Monday, June 21, 2021

In Case You Missed It – June 21, 2021

Here are links to the last two week's articles receiving the most attention on NEIFPE's social media accounts. 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 new Follow Us By Email box in the right-hand column to be informed when our blog posts are published.
RACISM AND CRITICAL RACE THEORY

Critical Race Theory is "...an academic movement of civil-rights scholars and activists who seek to critically examine the law as it intersects with issues of race and to challenge mainstream liberal approaches to racial justice. Critical race theory examines social, cultural and legal issues as they relate to race and racism."

Schools don't "teach" Critical Race Theory, but state legislatures and school boards around the country are coming out against the "teaching" of Critical Race Theory in public schools. Is teaching that the first enslaved people arrived on North American shores in 1619 (and earlier) untrue? Is teaching that the Constitution had slavery clauses embedded within it teaching children to hate America? Is teaching about slavery, Jim Crow, and the failure of Reconstruction anti-American?

Of course not. Racism exists. Race as a source of conflict in the United States exists. Race has had an impact on the laws, history, and people of our country. Teaching about that impact is not anti-American. It does not mean that schools are "indoctrinating" children to hate America. It means that we teach children who we are...the good and the bad.

Public Schools Are Not Indoctrinating Kids About Racism. Voucher Schools ARE

From Gadfly on the Wall Blog
Republican frenzy has reached a fever pitch with attacks in at least 16 states on schools that allegedly teach Critical Race Theory.

Right-wingers claim public schools are indoctrinating America’s youth in lies and deception about race and racism – namely the “lie” that these things remain problems.

They grudgingly concede that racism was a (slight) problem in this country before the civil rights movement, but then Rosa sat down and Martin stood up and – POOF – racism was over.

End of story. Let’s move on.

However, there are several things wrong with this besides its basic reductivism.

First, no public school actually teaches Critical Race Theory.

Second, racism is not over in the US, and talking about the facts of history and how they led to our current situation is not indoctrination. It’s education – the job of public schools.

And finally, if you really want to see taxpayer funded indoctrination, look at private and parochial schools accepting taxpayer funding through voucher and tax credit programs.

Using Critical Race Theory To Target... Everything

Critical race theory- people who have no idea what it is are twisting it to gag the teaching of real and accurate history.

From Curmudgucation
...The vast majority of people talking about and talking against critical race theory have no clear idea of what it is, and so it is being used as a bludgeon against everything unpopular or controversial. Florida Citizens Alliance, one of the many anti-CRT groups popping up around the country talks about "the many tentacles" of CRT; those tentacles include "'equity', 'diversity', BLM, 1619 project, social emotional learning, etc." They consider it a CRT red flag if a textbook claims to use culturally sensitive teaching. Parents Defending Education, one of the leading astro-turf groups in the fight is against "indoctrination" and wants a return to "non-political" education, and they want you to know that Americans (at least the real ones) hate "woke" policies. Nevada Family Alliance is opposed to the "victim/oppressor worldview" pushed by schools that are indoctrinating students to "lead the effort to accomplish 'social justice'".

CRT is everything, everywhere.

It's fitting that some of these folks have linked CRT to Common Core, because the playbook is much the same. Define the term broadly, apply it to anything you don't like, dig up some wacky examples, raise some hell. (And don't forget to throw in some accusations of Marxism.)

There are several emerging trends.
Florida’s New Critical Race Theory Gag Rule Will Have A Chilling Effect in Classrooms.

From Peter Greene in Forbes
...states have passed, or are considering, legislation that bans broad topics such as “divisive ideas” or the idea that an individual, “by virtue of his or her race or sex is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive.” Oklahoma’s law says that the concepts such as the idea that “any individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race or sex” can’t be made part of a course. The list is typically composed of characteristics that opponents of critical race theory claim it contains.

But Board of Education member Tom Grady took Florida’s rule a step further by explicitly banning Critical Race Theory and the 1619 Project, as well as explicitly forbidding any idea that racism is in any way systemic or “embedded in American society.”

The rule manages to be both specific and vague at the same time; like many of these bills, it offers a definition of CRT that proponents of CRT would not necessarily recognize. Attempts to clarify are not necessarily helpful; when asked the department about teaching the Ocoee massacre, a 1920 attack by a white mob on a Black community, a reporter was told, apparently in writing, “The Ocoee massacre was a historical event. Like all historical events, it will be taught thoroughly.”

Justin Parmenter: North Carolina Tries to Control What Teachers Teach

From Diane Ravitch
NCBT Teacher Justin Parmenter writes here about the reaction of the Republican-controlled Legislature to their rampant fear that teachers might try to indoctrinate students into radical views of American history and society, like discussing shameful episodes in the past. The legislators want patriotic history that makes students proud to be Americans. First they passed a law requiring teachers to make public their lesson plans to prove that they are not “indoctrinating” students.
HIRING TEACHERS

Virus relief to hire teachers

Fort Wayne Community Schools will use coronavirus relief funds to add additional teachers.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Fort Wayne Community Schools is increasing its instructor roster with help from federal coronavirus relief dollars.

About a dozen of the 45 teachers hired Monday will be paid with the third round of temporary funding, which can be spent through fall 2024.

The investment in people is part of a strategy to narrow student learning gaps, Superintendent Mark Daniel said, telling the school board the district has added 40 positions.

With more personnel, FWCS can reduce class sizes and focus on students especially in need of help, Daniel said.

