Monday, January 4, 2021

In Case You Missed It – January 4, 2020

Here are links to last week's articles receiving the most attention in NEIFPE's social media. Keep up with what's going on, what's being discussed, and what's happening with public education.

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Legislators may push voucher expansion

Even with the teacher pay report suggesting a large increase in teacher salaries, Indiana's educators will likely not see any increase. The best they can hope for is that nothing will be cut. Cue the legislature to hypocritically ignore the "lack of funds" and ask for more money for private and religious school vouchers. 

When the voucher program started it was to "save poor kids from failing public schools" (the fact that the schools were "failing" was because of state neglect is beside the point). Now the voucher for poor kids will pay for families who make over $100,000!

From School Matters
At least eight House Republicans include this question in their surveys, which are posted on their internet sites: “Do you support increasing the income eligibility for Indiana’s CHOICE scholarships, giving more low- and middle-income families the option to send their children to the school that best meets their needs?”

Note that the question contains a falsehood. Increasing the income eligibility for vouchers, officially labeled Choice Scholarships, won’t change anything for low-income families. They already meet income qualifications for the program, which provides state funding for private school tuition.

Under current law, students can qualify for vouchers if their family income is less than 150% of the threshold for reduced-price school meals. They remain eligible if their family income rises to 200% of the reduced-meal level. For a family of five, that’s $113,516, two times Indiana’s median household income.

In other words, low-income families and many middle-income families already meet the income requirements. According to the 2019-20 Indiana Department of Education voucher report, a quarter of voucher recipients came from families that made over $75,000 and 7% made over $100,000.


Pay increase for teachers priority over tuition grant

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
The panel's 37 recommendations for raising teacher pay all have some merit. But FWCS' Steve Corona, one of the state's longest-tenured school board members, offered another: Reduce the amount of tax money sent to private and parochial schools as vouchers.

"If they're serious about raising teacher pay in public schools, this is the fund that they need to take a look at," he said.

He's right. The cost of Indiana's voucher entitlement program grew by 924% in just seven years, from 15.5 million in 2011-12 to 158.8 million in 2018-19. More than 25% of voucher recipients come from households earning 75,000 a year or more. More than 7% of the students come from households earning 100,000-plus.

It's no coincidence that Indiana's public school teacher salaries have slipped as the cost of the voucher program has skyrocketed. Lawmakers can stop the decline by tightening income eligibility for an entitlement program sold as a way for poor students to escape failing schools. Support for today's public school teachers and the next generation of teachers should take precedence over private-school tuition for families with the means to pay it themselves.

Another Round Of Teacher Bashing

Can we stop blaming teachers and their unions whenever we disagree about school issues? Why don't we figure out what schools need to open safely.

From Curmudgucation
The level of bash, of demeaning insult, in this "selfish teachers close our schools" argument is huge. Because there are only a couple of possible explanations for the picture critics like FEE [the Foundation for Economic Education] paint:
Teachers are stupid people who don't understand the settled science.

Teachers are stupid and also lazy people who went into teaching hoping they would have to never actually work and the pandemic shut-downs are their idea of a gift from God, and they want to stretch out this paid vacation for as long as possible.

Teachers are big fat liars who are pretending not to understand the settled science so they can milk the taxpayers while providing nothing in return.

Teachers should be martyrs who want to give up their entire lives for their students, and if they don't want to do that (or, incidentally, want to be well-paid for it), they're lousy teachers and terrible human beings.
Note that all of these include the assumption that distance learning is a big fat vacation. Also, people who chose teaching as their life's work don't actually want to teach. Also, as FEE makes explicit, teachers do not have students' interests at heart. They don't care about the kids at all (which adds to the assumption of their stupidity, because if you don't care about children, teaching seems like a pretty dumb career choice, but hey--maybe you became a teacher because you couldn't manage a real job).


Democrats Need A New Theory Of Action

"'We can run three or four school systems for the cost of one' was always a lie, and it's time to stop pretending otherwise."

From Curmudgucation
Trouble is, the old plan, the one spanning both the Clinton and Obama years, is not a winner. It went, roughly, like this:

The way to fix poverty, racism, injustice, inequity and economic strife is to get a bunch of children to make higher scores on a single narrow standardized test; the best shot at getting this done is to give education amateurs the opportunity to make money doing it.

This was never, ever a good plan. Ever. Let me count the ways.

My Interview on “Democracy Now”

From Diane Ravitch
I was interviewed by Amy Goodman and Juan González about President-Elect Biden’s choice of Miguel Cardona. He needs not only to reverse Betsy DeVos’s four disastrous years, but 20 years of bad federal policy.

Here it is.


Biden Picks Connecticut Commissioner Miguel Cardonas as Secretary of Education

President-Elect Biden's choice for Secretary of Education is mostly an unknown...

From Diane Ravitch
...if he wants genuine reform, he will begin the process of writing a new federal law to replace the Every Student Succeeds Act and dramatically reduce the burdens imposed by clueless politicians on our nation’s schools.

Dr. Cardona is known for his efforts to reopen the schools during the pandemic. He knows that this can’t happen without the resources to reopen safely. The pandemic is surging again. It is not over. He knows this, and he will have to move with caution not to put the lives of staff or students at risk.

I will not judge him until I see how he handles not only the present dire moment, but the legacy of twenty years of failed federal policy. I am hoping to be pleasantly surprised. Hope springs eternal. We can’t live without it.
Connecticut: A Teacher Remembers Cardona

From Diane Ravitch
...he is someone who is more interested in getting things right and in making true improvements than he is in seeing his name in lights. He acts like someone who wants to be in positions where he can make a difference for the benefit of others, not for his own aggrandizement. I can’t speak on his positions on this or that issue. We’re not friends, just former colleagues, and I’ve not said more than “hello” to him in over seven years. But there is no one I’ve dealt with in administration whom I respect more.

Biden Picks Former President of Broad Foundation as Deputy Chief of Staff

...but this choice is definitely not supportive of public education.

From Diane Ravitch
Reed has been an outspoken proponent of charter schools for decades, championing their rise inside the Clinton White House, where he led the Domestic Policy Council. But although Reed has publicly drawn the line at for-profit charter schools and vouchers, the Broad Foundation funded organizations that support both.

Reed also frowned on community, or “mom-and-pop” charter schools, telling the Los Angeles Times in 2014, “There are high-quality charter management organizations that do extraordinary work.” He said, “School districts have made the mistake of thinking they know best.”

SACS considers pay boost for subs

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
A school district that's seen its substitute teacher pool shrink dramatically because of the pandemic is looking to boost those employees' pay.

But leaders of Southwest Allen County Schools acknowledge the $5 boost to the daily rate might not expand the roster of subs.

"I'm not sure how much more we're going to attract," said LuAnn Erickson, human resources director. "I think people want to be at Southwest, they want to be subs here, and everybody's struggling with finding enough subs."
**Note: The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette has changed its online access and is now behind a paywall. Digital access, home delivery, or both, are available with a subscription. Staying informed is important, and one way to do that is to support your local newspaper. For subscription information go to


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