Monday, August 31, 2020

In Case You Missed It – August 31, 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.


Trump's Education Agenda

Trump comes out officially for privatization, and Curmudgucation responds: “Lots of public school teachers voted for Trump first time around. There may have been some question about how things would go that time, but this time out there can be no doubt-- a vote for Trump is a vote against public education.“

From Peter Greene at Curmudgucation
Trump has released his agenda for his second term, and it's special. Cut taxes. Add jobs. Eradicate Covid-19. End reliance on China. Cover pre-existing conditions. Congressional term limits. Bring violent extremist groups like ANTIFA to justice. Dismantle human trafficking. Build the world's greatest infrastructure system (so, more infrastructure week!) Stop endless wars.

It's all familiar hooey, in bullet point list form (so not a word about how or why, but education gets its own subheading, under which we find these two bullet points.

Provide School Choice To Every Child In America

Teach American Exceptionalism

That's it. That's the whole thing. Get some of that good old ahistorical jingoism back in the classroom, and dismantle the public education system and replace it with a privatized one. It's a fun pairing because if you're going to have a school choice system, how are you going to force every school to teach exceptionalism? For that matter, how will you force a free and open market to serve every single student (spoiler alert--you can't).


Indiana teachers union will sit out governor’s race despite key education issues at play

From Chalkbeat Indiana*
At a time when Indiana’s governor will exert greater control over education and school reopening remains a key political issue, Indiana’s largest teachers union said it won’t be taking sides in this fall’s gubernatorial race.

In what some observers say is a pragmatic move to maintain policy influence, the political arm of the Indiana State Teachers Association will not make an endorsement in what looks like an easy cruise to reelection for Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb against Democratic challenger Dr. Woody Myers.

Instead, the Indiana Political Action Committee for Education will focus on supporting dozens of legislative races, particularly those in which teachers are running.


FWCS leader expects more planned delays: EACS chief also takes part in forum

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Superintendent Mark Daniel thanked families Thursday for cooperating with this week's two-hour delay that gave Fort Wayne Community Schools teachers time for professional development as they navigate an unprecedented academic year.

Daniel, who likened the situation to building a jet while flying it, said more planned delays – and perhaps even a full in-service day – are likely.

He hopes to release details today about next week, if not for the next several.

“It has nothing to do about closing,” Daniel said during a Facebook Live forum hosted by Fort Wayne United in partnership with City Life. “It's about how do we stay open.”

The forum also featured East Allen County Schools Superintendent Marilyn Hissong. The district leaders spent about an hour fielding questions about the first few weeks of school.

Teachers are tired, Hissong said, but she also credited other employees for their contributions, including the custodians who are disinfecting buildings and bus drivers ensuring students are wearing masks.

“It does take your whole entire staff to make this work,” Hissong said.

Message from Superintendent Mark Daniel

From Fort Wayne Community Schools
Dear Parents/Guardians:
We've made it through another week of the 2020-21 school year. Each day we get a little better working with in-person and remote students and are starting to settle into a routine.

Our teachers and school staff members found this week's professional learning time valuable for learning how to use new technology and planning how to work with in-person and remote students. After hearing from principals, teachers and other staff, we have decided to have four full days of professional learning on Wednesdays in September...

Anxiety running high at FWCS: Survey shows teachers feeling stress this year

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Anxiety levels remain high among Fort Wayne Community Schools employees as they and students adjust to an academic year during a pandemic, Superintendent Mark Daniel said Monday, noting the district has multiple COVID-19 cases.

“We are in a stressful time,” Daniel told the school board, citing FWCS and Fort Wayne Education Association survey results. “There's no doubt about that.”

Daniel's impromptu report followed less than 10 minutes of school board business, including approval of new daily rates for substitute teachers. Substitutes now will make a minimum of $110 per day, up from the previous minimum of $95.

The 30,000-student district, which began classes Aug. 13, has had two staff members test positive for the coronavirus and about a dozen student cases, Daniel said after the meeting.

FWCS is using seating charts – including during school board meetings – to help identify those who might have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.

“That is critical,” Daniel said.

Daniel highlighted the nursing staff, which was bolstered this year by several new hires.

