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 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.


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.

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)


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.


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


No comments: