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.

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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


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