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.


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