Monday, September 28, 2020

In Case You Missed It – September 28, 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 chief backing Democrats

The Governor now appoints 82% of education policy-making in Indiana (the State Superintendent and eight of ten members of the State Board of Education). The general voting public has no input other than the election of the Governor. Voters in only two districts, one House and one Senate, control the rest because the leaders of the House and the Senate each appoint one member of the State Board of Education.

By their recent change in state law, the Republicans of the one-party government of Indiana have taken the public's voice out of public education.

Elections matter.

Vote for candidates for the House, Senate and the Governor's office who are supporters of PUBLIC education.

From School Matters
...McCormick can make a credible case that she didn’t desert the [Republican] party, the party deserted her. There was a time when Indiana Republicans supported public schools; at least, they supported their local public schools. The shift came in 2011, when Gov. Mitch Daniels got the GOP-controlled legislature to adopt school vouchers and expand charter schools. Today, many Hoosier Republicans have come very close to embracing the late economist Milton Friedman’s vision of a “universal” voucher program of unrestricted state support for private schools.

But McCormick, former superintendent of Indiana’s Yorktown school district, has been an outspoken advocate for public schools. Every time she spoke out for public school districts, you could see Republicans edging further away. When she announced in 2018 that she wouldn’t seek re-election, she implied that she was being elbowed aside. Legislators promptly changed the law so Indiana’s governor will appoint the state’s next chief education officer, starting in 2021.


DeVos Has No Plan

DeVos, who faces accusations of violating the Hatch Act, needs to go. She is harming public schools and children who are not selected by private schools. If you want to get rid of her, vote her administration out!

From Curmudgucation
There are so many things that DeVos could have said in an interview like this, like "We know that the disease is very scary, and as we learn more about it we are taking aggressive steps to protect students and staff so that parents can feel more secure" or "We are mobilizing all sorts of resources so that if schools decide to do distance learning, we'll back them up with technology and training, and if schools decide to open, we'll back them up with the latest guidance and with PPE and supplies to help them out" or even anything that starts with "I have a plan, and here's how it goes..."

But that's not what's happening here. There's no plan, beyond "let the parents sort it all out." Maybe we're just seeing the limits of the Federal Hands Off philosophy. Or what we're seeing is what lies at the heart of the voucher philosophy-- we want to give you some money and after that, you're on your own. After we shoot you some funds, we wash our hands of you. We want to make sure you have choices, but we will not take any steps to make sure that those choices are any good. That's your problem.


The hell that is remote learning, explained in a comic

Some parents are struggling to balance work, work from home, and helping their children with remote learning. Here's a graphic-article from a parent's point of view.

From Vox
As a parent of remote learners, here's roughly what I need to do each day: log the kids into their classes on time, take pictures of their homework and upload them to the correct portals, make sure their devices stay charged, keep them engaged in their live class sessions, help them with all of the asynchronous learning (watching videos, completing assignments, etc.), give them breaks when they start to come apart from too much Zoom school.


Teachers forced to adapt: Balance virtual instruction, socially distanced classes

This is the second in a three-day series about what it's like to teach during the coronavirus pandemic.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Zoom became a popular digital teaching assistant for one Fort Wayne area teacher, and Google Meet held promise for another.

Plexiglas dividers on tables keep students separate in a private school, and one middle school teacher began learning to live by the concept that a plan that cannot be changed is not a good plan.

The Journal Gazette asked educators throughout Allen County to share what it's been like to prepare for a school year during a pandemic.

Newer FWCS teachers feel fortunate: They're learning anew, as are senior colleagues

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
[New FWCS teacher Samara] Carroll had some pandemic-related concerns, she said, but the worries weren't enough to prevent her from applying to Bunche, where she student taught last year.

“I'm glad that this position opened up here, for sure,” Carroll said.

Although it's not easy to begin a new job during the pandemic, she said it's comforting to know experienced teachers aren't facing the status quo either.

“We're all learning new procedures together,” Carroll said.

Teachers share their challenges: COVID-19 altering routines, large and small

Here are some comments about teaching during a pandemic...from the teachers who are doing it.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
[Teachers'] answers illustrate the countless ways classrooms and teaching have changed since mid-March:

• A New Haven Intermediate School educator described the challenge of having to start the academic year teaching remotely from her kitchen because a relative tested positive for COVID-19.

