Monday, July 27, 2020

In Case You Missed It – July 27, 2020

Here are links to last week's articles receiving 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.


No State Has Met CDC Guidelines for Steadily-Decreasing COVID Cases, So Let’s Open Schools.

This article was written before the Trump administration coerced the CDC to change its recommendations and rewrite the guidelines for school reopening. The link to the CDC guidelines in this post is to the original guidelines, published early in the pandemic without any political influence.

From Mercedes Schneider's Blog: Deutsch29
As of this writing, no state has met the May 2020 Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines for moving into Phase 1 (“Downward trajectory or near-zero incidence of documented cases over a 14-day period) muct less the additional criteria for entering Phase 2 (“Downward trajectory or near-zero incidence of documented cases for at least 14 days after entering Phase 1).

That’s 28 days of supposed “downward trajectory” prior to entering Phase 2, and that assumes increased testing.

Also in phase 2, COVID-19 test results are supposed to be available in three days or less. That is not happening.

Indiana mandates masks at school for most students and teachers

Where will the money come from to provide protective equipment for students and staff?

From Chalkbeat*
Indiana will require all students in third grade and above, teachers, and school staff to wear masks when they return to school buildings this fall, Gov. Eric Holcomb announced Wednesday.

The mandate is a significant move from Holcomb, who has steadfastly deferred decisions about reopening to school leaders — one that signals the slowing momentum of a state once barreling forward with ambitious plans to reopen all schools in person. But it’s unlikely to ease all the fears educators have raised as school start dates loom.

The requirement, which previous political rhetoric made seem improbable, is part of a larger statewide mandate brought on by a rising number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Last week, more than 7% of people in Indiana were testing positive for the coronavirus, according to state data, up from a low of 4% last month. Starting Monday, the state will require people ages 8 and older to wear masks while in public indoor spaces.

Pence says schools reopening 'best thing for our kids'

Not a word about the danger to adults who work in schools. Children do not attend school in a vacuum. They have parents at home, possibly grandparents, as well as a myriad of adults who work in school buildings. Any of those adults might be threatened by exposure to COVID-19. Schools should open only when it is safe.

(also see Pence, DeVos push to reopen schools during Indiana visit)

A free article from the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Pence discussed the importance of in-person learning for at-risk students, citing resources for counseling and special needs and children who rely upon school lunches.

“The risk of the coronavirus to healthy children is very low,” Pence said. “It’s also important to remember that there are real costs, far beyond academics, to our kids if they’re not in school.”

The science of how COVID-19 affects children is unclear, as several studies suggest, but don’t prove, that children are less likely to become infected than adults and more likely to have only mild symptoms.


SACS won't start school year early: Will begin Aug. 12 to allow teachers to prep

A free article from the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Southwest Allen County Schools' plans for an early start to the 2020-21 academic year were scrapped Wednesday so teachers and staffers can better prepare for a new learning option for middle and high school students.

Registration was another driver for delaying classes until Aug. 12, Superintendent Phil Downs said.

“Speaking for the team at SACS, we want to thank you for your patience and help as we work to provide a safe, high quality education for your children,” Downs said in an email to families.

Health official likes EACS plan: Praises use of face masks in district's reentry strategy

A free article from the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
The 10,000-student district will use strategies similar to those previously announced by other Allen County districts. Families may choose an e-learning option, meal choices will be limited, hand washing will be stressed, assigned seating will be common, regular cleaning and disinfecting habits will be practiced, and facial coverings will be required, although not in every instance.

At least one parent has asked whether families can sign a waiver to avoid the mask requirement for their children, Superintendent Marilyn Hissong said.

She invited [Allen County Health Commissioner Dr. Matthew] Sutter to explain the purpose behind facial coverings.

“It's to protect everybody their child comes in contact with,” Sutter said.

He praised local schools for incorporating mask requirements in their plans as a way to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.

“Masks are probably the most important thing, along with social distancing, in stopping the spread of this,” Sutter said. “I was really impressed by the way the public school systems got together with this.”

Teachers favor delay to start of FWCS year

A free article from the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
In a survey posted Monday, more than 90% favored delaying the school year, Vohs said, noting there were more than 1,700 responses by mid-afternoon Tuesday.

Vohs noted the percentage reflected the overall results, which included some input from non-teachers. The majority of respondents identified themselves as FWCS teachers, she said.

