Monday, April 5, 2021

In Case You Missed It – April 5, 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 Follow Us By Email box in the right-hand column to be informed when our blog posts are published.
MASK OBJECTION FROM NACS PARENTS

NACS parents urge board to unmask students

The Indiana state-wide mask mandate ends on April 6 when it becomes an "advisory." However, State office buildings and K-12 schools are still requiring masks. A group of parents at Northwest Allen County Schools are protesting, claiming that students don't need masks.

From The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Dozens of unmasked people filed into a Northwest Allen County school Monday, calling on district leaders to let their children and grandchildren do the same.

The showing at Perry Hill Elementary School represented a fraction of the 500 people united behind a movement dubbed Unmask NACS Students Now, parent Travis Striggle told the school board and district administration.

The audience, which briefly booed Superintendent Chris Himsel, seemed receptive to board President Kent Somers' idea of holding a public work session, likely in April, to address the district's coronavirus policies.

NACS won't back off using masks in schools

From The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Doctors still say wearing masks can stop the spread of the coronavirus, despite a throng of parents calling on Northwest Allen County Schools to drop its mandate.

Superintendent Chris Himsel remained steadfast to the mitigation strategy during Monday's school board meeting, and his district's largest neighbor is preparing a communication strategy reiterating the need to wear masks.
Holcomb disputes NACS parents on COVID

From The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Gov. Eric Holcomb said Wednesday he couldn't disagree more with the Northwest Allen County Schools parent who claimed the coronavirus is not a killer.

"This is a mass killer," Holcomb said during his weekly COVID-19 briefing. "There are over 6,000 folks that have lost their life to this virus just in our long-term care centers and twice that when you total 'em up."

...Dozens of unmasked adults attended a NACS board meeting Monday, calling on leaders to drop the mask mandate. They spoke for about an hour, relaying stories of children shamed and disciplined for not wearing masks properly and other alleged hardships, including skin irritations, the loss of facial communication and enabling shy children to hide.

Per Holcomb's order, the statewide mask mandate becomes an advisory Tuesday except for state government buildings and K-12 schools.

TEACHERS SPEAK OUT AGAINST VOUCHERS

Huntington teachers hit vouchers

Republican legislatures around the country are pushing privatization of public education. Indiana already has a wide ranging voucher program, but has considered several bills this session which increase funding for private and parochial schools.

From The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Huntington County public school teachers didn't use a stamp or the internet to send a message Monday to state lawmakers about proposals that would divert more money from their classrooms and into private schools.

Instead, they framed their opposition to proposed voucher expansion and new Education Scholarship Accounts with their signatures on a full-page ad in The Journal Gazette.

The Huntington Classroom Teachers' Association titled its petition "Halt the Bait & Switch."

"Legislators have told school districts that they want to provide them with certainty, and those same legislators say they understand schools have had to adapt quickly to ensure continued student learning in the face of an unprecedented public health crisis," the union said. "But that is all lip-service when crucial funding is being diverted away from the 93% of Indiana's students that attend traditional public schools."
BEVERLY CLEARY, 1916-2021

Beverly Cleary, Age 104

Children's author Beverly Cleary died at age 104 last week.

From Live Long and Prosper
Ramona was sometimes funny, sometimes heartbreaking, but never a parody. The characteristics that made Ramona so appealing to my students were the same characteristics that made her seem real. Even though the stories were made up, they were never outside the possibility of what could happen to them. Every child could relate to feelings of embarrassment when they made a mistake. Every child understands the anger at being patronized. Ramona expressed those feelings and made them acceptable.

FWCS SUPERINTENDENT ANSWERS QUESTIONS

Five Questions for Mark Daniel

FWCS Superintendent, Mark Daniel, answers questions about the district.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
1. You joined dozens of other Indiana superintendents in calling for suspension of ILEARN, the state's standardized test, this spring. Why?

As explained in our superintendent letter, the federal government is accepting state waivers in regard to the administration of state assessments like ILEARN because of the pandemic. Our hope was for Indiana state leaders to request a waiver eliminating ILEARN for this spring and replacing it with other assessments we currently give to our students. It is my understanding a waiver was requested in regard to the 95% completion rate rule and extended dates of administrating ILEARN.

This will assist us as FWCS has over 30% of its students attending school virtually, and the test must be given to students in person in our schools. Many parents are concerned and question if they will return their child(ren) to school in person to accommodate the testing protocol.
**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, March 29, 2021

In Case You Missed It – March 29, 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 Follow Us By Email box in the right-hand column to be informed when our blog posts are published.


INDIANA VOUCHER EXPANSION CONTINUES

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #354 Voucher expansion & ESAs are rolled into budget bill

The Indiana General Assembly is once again on the brink of increasing tax money sent to private and religious schools.

From the Indiana Coalition for Public Education
They put ESA’s in the House budget. Now ESA’s have to be kept out of the Senate budget!

ESA’s, the radical plan to give taxpayer money directly to home school parents – with no accountability, no check on extremists and no criminal background checks– were added to the House budget, House Bill 1001.

After passing House Bill 1005 to create ESA’s (Education Scholarship Accounts) and to expand private school vouchers, the supermajority Republican leadership added the same language to the budget bill.

This is a well known maneuver to prop up a controversial and increasingly unpopular proposal such as Education Scholarship Accounts. The leadership figures that all members of the caucus will vote for the budget bill so that those who support public education within Republican ranks can not derail the radical ESA plan.
INDIANA SCHOOLS DURING THE PANDEMIC

School workers offered $100 to get shot

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
At Whitko Community Schools, it pays to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The 1,200-student district is using federal coronavirus relief dollars to reward employees with $100 once they submit a copy of their vaccination card showing they are fully vaccinated.

Superintendent Steve Darnell said the decision was “pure incentive,” adding the district wanted to do its part in reducing the threat of the coronavirus.