• A Canterbury teacher wrote about the efforts to prevent spreading germs by keeping students and their belongings separate. Strategies are as detailed as labeling each crayon and marker with students' names.

• A Carroll High School science teacher summarized the three types of classrooms educators planned – a traditional classroom, a remote-learning classroom and a classroom supporting ill students or those quarantined.

• A Northwest Allen County Schools first grade teacher wrote about creating a classroom in her basement to prepare for leading a group of remote learners.

**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, September 21, 2020

In Case You Missed It – September 21, 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.


Republican Jennifer McCormick endorses Democrat Woody Myers for governor

Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction, Jennifer McCormick, has spent the last four years at the helm of the Indiana Department of Education and has seen who supports public education and who doesn't.

From IndyStar
Republican Jennifer McCormick has endorsed the top Indiana Democrat running for office.

The superintendent of public instruction will back Dr. Woody Myers for governor, IndyStar has learned exclusively. In her extraordinary decision not to back the governor from her own party, she cited Myers' intellect, concern and commitment to education.

“Indiana’s students deserve leadership that invests in their future," McCormick said. "Educators need leadership that will provide support and resources to meet their complex responsibilities."


DeVos to State Ed Chiefs: Don’t Even Think About Testing Waivers This Year.

According to US Education Secretary DeVos, nothing is more important than testing...even when that testing is misused to provide evaluations of teachers and schools.

From deutsch29: Mercedes Schneider's Blog
...DeVos does not even bother with arguments against ESSA-mandated testing in pandemic-saturated 2020-21– just a wafture of her testing-slanted hand to any criticism on that front.

How come? Well, because “opponents of reform, like labor unions”:

Opponents of reform, like labor unions, have already begun to call for the permanent elimination of testing. If they succeed in eliminating assessments, transparency and accountability will soon follow.
So, if the tests go, then the psychometrically unsound practice of using student test scores to grade teachers and schools is threatened. Oh, but no! We cannot allow the testing-to-grade-others to be threatened, and anyone who threatens testing is “like labor unions.” If you oppose test-centric ed, you are Like Labor Unions, the worst of insults in DeVos-think.

There is no pandemic that can stop DeVos and her ESSA tests. She tells the state chiefs whom she is willfully ignoring that she is here for them to “help ensure every state can meaningfully assesses student performance during SY 2020-2021.”


Grade card: Most area lawmakers fail in evaluation of support for public schools

Does your local legislator support public education over privatization? Chances are, the answer is "no."

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
...the Republican Party's state election committee has a different measure of results than the Indiana Coalition for Public Education, which awarded that same lawmaker a D based on his votes on nine pieces of legislation. The coalition's legislative report card looked at bills “that diverted taxpayers' money away from public schools, damaged public control of education, or either supported or harmed public education.”

The Fort Wayne Republican wasn't the only member of the General Assembly to earn a D. All but one northeast Indiana Republican facing reelection earned Ds. Rep. Curt Nisly, R-Milford, earned a C. He bucked his party leaders in opposing House Bill 1005 in the 2019 session. The bill moved up the date for abolishing the elected office of the state superintendent of public instruction by four years. The bill was approved and the next governor will appoint a state schools chief effective Jan. 11, 2021.

House Minority Leader Phil Gia-Quinta, D-Fort Wayne, was the sole area lawmaker to earn an A. The only grade of F also went to an area lawmaker, Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn. He was the only member of the General Assembly to vote against this year's HB 1002, which suspends the requirement to use test scores as a measure on teacher evaluations. The legislation was introduced in the wake of the state's latest standardized testing debacle. ILEARN, the “computer-adaptive” test replacing ISTEP+, produced sharply decreased scores in the spring of 2019.


Youth cases rise as school begins: Officials blame socializing away from buildings

Why are public schools always tasked with solving societal problems that municipalities and legislatures can't solve? Here we have the current national health crisis being dumped on public schools across the country. In Allen County, cases of COVID-19 among children has grown since schools opened for face-to-face instruction. Are teachers and adult school workers, who are more at risk for serious outcomes of positive COVID-19 diagnoses than their students, provided with enough personal protective equipment to protect themselves?