The survey also asked teachers whether they are considering not returning to their position because of health concerns; their comfort level with the FWCS reopening plan; and whether they would support a virtual start for all students, among other questions.

Teachers could also select why they support a delayed start. Options included to allow adequate time for scheduling adjustments based on parent preferences; to avoid the extreme heat of August when requiring people to wear masks; to consider additional and updated data regarding COVID-19, such as community infection rates; and to provide “rehearsal” time for new daily cleaning and sanitation practices.


New Study: There Is NO Relationship Between International Test Scores and Economic Growth

Now would be the perfect time to end high stakes testing and school grades!

From Diane Ravitch
...A decade ago, when I wrote The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education, I quoted a study by Keith Baker, a statistician who worked for many years in the U.S. Department of Education. Baker pointed out that the U.S. had placed last in the first international assessment in 1964, yet over the next half-century had outperformed the eleven nations with higher scores. He concluded then that test scores do not predict economic growth or anything else. Every time the results of a new international assessment are released, whoever is in charge says that the performance of the U.S. students is horrible, shameful, alarming, and proclaims “a new Sputnik moment.” And every time I point out that the U.S. has never been number one on international assessments and that these scores are meaningless. But the press reports the lamentations without contradiction anyway.

*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, July 20, 2020

In Case You Missed It – July 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.


Indiana schools plan to reopen. What do you think?

Would you like to express how you feel about schools opening with little to no state support during the pandemic? Here’s your chance.

From Chalkbeat*
Chalkbeat wants to hear from parents, students, and school staff. Tell us your feedback, concerns, and lingering questions...


Fort Wayne Community Schools

Masks required for all FWCS students; families can choose remote learning

Fort Wayne Community Schools Superintendent Mark Daniel announced Wednesday that students in pre-K through 5th grade will attend school on a daily basis, but parents will have the option of choosing remote learning for their child.

Face coverings will be required for all students. FWCS will be supplying new masks for students each day to minimize infection.

As for secondary students, in grades 6-12, parents will have a choice of blended learning.

Daniel said students will be divided up into groups, and certain groups will attend in-person classes on a Monday-Thursday format, while Group B will attend the other days.

Teachers will be delivering instruction remotely as well.

High school students will have also the opportunity to attend classes entirely remotely.

Southwest Allen County Schools

SACS outlines return-to-school plan

A free article from Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Phil Downs wants Southwest Allen County Schools' parents, students and staff to think of themselves as belonging to one big team as classrooms reopen next month to families choosing that option.

“We want kids back in the building, but for that to happen, we all have to play safely together,” Downs, the superintendent, said during a board meeting Tuesday. “Understand that while I may feel a certain way about some of the restrictions, if we're going to be good teammates, sometimes you sit on the bench and sometimes you're in the game, but you always have to support the team.”

The 7,700-student district plans to begin the 2020-21 academic year Aug. 5 with students learning at school and at home. Downs described the online options – which require a semester-long commitment – as e-learning for elementary students and a new virtual school for secondary students; the latter will become a permanent district offering.

Northwest Allen County School

Northwest Allen County Schools’ plans for fall: Parents can send kids to school or choose remote learning

From Fort Wayne's
School leaders with Northwest Allen County Schools said parents will have the option to send their kids to school or choose remote learning for the upcoming school year...

[Superintendent Chris] Himsel said parents have the option to allow their kids to return to school or choose remote learning. Depending on the results, the school district may have to hire more staff, Himsel said.

"To do things right is going to cost a little extra to make sure that we are being safe for all of our kids," Himsel said. "We do have some students who have underlying health issues where remote learning may be best for them."

East Allen County Schools

While there was no article about EACS plan for reopening schools this week from NEIFPE's social media, the EACS plan was reported in an earlier blog post. You can find the entire East Allen reopening plan at the links below.

East Allen County Schools Reopening Safety Plan (Subject to change)

More information can be found on the EACS web site.


Washington Township schools go 100% virtual for start of 2020-21 school year

From RTV-6 Indianapolis
Washington Township schools in Indianapolis will not return to in-person classes on July 30.

The Metropolitan School District of Washington Township School Board announced Monday that the 11,000 students in the district will begin virtual learning instead of returning to classes.

Read the full statement from the MSD Washington Township School Board below:

MSD Washington Township School Board policy provides that in making any decision board members must always think of our students first. While we do so today, we have also considered what in our judgment is in the best interest of our students’ families and of our dedicated faculty, staff, and administration and their families.

