Monday, April 13, 2020

In Case You Missed It – Apr 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.

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This Is Why You Need A Secretary of Education With Classroom Experience

Secretary of Education DeVos once again shows her disrespect for public schools and teachers.

From Curmudgucation
Betsy DeVos has been pretty much no help at all during the pandemic closing of schools. The US Department of Education has offered next to no guidance to public schools on how best to navigate the current storm.

Imagine a country where, in the face of a major disruptive health crisis that cuts across all communities, the federal department of education says, "We've got some stuff figured out and some resources to share. Let us know what we can do to help you get through this." That might be cool.

But it's not where we are. Mostly DeVos has seemed anxious to capitalize on the crisis by pushing online schooling. This has led to some unclear directives that seem to boil down to, "Get that education stuff on line, and if you have to leave behind some students to do it, oh well." DeVos also smells a chance to launch another kind of national voucher program.


World Bank Changes Policy on For-Profit Privatized Schools

From Diane Ravitch
Thanks in large part to the work of Education International, a world confederation of teachers’ unions, the World Bank has changed its policy.

In a sudden and far-reaching policy shift, World Bank President David Malpass has agreed to major reforms that include officially freezing any direct or indirect investments in private for-profit pre-primary, primary and secondary schools. This has been a critical issue for Education International for many years and has been the key focus of our interactions with the Bank.


Outrage: Charters Pursue Federal Small Business Funds

From Diane Ravitch
The charter lobby wants a slice of the $2 trillion intended to save small businesses even though the charters have suffered no loss of funding during the pandemic.


Indianapolis ‘restart’ schools try to build trust and hire teachers — from a distance

Hopefully there will come a day when IPS quits wasting the community’s tax dollars on “middlemen” to run their schools.

From Chalkbeat*
Next academic year, Adelante Schools will take over Emma Donnan Elementary and Middle School, and Phalen Leadership Academies, an established Indianapolis charter network, will take over School 48. All three operators were approved at a March board meeting, igniting criticism from some people who said the decision should not have been made during the crisis.

The campuses will still be considered part of IPS, which will get credit for their enrollment numbers and test scores. But the staff will be employed by the charter operators, and the teachers won’t be represented by the district union.

The coronavirus and the school closures it triggered could be roadblocks to overhauling struggling Indianapolis campuses because building trust with the community and families can be crucial to the success of turnaround efforts.


More Pandemic Prompted Reformster Baloney

This Teach for America alumnus thinks that when our schools open again we should greet them with tests.

From Curmudgucation
If there has ever been a moment to drop the fiction that "test score" and "student learning" are synonyms, now is the time. (Okay, every single moment has been a moment to do this, but now is especially urgent.)

As the response to the pandemic blows holes in the standard school year, our focus must be bolstering actual education and not test scores. Get out your copy of Koretz's The Testing Charade and remind yourself that the Big Standardized Test does not deserve this kind of attention or regard. It's junk, and it is wasting valuable time.


Indiana officials mull how to evaluate 78,000 teachers as coronavirus shutters schools

Teachers are working hard right now trying to deal with a situation they did not create, yet the state is foolishly wasting time trying to figure out an evaluation process.

From Chalkbeat*
The Indiana State Teachers Association is calling on the state to waive this year’s evaluation requirements and rate all teachers as effective so they can receive raises and the state grant. Improvement plans could be tabled until schools reopen, said ISTA president Keith Gambill.

“The focus now should be on students, rather than on creating portfolios of work, scheduling online observations and measuring teacher adherence to goals and standards,” Gambill said in an email statement. “Given that nearly a third of the teaching year has been disrupted, it’s hard to imagine how any annual review process would be meaningful to anyone or serve as a fair basis for high-stakes decisions.”


Should We Just Hold Students Back Next Year?

Research has shown that retention is rarely helpful and often damaging to children.

From Peter Greene on Forbes
Petrilli correctly notes that the “first order of business” will be to focus on the social, emotional and mental health needs of students, as well as smooth their transition back to school routines. But he also proposes high-quality diagnostic tests to determine if students are ready to move on to the next grade. Under his proposal, students would be greeted with, “You have to take a test on material from seven months ago. It’s going to decide whether you pass or fail.”

That’s a tremendous amount of pressure to place on a child. Yes, one can rationally describe this as testing to assess what the child needs. But the child will still hear, “Pass this test or you have to repeat the same grade as last year.” And if they do fail, what a sad, discouraging way to return to school in an already stressful and difficult year.

Based on the testing results, Petrilli suggests grouping and tutoring, with regular tutoring with specialists to bring those furthest behind up to speed. Though Petrilli says this would make the experience different from just “repeating the grade,” what he describes is pretty much exactly what Title I schools (and many others) already do. Thus, it would actually be pretty much “repeating a grade,” which he acknowledges has been shown to have few benefits.


Wired for learning: Schools' closure lays bare long-simmering concerns of 'digital divide'

Computers are simply a tool. The foundation for learning requires more.

A free article from the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
“College-educated white-collar parents who can telework are home with their kids and can provide individualized instruction. ... They also have access to reliable high-speed Internet if and when districts are able to ramp up instruction from a distance in the coming weeks. They also have comfortable housing in which this education can occur. ... Parents who have to leave home to work, by contrast, will need to patch together ad hoc child care that may change day-to-day. ... Their only Internet access might be a cell phone. They're more likely to live in an underfunded school district that lacks the resources to manage an abrupt, never-before-tried emergency transition to distance education.”

Wendy Robinson, superintendent of Fort Wayne Community Schools, leads one of those underfunded school districts and is painfully aware of the educational disparities laid bare by the pandemic. Sending computers home with 30,000 students or expecting them to have online access isn't a simple matter.

*Note: Financial sponsors of Chalkbeat include pro-privatization foundations and individuals such as 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


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