A free article from the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Thousands of Hoosier students have tested positive for COVID-19 since school began, an analysis of statewide data shows.

During a five-month period from early March through the end of July, 6,178 people in the 0-19 age range tested positive for the new coronavirus, according to data from the Indiana State Department of Health. But that number has ballooned in recent weeks as kids returned to K-12 schools and colleges.

From Aug. 1 to Sept. 13 – less than two months – an additional 7,366 youths have tested positive.

Allen County had 326 cases in the lowest age range through July. Since then, the county added 309 cases in less than half that time. About 18% of all of Allen County's cases in the youngest age bracket came during the first 13 days of September.

The age range covers all K-12 students and some college students, along with a small number of children not yet attending school.


Virus spurs teacher exits: Some quit, calling risk too great, protections too little

The US was already facing a critical teacher shortage. As teachers choose to protect themselves against the coronavirus, the shortage will increase. Who will be teaching your children?

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
A spring USA Today/Ipsos poll of about 500 K-12 educators found 20% of teachers were unlikely to return to school if classrooms reopened in fall. About that time, an EdWeek Research Center survey of almost 2,000 educators nationwide found 20% were somewhat or very likely to leave the classroom at the end of the 2019-20 academic year compared with 9% who felt that way before the pandemic. Last month, the National Education Association reported its nationwide poll of educators found 28% were more likely to retire early or leave the profession because of COVID-19.

Locally, the Fort Wayne Education Association in August asked teachers whether they were considering not returning to their position because of health concerns. About 29% of 2,040 respondents said yes. A link to the informal, Google form survey was on the union's website and promoted on social media. Most participants identified themselves as FWCS educators.

**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, September 14, 2020

In Case You Missed It – September 14, 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.


Republican Indiana schools chief endorses Democratic candidate for attorney general

Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction, Jennifer McCormick, is in a class by herself. How many Republicans nationally, have had the courage to go against their local or national Republican leadership? The answer is not very many. It's true that she's at the end of her term and hasn't expressed any interest in running for other positions, so perhaps that has something to do with it.

On the other hand, McCormick isn't new to crossing political lines. When she ran for the state's top education position she denied that campaign donations from school "reformers" would influence the way she ran her Department of Education, and she followed through on that promise. For four years she's been an advocate for public education just as strongly as her Democratic predecessor, Glenda Ritz. She also spent some time earlier in the election cycle, touring with Democratic State Senator, Eddie Melton, who was considering a run for governor.

The bad news is that McCormick is the last elected state Superintendent of Public Instruction. From now on, the Governor will make an appointment for that position -- as well as for the majority of members of the state school board. That will make things easier for the Republicans in the state, though not for Indiana's public schools.

From the South Bend Tribune
The Republican state schools chief is crossing party lines to endorse the Democratic candidate for Indiana attorney general.

Jennifer McCormick, the state superintendent of public instruction, announced Thursday she’s backing former Evansville Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel over Republican former U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita, a Munster native, in the Nov. 3 election for attorney general.

“This isn’t about politics,” McCormick said. “This is about who has the experience, the integrity and the vision to best represent all Hoosiers, especially our children.”


Court affirms McCormick’s position on private school funding

Superintendent McCormick hasn't just worked against state Republicans. She also stood up to US Secretary of Education, and ultra-privatizer, billionaire Betsy DeVos.

DeVos wanted states to take pandemic money and send piles of it to private schools. McCormick said no. A fight ensued. McCormick won.

From Steve Hinnefeld at School Matters
Indiana Superintendent of Public Education Jennifer McCormick was on solid legal ground when she rejected federal guidance on distributing CARES Act funding to private schools. Three federal courts have now made that clear.

Most recently, in a decision that applies nationwide, a judge ruled that Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos was wrong when she and the U.S. Department of Education tried to divert more funding to private schools than Congress intended.

“In enacting the education funding provisions of the CARES Act, Congress spoke with a clear voice,” wrote U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich. “It declared that relief funding shall be provided to private schools ‘in the same manner as provided’ (in federal school funding law). Contrary to the Department’s interim final rule, that cannot mean the opposite of what it says.”

