Monday, October 19, 2020

In Case You Missed It – October 19, 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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School vouchers and a Supreme Court nominee

From School Matters
Barrett served from 2015-17 on the board of Trinity School at Greenlawn, a South Bend Catholic school, the New York Times reported. Trinity had a policy during Barrett’s time on the board that effectively prohibited same-sex couples from enrolling their children in the school, according to the Times.

That would seem to cast doubt on Barrett’s claim in her confirmation hearing that she had “never discriminated on the basis of sexual preference” and would not do so. It also raises policy questions about whether publicly funded institutions should practice discrimination.

In the two years that Barrett was on the Trinity board, the school received over a half million dollars in Indiana voucher program funding. Since the start of the state’s voucher program, Trinity School at Greenlawn has received nearly $2 million in state support for student tuition.


Still no payoff: Teacher salary study unconscionably tardy

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Honors for the slowest study in Indiana history surely must go to Gov. Eric Holcomb's teacher pay commission. Beginning with its closed-door meetings, tardy public input sessions and, now, a delay in the release of its final report until after Nov. 3, the panel's work looks more like a stalling tactic than any real effort to address lagging teacher salaries or inform Hoosiers.

After nearly two years of study, there's no excuse for waiting to release information until after Election Day. What's in the report or recommendations the administration doesn't want voters to see?

Holcomb announced the seven-member study commission in his 2019 State of the State address, pledging to “make teacher pay competitive with surrounding states.” Data at the time showed Indiana teachers, on average, earned $50,554, but starting pay was as low as $30,000. Neighboring states paid much more: An average $61,600 in Illinois and $57,000 in Ohio, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

A report from the Rockefeller Institute found Indiana educators, on average, made only $6,900 more a year in 2017 than they earned in 2002, for the smallest pay increase in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Adjusted for inflation, Indiana teacher salaries decreased by 15% over the 15-year period, according to the Indiana Department of Education.

In addition to prompting Holcomb to appoint the study commission, the figures compelled the General Assembly to increase education spending in the last biennial budget, although the increased funding also included $37.5 million in new benefits for charter and voucher schools.


How Are American Teachers Doing, Really?

From Peter Greene in Forbes
Imagine you’ve got a business, housed in the basement of a single building. A tremendous storm sweeps in, and the basement floods—standing water, four inches deep. Some workers are asked to stay at their station, working ankle deep in water. Others are moved to the first floor, forced to use unfamiliar equipment that they must learn to use on the fly while trying to do something that is kind of, but not really, like their usual work. Nobody knows when the storm is going to end, or when the basement will be pumped dry.

You would think that upper levels of management might send someone in to check up on the workers. To see how they’re doing, what problems they’re encountering, maybe even ask what can be done to help or hire extra people to deal with the extra work the chaos creates.

You would think.

But in the pandemic storm of U.S. education right now, that’s mostly not what’s happening. Across the nation, we have next to no data about how things are working, about how teachers and students are holding up, about what resources schools need.


NACS school closes to students: Remote learning instituted after rise in COVID cases

A free article from the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
An influx of COVID-19 cases at a Northwest Allen County middle school is prompting a week of remote learning for that building, the district announced Sunday evening.

Maple Creek Middle School's extracurricular and after-school activities also are canceled, but they could be rescheduled as early as the week of Oct. 19, the district said.

Teachers will work on-site this week, the district said, and custodial staff will thoroughly clean the school.

The pivot from in-person classes followed an increase of confirmed COVID-19 cases at Maple Creek in the past two weeks, the district said.

“Because of the number of students being quarantined at the moment, and because of the number of confirmed cases during such a short period of time, we are taking extra steps to help keep our students safe and on track,” Principal Bill Toler said in a statement.

The COVID-19 cases include students in each grade level and appear to have originated from a variety of sources, the district said.

The number of confirmed cases at Maple Creek – which enrolled about 900 students in grades 6-8 last academic year – represents about 1% of the school's on-site student population, the district said. The district has said about 86% of NACS students opted for on-site instruction this year.


Wisconsin, South Carolina: Two Teachers Die of COVID-19

From Diane Ravitch
Yesterday, I posted an article by an economist who wrote that schools are not super spreaders, and that the rate of transmission of COVID has been very low among students and teachers. Some readers got angry at me for posting this article. Let me be clear that I am not a scientist or a doctor. I do not know whether it is safe to reopen schools. I am as uncertain about the right course of action as many other people.

I am not qualified to offer any guidance. The decision about reopening depends on the community and expert judgment. Everyone should follow the science, wear a mask, practice social distancing both indoors and outside, and wash their hands frequently. It may be safe to reopen schools in some places but not safe in other places. What is important to know is that the COVID is surging again in many states, that the infection rate is rising nationally, and that this is a contagious and deadly disease. Be informed.

The stories below tell what happened to two teachers. They loved teaching; their students loved them. It is not clear where they became infected with the disease.


Science teacher challenges Banks for House seat

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Chip Coldiron is the latest Democrat who will try to end the Republican Party's domination of northeast Indiana's 3rd Congressional District.

It's a tall order: Second-term Republican Rep. Jim Banks captured nearly 68% of all votes cast in the district in the 2016 and 2018 general elections. Among Hoosiers in the U.S. House, only Democratic Rep. Pete Visclosky received a larger share of ballots – 73.4% in the northwest 1st District – over those two elections.

First-time candidate Coldiron won a four-candidate Democratic primary contest in June, while Banks clobbered his GOP primary opponent.

If Banks defeats Coldiron in the Nov. 3 general election, it would be the 14th straight victory since 1994 for a Republican candidate in the 3rd District.

The district consists of Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, Jay, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben, Wells and Whitley counties and parts of Kosciusko and Blackford counties. House terms are for two years, and the job pays $174,000 a year.

The Journal Gazette recently interviewed Banks and Coldiron. Their answers have been edited for clarity and space.

Why voters should elect each candidate to Congress...

**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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