“Our administration wanted a way to encourage participation in all staff getting the vaccination,” Darnell said by email. “A neighboring district was offering a cash stipend that seemed to encourage their staff to be vaccinated. Meijer had stepped up and wanted to offer vaccinations to educators, so it became a natural next step to combine the two incentives of a stipend and a clinic to get the vaccine.”

Indiana will leave school mask mandate in place when statewide requirement ends

From Chalkbeat*
Indiana will continue to require that most teachers, students, and staff wear face coverings in school through the end of the academic year, even after the statewide mask mandate lifts April 6.

Outside of schools, face coverings and social distancing will remain recommended statewide, though not required, Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb announced Tuesday evening. As the state relaxes its coronavirus restrictions, local governments can still set stricter rules on mask requirements or capacity limits on social gatherings such as high school graduations or proms.

Holcomb also said he expects all Indiana schools to offer full-time in-person instruction at the start of the 2021-22 school year.
THE PROFIT OF NON-PROFIT CHARTERS

Report: How A Non-Profit Charter School Can Be Run For Profit

Beware of Not-for-Profit Charters. There are quite a few ways for them to make a profit from our tax dollars.

From Peter Greene in Forbes
It has become cliche for politicians and policy makers to oppose “for profit” charter schools. It’s also a safe stance, because most people agree they’re a bad idea; for-profit charter schools are not legal in almost all states.

But charter school profiteers have found many loopholes, so that while they may not be able to set up for-profit charters, they can absolutely run charter schools for a profit. That may seem like a distinction without a difference, but the difference is that one is illegal in almost all states, and the other, as outlined in a new report, can be found from coast to coast. The new report, “Chartered for Profit,” from the Network for Public Education examines the size and reach of “the hidden world of charter schools operated for financial gain.”
FWCS PROGRAM FOR CAREER PATHWAYS

Rotary hears of FWCS program: Daniel touts plans for career pathways

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Mark Daniel left Parkview Field on Monday with souvenirs unrelated to baseball – business cards and vocal endorsements from people eager about Fort Wayne Community Schools' college and career readiness plans.

Daniel, the district's superintendent, told the Rotary Club of Fort Wayne about a career exploration program involving community partners and pipelines for in-demand industries in and around the city.

“I think we could really create an unbelievable program where Fort Wayne Community Schools should be recognized not just regionally but also throughout the state of Indiana,” Daniel said during the lunchtime meeting.
*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, March 22, 2021

In Case You Missed It – March 22, 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 Follow Us By Email box in the right-hand column to be informed when our blog posts are published.
WHO WILL TEACH TOMORROW'S CHILDREN

Just 1 in 6 Indiana college students who study education become teachers, report finds

In case you missed this the first time around, this article is still getting a lot of attention from our readers.

Perhaps if the General Assembly and the Governor paid attention to the Teacher Pay Commission’s recommendations things might improve. Sadly, the focus is, once again, on diverting public dollars to private and religious schools through vouchers.

From Chalkbeat*
Only 1 in 6 students who pursued bachelor’s degrees in education at state colleges and universities ended up working as teachers, according to a new report on Indiana’s teacher pipeline that followed students who entered college from 2010 to 2012.

The outcomes were even starker among students of color: Just 5% of Black students who entered education programs went into teaching in Indiana classrooms, according to the study from the Institute of Education Sciences, the research arm of the U.S. Department of Education.

The report followed students enrolled in education programs at Indiana’s public colleges and universities to see how many received degrees, were licensed, and got jobs in teaching.

Of the roughly 11,000 students who pursued bachelor’s degrees in education, just 16% eventually received licenses and found jobs in Indiana public schools.

SACS SUMMER SCHOOL

Summer school expands at SACS

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Southwest Allen County Schools is planning its most expensive summer school program in recent memory.

The school board Tuesday approved the administration's plan to offer an array of courses : including variations of English, social studies, science and math : taught by almost 60 licensed teachers at an anticipated cost of $326,900.

In comparison, summer school program expenses have ranged from about 60,000 in 2012 to 136,280 in 2019, according to information provided to the board.

The higher estimated costs are due to the pandemic and knowing students will need credit recovery over the summer, said Lynn Simmers, assistant superintendent.

CHOICE AND RACE

Race a factor in public school choice

Racial segregation has always been a part of the school choice movement, from the segregation academies in the mid-fifties in response to Brown v. Board of Education, to today's choice schools. Here, Steve Hinnefeld discusses how racial segregation is a part of "choice" in Indiana.

From School Matters
Students who use Indiana’s public school choice option to switch to a different school district are more likely than their peers to be white and less likely to be from low-income families, according to school transfer data from the Indiana Department of Education.

In many cases, the students are transferring from racially diverse districts to districts that are mostly white and less poor. The data suggest that public school choice, regardless of its intentions, has contributed to students being more segregated in schools by race, ethnicity and family income.

NEW REPORT FROM NPE

Chartered for Profit: The Hidden World of Charter Schools Operated for Financial Gain

In this report, the Network for Public Education focuses on the world of charter schools run for profit, a world both hidden and misunderstood. The report pulls back the veil on tactics and practices designed to reap as many public dollars as possible from charter schools while hiding behind laws designed to keep profit-making hidden from the public’s eyes. This report exposes how both large and small for-profit companies evade state laws that make for-profit charter schools illegal by the use of related entities and a nonprofit front. It explains and provides examples of how for-profit owners maximize their profits through self-dealing, excessive fees, real estate transactions, and under-serving students who need the most expensive services.

From the Network for Public Education
Between September 2020 and February, 2021, The Network for Public Education identified more than 1,100 charter schools that have contracts with one of 138 for-profit organizations to control the schools’ critical or complete operations, including management, personnel, and/or curriculum. While in many cases, the self-dealing is not as extreme as in the case above, similar patterns of for-profit management companies directing schools to their related real estate and service corporations are more the rule than the exception among these schools.
*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, March 15, 2021

In Case You Missed It – March 15, 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 Follow Us By Email box in the right-hand column to be informed when our blog posts are published.