Strike Three! Another Federal Court Ends A Betsy DeVos Plan To Use Public Money For Private Schools

From Peter Greene in Forbes
Judge Dabney Friedrich, the U.S. District Judge for the District of Columbia (and a Trump appointee) this week became the third federal judge to stymie Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’s plan to direct additional CARES money to private schools. This ruling is the most decisive of the three, not merely imposing an injunction but issuing a summary judgement against the secretary.

The issues was this: Congress set aside some CARES relief money to be distributed among public and private schools based on the number of students from low-income families. DeVos issued first a guidance, then a ruling, that the funds should be passed on to private schools based on total enrollment rather than low-income enrollment. This would have had the effect of steering CARES funds away from public schools and toward private schools, a long-time DeVos goal.


FWCS elementary teachers to teach in-person or remote, not both

Fort Wayne Community Schools has changed class structures for elementary classroom after a month of school. It's good that the administration is willing to change when something is not working well. On the other hand, more planning during the summer could have prevented the need to make this change.

Some Fort Wayne Community Schools students could have new teachers starting next week.

In a letter to parents Wednesday, Superintendent Dr. Mark Daniel said the district was making some “adjustments” to ensure students are educated.

The adjustment: elementary teachers will teach either in-person or fully remote, rather than teaching both ways in a single classroom. Daniel said a survey of teachers last week overwhelmingly supported the change.

“While teachers may have liked the idea of having a classroom with some students in person and some remote, it turned out to not be a practical or effective way to teach young students,” said Daniel. “We believe the changes we are making will alleviate those frustrations and provide a better learning experience for all.”


Standardized Testing: Indispensable to Those Who Are Not Subjected to It.

Who benefits from standardized tests...other than testing companies?

From deutsch29 Mercedes Schneider's Blog
This is what standardized testing has been in public schools across America ever since No Child Left Behind (NCLB):

It’s like some president-backed, bipartisan Congress decided that we need to measure student physical health based on student weight. Of course, student physical health is by far too complex a concept to be captured by student weight, but let’s just put that reality aside in favor of the appearance of being able to pack a huge, complex package into a matchbox by getting those kids on the scale and putting the onus on teachers and schools to make students weight what the state (answering to the federal government in exchange for funding) decides those students should weigh.

Now, it is ridiculous on its face to hold teachers and schools responsible for student weight– which is why no bathroom scale company will guarantee that their scales are meant to be used to determine anything beyond the weight of the person standing on the scale. However, that president-backed, bipartisan Congress has decided that schools and teachers must ensure that their students achieve some predetermined optimal weight.

So. Weight-prep programs are instituted for students at risk of not achieving their state-determined optimal weights, the point of which is to drill students in scale-optimizing strategies (i.e., where to stand on the scale in order to make the weight appear higher or lower; how to push down on the scale to “weigh more”). In order to make time in the school day for these at-risk weighers to be drilled and redrilled, they must miss lunch, group sports, and playtime, but what is important to the school and to the teacher is achieving the optimal weight number so that we can tout that number, tag the student as physically healthy, keep our jobs, and collect federal dollars.


Monday, September 7, 2020

In Case You Missed It – September 7, 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.


If Joe Biden becomes the new president in January, who should he choose for the position of Secretary of Education?

Who Should Biden Pick As Education Secretary?

From Peter Greene in Forbes
A couple of weeks ago, Wesley Whistle here at addressed the question “Who Might Biden Pick As Education Secretary?” There’s a worthwhile discussion to be had on that topic, but let’s talk instead about who should be Biden’s secretary of education.

Of course, he has to win first. But Joe Biden comes into the race carrying the education baggage of the Obama administration, and an announcement of a good ed secretary, even a short list, could help whip up some teacher enthusiasm. Also, it’s far more pleasant to imagine what Biden could do than to contemplate more years of Betsy DeVos in the office.

Biden pledged to appoint a “public school teacher” back in the days when all the cool Democratic kids were making the promise. Candidates make lots of promises, but for the purpose of this discussion, let’s pretend he’s going to keep this one. That’s several million possible candidates for the job. Here’s how to narrow the field.

