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.


Monday, May 4, 2020

In Case You Missed It – May 4, 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 on NPE Survey of Emergency Remote Learning

Fort Wayne Community Schools teacher, and NEIFPE member Eileen Doherty was quoted twice in Carol Burris's article in the Washington Post. Diane Ravitch provided a summary.

From Diane Ravitch
In the Midwest, Fort Wayne elementary school teacher Eileen Doherty struggles to teach her inner-city students. She is dismayed by the differences between what her own children who attend a suburban school have when compared with those she teaches.

One mom explained to her why schoolwork was not her first priority: “I am just trying to feed my children.”

...Fort Wayne, Indiana teacher Eileen Doherty told us, “Some of my students wait for their mother to come home so that they can access her phone to do the work. About 20 percent of my students come to my class on Zoom each day, and it is not even the same 20 percent.”

Getting laptops to seniors who need them for credit recovery for graduation has been the first priority in Fort Wayne, she said.


Trump Teams Up With Catholic Church For School Vouchers

The President promises money for votes.

From Curmudgucation
US Catholic leadership appears to be all in for Trump, in particular looking to him to provide that all important parent tuition assistance. I suppose that could take the form of an actual taxpayer funded subsidy straight to Catholic school parents, but vouchers or education savings accounts would spread the wealth and better obscure the fact that taxpayers would be subsidizing private schools that are free to discriminate on whatever basis they feel compelled to use. The Catholic Church needs some financial backing for their schools, and they've done very, very well where vouchers are legal.

There's a lot of pretty language, but quid pro quo-- money for votes-- seems to cover it. Nobody here is talking about the value of or cost to public education, nor even about the notion that maybe the government and taxpayers (and not just Trump) might look for some give from the Catholic schools like, say, a little less discrimination. Meanwhile, the Catholic Church would do well to remember that when you mix religion and politics, you get politics. And the politics of Trump is solidly anti-public education.

Secretary DeVos’ Sneaky Effort to Divert Coronavirus Dollars to Virtual Charters and Non-Public Schools

From Diane Ravitch
I earlier posted Rep. Rosa DeLauro’s outspoken criticism of Secretary DeVos for diverting CARES (coronavirus relief) funds to her pet projects (anything but public schools). DeVos wants to liberate America’s students from public schools, despite the fact that the legislation does not authorize her to follow her own wishes. DeVos has this wacky idea that learning online is “student-centered,” when it is not. We already know from experience and research that virtual charter schools are typically the worst schools in every state that has them...

Betsy Uses Relief Funds to Push Vouchers and Online Ed

From Diane Ravitch
Betsy thinks the days of learning in physical buildings are obsolete.

I have often posted the research on virtual charter schools. The 2015 CREDO study showed the abject failure of online charter schools. Their results are abysmal. The most EPIC charter scandals are associated with virtual charters like ECOT in Ohio, now bankrupt, and the A1 chain in California, where 11 people were indicted for the disappearance of more than $50 million in state funds.


Jennifer McCormick: Teachers deserve Indiana's appreciation right now

This week is Teacher Appreciation Week. Indiana's Superintendent of Public Instruction, Jennifer McCormick, provides the reasons we need to appreciate the State's teachers.

From the Muncie Star Press
With the implementation of protective measures to keep Hoosiers safe in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the unprecedented closure of school buildings and a move to remote learning for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year signaled drastic changes for May 2020.

However, one thing Hoosiers can count on during this unprecedented time is the dedication of Indiana educators. The same educators who served students every day prior to these challenging times were charged with redefining their roles and operations overnight by establishing innovative ways to connect and support students and their families.

Indiana educators are among the strongest advocates for students and deserve the utmost appreciation and respect. There is no better time to kick off a movement to honor the education profession than during Teacher Appreciation Week, May 4-8. While there will be a celebratory focus through the Indiana Department of Education’s #IndianaLovesTeachers Social Media Campaign, it is important to continue showing educators appreciation through recognition and support. Teachers are true champions as displayed by their commitment to students, families, and communities.


What if students don’t come back? Indiana schools pitch a radical way to protect their budgets

As usual, Bob Behning shows he is not a friend to public school children.

From Chalkbeat*
It’s unclear what school will look like in August, after the coronavirus shut down classrooms across the state through the end of this academic year. But there are growing worries among school officials that the fallout will mean fewer students return. And in a state where funding is doled out per student, a drop in enrollment would mean an immediate financial hit to schools.

Amid the pandemic, fear of contracting the coronavirus could prompt more parents to start homeschooling long-term or transfer to a full-time virtual school. Registration could also be a hurdle. It’s more difficult to recruit families without seeing them in-person, or when they have more pressing priorities, some superintendents said.

“We will have a significant number of families who would want their children to continue to be at home trying to learn remotely,” said Wayne Township Superintendent Jeff Butts. “We already heard some of that.”

In response, school business officials are asking the state to consider freezing districts’ enrollment counts in the fall — a radical new idea. But it seems unlikely to gain traction in a state where the prevailing funding philosophy is having money follow the student.

Will Indiana continue remote learning next fall? Holcomb says a decision may come soon

From Chalkbeat*
Gov. Eric Holcomb could decide within a few weeks whether remote learning will continue next fall, he said in a press conference Monday.

Holcomb already closed all school buildings through the end of the academic year, but has not said what the coronavirus will mean for students over the summer or next fall.

“We are going to get to that decision probably closer to mid-May,” he said. “I want to be the surest and the safest in every step that we take. This isn’t a competition to be first; this is if anything a competition to be the safest.”

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