STILL NO PAY RAISES FOR HOOSIER TEACHERS

Indiana schools bristle at bill seeking efficiencies to raise teacher pay

Raising teacher pay by cutting other services is only "efficient" if you are trying to justify spending millions of tax dollars every year on private and religious schools. Indiana's voucher program has diverted more than a billion dollars of your tax dollars to mostly religious schools over the past decade. Asking public schools to cut services just to pay teachers is adding insult to injury.

The Governor has promised to increase teacher pay. The Teacher Compensation Commission included some of the types of things discussed in this article, but it also said that increasing revenue options was important. In other words, to raise teacher salaries, Indiana needs to allocate more money to public schools. Instead, this year's legislature wants to boost vouchers by double-digit percentages while public schools get a token increase which doesn't even keep up with inflation.

From Chalkbeat*
A seemingly uncontroversial bipartisan bill that would solicit ideas to make school transportation and facilities more efficient turned into a clash between the legislature and school districts at a hearing this week.

The idea is so nascent, the bill’s author said it is unclear what proposals it might elicit. The bill does not specify what efficiencies it is seeking. It calls for ideas for creating new structures for managing transportation or building operations, and one possibility mentioned in the House is that neighboring districts could share bus services.

But education lobbyists and district officials from across Indiana bristled, seeing the bill as a way to leave schools out of financial conversations or force them to consolidate or outsource services. The proposal also struck them as the state trying to stick schools with the bill for increasing teacher pay.

“Where’s the evidence that this will have any benefit whatsoever?” asked Terry Spradlin, executive director of the Indiana School Boards Association, at a hearing Wednesday. “This bill really cuts us out of having input. … It seems to jump ahead to make this conclusion that privatization is the solution here.”

Charlie Brown, Lucy, and the football

We won't attract new teachers to Indiana if we continue as the lowest paying state in the midwest.

From Live Long and Prosper
Could more money help attract young people to a career in education? Perhaps, but it won't happen if the supermajority in the legislature has anything to say about it. If passed by the [Indiana General Assembly], one-third of this year's increase for education will go to the 5% of students who don't attend public schools. Until we stop moving public money to religious institutions, we're not going to be able to attract new teachers (or fully fund public schools).

Governor Holcomb has joined with the Republicans in the state legislature to shrink the pool of Indiana's qualified teachers. Without an incentive to seek a career in education where will our future teachers come from?

CONTINUED CALLS TO CANCEL TESTING

College Deans Speak Out Against High Stakes Testing

Yet another professional group speaks out against continuing high stakes testing during the pandemic.

From Diane Ravitch
...problems abound with high-stakes standardized testing of students, particularly regarding validity, reliability, fairness, bias, and cost. National research centers and organizations have synthesized these findings about standardized testing, including the National Educational Policy Center and FairTest. For example, some of the harmful impacts of high-stakes testing include: distorted and less rigorous curriculum; the misuse of test scores, including grade retention, tracking, and teacher evaluation; deficit framing (blaming) of students and their families and ineffective remedial interventions, particularly for communities of color and communities in poverty; and heightened anxiety and shame for teachers and students. Researchers have also spoken specifically about annual state testing, like in California and Texas, arguing that such assessments should not be administered, much less be the basis for high-stakes decision making.
Tweet From Jamaal Bowman

Educator Jamaal Bowman is now a newly elected congressman from New York. Here he speaks out against high stakes testing. His twitter thread begins...
It is a fact, not an opinion, that our standardized testing system discriminates against kids who learn differently. It also discriminates against poor kids. Black and brown kids as well.

I need you all to understand the root causes of why. Take this journey with me...

PUSHING VOUCHERS AROUND THE COUNTRY

Great News: Vouchers Blocked Again in Texas!

...but not in Indiana...

From Diane Ravitch
A voucher bill has been filed in every Texas Legislature since 1995, so we were not surprised, nor were we unprepared. The people of Texas do not want vouchers taking money from their public schools. Furthermore, we will remain vigilant to block any future voucher proposals.

We are thankful that this dangerous proposition was short-lived, and especially thankful for the public education advocacy community, which includes each of you, for making sure of tha
Vouchers May Be The Next Big Education Reform. Have Charter Schools Been Left Behind?

Arne Duncan and the Obama administration pushed charter schools. Betsy DeVos and the Trump administration doubled down on any form of privatization. Now, state legislatures around the country (including Indiana) are fighting for vouchers in any form and more privatization.

From Peter Greene in Forbes
...the brand of school choice being promoted is vouchers and neo-vouchers. From New Hampshire to Arizona to Kentucky to Florida to a dozen other states, the push is on for the creation or expansion of some variety of voucher system. In many cases, the system under consideration is an education savings account (ESA), a system that allows families to spend their voucher money on any of a number of education expenses, often with minimal state oversight of either the families or the education service vendors. Some states are simply planning to shift taxpayer funds to these vouchers, while others will give donors a tax credit for chipping in the money. Either way, taxpayer dollars are diverted away from the public system.

SACS: SUPERINTENDENT SEARCH STARTS AT HOME

SACS looking inward for new chief

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
The next person to helm Southwest Allen County Schools likely will be a familiar face.

The school board has decided to pursue internal applicants for the upcoming superintendent vacancy. Phil Downs announced in January that he intends to retire Dec. 31.
*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, March 8, 2021

In Case You Missed It – March 8, 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 Follow Us By Email box in the right-hand column to be informed when our blog posts are published.

STOP HB1005

Vic's Statehouse Notes #353
House Bill 1005 includes money given to parents through an ESA, an Education Scholarship Account where parents are allowed to pay for their child's education from vendors or schools in a competitive private marketplace.

According to the bill, the parent “must agree that” they “will use part of the money” for the “student’s study in the subject of reading, grammar, mathematics, social studies, or science” or the student’s “individualized education program”. These quotes are directly from HB 1005.

That’s all! It’s the lowest standard imaginable, and no one will monitor even this parent responsibility because the bill specifically bans curriculum oversight by the state.