VOUCHERS

IN: Voucher Increase To Serve Church, Not Taxpayers

Indiana's voucher program has become a middle-class entitlement program. It's not about helping poor children. It's not about claiming that private schools are better than public schools. It's about giving even well-to-do families (in some cases with incomes over six figures), that already send or intended to send their children to private -- and in this case, Catholic -- schools, public funds so they can afford extra vacations, sporting events, camps, and other outside of school activities.

From Curmudgucation
Today's Catholic (Serving the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend) offers an article that gives a good picture of what vouchers really do. After all the rhetoric about choice and free exercise of religion, what are taxpayers really paying for?

Indiana has had a huge voucher program for ten years, and this year, the state budget included a big expansion of the program. The Indiana Catholic Conference lobbied for that expansion, which would "give more middle-income parents the option to choose a faith-based education for their children." Well, yes, because six-figure income families are now eligible.

That emphasis on religious education is the whole point and purpose.* Dr. Joseph Brettnacher, superintendent of Catholic schools for the diocese, lays out the mission:
The most important aspect of the Choice expansion is that more families will have the ability to send their children to faith-based schools, where students can develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ within His mystical body, the Church. Our goals for students are to create disciples of Jesus Christ, help them fulfill their destiny to become saints and reach heaven.
PUNISHING CHILDREN: RETENTION IN GRADE

Alabama Joins the Third-Grade Punishment Club

Decades of research into retention in grade has shown that it doesn't work as a solution to low achievement. "The majority of research fails to find compelling evidence that retention improves long-term student achievement. An overwhelmingly large body of studies have consistently demonstrated negative academic effects of retention. Contrary to popular belief, researchers have almost unanimously found that early retention during kindergarten to grade three is harmful, both academically and emotionally. Many studies find that retention does not necessarily lead to increased work effort among students as predicted."

So, why do we still do it?

From Live Long and Prosper
The Alabama attempt at this, using Individualized Reading Plans without additional support. The classroom teacher is supposed to take care of the whole thing. This is typical of the U.S. -- We require more from teachers without providing more support. Our children aren't a high enough priority for us to spend the money needed to assure their success.

We're failing our children because we're too cheap. Then we blame the student for learning at their own rate and punish them with retention. We are shortchanging our own future.
**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 fortwayne.com/subscriptions/

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Monday, June 14, 2021

In Case You Missed It – June 14, 2021

NEIFPE is off this week. We'll be back with more updates on June 21, 2021. Thanks for supporting Public Education.

Be sure to enter your email address in the new Follow Us By Email box in the right-hand column to be informed when our blog posts are published.


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Monday, June 7, 2021

In Case You Missed It – June 7, 2021

Here are links to last week's articles receiving the most attention on NEIFPE's social media accounts. 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 new Follow Us By Email box in the right-hand column to be informed when our blog posts are published.
DOES THE PUBLIC WANT "CHOICE"?

Failing grades

We no longer care about student achievement. Now it's about "choice" and the voucher schools get to "choose" their students.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Behning and his colleagues finally have managed to establish parent "choice" -- not student achievement -- as the ultimate value.

But education historian Jack Schneider, in a Zoom session Tuesday with the Indiana Coalition for Public Education, said there was never a discussion in which the public agreed choice was the goal. It is not even what the public wants, he argued.

"What they want is fully funded neighborhood schools," said Schneider, an assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell and a public-school parent in the state (ranked No. 1 on the Quality Counts 2021 survey). "In no case are people actually saying, 'What I want is to be able to play consumer with regard to schools.' No, what they want is a good school in their neighborhood."

He said choice creates a "false scarcity" of good schools and makes parents compete, even as those students who need the most services are set up to lose.

"It's a con -- an absolute con -- and people should be ashamed of themselves when they talk about advancing choice for the people who most need it when, in fact, those are the people who are going to be most harmed by it," Schneider said.

MORE MONEY SENT DOWN THE VOUCHER RABBIT-HOLE

For the first time, private virtual schools seek to accept vouchers in Indiana

As this article plainly shows, state-funded vouchers are being used by religious organizations despite the Indiana Constitution's prohibition in Article I, Section 6...
No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution.
The state's Supreme Court approved the process based on the fact that the state launders the money through parents of students who attend religious schools. It's still tax dollars.

Religious schools have the right to reject students based on religion, educational needs, and sexual preferences of the students or their parents. An argument can be made that private schools ought to be allowed to choose their students, but not when they do it with public tax money.

Virtual schools have a record of failure. There's no reason to assume that private, state-funded virtual schools will be any better, especially when Indiana has a past history of allowing voucher-funded schools to escape basic accountability.

From Chalkbeat*
Two new private schools hope to join the growing wave of online education in Indiana and accept state funded-vouchers to subsidize tuition — a first for virtual schools.

Both are spin-offs of existing schools, with the virtual branches allowing them to extend their reach to students across the state. Columbus Christian School is launching FaithPrep Indiana, a virtual K-12 private school with a religious mission. The GEO Foundation, which runs several charter schools in Indiana, is creating Geo Focus Academy, also serving grades K-12 and enrolling high schoolers in college classes.

“It’s going to be an opportunity for families to really take advantage of a Christian education, and to be able to do it if they want their kids at home, if they want to travel with them,” said Columbus Christian Superintendent Kendall Wildey, who will serve as head of school for FaithPrep. “We’re still going by all the state guidelines. It’s just more flexible with people’s time.”

ATTACKS ON CRITICAL RACE THEORY

Jeff Bryant: The Truth Behind Attacks on Teaching “Critical Race Theory”

Diane Ravitch's blog post has a link to the article by Jeff Bryant. It is definitely worth reading. The controversy over Critical Race Theory joins vouchers and charter schools as another weapon used by privatizers to damage public education in the US.

From Diane Ravitch
Journalist Jeff Bryant writes that the motivation behind the much-discussed attacks on teaching “critical race theory” is not solely about teaching the history of racism. The goal of rightwing politicians is to silence the teaching of all subjects they don’t like. Despite the Republicans’ frequent complaints about “cancel culture,” they have embarked on a national crusade to cancel uncomfortable facts about science and history.

PUBLIC SCHOOL ACCOUNTABILITY

South Bend academy told to repay state $620,000

Indiana's public schools are accountable to the state for the money they receive and the students they educate. Publically funded private and voucher schools should be held to the same accountability.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Auditors reviewed enrollment and attendance figures dating to July 2018 and found dozens of students counted in the district's requests for enrollment-based funding who had never logged into South Bend's online learning platform, the South Bend Tribune reported.

School administrators admit some students' lack of participation was overlooked during enrollment counts, and the district has paid back more than $360,000.

But the district has disputed claims over some students' status during the 2018-19 and 2019-20 school years.

District representatives have supplied state auditors with additional student records and urged the State Board of Accounts to reconsider repayment requests for some students who may have attended in-person activities or transferred between in-person and virtual programs.
*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 fortwayne.com/subscriptions/

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Monday, May 31, 2021

In Case You Missed It – May 31, 2021

Here are links to last week's articles receiving the most attention on NEIFPE's social media accounts. 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 new Follow Us By Email box in the right-hand column to be informed when our blog posts are published.

SHOULD WE TEACH HISTORY...OR HIDE IT?

Some truths should make us uncomfortable

Despite the objections from some parts of the American populace, race relations in the United States have been an issue since our nation was founded. Discrimination against people of color didn't end with the Emancipation Proclamation, the Civil Rights Amendments (#13, 14, and 15), or the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.

Slavery, Slave Codes, Jim Crow, the Civil Rights Movement, and continuing work for improved race relations and civil rights are all part of the American story and must be addressed by schools. We can't hide our heads in the sand and pretend that racial inequity and racial tensions don't exist.

From School Matters
Give credit to the Carmel High School students who stood up to the community members who think they shouldn’t be exposed to hard truths about race in America. That takes courage in a district where only 7% of students are Black or Hispanic.

According to the Indy Star, five students took to the mic at a recent Carmel Clay School Board meeting to defend the district’s efforts to be more inclusive about race, gender and other factors.

“They shared what it’s like to be a student in Carmel and stressed their support for the diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) work happening in the district,” reporter MJ Slaby wrote. “The students said it fosters understanding and helps to provide representation to all students.”

You’d think supporting equity and inclusion would be a no-brainer, but it’s not. In several Hamilton County school districts – Carmel, Hamilton Southeastern, Westfield-Washington and Noblesville – residents have turned out at board meetings to voice objections.

The Problem of Parent Centered Education

From Curmudgucation
Teacher gag laws spreading across the country are generally billed as anti-CRT, but of course their reach is much broader than that, forbidding discussion of "controversy" and outlawing any teaching that might make students "uncomfortable" or be "divisive."

The debate--well, actually not a lot of real debate because GOP legislators are using their majorities to just ram these bills through--even highlights apparent splits in the reformy astroturf community. This week the National Parents Union was in Tulsa to march in commemoration of the Tulsa Race Massacre (a topic that now probably can't be taught in Oklahoma) while the Parents Defending Education continue to work hard to ferret out anyone teaching controversial race issues (by which they appear to mean any race related issues at all). It's an odd apparent split between people who have worked in the edu-astro-turf world for a while.

But these groups, and the larger push for these restrictive teacher laws, actually feed one basic tenet of the privatizing push--the idea that education is a consumer good, and the real consumers are parents. Further, as the primary consumer, the argument goes, parents should get to decide how the school works, what the teachers teach, the whole operation.

There are a couple of problems with this idea of parent-centered education.

INDIANA TEACHER SALARIES

Push for $40,000 minimum teacher salary in Indiana puts pressure on rural districts

Sadly, Hoosiers didn't elect legislators who understand that better funding from the state is necessary for poor and rural districts to raise teacher pay. The legislators that were elected are more interested in giving taxpayer funds to private schools and charters than in raising teacher pay to attract and retrain teachers in those poor and rural districts.

From Chalkbeat*
After wrapping up the school year last week, kindergarten teacher Nicole Damm was right back in the classroom Monday planning summer school lessons.

She’s working this summer to help her students — but also for the extra cash. As a first-year teacher at Southern Spencer Schools, Damm made $38,000, leaving her driving a 2002 Pontiac Firebird with a leaky roof for most of the year, and unsure when she’ll be able to redo the temporary plywood floors in her fixer-upper house.

Even though she thinks teachers are underpaid, the low salary is worth it to her because this was her dream: to work in the district where she went to school and where her mom still teaches.

“I want to be the reason why kids want to come to school every day,” Damm said.

To improve pay for new teachers like Damm, Indiana lawmakers are requiring schools to try to raise minimum salaries to $40,000 by 2022-23. But that’s a particularly tough ask for rural districts, where first-year teaching salaries average just $38,343.

IPS JOINS WITH CHARTERS

Indianapolis Public Schools plans to partner with charter schools for remote option

Is it wise for IPS to enter into an agreement with virtual charter schools? The success rate for virtual charters is pathetically low compared to brick and mortar public schools.

A remote option seems to be needed since the pandemic isn’t over, but turning the job over to virtual charter schools seems like an unwise risk.

From Chalkbeat*
Instead of offering its own remote instruction next school year, Indianapolis Public Schools proposes to direct students to two local virtual charter schools.

Students who want to continue all-remote learning next year would have to transfer to Phalen Virtual Leadership Academy or Paramount Online Academy. The IPS board reviewed partnership agreements Tuesday night and plans to vote on them Thursday.

Under the partnerships, the two virtual charter schools would join the district as innovation schools, operating independently with oversight and additional funding from IPS. The agreements outline a five-year term.
FWCS NAMES NEW SCHOOL LEADERS

Leaders named for 2 new schools

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
The leadership teams for two new Fort Wayne Community schools are beginning to take shape.

Superintendent Mark Daniel on Monday introduced Byron Brown as an assistant principal for Fort Wayne Virtual Academy, which launches this fall, and Riley Johnson as assistant principal of Electric Works School, which is set to open in fall 2022.

The school board approved the recommendations along with seven elementary school principal appointments.

ARE FEWER HOOSIER STUDENTS HEADING TO COLLEGE?

Indiana financial aid applications dip, pointing to fewer students heading to college

Fewer Hoosier students are filling out Federal Student Aid forms. Does that mean that fewer are going to college? If so, is it because the average college student graduates with personal debt approaching nearly $40,000?

From Chalkbeat*
Statewide completion rates fell 6% compared with last year, even after the deadline extended from April 15 to Saturday. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is required for students to receive federal and state aid and, often, to qualify for scholarships and aid from colleges and private organizations.

With fewer students applying for financial aid, experts say they expect a correlating decline in college enrollment.
*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 fortwayne.com/subscriptions/

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Monday, May 24, 2021

In Case You Missed It – May 24, 2021

Here are links to last week's articles receiving the most attention on NEIFPE's social media accounts. 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 new Follow Us By Email box in the right-hand column to be informed when our blog posts are published.
STUDENTS ARE MORE THAN TEST SCORES - EVEN IN PRE-K

Pre-K And The Importance Of Measuring The Right Things

Our legislators have shown themselves to be shortsighted when it comes to education policy. They don't seem to understand that the very real benefits of quality Pre-K programs can have a long-term positive impact on our students and society.

From Peter Greene in Forbes
..."Does high-quality preschool work?"

The answer—and this is important—depends on what you mean by "works."

Preschool had no real effect on test scores in the short term, and any effects had disappeared by later years. Preschool did not raise scores on the state's Big Standardized Test.

But—

Preschool reduced the likelihood that a student would get in trouble in high school or ever be jailed. And preschool increased the likelihood that students would graduate from high school and that they would go on to attend college.

These are good things, and if preschool done right can deliver these results, that's good news.

SACS PROVIDES STIPENDS FOR STAFF

SACS board signs off on one-time stipends

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Southwest Allen County Schools put a price Tuesday on the extra work school employees performed this academic year.

The school board unanimously approved one-time stipends of 500 and 1,000 for part-time and full-time employees, respectively.

The five members also agreed the superintendent or designee has the discretion to increase any employee's stipend in recognition of an unusual increase in that employee's work time and responsibilities due to the pandemic. The total amount of additional stipends may not exceed $25,000.
THE BATTLE OVER CRITICAL RACE THEORY

Why is “Critical Race Theory” Controversial and What Is it?

There are those who believe that Critical Race Theory means that schools are going to teach students to "hate America." They apparently believe that the nation has been perfect since its inception and any history that says otherwise must be hidden and purged.

A must read!

From Diane Ravitch
In several states, the Governor and Legislature have denounced “critical race theory” and even (in Idaho and some other states) banned it from their schools. The controversy over teaching about race gained ground when former President Trump condemned CRT as divisive and launched his own quickie commission to teach “patriotic” education. The object seems to be to minimize or eliminate teaching about racism, past or present.

Retired teacher Nancy Flanagan dissected the controversy here, in one of the best-informed analyses.

THE MARCH TOWARDS PRIVATIZATION

Impoverished Pennsylvania District About to Be Fully Charterized, Despite Parent Opposition

School choice apparently doesn't apply to those parents who want to choose public schools. This is a travesty.

From Diane Ravitch
This is an important story, well told by this reporter. It follows the template for charterization: Underfund a predominately African-American school district for years, then have the state take control because of financial issues. Strip the school board of all power and appoint a single “receiver” to make all decisions. Begin the charterization process with as little transparency as possible knowing that parents and community do not want it. Put out RFPs to charter companies. Hold one meeting at which parents, educators and community make clear their opposition but feel that the fix is in despite their wishes. Receiver, who is not accountable to the community or the voters, makes his decision.
The movement to privatize public schools marches on during coronavirus pandemic

The move towards privatization of America's public schools continues...

From the Answer Sheet
...By Carol Burris

Legislatures in 35 states have proposed bills to enact or expand voucher programs or charter schools. A few have passed; others have failed. Still others are sitting on governors’ desks or are stalled in the state’s House or Senate. Several are obvious attempts to please right-wing donors with no chance of moving out of committee. So far, eight states have enacted one or more bills.

A flurry of proposed school privatization legislation appearing on state dockets has been the pattern for several years. What is different this year is their success, albeit limited. In prior years, few, if any, reached the finish line. So what is different about 2021?