Choose a Teacher!

From Live Long and Prosper
...knowing anything about K-12 public education has rarely, if ever, been a requirement for the job of U.S. Secretary of Education.

It's time to change that!

...Most American public school teachers know more about public education than most of the previous Secretaries of Education, and it's likely that any public school teacher in America knows more about public education than Betsy DeVos.


Public's education: Holcomb's perceived indifference should rile voters

Beginning in 2021, Indiana's State Superintendent of Public Instruction will be appointed by the Governor. This means that the Governor will appoint 9 of the 11 members of the Indiana State Board of Education. We can blame the legislature for this. In 2012, Democrat Glenda Ritz unseated Republican Tony Bennett as State Superintendent and that angered the Republican leadership in the General Assembly. Since Indiana's gerrymandered electorate has provided for more than a dozen years of Republican single party rule, the legislature decided that it should not be up to the people to decide to elect a public education advocate to run the Indiana DOE.

Governor Holcomb has ignored public education advocates.

Elections matter. Support public education candidates for the state legislature as well as the governor's office.

Check out the Legislative Report Card from the Indiana Coalition for Public Education, here.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Indiana faces countless challenges in recovering from the pandemic. Perhaps none is more important than how the state addresses its public schools. In addition to educating almost 89% of Indiana students, public schools are a foundation of our American ideals: They offer equal opportunity and access to learning. They prepare students for citizenship. They create a rare unifying experience in a rapidly splintering nation.

The Indiana Coalition for Public Education, whose members advocate for equitable, well-funded public schools accountable to democratic oversight in their communities, invited Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb and Democratic challenger Dr. Woody Myers to share their views at a virtual annual meeting Saturday.

The governor did not participate. Myers, the former Indiana state health commissioner, gave a full-throated endorsement of public schools.


ISTA Statement on State Board Proposal to Change School Count Date

From the Indiana State Teachers Association
While there is no perfect solution, we believe the proposal before the State Board to essentially hold schools harmless, based on whether a student was being taught virtually or in person prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, offers the best plan going forward. We also support the proposed changes that ensure our public schools using any form of virtual learning during the pandemic rightfully receive full funding. Finally, the proposal does not require altering the timing of collective bargaining, providing much needed clarity for our local associations.


Our past and our future: Electric Works would be a link in city's tradition of education

From Wendy Robinson in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Fort Wayne has always been a city that takes our destiny into our own hands.

When tough times come, we don't sit by and wait for someone to save us. We excel at taking lemons and turning them into lemonade.

When other Midwestern cities were losing manufacturing jobs and becoming another notch on the country's Rust Belt, Fort Wayne sought out new businesses in diverse industries. This helped us not only recover in the 1980s but poised the region for continued economic growth for the following decades.

When a flood ravaged the city in 1982, not only did we recover and use the opportunity to improve the city's flood mitigation, we developed a magnificent downtown attraction in Headwaters Park.

As other urban centers watched as residents moved to the suburbs, leaving neighborhoods and schools to fall into decay, Fort Wayne continued to support its public schools. Through strong partnerships that support students and the passage of three building referendums to keep neighborhood anchors in place, Fort Wayne Community Schools remains a vibrant school corporation with rigorous educational programs preparing students to be the next leaders in our region.

That is why it is shocking that as a city we are on the brink of losing the most exciting economic development opportunity since Harrison Square catapulted our downtown revitalization.


FWCS board may consider re-revision of public comment rules

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Along with everything else these COVID-colored days, Fort Wayne Community Schools board meetings continue to be far from ordinary, with social distancing and masked participants. Board member Tom Smith raised the possibility this week of making another change: allowing public comments before board meetings are adjourned.

“Over the past month or so, I've had a number of people email me about an issue they don't understand or would like to know more about, and that it is the board's policy of holding off public comment until after our meeting is adjourned,” Smith said Monday, noting the cable TV and online broadcasts end before those comments are heard.

“They ask me, 'Why is that?' And I tell them I really don't know – that happened before my term on the board,” Smith said. “But I think that's a really important discussion and I think this board should review that policy from time to time.”

He asked for the issue to be placed on the agenda for the next board meeting.

**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