*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


Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #346 – August 24, 2020

Dear Friends,

Our ICPE Annual Meeting this Saturday, August 29th will be a virtual meeting. You can join us from your home!

The Indiana Coalition for Public Education invites all ICPE members as well as all who support public education to its annual fall membership meeting, the 10th since its inception in 2011. The pandemic has changed the format but the meeting in support of public education is on!

The format will allow you to participate from home on a Zoom webinar or using your phone for audio only.

Here are the details:
DATE: Saturday, August 29, 2020

TIME: 2 to 4 p.m.

OPEN TO: All ICPE MEMBERS and to all who support public education.

REGISTRATION: Register in advance for the ICPE Zoom webinar by clicking on this link:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. Attendees will not be seen on screen. Questions can be submitted in the chat function. You can also participate by phone.

SPEAKERS: We invited both Republican gubernatorial candidate Governor Eric Holcomb and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dr. Woody Myers to speak. At this point, Dr. Myers has accepted and will speak and answer questions. Also State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Jennifer McCormick will speak as the last elected State Superintendent. In these uncertain times, she has been very active in advocating for public schools.

IN ADDITION: The ICPE Legislative Report Card will be shared, the 2020 edition of letter grades for General Assembly candidates based on their votes in support of public education bills in the 2019 and 2020 sessions. Also Joel Hand, ICPE lobbyist and attorney, will preview the 2021 General Assembly session. Don’t miss it!
Register NOW!

Join us online on Saturday, August 29th at 2 p.m.!

Tell your public education friends about this virtual meeting!

Thank you for your active support of public education in Indiana!

Stay safe,

Vic Smith

“Vic’s Statehouse Notes” and ICPE received one of three Excellence in Media Awards presented by Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, an organization of over 85,000 women educators in seventeen countries. The award was presented on July 30, 2014 during the Delta Kappa Gamma International Convention held in Indianapolis. Thank you Delta Kappa Gamma!

ICPE has worked since 2011 to promote public education in the Statehouse and oppose the privatization of schools. We need your membership to help support ICPE lobbying efforts. As of July 1st, the start of our new membership year, it is time for all ICPE members to renew their membership.

Our lobbyist Joel Hand represented ICPE extremely well during the 2020 session. We need your memberships and your support to continue his work. We welcome additional members and additional donations. We need your help and the help of your colleagues who support public education! Please pass the word!

Go to for membership and renewal information and for full information on ICPE efforts on behalf of public education. Thanks!

Some readers have asked about my background in Indiana public schools. Thanks for asking! Here is a brief bio:

I am a lifelong Hoosier and began teaching in 1969. I served as a social studies teacher, curriculum developer, state research and evaluation consultant, state social studies consultant, district social studies supervisor, assistant principal, principal, educational association staff member, and adjunct university professor. I worked for Garrett-Keyser-Butler Schools, the Indiana University Social Studies Development Center, the Indiana Department of Education, the Indianapolis Public Schools, IUPUI, and the Indiana Urban Schools Association, from which I retired as Associate Director in 2009. I hold three degrees: B.A. in Ed., Ball State University, 1969; M.S. in Ed., Indiana University, 1972; and Ed.D., Indiana University, 1977, along with a Teacher’s Life License and a Superintendent’s License, 1998. In 2013 I was honored to receive a Distinguished Alumni Award from the IU School of Education, and in 2014 I was honored to be named to the Teacher Education Hall of Fame by the Association for Teacher Education – Indiana. In April of 2018, I was honored to receive the 2018 Friend of Education Award from the Indiana State Teachers Association.


Monday, August 24, 2020

In Case You Missed It – August 24, 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 teachers march for Public Education, November 2019


The Trump administration declared teachers ‘essential workers.’ Here’s what that means.

Teacher are "essential" -- except when it's time to negotiate a new contract.

From the Answer Sheet
The Trump administration is now labeling teachers “essential” workers, a move aimed at pushing school districts to open for in-person instruction for the fall semester amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The declaration of teachers as “critical infrastructure workers,” which came in an Aug. 18 guidance published by the Department of Homeland Security, means that teachers exposed to coronavirus but who show no symptoms can return to classrooms and not quarantine for 14 days as public health agencies recommend.

