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.

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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.


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