**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 fortwayne.com/subscriptions/

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Monday, May 17, 2021

In Case You Missed It – May 17, 2021

Here are links to last week's articles receiving the most attention on NEIFPE's social media accounts. 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 new Follow Us By Email box in the right-hand column to be informed when our blog posts are published. If you have trouble signing up, click here to contact us by email.
ATTACK ON PUBLIC ED TAKES NEW TURN

Do Americans Overwhelmingly Hate "Woke" Policies?

A biased education poll is trying to drum up support from the conservative base for political purposes. Always check sources of polls and the collection of and interpretation of data from those polls.

Peter Greene provides an excellent critique of this biased poll...

From Curmudgucation
You may recall that Parents Defending Education recently burst on the scene as the latest education astroturf, this time tilted hard right. Their battle against "indoctrination" in schools now includes a new weapon--a poll, which they're touting under the headline "Americans Overwhelmingly Reject 'Woke' Race and Gender Policies in K-12 Education." (Have we reached the point yet where "woke" is used like "politically correct"-- only by people trying to denigrate a straw version of the ideas that it supposedly represents?)

There is, of course, a fine art to writing polls, particularly if you're looking for a particular result (and it's fair to both sides that art). "Would you rather lick a toad or kiss an attractive model" becomes "Americans overwhelming dream of making out with famous models--is American marriage in trouble?" And that's pretty much what's happening here. We'll dig a bit deeper into the results in a bit, but lets look at tyhe marquee results that are being blasted across the interwebz.

Texas GOP Passes Bill To Stop Teachers From Talking About Racism

Avoiding current events and controversial topics is no way to engage future citizens.

From HuffPost
Republicans in the Texas House passed a bill Tuesday that effectively bans public school teachers from talking about racism, white supremacy or current news events.

The bill, which is being fast-tracked to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott to sign into law, states that social studies and civics teachers aren’t allowed to discuss the concept that “one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex,” or the idea that “an individual, by virtue of the individual’s race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.”

It also states that social studies and civics teachers “may not be compelled to discuss current events or widely debated and currently controversial issues of public policy or social affairs” as part of a course.

INCENTIVE TO TEACHING MIGHT ANSWER DECLINE IN COLLEGE-BOUND FRESHMEN

New Indiana teacher training program offers 3 college degrees for $45,000 or less

After years of making teaching more difficult and less attractive, the Indiana General Assembly adds yet another path to teaching. Will this newest plan make up for the lack of respect pro-privatization lawmakers have for teachers?

From Chalkbeat*
Looking to bolster the size and diversity of Indiana’s teaching force, a new program will offer education students three degrees for the price of one.

The program, created through a partnership between Marian University and Ivy Tech Community College, will enable students to earn an associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degree in five years. Students in the cadet teaching program, which lets them complete the first year of courses for free in high school, can do it in four.

Students will complete the associate degree at Ivy Tech, which typically takes two years. Next they will transfer from Ivy Tech to the Klipsch Educators College at Marian University, where they will earn a bachelor’s degree after another two years. A free one-year master’s degree program and a year of paid clinical residency in an Indiana classroom will follow.

Fewer grads enrolling in college

Why are fewer secondary students setting their sights on higher education?

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
After years of steady declines, the percentage of college-bound high school graduates plunged to its lowest point in more than a decade. Of the 2019 graduates, 59% enrolled in education after high school, down from 61% the previous year, according to a recent report by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education.

The college-going rate has been steadily declining since 2015, when it was 65%, the agency said, "but this is the largest drop year-to-year."

The commission expects the decline will continue in the 2022 Indiana College Readiness Report considering fall 2020 enrollment for two- and four-year public colleges dropped by 13% and 4%, respectively.
NEEDED: SCIENCE LITERACY

2021 Medley #6 - We Slide into Superstition and Darkness

Read this post for examples of why we need to focus on science literacy.

From Live Long and Prosper
Carl Sagan's 1995 book, The Demon-Haunted World, is prescient in its description of the world 26 years into its future -- superstition, lack of critical thinking, the inability to question, the inability to distinguish between truth and falsehood...
I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time—when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness.

STATE WILL REVISIT A-F GRADES

After repealing consequences for failing schools, Indiana will revisit A-F grades

Notice that Indiana may be considering adding to our students’ testing loads.

From Chalkbeat*
The change represents a shift in philosophy for the state, from holding schools accountable for providing a quality education by using the threat of intervention. Instead, the state will prioritize transparency. And the movement is expected to trickle down to affect how A-F grades themselves are calculated.

“It’s a shift in mindset,” said State Board of Education General Counsel Chad Ranney. “I think it will certainly influence the final product the board will put out.”

For example, the board may grade different aspects of a school’s performance, such as its graduation rate or attendance, in addition to an overall grade. That could make it easier for parents to compare schools on a more detailed level, Ranney said.

The new statute also encourages board members to add test scores for science and social studies to the formula, which currently relies heavily on scores for English and math. But board members will have to balance expanding the formula to better capture a school’s performance with making it too complicated and difficult to understand.
FWCS TEACHERS GET COVID-19 RELIEF FUNDS

FWCS teachers, staff awarded up to $2k in stipends thanks to COVID-19 relief funds

From WPTA21.com
Bonuses have been ratified for close to 4,000 Fort Wayne Community Schools employees, extra pay they are being awarded for work done and challenges met during the pandemic.

The district's board of school trustees voted Monday evening to authorize the $1,000 to $2,000 stipends.

The bonuses would impact teachers, administrators, food service workers, bus drivers and others.