DHS said the label is only advisory and not meant to be a federal directive. Still, school districts that want teachers to return to classrooms — even when teachers don’t think it is safe enough — could use the federal designation to bolster their own mandates.


Indiana will start tracking COVID-19 cases in schools

From Chalkbeat Indiana*
Indiana will start matching COVID-19 tests to student records to notify schools of positive cases and create a public dashboard tracking the spread of the coronavirus in schools, the state’s top health official announced Wednesday.

The state aims to launch the public dashboard next month. Schools will be asked to submit numbers daily on new positive cases among students, teachers, and staff, said Dr. Kristina Box, the state’s health commissioner.


MI: Teacher Fired Over Political Tweet. If Only There Was A Way Protect Against Such Injustice.

“And while conservative outlets large and small whined about the unfairness of Kucera's firing, somehow not one that I read managed to connect the dots between this unjust firing and the gutting of laws to protect the due process of teachers and the kneecapping of their unions. I'm sorry for what happened to Justin Kucera--here's hoping that he realizes that it was not sucky liberals who are responsible.”

From Peter Greene at Curmudgucation
...the Michigan GOP totally asked for this.

A decade ago, they were busily hacking away at public education through ever manner of attack they could devise. That included a package of laws that then-governor and never-a-friend-of-education Rick Snyder that cut teacher tenure off at the knees. For instance, the old job security laws (what we call "tenure" really isn't, but it's the term everyone's used to) required that a district had to show "reasonable and just cause" to fire a teacher with tenure; the new law just requires proof that the firing was not "arbitrary and capricious."

The new batch of laws also made tenure harder to get, and that's where Kucera's troubles seem to lie. A teacher is "on probation" for the first five years of their career, meaning they can be fired for pretty much any reason at all, including Pissing Off The Wrong People or Looking Like A Potential Source of Headaches for Administration.

When tenure battles were all the rage, teachers and their supporters said repeatedly that teachers need job protections so that they don't have to constantly looking over their shoulders and worrying about a hundred little things like political affiliation. "You big wimps are just afraid of accountability," was the reply.


State leaders kick the can

From Steve Hinnefeld at School Matters
Faced with questions about state funding for schools that are operating online because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Eric Holcomb came up with an answer: Kick the can down the road.

Holcomb, together with leaders of the Indiana House and Senate, proposed delaying the “count day” for recording school corporations’ official fall enrollment from September until at least December. That means schools will continue to receive complete state funding through the fall semester.

But it doesn’t address what happens beyond that. Neither does it ensure that schools will get their get the funding they expected for the 2020-21 school year, without having it reduced because some students attend virtually. That will be up to the legislature.


Strong voice to advocate for schools indispensable

The State Superintendent of Public Instruction is now an appointed position, along with every member of the State Board of Education. Your vote is more important than ever.

The Governor appoints the Superintendent and 8 other members of the eleven member board. The other two members are appointed by the majority leaders of the state's legislative houses -- the Speaker of the House and the President Pro Tem of the Senate. Indiana's one-party government has a history of snubbing public education in favor of privatization.

Vote for pro-public education candidates.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
If we could count on Jennifer McCormick occupying the top state schools post come January, it would be easier to accept the governor's “trust us” pledge to fully fund public schools – both those with students in classrooms and those where it is necessary to offer online-only instruction.

But the power play that made the state superintendent of public instruction a gubernatorial appointee goes into effect in 2021, and those responsible for it are now asking us to trust them on school funding. Without McCormick's fierce advocacy for public schools, any pledge to do no harm to schools and students should be regarded warily.

Events over the past 10 days have fueled school districts' financial concerns, beginning with a warning from Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray that schools not offering classroom instruction were subject to a 15% budget cut, per the current funding formula for virtual instruction. School leaders, some of whom have been forced to offer only online instruction because of their local health department's COVID-19 guidance, objected.

Gov. Eric Holcomb insisted Wednesday it was his intent to deliver full funding. But it's not his call unless he steps up with an executive order...


SACS' e-school years in making

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
For Southwest Allen County Schools, dreams of launching a virtual school didn't begin with COVID-19.