Criminal background checks, required for teachers, are not required for parents to get their ESA money. Parents with records of neglect or abuse or fraud are not excluded by HB 1005. No restrictions on parents are included in the bill!

House Bill 1005 is not currently on the committee agenda for March 10th but could be heard in committee as early as Wednesday, March 17th.

Let the Senators on the committee know you oppose the dangerous concept of Education Scholarship Accounts and the expensive expansion of the current voucher system, especially when teacher pay has not been addressed. Click the link above to find the committee members and their email addresses.

Lawmakers' assault on schools must be repelled

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
The time to speak up for public education in Indiana is now, and that time is running out. If we do not speak up to support our public schools and their students, then who will?

Please contact your legislators before it's too late, and voice your opposition to HB 1001 and HB 1005.

WHO WILL STAFF OUR CLASSROOMS?

Just 1 in 6 Indiana college students who study education become teachers, report finds

The teacher shortage in Indiana is getting worse. We’d like to suggest that efforts to create a more diverse teaching force, higher pay, and more respect would go a long way to solving this issue. Do we have legislators in place who are willing to do the necessary things to get teachers into classrooms?

From Chalkbeat Indiana*
Of the roughly 11,000 students who pursued bachelor’s degrees in education, just 16% eventually received licenses and found jobs in Indiana public schools.

Indiana schools have struggled to fill vacancies in recent years as a strong economy created jobs in other industries. Teacher pay in Indiana lags behind that of neighboring states and behind salaries of other professional careers — a problem that has attracted attention from politicians and advocates on both sides of the aisle.

Schools are particularly struggling to hire more teachers of color and to fill positions in high-demand areas such as special education and math.

FINALLY! TEACHERS CAN GET COVID VACCINE IN INDIANA

Indiana Teachers Can Get COVID-19 Vaccine At Kroger, Meijer, Walmart

Hoosier school employees don't have to wait for Governor Holcomb to follow the CDC Phase 1b Vaccination Guidelines to prioritize teachers for the COVID-19 vaccine. The Federal Government has approved vaccines through the Federal Pharmacy Program.

From WFYI
Hoosier K-12 teachers and child care workers can now get the COVID-19 vaccine through a federal program, outside of the state’s plan.

A recent Biden administration announcement means that educators can get vaccinated through federal pharmacy program sites – in Indiana, that’s Kroger, Meijer and Walmart.


FWCS IN 2021-22

FWCS: In-person classes for 2021-22 school year

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
"If this pandemic has told us one thing," [Superintendent Mark] Daniel said, "it has told us we do so much better, so much better – our students, our staff, our entire organization – when we're in person."

NE INDIANA SUPERS, "CANCEL THE TESTS!"

Northeast Indiana school superintendents ask state to put off ILEARN test due to pandemic

Read the letter from more than three dozen northeast Indiana school superintendents.

From WANE dot come
The challenges of the past year have helped us all to see what is truly important and valuable. On behalf of the school districts and communities of northeast Indiana, and for the good of our children, we ask you to please reconsider the current ILEARN requirements. Continuing with ILEARN during this unprecedented year would be a failure of imagination and would negatively impact needed instructional time as well as jeopardize student health and safety. ILEARN is expensive and provides little to no value for teachers and families.

FLORIDA LEGISLATOR: COLLEGE IS FOR FUTURE JOBS

FL: College Is For Meat Widgets, Not That Learnin' Stuff

What is the purpose of education? Is it all about training students for a job, or is it for developing citizens in a democracy? A legislator in Florida believes that the state shouldn't pay for education unless it leads to a job.

From Curmudgucation
We want all of our students to succeed in meaningful careers that provide for their families and serve our communities. As taxpayers we should all be concerned about subsidizing degrees that just lead to debt, instead of the jobs our students want and need. We encourage all students to pursue their passions, but when it comes to taxpayer subsidized education, there needs to be a link to our economy, and that is the goal of this legislation,
Yeah, pursuing your passion is swell and all, but the taxpayers shouldn't have to foot the bill unless you're going to be a useful meat widget.

In other words, pursuing your passion is just for rich folks.
*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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Friday, March 5, 2021

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #353 – March 4, 2021

Dear Friends,

Milton Friedman, the famous economist who passed away in 2006, wanted to end public schools and get the government out of education. He proposed to just give tax money directly to parents to let them pay for their child’s education from vendors or schools in a competitive private marketplace.

He didn’t see public education as a public benefit to teach about democracy to each student in each new generation. He wrote in Free to Choose (1980):
  • “compulsory attendance laws are the justification for government control over the standards of private schools. But it is far from clear that there is any justification for the compulsory attendance laws themselves.” and
  • “The possibility exists that some public schools would be left with the dregs.”
Amazingly, Friedman’s stark view of parent-run schools has been approved for Indiana by the Indiana House in House Bill 1005 for 187,000 eligible students, about one in six Hoosier students. No supervision, no accountability, no community responsibility.

The parent grants to be given out through an online portal estimated to cost $5 million and run by the Indiana Treasurer are now called Education Scholarship Accounts (ESA’s).

Eligible students in House Bill 1005 include special education, activity military, and foster students. The real goal pursued for years by Friedman’s wealthy followers who have spread campaign cash across Indiana and the United States is to give ESA’s to all parents and to end public education.

In HB 1005, the ESA camel’s nose is under the tent.

The House Vote

The vote was 61-38. While 9 Republicans opposed this caucus-priority bill, it was not enough to stop it. The roll call is listed below. Now it must be stopped in the Senate.

Representative Behning, the author of HB 1005, cleverly mixed the radical Friedman plan into the bill alongside a “traditional” expansion of payments for current private school vouchers. Most of those who testified for the bill wanted to see bigger voucher payments, and that section of the bill is what the media has focused on. Bigger voucher payments would cost over $60 million over the next two years.