Washington Township Schools won’t offer in-person instruction in a reversal

Cheers to this school district that found the wisdom and the courage to stand up to bullying and keep the health and safety of staff and students as their main concern! May other districts find similar courage!

From Chalkbeat*
While schools across Indiana are releasing in-person reopening plans, many districts in other states are opting not to fully reopen school buildings. In New York City, for example, students are expected to have staggered schedules and come to school in person part time.

Whether to reopen schools full time has become a political lightning rod in recent days, as U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and President Trump have called for schools to fully reopen and threatened to withhold federal funding from schools that don’t.

That debate is coming at a moment when Indianapolis schools are on the cusp of reopening. Most schools in Marion County begin in late July or early August — several weeks before schools typically return in Northeastern states.


Back to school: Indiana education chief favors acceleration over remediation

Here are suggestions for school from Indiana’s Chief Academic Officer. Do you agree?

From Chalkbeat*
Indiana’s chief academic officer advised educators to use grade-level material this year rather than review previous curriculum to address widely anticipated student learning loss.

Robin LeClaire said teaching to accelerate will prevent students from falling into a catch-up cycle. This method could especially benefit Indiana’s most vulnerable children, who have also been the most heavily affected by the coronavirus pandemic, she said.

“If we focus on remediation, we will be playing catch-up with our students until they graduate,” she said.


Trump and DeVos Want Schools Open Full Time, Five Days A Week: The Realities Are Far More Difficult

From Jan Resseger
Now, in mid-July, America is suddenly waking up to the need to think about how COVID-19 will affect the institutions that serve children come August and September. The press is finally reporting that opening public schools for over 50 million young people is going to be complex, difficult and expensive, and that nobody is quite sure how to do it. Now that we are paying attention, we can see that the fall is going to be difficult in all sorts of ways—for children, for parents, for educators, and for the economy. But for President Donald Trump and his education secretary Betsy DeVos, it’s very simple: Schools should open on time, five days a week. The Trump administration has even threatened to punish schools that don’t reopen on time by withholding federal funds.

On Friday, NY Times columnist Michelle Goldberg described what she has learned in interviews with Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers: “Two weeks ago, I asked Randi Weingarten… what a functioning Department of Education would be doing to prepare the country to reopen schools in the fall. ‘A functioning Department of Education would have been getting groups of superintendents and principals and unions and others together from the middle of March,’ she told me… By mid-April it would have convened experts to figure out how to reopen schools safely, and offered grants to schools trying different models… ‘None of that has happened… Zero.’ When I spoke to Weingarten again on Thursday, she wasn’t worried that Trump and DeVos would be able to follow through on their threats; they can’t redirect the funds without Congress. But with their crude attempts at coercion, they’ve politicized school reopening just as Trump politicized mask-wearing and hydroxychloroquine. ‘The threats are empty, but the distrust they have caused is not,’ Weingarten said.”

*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, July 13, 2020

In Case You Missed It – July 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.


Charter schools reap more than $220 million in federal coronavirus aid. Elite private schools got some, too. Here’s a database with details.

From the Answer Sheet
The Post database shows loans of more than $1 million. There are 152 separate entries of charter schools that come up in a search of the database for “charter schools.” Many of them received loans of between $1 million to $2 million, and some between $5 million and $10 million. If each school got the lowest amount of money in their loans, it would amount to more than $200 million.

A search for the word “school” brings up 2,606 results, including many colleges and universities. Traditional public school districts could not apply for PPP loans.


Trump and DeVos: Schools Must Reopen, Without Needed Resources

From Diane Ravitch
Trump doesn’t care about the lives of students and staff. He cares only about his poll numbers. DeVos is arrogant and doesn’t care what might happen to students and teachers and other staff in public schools. She never has.

Opening schools without elaborate and carefully planned protocols for testing, daily screenings, masks, small classes, and social distancing is insane.

Opening schools in the middle of a raging and uncontrolled pandemic is irresponsible. Whose loves will be sacrificed?

Want Schools Open In The Fall? Then Pay For It

From Peter Greene in Forbes
But there are also some basic non-negotiable costs that can’t be papered over with some simple edict and a wave of the hand. None of it will be cheap, but any elected official who mandates the re-opening of schools without offering a real plan for financing the mandate is simply pushing for catastrophic failure.