The planning started about five years ago, and efforts to launch the program began in earnest last fall as administrators began meeting with teachers to develop some courses, said Park Ginder, Homestead High School principal.

Administrators envisioned offering the program to homebound students and those needing to make up a credit.

“Then COVID hit,” Ginder said. “We're able now – because we were past the ideation stages – able to use a catastrophe, basically, to meet needs and push things forward.”

Called eSACS, the virtual school was one of three learning options the district offered middle and high school students this fall.


Southwest Allen County Schools opens enrollment for eSACS to all Indiana Students

Southwest Allen County Schools is allowing access to its eSACS Virtual Secondary School to all students in Indiana. Enrollment opened Wednesday for students in 7th through 11th grades.

“We are now at a point with our e-learning school that we are going to be able to open it up to students from across the state,” said Superintendent Dr. Phil Downs.

The district has been working on this plan for over 5 years. The ongoing pandemic isn’t the reason it was started, but COVID-19 accelerated the district’s plans.

“Certainly the COVID situation, when we decided we were going to have to put something together for our students, it very quickly became obvious to us this is something that students around the state would be interested in maybe having access to,” said Dr. Downs.

*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, August 17, 2020

In Case You Missed It – August 17, 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.


FWCS' 1st day mostly 'positive': District's new leader visits schools, lauds students for masks

Fort Wayne Community schools open up under the threat of a pandemic...

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
...The first day had hiccups including long waits for the help desk, login struggles among students learning remotely and jammed phone lines, particularly for transportation, spokeswoman Krista Stockman said. Some of the technology troubles stem from students getting used to a new system, she said, and the district is creating a troubleshooting document to help parents address common tech issues.

There were no mask issues, said Stockman, who accompanied Daniel to the schools.

“Everything we saw in schools was positive,” she said.

Sandra Vohs' assessment was similar. The teachers union president said educators had nothing but praise for the students, who were following guidelines and happy to be back.

Don't open, FWCS board hears: Teachers union chief says Thursday return too soon

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Vohs, the teachers union president, suggested alternatives to the current Return to Learn plan – including starting the academic year exclusively with e-learning – because, she said, Allen County coronavirus statistics are concerning.

The Allen County Department of Health said Monday 34 additional residents have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in Allen County to 3,964. The total number of Allen County deaths attributed to coronavirus remained at 162.

“We don't think that anybody should be reopening right now based just on the community (coronavirus trends),” Vohs said. “I think we've got a great plan when things are better. But things aren't better right now, and it's naive to think that once kids get into the buildings that we're going to be able to follow everything.”

FWCS chief tries to find silver linings in challenges

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Mark Daniel acknowledges he became the Fort Wayne Community Schools superintendent during unprecedented conditions.

It would be understandable if Daniel felt discouraged. The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted traditional schooling, spurring countless hours of planning so classes can begin Thursday – in person and remotely.

But Daniel finds the upside.


Indiana blocks some charter schools from $10 million coronavirus relief grant program

Indiana charter schools get money from the state for each student they have on their rolls. Some Indiana charter schools have also gotten money from the federal Paycheck Protection Program (something that public schools aren't allowed to do). Now, those charters are dismayed because they can't also get money from a grant for helping schools deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

These whiners aren't interested in educating our children. They're interested in one thing: getting public MONEY.

From Chalkbeat*
A $10 million grant program meant to help Indiana schools grapple with the impact of the coronavirus is pitting charter and traditional public schools against each other and creating tension over how to divvy up federal aid.

The state notified several Indiana charter schools last week that they had won competitive grants to help them serve the most vulnerable students. But then the schools learned that restrictions that weren’t mentioned in the initial application would prevent them from accepting the grant.

The Indiana Department of Education is withholding federally funded coronavirus relief grants from schools that also received money through the federal Paycheck Protection Program, according to interviews with and documents shared by school leaders.


David Berliner and Gene Glass: Why Bother Testing in 2021?

With all the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, do we still really need to be subjecting our students to invalid, expensive, time-consuming, and academically worthless standardized tests?