The real danger, though, is giving money to the parents of eligible students (approx. $7000 plus up to $9100 for special education students) with no regard to their support of extremist ideologies or their support of the U.S. Constitution. Parents can get these public funds simply by applying online but the flaws are obvious:
  • the parent “must agree that” they “will use part of the money” for the “student’s study in the subject of reading, grammar, mathematics, social studies, or science” or the student’s “individualized education program”. These quotes are directly from HB 1005.
  • That’s all! It’s the lowest standard imaginable, and no one will monitor even this parent responsibility because the bill specifically bans curriculum oversight by the state.
  • Criminal background checks, required for teachers, are not required for parents to get their ESA money. Parents with records of neglect or abuse or fraud are not excluded by HB 1005. No restrictions on parents are included in the bill!
HB 1005 carries the seeds of fraud and partisanship. Home schools using taxpayer funds to teach extremist ideology are an obvious possibility. Did the proponents really read this bill before approving it?

Bipartisan Opposition and Partisan Support

Those voting against HB 1005 in the House represented a bipartisan opposition:

Republicans Voting to Oppose HB 1005
Democrats Voting to Oppose HB 1005
Those voting to support HB 1005 in the House were all Republicans:
The 9 Republicans and 29 Democrats who opposed HB 1005 and stood up for public education deserve messages of thanks from public school advocates.

What Can You Do to Protect our Democracy from ESA’s in the Second Half of the General Assembly

Bills now switch Houses for consideration, so House Bill 1005 will be considered by the Senate. Write the Senators on the Senate Education Committee to let them know of your strong opposition to the flawed and dangerous threat to our democracy, House Bill 1005.

House Bill 1005 is not currently on the committee agenda for March 10th but could be heard in committee as early as Wednesday, March 17th.

Let the Senators on the committee know you oppose the dangerous concept of Education Scholarship Accounts and the expensive expansion of the current voucher system, especially when teacher pay has not been addressed. The committee members (click on the name for email addresses) are:

Senator Jeff Raatz
Senator Scott Baldwin
Senator Brian Buchanan
Senator John Crane
Senator Stacey Donato
Senator J.D. Ford
Senator Dennis Kruse
Senator Jean Leising
Senator Eddie Melton
Senator Fady Qaddoura
Senator Linda Rogers
Senator Kyle Walker
Senator Shelli Yoder

In the final days of the first half of the session, Senate Bill 412 was not passed out of committee. Senate Bill 413 was amended to reduce voucher expansion to only one element: foster students would become eligible for Choice Scholarships. It passed 32-15 and now goes to the House. Your messages certainly helped tamp down these flawed Senate bills.

Thank you for your active support of public education in Indiana!

Best wishes,

Vic Smith

“Vic’s Statehouse Notes” and ICPE received one of three Excellence in Media Awards presented by Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, an organization of over 85,000 women educators in seventeen countries. The award was presented on July 30, 2014 during the Delta Kappa Gamma International Convention held in Indianapolis. Thank you Delta Kappa Gamma!

ICPE has worked since 2011 to promote public education in the Statehouse and oppose the privatization of schools. We need your membership to help support ICPE lobbying efforts. As of July 1st, the start of our new membership year, it is time for all ICPE members to renew their membership.

Our lobbyist Joel Hand is again representing ICPE in the new budget session which began on January 3, 2017. We need your memberships and your support to continue his work. We welcome additional members and additional donations. We need your help and the help of your colleagues who support public education! Please pass the word!

Go to www.indianacoalitionforpubliced.org for membership and renewal information and for full information on ICPE efforts on behalf of public education. Thanks!

Some readers have asked about my background in Indiana public schools. Thanks for asking! Here is a brief bio:

I am a lifelong Hoosier and began teaching in 1969. I served as a social studies teacher, curriculum developer, state research and evaluation consultant, state social studies consultant, district social studies supervisor, assistant principal, principal, educational association staff member, and adjunct university professor. I worked for Garrett-Keyser-Butler Schools, the Indiana University Social Studies Development Center, the Indiana Department of Education, the Indianapolis Public Schools, IUPUI, and the Indiana Urban Schools Association, from which I retired as Associate Director in 2009. I hold three degrees: B.A. in Ed., Ball State University, 1969; M.S. in Ed., Indiana University, 1972; and Ed.D., Indiana University, 1977, along with a Teacher’s Life License and a Superintendent’s License, 1998. In 2013 I was honored to receive a Distinguished Alumni Award from the IU School of Education, and in 2014 I was honored to be named to the Teacher Education Hall of Fame by the Association for Teacher Education – Indiana. In April of 2018, I was honored to receive the 2018 Friend of Education Award from the Indiana State Teachers Association.

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Monday, March 1, 2021

In Case You Missed It – March 1, 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 Follow Us By Email box in the right-hand column to be informed when our blog posts are published.
TEACHERS ARE STILL WAITING

Frustrated teachers lose access to vaccine waitlists as Indiana cracks down

The CDC recommended that teachers be vaccinated at the same time that citizens over 75 were vaccinated (phase 1b, see the link in the quote, below). That didn't happen in Indiana. As of this posting, Indiana has offered vaccinations to everyone over age 60 (phase 1c) yet teachers and education staff are still waiting...and are even being refused wait-list vaccinations.

Every one of our neighboring states has offered vaccinations to teachers except Indiana. One can't help but wonder if there is a political basis for this situation. It's no secret that the political party in (supermajority) power doesn't seem to care about Indiana's public schools or public school teachers.

From Chalkbeat Indiana
...in a Jan. 30 letter, Indiana State Department of Health Chief Medical Officer Lindsay Weaver reiterated eligibility guidelines and told clinics that vaccine standby lists “should reflect only people who are considered at high risk for hospitalization and death from a COVID-19 infection.”

...Indiana teachers expected to get priority access to vaccines, she said. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend vaccinating teachers before some of the groups who are currently eligible in Indiana.
PUBLIC DOLLARS SHOULD GO TO PUBLIC SCHOOLS

David Berliner: Why Religious Schools Should Never Receive a Dollar of Public Funding

As you read this remember that the Indiana legislature is considering increasing public dollars to private schools in Indiana through the state voucher program. The vast majority (95%+) of schools that accept vouchers are religious.