The money to pay the stipends comes from Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER II) funds, authorized as part of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act.

Salaried teachers and administrators who worked the full school year are in line to receive $2,000, while all other salaried employees and school-based hourly staff are scheduled to receive $1,500 checks.

Other hourly-based staff will receive $1,000 stipends.
*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 fortwayne.com/subscriptions/

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Monday, May 10, 2021

In Case You Missed It – May 10, 2021

Here are links to last week's articles receiving the most attention on NEIFPE's social media accounts. 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 new Follow Us By Email box in the right-hand column to be informed when our blog posts are published. If you have trouble signing up, click here to contact us by email.
PRESIDENT BIDEN'S ATTEMPT TO REMEDY POVERTY

Biden’s Proposed American Families Plan Would Revolutionize Life for Poor Children

Reformers have never caught on (or have never wanted to catch on) that the biggest obstacle to student achievement is poverty. President Biden has introduced a plan to begin to alleviate the problems of poverty.

From Jan Resseger
When public policy has been entirely inadequate and misguided for decades, it is difficult to grasp the full implications of the beginning steps for reform. Such is the case with President Joe Biden’s proposal last week to respond to our society’s outrageous level of child poverty. The development of coherent, efficient policy to ameliorate the overwhelming and complicated problems of America’s poorest families will take a long time, even if Democrats continue to occupy the White House and sustain Congressional majorities.

But on April 28, President Biden introduced a plan to begin the journey to remedy fiscal austerity when it comes to our society’s poorest families and children. We can turn to some experts to put the significance of President Biden’s proposed American Families Plan in perspective.

FWCS TO OFFER FULL VIRTUAL OPTION

FWCS to offer full online option

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Fort Wayne Community Schools students will have one option for remote learning next academic year : a new online-only K-12 program.

The Fort Wayne Virtual Academy will accept up to 720 students : about 2.5% of the district's 28,460 enrollment : through a lottery process in June, officials announced Monday.

Superintendent Mark Daniel said the online option was designed for students and families seeking an alternative to the traditional school environment.

"While we believe the majority of students learn best in person, we also know there are some students who found over the past year that they thrive in a virtual environment," Daniel said in a statement. "We also know many of our parents are not ready to have their children attend school in person as long as there is an ongoing pandemic. We are establishing this option to meet the needs of those students."
R-E-S-P-E-C-T, FIND OUT WHAT IT MEANS TO ME

It’s Teacher Appreciation Week – How About Restoring Respect For The Teaching Profession

This post from a teacher in North Carolina applies to teachers everywhere! What do teachers need for Teacher Appreciation Week? They need appreciation and respect.

From the Caffeinated Rage Blog
For fourteen months, educators have adapted, invented, created, and constructed ways and means of helping students in this time that could never have been envisioned before. No standardized test could ever measure what educators and schools have done, yet we have a governing body that still insists on introducing bills and other edicts that do not honor our profession.

This week is Teacher Appreciation Week, and many policy lawmakers in Raleigh seem to think that the best way to show appreciation for teachers is offering rewards.

What teachers and other education professionals really deserve is respect – especially after these last fourteen months.

STIMULUS MONEY FOR SCHOOLS

These Indiana schools will get the most money per student in latest stimulus package

It’s discouraging to see so much money going to schools that aren’t held accountable and/or don’t accept all students. But it is nice that the public schools will get some money too.

From Chalkbeat: Indiana*
Schools serving high-poverty students, among the campuses hardest hit by COVID-19, will receive the most per student in federal relief. In Indiana, the top five districts and charter schools expected to get the most money per student — and many others high on that list — are in Gary, where de-industrialization has caused economic decline, population loss, and neglect. For some schools, the federal money could essentially double their typical annual state funding.

For Thea Bowman, a Phalen Leadership Academies [charter] school in Gary, the stimulus funds are even more of a boon. The school usually receives around $7,000 per student in state funding. The unprecedented boost in federal money prompted the charter network to solicit ideas for how to spend it from students, teachers, and families.

“It’s a massive influx of funds for our schools and for our [students] and obviously we want to use it to have the biggest impact we can,” said CEO and founder of the Phalen charter network, Earl Martin Phalen. “We’re incredibly excited.”
IS "LEARNING LOSS" AN ACTUAL THING?

Falling Behind In An Actual Classroom

Peter Greene explains why the "Learning Loss" panic is being led by folks who don't know what it's like in an actual classroom.

From Curmudgucation
One of things you get better at with experience is assessing what the students bring to the table, both academically and otherwise. And then you go from there.

This initial assessment does not tell you anything about pace. Not once in my career did I ever start the year thinking, "Oh, lordy, these guys are behind, so I will switch into my special secret accelerated mode so that I can teach them more, faster." For a couple of reasons. First, not once in four decades did I stumble upon a fast mode that let me teach more, faster, which I then shelved for some reason. Because one thing you know after just a couple of years is that there is never enough time, and so part of your practice is to squeeze the very most out of the time you have.

Second, if there are students who are not quite as far along as you wish they were, acceleration is backwards. "Since you don't quite understand this yet, I'm going to spend less time on it," said no teacher ever.
*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 fortwayne.com/subscriptions/

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Monday, May 3, 2021

In Case You Missed It – May 3, 2021

Here are links to last week's articles receiving the most attention on NEIFPE's social media accounts. 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 new Follow Us By Email box in the right-hand column to be informed when our blog posts are published.
DO WE REALLY NEED STANDARDIZED TESTING DURING COVID?