From Diane Ravitch
Without question, the “system” of the U.S. Department of Education has a huge stake in enforcing annual achievement testing. It’s not just that the Department’s relationship is at stake with Pearson Education, the U.K. corporation that is the major contractor for state testing, with annual revenues of nearly $5 billion. The Department’s image as a “get tough” defender of high standards is also at stake. Pandemic be damned! We can’t let those weak kneed blue states get away with covering up the incompetence of those teacher unions.

To whom are the results of these annual testings important? Governors? District superintendents? Teachers?

How the governors feel about the test results depends entirely on where they stand on the political spectrum. Blue state governors praise the findings when they are above the national average, and they call for increased funding when they are below. Red state governors, whose state’s scores are generally below average, insist that the results are a clear call for vouchers and more charter schools – in a word, choice. District administrators and teachers live in fear that they will be blamed for bad scores; and they will.


Member of FWCS board defends her retweets on issues

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Jehl, who holds a nonpartisan office, regularly retweets political posts to her 84 followers; her Twitter bio does not include her affiliation with FWCS. Topics she has retweeted about since June include the Black Lives Matter movement, the presidential candidates, the coronavirus pandemic and the reopening of schools.

Multiple tweets upset Farlow.

"These tweets ... were not only offensive in nature, but they attacked the integrity of the entire public school system," Farlow said. "They attacked my role as a professional and called me a parasite : not me personally but teachers in general. They attacked First Amendment rights of protesters and said they should be shot. They attacked our minority students and likened masks to being forced to wear a hijab or a burka. This is completely unacceptable to me."

That's a mouthful of accusations, Jehl said. She specifically rebutted the claim about her stance on public education, stressing that she serves on the board because she believes in public education.


Indiana governor proposes moving fall student count date to avoid school funding cuts

Holcomb’s “solution” is temporary and there's no guarantee that it will be approved by the anti-public education forces in the Indiana General Assembly.

From Chalkbeat*
Pushing back on a move last week to cut state aid to schools that stay fully remote, Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb proposed Wednesday keeping funding levels steady through the fall.

Holcomb’s proposal would stave off cuts for a few months — and buy time either for students to return to classrooms or for Indiana lawmakers to discuss potential changes to a state law that otherwise would reduce state dollars for students learning mostly online.

He suggested delaying the Sept. 18 count date of student enrollment that’s used to calculate school funding. By postponing the count date until at least December, schools won’t immediately see their funding dip.

But Holcomb’s proposal does not guarantee that schools will be fully funded for the whole school year...

Unacceptable risk: Threat to school funding defies safety guidelines

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Indiana Senate leader Rodric Bray had little interest in how online-only schools were funded in 2019, when some lawmakers called for a summer study committee to examine spending in the wake of a virtual-school scandal that cost Indiana taxpayers more than $68 million.

Bray, who was among the legislators who accepted and later donated campaign cash from officials tied to the now-closed schools, said there were more pressing issues to consider. He did not assign the topic to an interim study committee last year.

Today, however, the Senate president pro tem appears to have much interest in the topic. In spite of assurances from Gov. Eric Holcomb and other legislative leaders that Indiana schools wouldn't face budget cuts, Bray issued a letter last week warning school officials they will face a 15% cut in funding if they offer only online instruction, which 31 districts initially plan to do out of concern for COVID-19. In some cases, their local county health departments have ordered them to offer only online instruction.

*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, August 10, 2020

In Case You Missed It – August 10, 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 seeks $2.2 million from Daleville district after alleged virtual charter school fraud

Can the state recoup the money lost by the Daleville virtual charter school scam? What responsibility does Daleville Community Schools have in this debacle?

From Chalkbeat*
Daleville Community Schools is being asked to repay $2.2 million that the state says stems from fraudulent enrollment inflation by two virtual charter schools overseen by the rural district.

In a special report released Friday, state auditors echoed the findings of a Chalkbeat investigation that Daleville failed to hold Indiana Virtual School and Indiana Virtual Pathways Academy to their charter contracts, review the schools’ finances, or press for improvements.

“Daleville’s lack of meaningful oversight and monitoring may have contributed to ineligible students being included [in enrollment reports],” resulting in virtual school officials allegedly defrauding the state of $68 million and sending millions more to their own or related companies, the report said.