From Diane Ravitch
I believe in separation of church and state. I think it has done the United States a lot of good to honor Jefferson’s metaphoric and aspirational “wall” between the two. I also believe that money corrupts too many people and too many institutions. Holding those two beliefs simultaneously means 1.) I never want to see any local, state, or federal money used to aide any religious group, and 2.) I don’t want to see any religious group, or affiliated religious organizations, donating to the campaigns of public officials. The latter may be impossible to stop in an era of “dark money.” But the former—government support of religious institutions– is almost always done in public view and is worth stopping now, immediately, as it could easily damage our fragile republic.

Overstated? Hardly! Read on!
Eve Ewing Is Wrong About Charter Schools

From Diane Ravitch
Basically, [Eve] says we should be happy whenever any school–whether public or charter–provides a good education. That is what I believed when I was an advocate for charter schools from the late 1980s until about 2007. It was then that I realized that charter schools were not producing better outcomes than public schools and were diverting money and the students they wanted from public schools. The more I learned about charter operators, their billionaire benefactors, their drive for money and power, and the corruption associated with their lack of accountability, the more I realized that this nation needs a strongly resourced, equitable, and excellent public school system. After thirty years of directing funding to charter schools, we have seen no systemic change of the kind that both Eve and I want.


NEW PRESIDENT -- SAME OLD TESTING

Joe Biden Made One Campaign Promise That Really Mattered To Teachers. He Just Broke It.

During the presidential campaign, before the pandemic started (remember way back when?), then candidate Biden promised to end standardized testing. Apparently, the corporate donations from testing companies has changed his mind. The administration announced that 2021 testing will still be required. Even Betsy DeVos knew enough to cancel tests during a pandemic...

From Peter Greene in Forbes
The value of the Big Standardized Tests has been long debated. But their shortcomings loom particularly large now. The tests, which address only math and reading, are very limited in scope; Rosenblum’s letter suggests states may choose to shorten the test, which will makes its scope even more limited. Rosenblum’s letter also acknowledges that where students cannot yet safely attend school, it’s reasonable that they not travel to school to take the test. That means some students either taking the test remotely at home, or not at all. Earlier this year in Ohio, in-person reading tests were administered to third graders; one in five students did not take the test. The level of flexibility allowed by the department means that there will be little chance that the results will provide a standardized basis for apples-to-apples comparison.

That comes on top of the many different sorts of pandemic impact seen in different districts. There will be so many variables affecting this year’s results that they will be essentially meaningless.
Biden Administration’s Broken Promise: Schools Must Give Standardized Tests This Spring

From Diane Ravitch
Joe Biden said unequivocally at a Public Education Forum in Pittsburgh when he was campaigning that he would end the federal mandate for standardized testing. Denisha Jones, lawyer, teacher educator, board member of Defending the Early Years, and the Network for Public Education, asked candidate Biden if he would end standardized testing. Watch his answer here. This is hugely disappointing, first, because it is a broken promise; second, because it imposes standardized testing in the midst of a pandemic when access to education has been grossly uneven and unequal; third, because it diverts the attention of teachers and students to a meaningless exercise.

PUBLIC SCHOOLS WEEK 2021

Last week was Public Schools Week 2021. Nine out of every 10 students attend a public school. Public schools welcome every child—regardless of ability, race, religion, wealth, language, country of origin or needs. #PublicSchoolProud
*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.
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Monday, February 22, 2021

In Case You Missed It – February 22, 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 Follow Us By Email box in the right-hand column to be informed when our blog posts are published.

VOUCHER PUSH IN LEGISLATURES

Legislatures around the country have been pushing voucher programs. The Indiana General Assembly has several bills expanding the state's already expansive voucher program. It's not too late to write to your state senators and tell them to vote NO on the expansion of vouchers. Read about the bills below, and about states where the voucher plans were blocked by public school advocates.

Bill lavishes more money on favored private schools

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Hoosiers should demand to know the justification for handing millions in tax dollars to high-income households and private and parochial schools. How many more ways can GOP lawmakers find to take money from the schools serving 90% of Indiana's students, including the neediest?

Vouchers cost taxpayers $172 million last year alone. Overlooked are the costly programs created to lay the groundwork. It began with charter schools ($85 million in misspent public funds by Indiana Virtual School and Indiana Virtual Pathways Academy, according to state auditors).

Two programs were then created to win voucher support from wary non-public school families. The first established Scholarship Granting Organizations ($59.6 million in tax credits since 2010, according to the Indiana Department of Revenue). It served the dual purposes of creating a voucher eligibility pathway and funneling millions of dollars to private and parochial schools. The tax credit was capped at $2.5?million a year when it began, growing quietly and steadily to $16.5 million this year.

In the 2019 tax year, 3,372 taxpayers were awarded just over $9 million in tax credits, at an average credit of $2,670. In some cases, donations are carried over because they exceed the taxpayer's tax liability, or the cap on allowable credits has already been met.

But that's not all...

House passes voucher expansion

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
House Bill 1005 would increase the amount of money families can make to be eligible for vouchers and also increase the awards themselves.

And the measure creates new Education Scholarship Accounts in which state money would be deposited for families to choose how they want to educate their children. It is open only to special education students and children of active military.

The cost of the bill is more than $65 million over the biennium.

Rep. Renee Pack, D-Indianapolis, said "expanding voucher eligibility is just not appropriate and "encourages families to withdraw from our schools."

She added that the legislature needs to stand up for the more than 90% of students in public schools.

What Is at Stake when ALEC, the State Policy Network, The Buckeye Institute and EdChoice Lobby for Vouchers?

From Jan Resseger
As we begin 2021, there has been troubling coverage about new voucher programs popping up in state legislatures. This is despite that Betsy DeVos is gone and that President Joseph Biden is a strong supporter of the institution of public schools. And in states like Indiana, and Ohio, where privatized school vouchers have been in place for decades, we can also watch pressure for their expansion.

