, which offers Indiana high schoolers multiple options for completing the requirements to graduate, thus deemphasizing testing. Students choose their path based on their interests, such as going to college or earning a technical certification.

Supporters of the approach say pathways better prepares students for careers, but critics insist the options could lower the bar for Indiana’s students and devalue the state’s diploma.

The new data also shows that virtual schools continue to post some of the lowest overall graduation rates in the state. Indiana Virtual Pathways Academy, which closed in September after the state found it inflated enrollment, saw 5.6% of its seniors graduate. Achieve Virtual Education Academy graduated 48%, and Indiana Connections Academy graduated 61%.

Nationally, only about half of virtual students graduate on time, said Gary Miron, a national policy fellow at the National Education Policy Center.

APPALLING STORIES ABOUT TESTING

Arguably the two most appalling stories about the standardized testing obsession of the 2010s

There's too much testing. We're using the tests in the wrong ways.

From the Answer Sheet
No teacher had been asked to help write NCLB, and the results showed: Schools were labeled as failing and penalized unfairly; many schools sharply limited or dropped teaching key subjects such as history, science and the arts because only math and reading were tested; and test preparation became the focus of the school day in many classrooms. Recess for young kids? No time.

Arne Duncan...knew that NCLB had been a failure, but he pursued policies that made standardized testing even more important than before. He wanted states to use the scores to evaluate teachers and principals...

There were stories about teachers being evaluated on the test scores of students they didn’t have and subjects they didn’t teach.

There were stories of high-performing teachers getting poor evaluations because of complicated and problematic algorithms that were used to calculate their “worth” in class...

And there were stories of pep rallies and other incentives to get students “excited” about taking standardized tests.

But there were two that still resonate deeply and reveal just how vacant — and mean — some of the policy was...


SEGREGATION CONTINUES

Chalkbeat: How GreatSchools Inc. Contributes to Segregation

Despite the fact that Separate but Equal was declared unconstitutional in 1954, the US still has segregated schools.

From Diane Ravitch
Matt Barnum and Gabrielle LaMarr LeMee wrote a provocative article about the way that a private school rating agency rates schools and steers patents toward white affluent schools and away from schools where children of color predominate. Larry Cuban reposted the article on his blog.

GreatSchools ratings effectively penalize schools that serve largely low-income students and those serving largely black and Hispanic students, generally giving them significantly lower ratings than schools serving more affluent and more white and Asian students, a Chalkbeat analysis found.


INDIANA TEACHER PAY -- ON HOLD

Teachers' pay not on '20 agenda

Teachers...Parents...have you followed up with your legislators and the Governor since the Red for Ed Rally last November? If you don't then we were just making noise with no substance.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
In just 48 days, Indiana lawmakers hope to curb the smoking epidemic, shore up the state's unemployment fund and make some modest changes in education.

But the biggest issue – raising teacher pay – will have to wait until 2021.

The session opens Jan. 6 and must end by midnight March 14. But the desired end-date is March 11 due to NCAA basketball coming to town.

Republicans are holding firm that a short session isn't an appropriate time to open up the state's two-year budget.

But Democrats say that's exactly what they are doing by planning to change the existing budget to pay for a handful of building projects with cash instead of bonding. This is akin to buying a house with cash instead of taking out a mortgage.

Sen. Eddie Melton, D-Gary, proposed funneling some of the excess dollars in the state's reserve fund – $200 million of $300 million identified by Republicans – to an existing Teacher Appreciation Grant program.


Gov. Holcomb talks teacher pay

From WANE.com
The challenge, Holcomb says, is trying to put money in teachers’ pockets yet preserve district autonomy.

Holcomb created his “Next Level Teacher Compensation Commission” to address that challenge.

“Thankfully, the Teachers Association (union) is at that table on that teacher commission,” says Holcomb.

“I want to make sure, once again, this is critically important that salaries are locally bargained.”

WHO WILL TEACH TOMORROW'S CHILDREN?

Schools fight trend to prepare new teachers

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
Enrollment in teacher preparation programs has dropped more than 33% nationwide since 2010, and Indiana has been affected more than most, according to a report this month from the Center for American Progress.

The nine states where enrollments dropped at least 50% include Indiana, 54%, and neighboring Michigan and Illinois, 67% and 60%, respectively, the nonpartisan policy institute found.

The report, “What to Make of Declining Enrollment in Teacher Preparation Programs,” examined federal data from 2010 to 2018, including the number of students who completed such training. That figure dropped 28% in that period.

The trend is worrisome for Fort Wayne Community Schools, the state's largest school district. It serves nearly 30,000 students.

TEXAS AND ARIZONA FIGHT VOUCHERS

Education Law Center: The Failure of Vouchers in Texas and of Voucher Expansion in Arizona

From Diane Ravitch
It has not been a good year for vouchers. The research continues to show that they don’t “save poor kids from failing schools.” They are in fact more likely to cause their academic performance to decline.

Pastors for Texas Children has led the effort to block vouchers in Texas and SOS Arizona led the effort to block voucher expansion in Arizona.

Voucher advocates (Koch-funded) are coming back with new legislation for 2020, and Arizona SOS has pledged to beat them again.

There are heroes among us.


PRE-K VIA SCREENS?

WI: Pre-K Cyberschool Shenanigans

With all the news about the damage screen-time is doing to young children you'd think that legislators would be against more of it, yet here we have another state falling for the online preschool scam...just like Indiana.

From Curmudgucation
A few Wisconsin legislators have a dumb idea for a law. They'd like to spend $1.5 million on cyberschool-- on line computerized instruction-- for pre-schoolers.

This is just layers and layers of dumb.

First, cyberschools in general have proven to be lousy. Spectacularly lousy-- and that's in a study run by an organization sympathetic to charters.. Students would be better off spending a year playing video games lousy. So bad that even other charter school promoters won't defend them lousy. In short, outside very specific sets of special needs, there is no evidence that cyberschooling works.

Second, while there is still considerable debate, the general consensus is that screen time for littles should be somewhere between very small amounts and none at all.

Third, academic studies are a lousy idea for littles, unlikely to yield real benefits even as they may create real harm.


VIRTUAL CHARTERS -- FAILING OUR STUDENTS

A tiny Indiana town saw promise in virtual charter schools. Then things started to unravel.

The lesson to be learned here is that you cannot trust charter schools to have the best interests of children in mind. The Bottom Line is profit...

From Chalkbeat*
When Indiana’s largest charter network collapsed earlier this year after an enrollment scandal that triggered state and federal investigations, the resulting mess left hundreds of students scrambling for transcripts, dozens of teachers unpaid, and $40 million still owed to the state.

The downfall of Indiana Virtual School and Indiana Virtual Pathways Academy also placed under the microscope Daleville Community Schools, a tiny rural district that runs just two brick-and-mortar schools serving fewer than 1,000 students in total.

Despite having no experience as a charter authorizer, Daleville took on an oversight role when Indiana Virtual School opened in 2011 and, over the years, accepted more than $3.2 million in state funding to monitor them and ensure their success.

INDIANA CHARTER SCHOOL BOARD REJECTS IPS CHARTER APPLICATIONS

What’s next for Indy ‘turnaround academies’?

From School Matters
It seemed like a victory for Indianapolis Public Schools when the Indiana Charter School Board voted Dec. 13 to reject charter applications for three Indianapolis “turnaround academy” schools.

But it’s not over till it’s over. The fate of the schools – Emmerich Manual High School, T.C. Howe School and Emma Donnan Middle School – is still in the hands of the State Board of Education. And the board has already turned a cold shoulder to the idea of returning the schools to IPS.

The State Board of Education will consider what happens next at its Jan. 15 meeting.


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

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