Report: Indiana trusts schools too much to catch funding fraud

The State Board of Accounts wants more control over school funding.

From Chalkbeat*
A new report in the wake of Indiana’s virtual charter school enrollment scandal reveals how most of the state’s $7.5 billion school funding system is largely based on trust — and lacking controls that could flag potential fraud.

The state relies on schools to record how many students they enroll in order to calculate funding and doesn’t compare those numbers to other data sets that could help identify problems, noted the special report from state auditors released Friday.

That’s why state education officials didn’t catch signs in data reports that Indiana Virtual School and Indiana Virtual Pathways Academy had for years been claiming millions in state funding for students who weren’t actually attending the online schools.


‘We will all suffer’: Indianapolis districts respond to threat of funding cuts if they don’t reopen

Legislators want to override local decision-making and force schools to open their doors during the pandemic or lose 15% of their funding.

From Chalkbeat*
Indianapolis districts pushed back Friday on a leading lawmaker’s statement that schools will face reduced state funding if they don’t reopen classrooms for in-person instruction.

The threat forces schools to make “an impossible choice” between taking deep cuts they can’t afford or putting students, families, and teachers at risk of contracting COVID-19, wrote Indianapolis Public Schools Superintendent Aleesia Johnson in an op-ed.

“Our district would face $28 million in cuts as retribution for protecting our children’s health, and anyone who walked a day in our shoes over the past five months would not dare to suggest that schools could operate under the current context with less funding,” Johnson wrote.

Virtual-only schools face funding cuts

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
But a letter from Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray Thursday sent shockwaves to schools.

'State leaders have said we favor fully funding students whose families choose virtual instruction this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. I believe there is a strong appetite for making that change,” he said. “However, there is no guarantee such an exception will be made for schools that don't give families the option of in-person instruction in a school building. Therefore, schools that don't offer in-person instruction should plan on operating under the current funding policy'.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick said she was extremely disappointed in Bray's letter – which came days after many schools have started.

Dr. McCormick's response...


The continuing discussion of how and when to open schools while cases of COVID-19 continue to increase.

As Schools Reopen, Beware These Five Problematic Management Styles

From Peter Greene (Curmudgucation) in Forbes
Not all schools are blessed with excellent management teams (a million teachers just rolled their eyes and said, “No kidding.”) But while schools can succeed in spite of bad management in the good times, in times of crisis, bad management can really derail the whole train. Trying to launch a school year during a pandemic with little to no help from state and federal governments will test every school district’s leadership team. Here are the management styles most likely to lead to disaster.

HS fall sports limit spectators at 4 Allen County districts

Just like professional sports teams, local school sports will limit spectators.

From Fort Wayne's NBC
Four of the school districts in Allen County will limit the number of fans allowed in the stands for fall sports to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Fort Wayne Community Schools, Southwest Allen County, Northwest Allen County, and Bishops Dwenger and Luers drafted a fan plan for fall dual events like football, soccer, cheerleading, cross country, tennis, united flag, and volleyball.

Reopening Schools Unsafely Will Not Solve Anything

We shouldn't open schools until we can guarantee student safety.

From Gadfly on the Wall Blog
Opening schools unsafely will not solve any of our problems.

In every case, it will make them worse.

Students don’t learn a lot when their teachers are in quarantine.

Children generally receive less socialization when their parents are hospitalized.

Kids with special needs will receive few accommodations on a respirator.

Childcare is the least of your worries when planning a funeral for a family member.

No matter what need schools usually meet, Coronavirus makes the situation worse.

Every. Time.

Dilemmas Facing Policymakers in Re-opening Schools

Mentioned in Diane RavitchLarry Cuban: The Best Post on Dilemmas of Reopening

From Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice
As part of his program of COVID-19 denial, Donald Trump has demanded that schools reopen in the fall, at risk of having their federal funding cut. His notion, ostensibly, is that if students go back to school, then parents can go back to full-time work. And if parents can go back to full-time work, then the economy will come zooming back to life, and he will ride that momentum to a reelection victory. Talk about your magical thinking.

