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


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