A Grand Bargain: Reopen the Schools (Where Feasible) But Only If the Feds Pay for It

From Diane Ravitch
The Council of Chief State School Officers has estimated that it will require up to $244 billion in additional federal aid to reopen schools safely. It might be even more. If that is the cost of reopening schools and reopening the economy, it is a price worth paying.

Since the federal government has failed to take the lead in controlling the pandemic, the number of cases of coronavirus continues to rise, unlike the EU or Canada or many other nations. Where the virus is still rising, as in Texas, Florida, Arizona, and other states, schools cannot open safely.

But where the virus has been contained, schools can act on reopening plans only if they are adequately funded.

The only way to reopen schools safely, whether in the fall or months later, is by a dramatic increase in the budget so that there will be enough staff to protect the health and safety of the children, the teachers, and other staff.


Trump Comes After Public School Teachers

Let’s hope there is an army of teachers on Election Day seeing to it that these attacks on teachers do not stand!

From Curmudgucation
It seems like an odd choice, given that large number of teachers voted for Trump. Why risk turning them off? Probably because there is no risk--at this point it's clear that the Trump base voter can't be turned off by anything. Literally anything. I expect that teacher Trumpers will look at any criticism of teachers and say, "Yeah, he's right. These jerks I work with are awful. He's not talking about me, though." It's a version of the old question of why asshats have friends--because the asshats friends say, "Well, sure he's an asshat, but I feel certain he'll never be an asshat to me." This is one of the great tricks narcissists can pull off-- to make you feel so charmed that you can see every one of their terrible faults, but feel certain that you are exempt from their effect.

An attack on teachers is also part of the attack on all sources of authority outside of Beloved Leader, as in the point last night where he blamed all the rioting on "the predictable result of years of extreme indoctrination and bias in education, journalism, and other cultural institutions." In other words, there are no institutions you can trust, no source for evidence that can be believed, because They have corrupted them all. Only Beloved Leader remains pure.


Teacher Honor Roll

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
“My son always comes home beaming with pride on all the new information he is learning across multiple subjects. She keeps him so thoroughly happy and totally engaged in his learning. He loves listening to her read to them and loves all the fun voices she uses to tell the stories.

**Note: The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette is 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, July 6, 2020

In Case You Missed It – July 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.


Everybody Has Lost Their Damn Mind Around the Reopening of Schools

How will school openings impact our teachers?

From The Educator's Room
As a teacher, I am leave my children at home and risk my life to teach high school math to a group of 150+ smiling (and sometimes snarky) 15 year-olds. I’m expected to accommodate students throughout the day in small groups, all while continually assessing their areas of weakness, areas of growth. Not to mention, I have to be innovative in how I make math accessible for all my students. I’m expected to do all of this in a small 900 square foot classroom, jam-packed with thirty desks with no windows and ventilation that reminds you of a prison cell.

It does not matter that in Atlanta the cases are continually climbing and younger people (age 17-25) are being considered as superspreaders, that ICU beds are filling up with COVID-19 patients, or that teachers and parents are scared of being exposed, our Governor Brian Kemp has decided that profits are more important than people.

Last week, several metro-area school districts announced their re-opening plans with a mixture of hybrid, face to face, or all virtual options. Districts have laid out elaborate plans on how they’ll proceed with opening schools from start time, date, and lunch schedules, but not much has been said about protecting teachers, bus drivers, kitchen staff, and students. It seems as if superintendents, school boards, and the general public have lost their damn minds when they discuss reopening of school.

There’s no talk of PPE gear (short of a mask), cleaning supplies, or CDC cleaning protocols. There’s no real talk of what happens when a child comes to school sick, except send them to the nurse’s office (which by the way is not housed by an actual nurse).

12 inconvenient truths about schools and kids that should be considered before reopening — from a teacher

"...this should be enough to at least give everyone pause. Operating schools during a pandemic will not be easy. I'm not at the point yet where I'm saying we shouldn't try, but we have got to think carefully and challenge assumptions before we open the schoolhouse doors this fall."

From the Answer Sheet
...even if schools get all of the money they need, and staff show remarkable ingenuity and creativity, there are some basic, inconvenient truths we need to face about how schools work before we claim we can reopen safely this fall. So, in no particular order:

• Children, especially young children, cannot be expected to stay six feet away from everyone else during an entire school day. Sorry, even if a school has the room, it’s just not going to happen. One adult can’t keep eyes on a couple/few dozen children every second of every hour of every day to ensure they don’t drift into each others’ spaces. You certainly can’t do that and teach. And you can’t expect children to self-police. Young children are simply not developmentally able to remind themselves over seven hours not to get near each other.