The United States been obsessed with testing since No Child Left Behind. The increase in testing was supposed to increase student achievement based on the success of the "Texas Miracle" which never actually happened.

We know that the obsession with standardized testing hasn't really helped children learn more, so do we really need to subject kids who have been traumatized by COVID lockdowns, Zoom-schools, and other pandemic adjustments to the stress of high stakes testing?

Just how much have we ILEARNed?

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
As I started teaching in 2002, significant emphasis on testing was just starting. Since that time, our schools across the country have been retooled to improve on the one measure used: performance on the test.

It changed education for the worse. The promise of better schools was made on the idea that educators could and should use results to improve teaching practices. In my life, I have not met a single teacher who had not entered the profession to make a difference for kids. Unfortunately, there has been little to no investment allowing all teachers to have a hand in a meaningful assessment or in providing support in interpreting results to make positive changes.

Accountability for student performance without teachers, schools or districts understanding what scores mean or how school policies and processes need to change is a serious issue. Results of the state summative test can't be used to change classroom instruction directly, but the reality is that we tell teachers they aren't doing it right and we tell them to do it better without any support as to how.

The overemphasis on testing and scores has caused a loss of focus on what kids can and can't do.

Teachers suffering ill effects as severely as students are

This soon-to-be retiring teacher speaks out against inappropriate testing.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
I am retiring in June after 32 years in education as a first and second grade teacher and reading interventionist. I truly have given my heart and soul to children over the years through teaching and loving the ones I have been blessed to know.

I just finished giving the ILEARN practice test for third through fifth grade to children who qualified for various reasons to be tested in a small-group setting. Some reasons are physical, such as vision and hearing issues, others have Individual Education Plans.

I can't begin to tell you the sorrow I feel as we year after year present a "test" to children that is so unbelievably developmentally inappropriate.

Even in a normal year without the threat and complications of COVID-19, the bar continues to be raised to the point that only the brightest, most advantaged children have a chance at success. I worry our state has made a mess of student assessment.
RESHAPING EDUCATION IN INDIANA - GIFTS TO PRIVATIZERS

Indiana lawmakers passed measures that will reshape education. Here’s what you should know.

Among the things you should know is that the supermajority in the 2021 Indiana General Assembly has expanded vouchers to families who make nearly double the median Hoosier income; they have made it more difficult for teachers to join and maintain their union membership; and they made it easier for untrained college graduates to teach in order to alleviate the teacher shortage of their own making. Elections matter.

From Chalkbeat*
Indiana legislators reshaped education in significant ways this year by helping schools cope with setbacks from the COVID-19 pandemic, eliminating the threat of state takeover for struggling schools, nearly doubling funding, and broadening school vouchers for middle-class families.

The additional $1.9 billion lawmakers directed toward education over the next two years will enable school districts to raise teacher pay — a win for educators that comes a year and a half after thousands rallied at the statehouse to demand better pay.

FWCS NEWS

FWCS to use some virus relief aid for new tech

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Fort Wayne Community Schools is spending some of its federal coronavirus relief dollars on tablets, laptops and internet providers.

The board Monday approved four sets of technology purchases that will be partially or entirely financed by the second round of federal emergency funding announced in February.

FWCS' allocation was more than $40 million.

The board approved buying 4,493 iPads, including setup services, and 3,693 iPad cases with a keyboard from Apple for about $1.6 million.

The number of cases and iPads don't match because 800 devices don't require a keyboard, and their cases will be bought separately, officials said.
Five questions for Noah Smith: Fort Wayne Community Schools board member

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
I want FWCS to be the district of choice and a source of pride for the Fort Wayne community. As a state, we are not only below average on important educational initiatives like teacher pay, we are well below average. I believe Fort Wayne is an “above average” city and want our school district to be thought of as “above average” as well. I don't see how we can get there without more support from the state, which means more money.

I appreciate the state's new budget for 2022 and 2023 and its investment in our teachers. I hope to see consistency in this investment going forward. As a taxpayer, it's hard to see state leaders throw more money at schools that don't share our “gift” of accountability and transparency, particularly vouchers and (Education Savings Accounts) at private schools, as heretofore there has been a decrease in the support it provides for those traditional public schools that serve over 94% of all students.

ENABLING SEGREGATION IN MINNESOTA

Minnesota: Elites Propose Constitutional Amendment to Enable Segregated Schools

The next step in school choice...standardized tests, and segregation in the name of "efficiency." One wonders why Indiana'a supermajority didn't think of this first.

From Diane Ravitch
...leading figures in the state charter lobby want to pass an amendment to the state constitution that would make segregated schools acceptable, while adding that school quality would be determined by standardized tests.
*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 fortwayne.com/subscriptions/

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Monday, April 26, 2021

In Case You Missed It – April 26, 2021

Here are links to last week's articles receiving the most attention on NEIFPE's social media accounts. 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 new Follow Us By Email box in the right-hand column to be informed when our blog posts are published.

LEARNING LOSS vs COVID TRAUMA

The coronavirus pandemmic has had an impact on school children...academically, socially, and emotionally. Do we need to spend millions of dollars nation-wide for testing? Proponents of testing say that we need to know where the students are academically and provide remediation and academic support. But do tests actually tell us where students are academically or do they simply provide information on socio-economic levels?

Testing has always had limited value. Not everything that we value in education can be tested. Perhaps we should take this opportunity to help students heal from the trauma of COVID-19 before we subject them to tests that will just confirm that wealthy students get higher test scores than students who live in poverty.