In any event, the plan—if you can even call it that—is falling apart. On Monday, school officials in (liberal) Los Angeles County and (conservative) San Diego County both announced that they would begin the year with virtual instruction, and that they might eventually go to face-to-face, but they might not. Miami-Dade, which was specifically held out by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos as a model for other districts to follow as they reopen, is now tapping the breaks hard as Florida evolves into the nation’s #1 hotspot. Officials in Chicago, Houston, New York City, Washington, D.C., and other locales have also made clear that, at most, students will attend school in person a couple of days a week in fall.

There is no question that, under pandemic-free circumstances, students are best served by in-person instruction. But the barriers that school districts face under current circumstances are substantial. We’ve noted some of them already, but let’s put together a fuller list, all in one spot...


Biden Offers Hope for Turning Around Awful DeVos Education Policy

It's time to replace the current Education Secretary with one who supports public education. Register then VOTE in November!

From Jan Resseger
This summer some people have said it seems like deja vu all over again. In 2009, right after Barack Obama was elected President, Education Secretary Arne Duncan used over $4 billion of the public education dollars Congress had appropriated as part of a huge federal stimulus package and attached rules that made states adopt Duncan’s own pet programs in order to qualify for the money. Now Betsy DeVos and the Trump administration have distributed CARES Act dollars in a way that favors DeVos’s favorite charter schools and private schools at the expense of what she calls “government” schools—the ones our society counts on to serve 50 million of our children.

The Secretary of Education—and in the case of Payroll Protection Program dollars, the Small Business Administration—can control the distribution of education stimulus dollars, because dispersing relief money is administered by the administration without direct Congressional oversight unless prohibitions for particular practices are written into the enabling legislation.


Catholic Church Looks To Cash In On Espinoza

It's too bad that the Supreme Court has opened up the doors to sending tax dollars to private schools that are allowed to discriminate.

From Curmudgucation
Well, this is not exactly a surprise.

Now that SCOTUS has poked another huge hole in the wall between church and state, and now that the Catholic Church and the Trump administration have been forging closer ties over support for school choice (aka getting tax dollars to Catholic schools), and now that Betsy DeVos is insisting that financial aid intended for public schools should go to private schools-- now that all that is going on, it should come as no surprise that the Catholic Church is now arguing publicly to be given more taxpayer dollars.


Indiana charter, private schools get Paycheck Protection funds

From School Matters
Indiana charter schools were awarded between $15 million and $38 million in Paycheck Protection Program funding intended to help small businesses and nonprofits during the economic downturn, according to Small Business Administration data.

That is in addition to funding under a section of the CARES Act intended to help public schools; Indiana charter schools got $20.5 million in that funding.

The PPP figure is a conservative estimate. It doesn’t include schools that may have received less than $150,000, which were not identified by the SBA.

For awards over $150,000, the government did not provide specific amounts for the funding but rather listed a range of funds awarded to each school: for example, it might say a school received between $350,000 and 1 million.

At least 36 Indiana charter schools received funding via the program. Indiana private schools, nearly all of them religious schools, received even more.


The DFER Democrats Who Support the Betsy DeVos Agenda of “School Choice”

From Diane Ravitch
DFER (Democrats for Education Reform) is an organization founded by Wall Street hedge fund managers to support charter schools. They believe in privatization; they actively undermine public schools that belong to the community. They believe in high-stakes testing, and they strongly support evaluating teachers by the test scores of their students, although professional associations like the American Statistical Association does not. They love Teach for America, because they don’t like experienced professionals or teachers unions.

Their main function is to raise money for political candidates, which gives them immense leverage. Once a political candidate gets on the DFER recommended list, they can count on money flowing in from friends of DFER around the country. DFER does not have a large membership but it has a very rich following among hedge funders and venture capitalists.

*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, August 3, 2020

In Case You Missed It – August 3, 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: A Profile in Courage

Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction, Jennifer McCormick, refuses to divert money intended for public education to private schools.

From Diane Ravitch
Steve Hinnefeld writes here about a rare act of courage in a red state. Indiana State Superintendent Jennifer McCormick defied Betsy DeVos and has refused to hand out money from the CARES Act to private schools, without regard to need.

