Monday, December 21, 2020

In Case You Missed It – December 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.

Note: The next posting of NEIFPE's In Case You Missed it, will be on January 4, 2020
Bye, Betsy!


Borowitz: Betsy DeVos Leaves with a Warning

From Diane Ravitch
Andy Borowitz, a humorist for The New Yorker, says that Betsy DeVos is worried that Biden might actually appoint an educator to run the U.S. Department of Education.

He begins:
WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Calling the prospect a “nightmare scenario,” Betsy DeVos warned that President-elect Joe Biden will pick an Education Secretary with a background in education.

The outgoing Education Secretary warned that putting someone with a “pro-education bias” in her job would be like “naming a fox to be Secretary of Hens.”

“For the past four years, I have worked tirelessly to keep our schools free from education,” she said. “It deeply saddens me to think that all of my hard work will go to waste.”


Virtual program switches school districts after Indiana scrutinizes stipends

It seems like Indiana will never learn.

From Chalkbeat*
After drawing scrutiny from the state, a school that offers Indiana families financial support to educate their children at home is switching to a new district partner.

Tech Trep Academy, a Utah-based company, opened its first Indiana program this year through a partnership with the Middlebury Community Schools district outside Elkhart. The unusual school uses state education funding to give parents $1,700 stipends for classes and materials to educate their children at home. Parents can provide much of the instruction, with help and oversight from certified educators.

But just weeks after Tech Trep Academy began enrolling students in Indiana, the state notified Middlebury officials that reimbursing families for purchases violated a law that bars schools from offering enrollment incentives. To avoid running afoul of the law, the school told parents that it would make purchases for them directly from vendors.

After the state flagged the issue, Middlebury officials decided they had had enough...

Instead of closing the school, which enrolls about 165 students, the district worked with Tech Trep to find a new partner. Next semester, the school will move under the auspices of the Cloverdale Community Schools, a 1,000-student district in a farming community near Greencastle.


Six Arguments For Giving The Big Standardized Tests This School Year (And Why Biden’s Education Secretary Should Ignore Them)

Here are some bad reasons to test during the pandemic...bad reasons to test at all.

From Peter Greene in Forbes
Last year, in the face of general pandemic chaos, states canceled the annual Big Standardized Test, if not with Betsy DeVos’s blessing, at least with her consent. But DeVos has signaled that similar waivers from this year’s test would not be given on her watch. Now that her watch is soon to end, what about the next secretary of education?

Testing is a billion-dollar industry. In Texas alone, the annual cost of administering the test is approaching $100 million. Shutting down the tests two years running will be a costly proposition for testing companies, so it’s not surprising that pressure is mounting for states to commit to administering a test this year, particularly with a new education secretary on the horizon.

Across the nation, certain pro-testing arguments keep surfacing. Here are some of the most common, and why neither state nor federal authorities should be swayed by them.


Be prepared for change, FWCS families urged

A free article from the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Winter break won't begin for Fort Wayne Community Schools students until Friday, but Superintendent Mark Daniel already is assigning homework to families – make backup plans for when classes resume Jan. 4.

“Because we do not know what our area will look like in two weeks, families should be prepared for any scenario,” Daniel said in a letter to families Tuesday. “This will be true not just for the start of the second semester but for many months to come.”

He suggests that families plan for fully remote learning. FWCS tries to give as much notice as possible about switches in learning formats, he said, but changes could be announced for a school or the district with little warning because illness – not planned time off – is involved.


Corona: Cut vouchers to pay teachers

The Commission’s report on teacher pay has finally been released and reports what we knew all along - teacher pay needs to increase. Unfortunately, Governor Holcomb can postpone any teacher increase since there are more pressing needs due to COVID-19.

Furthermore, most of the suggestions just pass the buck back to cash-strapped local school districts rather than doing much at the state level.

FWCS Board member, Steve Corona, has a better idea.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
The 37 ideas a state panel recommended for raising teacher pay did not include one approach that a Fort Wayne Community Schools board member would like lawmakers to consider.

"My suggestion, in addition to those 37 recommendations, is that the General Assembly looks at seriously cutting the amount of money they will budget for vouchers," board member Steve Corona said. "If they're serious about raising teacher pay in public schools, this is the fund that they need to take a look at."

Corona pitched his ideas during the board meeting Monday, hours after the Next Level Teacher Compensation Commission released a 183-page report with recommendations for short- and long-term approaches to increasing average teacher pay to at least $60,000 in Indiana.

Panel: Teachers deserve $60,000

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
The Next Level Teacher Compensation Commission on Monday released a 183-page report with 37 recommendations for short- and long-term approaches to increasing average teacher pay to at least $60,000 in Indiana.

The suggestions for school districts include limiting health care plans and passing operating referendums. State-level options include shifting money from a generous college tax credit and raising state taxes.

"There is a gap between competitive pay and Indiana's current teacher salaries, and it has contributed to many challenges facing our education system today," the report said.

"Fewer students are enrolling in or completing teacher preparation programs, and fewer Hoosiers are earning teaching licenses. While there are varying opinions among the public about whether there is a 'teacher shortage,' the data is clear: Indiana has significant challenges in attracting and retaining qualified teachers."

Indiana report calls for $600 million more from districts, state to increase teacher pay

From Chalkbeat*
A report released Monday pressures Indiana school districts to pay a large part of the estimated $600 million a year needed to raise teacher pay. But it acknowledges the state also must substantially increase funding to make salaries more competitive.

Gov. Eric Holcomb’s teacher pay commission has been working on the recommendations for nearly two years. The commission calls for increasing average teacher salaries to $60,000 per year, up from about $51,000.

The report includes 37 recommendations to increase teacher pay. About a dozen suggestions offer ways for local districts to trim costs or increase revenue, including reducing healthcare spending, cutting staff, and asking voters for property tax increases.

Commission recommends $60K average salary for Indiana teachers

A state commission studying how to make Indiana’s teacher pay competitive with surrounding states has come up with a solution – pay them more.

The Next Level Teacher Compensation Commission on Monday released its report on improving teacher compensation in Indiana. The commission’s 182-page final report details a “gap” between competitive pay and Indiana’s current teacher salaries, which contributes to the challenges plaguing the state’s education system.

The commission found that Indiana’s average teacher salary of $51,119 in the 2018-19 school year ranked 38th for average teacher salaries out of the 50 states and Washington, D.C. The state’s teacher pay fell 18 percent below the national average, the report 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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