Monday, November 30, 2020

In Case You Missed It – November 30, 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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No, There Really Doesn't Need To Be A Big Spring Test In 2021

Opening schools and closing schools repeatedly during the current pandemic has made things more difficult for teachers and students. Do we really need an annual achievement test to tell us how things are going? Peter Greene, who blogs at Curmudgucation, has a better idea.

From Curmudgucation
Finn is sure that there's a disaster brewing, and there's no question that schools are having a rough year of it and consequently students are not getting the kind of educational year that would better serve everyone. Testocrats like Finn are certain that we can't possibly address this without testing measurements. "America," Finn says, "won't know how bad the damage is or what needs fixing." Well, "America" is a pretty broad, unclear term. It's teachers and parents who are actually doing the work, and they've mostly been left on their own to do it.

And in a year when time is going to be a precious commodity, every single element of the school year has to be questioned--does this help my students move forward? BS Testing does not meet that measure. There are better, more important things for teachers to be doing than getting students prepped for the test and then administering it. And if "America" wants to know how things are going, I suggest that they ask the people who are doing the work. In fact, I suggest that state and federal leaders (and thinky tank gurus as well) get out of their offices and go ask teachers and parents, "What do you need? What can I do to help?" I am betting that nobody is going to answer, "Please, oh please, can you make sure that we give the Big Standardized Test this spring."


Denver: Turmoil Over Superintendent’s Exit

Why did this superintendent leave? Was it for personal reasons, or is it because of local "reformers"?

From Diane Ravitch
The superintendent of Denver Public Schools, Susana Cordova, resigned abruptly, and her departure was followed by finger pointing. Denver has been a hot spot for “reformers,” and it’s school board elections attract DFER, “Education Reform Now,” and other big-money donors from out of state.

I asked Jeanne Kaplan, a former DPS board member, to explain what’s going on. She sent me her comments and a statement released by the Colorado Latino Forum.


New Indiana law puts pressure on high schools to reduce home-school withdrawals

Hoosier legislators avoid the obvious solution of creating a state registration and accountability tracking for homeschoolers. Instead they seek to punish schools.

From Chalkbeat*
One in five Indiana high schools are facing scrutiny that could lead to lower graduation rates because they marked a large number of students who didn’t graduate as leaving to home-school.

The state will review over 100 schools under a new law that aims to stem the tide of students who leave without diplomas but are not counted as dropping out. Schools under audit must show that they have properly documented each withdrawal and that the students who withdrew were on track to graduate. Students who were behind on credits when they left will be re-categorized as having dropped out.

Statewide, schools claimed that about 3,200 Hoosier students who were expected to graduate in 2020 instead withdrew to home-school. The total reflected a dip from the prior year. A Chalkbeat investigation found that because the state does not track or oversee home schooling, it’s impossible to say how many of those students continued their education.


Defenders of US Public Schools Call on Biden to Ditch Trump's Disastrous Education Policies—and Obama's Too

NEIFPE was proud to join the coalition supporting public education highlighted in this article. Click here to read the Keep Your Promises letter.

From Common Dreams
"50.8 million children who attend real public schools need a secretary of education who will be their advocate, not an advocate for privatization," tweeted Carol Burris, a retired teacher and the executive director of the Network for Public Education (NPE), which led the effort to demand pro-public leadership in Biden's Department of Education.

In order to build a stronger and more just public education system, NPE penned a letter—which readers may sign—urging the Biden administration to pursue the following objectives:
  • Rebuild our nation's public schools, which have been battered by the pandemic, two decades of failed federal policy, and years of financial neglect;
  • Reject efforts to privatize public schools, whether those efforts be via vouchers or charter schools;
  • End the era of high-stakes standardized testing—in both the immediate future and beyond;
  • Promote diversity, desegregation (both among and within schools), and commit to eliminating institutional racism in school policy and practices; and
  • Promote educational practices that are child-centered, inquiry-based, intellectually challenging, culturally responsive, and respectful of all students' innate capacities and potential to thrive.


FWCS superintendent tests positive for COVID-19

Fort Wayne Community Schools Superintendent Dr. Mark Daniel has contracted the coronavirus.

The district confirmed Tuesday that Daniel tested positive last week for COVID-19. He reportedly began experiencing symptoms on Nov. 17, and he was tested that day.

He received a positive result on Wednesday and has been working from home since, the district said.

Daniel has fever, headache, cough and loss of taste and smell.

Daniel plans to remain at home until he is fever-free for 24 hours without fever-reducing medication and has diminishing symptoms, the district said.

FWCS turning to remote learning for all: Starting today; staff shortage prompts move

A free article from the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
A severe staff shortage in Fort Wayne Community Schools' transportation department is prompting a temporary shift to remote learning for all students beginning today.

The problem isn't a lack of bus drivers, district spokeswoman Krista Stockman said Monday. Rather, she said, it's a matter of too many office employees absent due to coronavirus illness or quarantine. She couldn't immediately quantify the shortage but said it affects most of the office staff.

“We don't have enough staff members in routing and dispatching to safely operate,” Stockman said by email.

FWCS buses transport more than 14,000 students each day, transportation Director Frank Jackson told the school board last month. This adds up to more than 6,000 daily stops along more than 1,000 routes, he said.

*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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