• Children cannot be expected to wear masks of any kind for the duration of a school day. At some point, the mask has to come off; even adult medical professionals take breaks. And anyone who’s worked with young children knows they will play with their masks and not even realize they’re doing it. It’s simply unrealistic to expect otherwise...

To Everyone Who Was Never A Classroom Teacher, Re Pandemic School Openings

The coronavirus pandemic is just another excuse for people who have no experience with public education to pontificate and make rules without the input of those who attend or work in public schools. Just because you were a student doesn't mean you know how to teach. Looking at you, Ms. Secretary of Education (who never attended, worked in, or sent her children to public schools).

From Curmudgucation
The last thirty-seven-ish years of education have been marked by one major feature-- a whole lot of people who just don't know, throwing their weight around and trying to set the conditions under which the people who actually do the work will have to try to actually do the work. Policy wonks, privateers, Teach for America pass-throughs, guys who wanted to run for President, folks walking by on the street who happen to be filthy rich, amateurs who believe their ignorance is a qualification-- everyone has stuck their oar in to try to reshape US education. And in ordinary times, as much as I argue against these folks, I would not wave my magic wand to silence them, because 1) educators are just as susceptible as anyone to becoming too insular and entrenched and convinced of their own eternal rightness and 2) it is a teacher's job to serve all those amateurs, so it behooves the education world to listen, even if what they hear is 98% bosh.

But that's in ordinary times, and these are not ordinary times.

Indianapolis students in 6th grade and above must wear face masks at school, new guidance says

Indianapolis is going to try to get students in sixth grade and above to wear masks while at school. Are eleven and twelve year olds mature enough to resist taking them off or playing with them,

From Chalkbeat*
Indianapolis teachers, school staff, and students in sixth grade and above will be required to wear face masks when they return to classrooms this year, according to guidance from the Marion County Public Health Department released Thursday.

Children in fifth grade and below are not required to wear masks or coverings under the recommendations. Other exceptions include students and staff with health conditions that make wearing a mask a risk and students who cannot remove a mask on their own. The guidance says that a face shield may be an appropriate alternative for teachers in pre-K through fifth grade if a mask is “determined to impede a student’s learning.”

Staff and students may remove masks when necessary, such as to eat or drink.

Although face masks are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, they are not required in Indiana.


Robinson gets retirement send-off: Ex-FWCS students, staff say thanks

Fort Wayne Community Schools Superintendent, Wendy Robinson, described the tributes she received during a drive-through retirement event as "overwhelming."

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Two of the attendees were Dan Bickel and his wife, Barb, of Fort Wayne. Dan, a former elementary schools administrator, called Robinson “a very special person in my life.”

He praised her collaborative leadership style and the way she kept the focus on students.

Robinson “accepted me in the Fort Wayne Community Schools years ago and was one of the first people to teach me the ropes. She helped me as a colleague and a mentor and became a real and trusted friend,” said Bickel, who retired in 2012.

“I told her retirement was the biggest adjustment in my life, but if she needs any help just to call, because I got good at it.”

School board member Steve Corona greeted Robinson with a hug.

“It's, you know, a bittersweet day,” he said. “I'm so happy for her.”

But at the same time, he said, he knows what the 30,000-student district will miss without her at the head.

Corona said Robinson emerged as a champion for not only large urban school systems like Fort Wayne but for public education as a whole – “at a time when it was under attack.”

He added he was sure she wouldn't stop rooting for the district.

“But it's good to know after so many years she won't have to make those decisions all day long, every day,” Corona said.


Final CARES Act Disribution Rule Still Favors Private Schools Over Public Schools

It's almost like the U.S. Education Department is purposely trying to bypass public schools when distributing funds for education.

From Jan Resseger
Public education dollars buy services for 50 million children and adolescents across the United States. State superintendents and local school district officials are not selfishly trying to hoard CARES Act dollars. These educators want to protect federal CARES Act dollars urgently needed in the nation’s 98,000 public schools for the purpose of serving students during the pandemic and making up for deep recessionary cuts in state funding. They are trying to protect federal emergency assistance desperately needed in our public institutions.

*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