Why learning isn’t the most important thing kids lost during the pandemic

From the Answer Sheet
Whatever we do when we return will be historic by definition. If all we come up with is passing out diagnostic tests to quantify learning loss and then track kids into groups for remediation, it will be a terrible failure of imagination.

“You know what’s going to happen to the kids who couldn’t get online last year because they had to support their families or because they were homeless when the sorting happens, right?” asks Berger. “They’re going to be sorted in a way that will only exacerbate the equity issues.”

Trailing down the backside of a steep mountain at long last, and picking up speed as we head into a promising new year, we seem to have our eyes fixed on the wrong problem entirely...

Outrage Continues as Standardized Testing Moves Forward in this COVID-19 School Year

From Jan Resseger
Standardized testing—required this school year by Education Secretary Miguel Cardona’s U.S. Department of Education despite the disruption of COVID-19—is now happening in many public schools across the United States. But even as the tests are being administered, the anger and protests against this expensive, time consuming, and, many believe, harmful routine are not abating.

Last week, the Washington Post‘s Valerie Strauss reported: “The Biden administration is facing growing backlash from state education chiefs, Republican senators, teachers unions and others who say that its insistence that schools give standardized tests to students this year is unfair, and that it is being inconsistent in how it awards testing flexibility to states. Michigan State Superintendent Michael Rice has slammed the U.S. Education Department for its ‘indefensible’ logic in rejecting the state’s request for a testing waiver while granting one to the Washington, D.C., school system—the only waiver that has been given. Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen, whose state was also denied a waiver, said testing this year ‘isn’t going to show any data that is going to be meaningful for learning moving forward… The controversy represents the newest chapter in a long-running national debate about the value of high-stakes standardized tests. Since 2002, the federal government has mandated schools give most students ELA and math standardized tests every year for the purposes of holding schools accountable for student progress. The scores are also used to rank schools, evaluate teachers, make grade promotion decisions and other purposes.”
TESTS IN FWCS

FWCS adjusts schedules for tests

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Fort Wayne Community Schools needs middle school students to ditch their routines this week.

Students attending on a blended schedule will learn virtually Monday through Friday, and the remote students will attend in person.

The swap is because of ILEARN.

Students in grades three through eight are required to take the state's standardized test in person.

QUESTIONING MASK MANDATES IN NACS AND EACS

Two local school boards have had to deal with parents arguing against the Governor's mask mandate for K-12 schools.

NACS panel: Masks safe for kids

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Dr. Matthew Sutter, the Allen County health commissioner, said schools are an ideal place to spread COVID-19, which makes adherence to mitigation strategies incredibly important.

“Masks are inexpensive, they're generally well tolerated, and it's worked,” Sutter said...

Board members, particularly President Kent Somers and Steve Bartkus, pressed panelists about potential negative effects – both mentally and physically – of forcing students to wear masks for hours a day.

Evidence does not show masks cause mental health declines, panelists said.

Rather, they said, students are affected by being taken away from their social circles, such as sports and school. Parents' anxieties and home situations are other contributing factors, they said.

“I think we might be a little cavalier in thinking masks are safe,” Somers said, questioning whether there are health trade-offs to wearing masks. “Isn't there some real risks to the kids?”

No, panelists said. Masks can be safely worn.
Mask debate ignites EACS school board meeting as many voiced concerns

From WANE.com
To masks or not to masks? That was the debate at the East Allen County School Board meeting Tuesday night where teachers, parents, students and school administrators voiced their concerns over whether or not to let student unmask while at school.

At times tensions were high and after more than an hour of discussion, the rooms were still spilt.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions there were only so many seats available in the board room. This meant parents, students and other member of the public who wished to speak were asked to wait in the lobby and in other locations of the administration building.

Some parents say that the school should allow students to choose whether or not to wear a mask. They say they are not against teachers or the school system but they are worried about their student’s mental health.

However, one teacher who spoke asked the board to keep the masks as a safety precaution until the end of the school year. To that some of the parents boo-ed him.

EACS USES FEDERAL DOLLARS FOR STIPENDS

EACS doesn't wait on stipends

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
The East Allen County Schools board Tuesday didn't want to wait two weeks to endorse Superintendent Marilyn Hissong's request to spend federal coronavirus relief dollars on $500 and $1,000 stipends for employees.

“OK, let's just do this tonight,” board President Todd Buckmaster said when board members embraced Gayle Etzler's suggestion to act immediately on what was presented as a discussion-only item.

Collectively, employees will get about $1,193,500, with individual awards based on part-time and full-time status. Those employed May 14 are eligible.

“We wanted to do this for our staff,” Hissong said. “It took everyone to make this happen this year.”

**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 fortwayne.com/subscriptions/

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Monday, April 19, 2021

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #356 – looming threats and flaws

From Indiana Coalition for Public Education's Vic Smith...
Dear Friends,

With only three days left in this General Assembly session, a dangerous threat to our state remains to be fixed. Education Scholarship Accounts are still in the budget bill, and the bill language does not protect Indiana from extremists, from criminals or from the sudden elimination of all standards and accountability.

Will you send messages today and tomorrow to your legislators and to party leaders who are deciding what will go into the budget about these looming threats and flaws that could be fixed with last minute additions to the bill language?

Fix the Flaws!

What are the glaring problems that have still not been fixed in the current budget bill language on Educational Scholarship Accounts?
Threats include no standards for ESA parent grants, no protection against extremist curriculum, and no background checks for where tax payer dollars will go.

Click here to read the rest and share. You can find your state legislators by clicking here.

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