Superintendent McCormick told DeVos to stuff it. For her courage and independence, she goes on the blog’s honor roll.

Mixed picture for CARES Act school funding

Here is the article that Diane Ravitch referred to in her article, above.

From School Matters
The good news: In Indiana, at least, public school districts won’t need to worry about Betsy DeVos diverting their anticipated funding to private schools.

DeVos, the U.S. secretary of education, may still succeed in her scheme to use the act to boost funding for even the wealthiest private schools. But the Indiana Department of Education will make up any funds that are lost to public schools.

“The CARES Act was intended to assist those most in need …,” Indiana Superintendent of Public Education Jennifer McCormick told school officials. “COVID-19 has affected everyone, but not equally. It is my responsibility and IDOE’s obligation to ensure those most in need receive the appropriate support.”


Governor modifies schools' mandatory mask rule

Indiana's governor has eased restrictions for wearing masks in class...dependent on social distancing.

...the governor revised state guidance to say that students may remove their masks in the classroom when they are able to keep a distance of 3 to 6 feet from each other. Holcomb said the decision was the result of a consultation from the Indiana State Department of Health and the Indiana Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Holcomb’s executive order also extends the moratorium on evictions from rental properties and the prohibition on foreclosure filings through Aug. 14.

In light of the current restriction, Holcomb said local governments may impose further guidelines.

“This virus will take what we give it, so it is incumbent upon us to be on our best behavior, practicing physical distancing, good hygiene, and masking up,” Holcomb said in the release.


Under COVID-19, Indiana districts launch virtual schools. Can they succeed where some for-profit operators failed?

Public schools don’t try to profit off their virtual schooling.

From Chalkbeat Indiana*
Richard Brown was one of the thousands of Indiana parents faced with a difficult decision this month — weighing the psychological, educational, and social benefits of sending his two children back to school against the risk to the entire family’s health.

“We’ve got one shot to get this right,” Brown said, “If we make the wrong decision and one or both of our sons contracts this disease, scientifically, it’s not settled what the long-term effects on their health could be.”

As districts plowed forward with reopening plans, administrators across the state saw a surge in interest in virtual education, fueled in large part by parents like Brown, who feel it’s unsafe to send their children back into classrooms.


Schools that don’t physically reopen would lose out on most funding under Republican stimulus bill

The GOP wants to punish schools for trying to keep students safe.

From Chalkbeat*
For several weeks, President Trump has said that schools that didn’t reopen their buildings this fall could risk losing funding. Now, Senate Republicans have introduced a mechanism to make that a reality.

Their bill, which kicks off a final round of negotiations over an additional coronavirus stimulus package, includes $70 billion for K-12 public and private schools. But two-thirds of that money would only be accessible to schools if they offer some in-person instruction — something that schools in many parts of the country have decided is unsafe to do for now.

The reopening provision is a testament to the economic and political importance Republican lawmakers attach to reopening school buildings, and sets up school schedules to continue to serve as a flashpoint in the weeks ahead. It also may prove unpopular: national surveys of parents show that most remain wary of their children returning to schools while the country fails to control the coronavirus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention itself warned last week that schools in “hot spots” may not be able to reopen.


FWCS delays start of 2020-2021 school year

From Fort Wayne NBC
Fort Wayne's NBC News has learned that officials with the largest school system in the state have decided to push back the 2020-2021 school year.

Instead of beginning August 10, the start date is now August 13 so teachers can have additional training time to prepare for conducting classes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Click here for additional information about the FWCS back to school plan.


South Carolina: Governor Uses $48 Million in CARES Funds to Pay $32 million for Vouchers

This governor tried to divert 2/3 of the money from the CARES Act to private schools. Luckily, a circuit court judge in Orangeburg signed a temporary restraining order blocking disbursement of the funds.

From Diane Ravitch
Congress appropriated $13.2 billion for public schools to help them weather the coronavirus pandemic, which is causing cuts and layoffs.

South Carolina received $48 million in CARES funds.

Governor Henry McMaster has allotted $32 million of that total to underwrite vouchers for private schools.

*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.