Earlier this week, Bill Phillis, Ohio’s longest and best informed proponent of public schools and the executive director of the Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy of School Funding, sent around a troubling article from the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette describing a bill being considered by the Indiana House Education Committee for the radical expansion of an already enormous publicly funded private school tuition voucher program in Indiana, Ohio’s neighbor...

Good News from New Hampshire: Legislature Postpones Voucher Bill to Next Year

Hoosiers have never directly approved a voucher program yet our legislators keep increasing the amount of money diverted from your tax dollars to private schools. It won't stop until we either 1) overwhelm our legislators with demands to quit taking tax dollars away from public schools, or 2) elect different legislators!

Either way, we need "strong opposition" here in Indiana.

From Diane Ravitch
As a result of strong opposition, Republicans who control the New Hampshire legislature decided to postpone consideration of their “number one priority,” school vouchers. Under consideration was the most sweeping voucher bill in the nation. Thousands of people signed up to testify against the legislation.
Arizona: CEOs Criticize Voucher Expansion

Arizona, it seems, wants to duplicate the mistakes made in Indiana. Some CEOs are objecting...

From Diane Ravitch
Jim Swanson and John Graham, both CEOs in Arizona, wrote a stern warning against the legislature’s proposed voucher expansion, which would make almost all students in the state eligible for public funding to spend in a private or religious school. One of the authors is on the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools. Arizona is a state that likes low taxes; it does not fund its public schools adequately or equitably. Under the leadership of Governor Doug Ducey (who promised the Koch brothers a few years ago that he would drive taxes down as low as he could), the state is offering choice instead of adequate funding to its schools. Arizona has consistently underfunded its public schools and pretends to “reform” them by offering charters and vouchers.

INDIANA GENERAL ASSEMBLY TARGETS STUDENTS IN POVERTY

How Indiana has cut funding for students in poverty, hurting urban schools

Hoosier schools and children in poverty are hurt by Hoosier legislation.

From Chalkbeat Indiana*
Even though the state boasts an increased education budget each year, Indianapolis Public Schools receives $15 less per student today in basic state funding than it did seven years ago.

That’s because IPS’ gains in funding for each student have been eaten up by a sharper decline in state support for students in poverty, district officials say.

In recent years, Indiana lawmakers have prioritized across-the-board increases for schools over support for disadvantaged students, favoring budget strategies that buoy more affluent districts while higher-poverty schools say they’re left without enough resources to serve disadvantaged students.

POLITICIANS DISRESPECT TEACHERS

Educational Mansplaining

From Live Long and Prosper
By now it should be no secret why teachers are "mansplained" about education -- aka treated with less respect than other professionals. Teaching is still seen as "women's work" and those who hold control of the funding in education are mostly men.
In a field so dominated by women, it's not surprising that, in our patriarchal society, teachers are devalued and disrespected. Women still earn less than men. Women still have trouble reaching the highest levels of societal status (outliers notwithstanding). And women are still objectified in popular culture.

Money and status are still the most reliable paths to respect in our culture. The relatively low pay of the teaching profession and the fact that women make up the majority of educators tend to lower the status of teaching when compared to other professions.

In societies where education is more successful teachers are paid more and afforded higher status.
Now, the next time you hear a politician talk to a teacher or a group of teachers (or the general public) about "...what's wrong with education in this country" you'll know what's really going on.

WHAT WILL IT LOOK LIKE WHEN ALL THE TEACHERS ARE GONE?

You’re Going to Miss Us When We’re Gone – What School May Look Like Once All the Teachers Quit

Steven Singer penned this dystopian tale about school privatization gone wild...Read it all!

From Gadfly on the Wall Blog
DeShaun just sat there looking at his cracked phone.

Was this really all he had to look forward to, he thought.

He missed school.

He missed teachers.

He missed everything that used to be.
*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, February 15, 2021

In Case You Missed It – February 15, 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 Follow Us By Email box in the right-hand column to be informed when our blog posts are published.
INDIANA LEGISLATORS WANT TO EXPAND VOUCHERS

Indiana legislators are working overtime to privatize the state's public schools. The House votes Monday, Feb. 15, on a budget that will increase money for vouchers and charters while ignoring the increase in child poverty and its impact on public education. Public schools will get an increase of less than 3% each year for the next two years, while vouchers will increase by 20% and 23%. Despite promises over the last two years, there is no increase in teacher pay in the budget.

Once again, the Indiana General Assembly shows its preference for privatization.

House budget expands vouchers: Republican plan differs from governor's on key points

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
House Republicans unveiled a budget Thursday that would give less money to traditional public schools than Gov. Eric Holcomb's proposal, while also funding several one-time grant programs to energize the economy.

The governor proposed $377 million in tuition support – which is then distributed to school districts using a complex formula. The total equates to 2% growth in the first year and 1% in the second year of the biennial budget.

The House Republican budget has $378 million in new tuition support – 1.25% in the first year and 2.5% in the second year.

But their total includes an expansion of the voucher program that will send an additional $65 million to private schools over the biennium. That program would increase by 23% the first year and 20% in the second year.

Holcomb did not include a voucher expansion and, in his State of the State address, expressed concern about expanding choice at the expense of public schools.

Indiana House budget would expand vouchers, limit poverty aid for schools

From Chalkbeat*
At a time when many Hoosier families are in financial distress because of the pandemic, the Indiana House Republicans’ draft budget would cap the state aid for educating children in poverty and at the same time fund a significant expansion in private school vouchers for middle-class families.

The budget proposal, which was presented to and passed by the House Ways and Means Committee Thursday, would increase state funding for K-12 education by $378 million over the next two years — a 3.8% boost from this school year. The state would spread that increase across all Indiana public schools and a host of contentious education priorities while limiting funding to districts where poverty surges because of the pandemic.

The draft is an early step in the state’s budget development process. The Senate will produce its own budget proposal before the two chambers negotiate a final agreement.

