Monday, June 1, 2020

In Case You Missed It – Jun 1, 2020

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

Be sure to enter your email address in the Follow Us By Email box in the right-hand column to be informed when our blog posts are published.


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

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


Potential partnership sours as charter leader opposes South Bend school referendums

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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