Monday, May 25, 2020

In Case You Missed It – May 25, 2020

Here are links to last week's articles receiving the most attention in NEIFPE's social media. Keep up with what's going on, what's being discussed, and what's happening with public education.

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How Hard Are CDC Guidelines To Follow

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

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

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

NACS superintendent says returning to classrooms next semester is still unknown

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

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

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

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

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

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


Betsy DeVos Has, In Fact, Become Arne Duncan 2.0

Politics, thy name is hypocrisy.

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


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

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

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

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

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

Indiana: State Chief Jennifer McCormick Turns Down DeVos Guidance

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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


CREDO’s New Study Biased against Public Schools

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


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

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

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

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

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


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