Thursday’s proposal omits any substantial increase for teacher raises that a state panel recommended last year.

FWCS resolute against vouchers: Board, teachers oppose legislators' expansion bill

Kudos to FWCS Board of School Trustees and the Fort Wayne Educators Association for publicly coming out against the increase of vouchers. Public money should go to public schools.

Disclosure: FWCS school board President Anne Duff is a member of NEIFPE.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Fort Wayne Community Schools leaders formalized Monday their opposition to proposed legislation that would expand Indiana's voucher program.

“The public schools educate 90% of the students, and why we are catering to the small 10% is beyond me,” school board President Anne Duff said.

Lawmakers are considering expanding the current Choice Scholarship program, in which the state pays vouchers for private education. They also are considering creating new Education Scholarship Accounts, giving parents control of schooling dollars. The latter is limited for special education students, foster children and children of active-duty military members.

FWCS and the Fort Wayne Education Association make clear their opposition to House Bill 1005 and Senate Bills 412 and 413 in a joint resolution to be shared with legislators.

“There is no urgency to pass this measure during a pandemic that is already imposing severe financial constraints on public schools, as parents in Indiana already have an array of state-funded options,” the resolution states.

Options for Hoosier families include traditional public schools, charter schools, virtual schools, Choice Scholarships and tax credits and deductions for private and home-school education, the resolution adds.

“What the General Assembly is considering is fiscally irresponsible,” board member Steve Corona said. “They have not demonstrated the oversight ability to follow the dollars that have been given previously.”

Corona had an example to support his claim – the alleged $68 million in fraudulent spending by virtual charter schools.

NO MORE SCHOOL GRADES?

Indiana lawmakers could overhaul accountability, end school takeovers

Now that private schools and charter schools have learned that high poverty is the major cause of low student test scores, the pro-privatization legislature is considering ending school takeovers and school grades. When the punishment was only for public schools, it wasn't a concern.

Note also that the Chair of the House Education Committee (and school privatization consultant), Bob Behning, no longer thinks "accountability" is necessary.

From Chalkbeat*
Indiana lawmakers are considering a plan that would put the final nail in the coffin of the state’s aggressive efforts to take over schools with chronically low test results.

A proposal winning early support in the House would eliminate many of the consequences for poor test performance that typically loom over Indiana public schools. District schools with failing grades would no longer face the threat of state seizure or the steps that precede it, such as a requirement that districts attempt to improve schools by replacing personnel, giving them new resources, or working with outside experts.

Under the proposed law, charter schools with low grades would be able to seek renewals without special permission from the state. And even if they receive low marks from the state, private schools would be able to receive vouchers for new students.
SMART ALEC

A Smart ALEC Threatens Public Education

This is an old article (2012) but a reminder that ALEC is knee-deep in voucher expansion

From Education Week
A legislative contagion seemed to sweep across the Midwest during the early months of 2011. First, Wisconsin legislators wanted to strip public employees of the right to bargain. Then, Indiana legislators got into the act. Then, it was Ohio. In each case, Republican governors and Republican-controlled state legislatures had introduced substantially similar bills that sought sweeping changes to each state’s collective bargaining statutes and various school funding provisions.

What was going on? How could elected officials in multiple states suddenly introduce essentially the same legislation?

The answer: The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Its self-described legislative approach to education reads:

Across the country for the past two decades, education reform efforts have popped up in legislatures at different times in different places. As a result, teachers’ unions have been playing something akin to “whack-a-mole”—you know the game—striking down as many education reform efforts as possible. Many times, the unions successfully “whack” the “mole,” i.e., the reform legislation. Sometimes, however, they miss. If all the moles pop up at once, there is no way the person with the mallet can get them all. Introduce comprehensive reform packages. (Ladner, LeFevre, & Lips, 2010, p. 108)

PUBLIC SCHOOLS LOSES LEADER

Legendary former Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis has died. ‘She was a fighter and a treasure for this city.’

Public schools lost a strong leader with the death of former Chicago Teachers Union President, Karen Lewis.

From the Chicago Tribune
Karen Lewis, the firebrand former Chicago Teachers Union president who led a seven-day strike and nearly ran for mayor, has died at 67.

Details of her death were not immediately available, but Lewis was diagnosed with cancer in October 2014. The news came a day after the union, whose current administrators have said “will always and forever be the house that Karen built,” announced a tentative reopening deal with Chicago Public Schools and Mayor Lori Lightfoot that, if approved through a union vote, would avert a strike.

Lewis’ tenure as CTU president was marked by an unprecedented number of school closings, teacher layoffs, charter school expansion, crumbling school finances and rancorous contract talks with the city’s Board of Education.

In September 2012, she led the city’s first teachers strike in a quarter-century and stood at the helm of demonstrations that underscored smoldering national debates over public education reform. That gave her the political muscle to consider a run for mayor against then-incumbent Rahm Emanuel, a man she once described as the “murder mayor.” Lewis said in a later interview that once doctors told her of a malignant brain tumor detected near the surface of her frontal lobe, she knew her plans to take over City Hall were finished.

TESTING DURING THE PANDEMIC: STILL A WASTE OF TIME AND MONEY

A Teacher in California: The Madness of Test Obsession

From Diane Ravitch
A teacher in California, who must remain anonymous to protect her job, wrote this post. CAASP testing is the Common Core test produced by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC).

“We are 100% virtual, and teachers just had to sign an affidavit regarding CAASPP testing. I cannot believe they are STILL going forward with this. They expect that kids will 1) be in a quiet place with no distractions, 2) have their cameras on at all times, 3) not be using any other materials except pencil/paper, 4) that kids will have earbuds/headphones so they can hear the audio portion, 5) that kids won’t talk about the test content with ANYBODY.

And then, teachers are 1) supposed to simultaneously monitor 20+ students’ cameras and computer screens, 2) write down every time a student looks away or commits some other infraction, 3) keep every kid from unmuting their microphones (impossible).

*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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