Monday, February 8, 2021

In Case You Missed It – February 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.

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HB 1005 -- an expansion of vouchers that will take even more money from public schools and launder it through parents to unaccountable private schools that can (and do) discriminate -- has passed out of the House Education Committee and is now scheduled to be heard by the Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday, February 9.

Meanwhile, Fort Wayne Community Schools, made up of real public schools, has to work around cuts in complexity funding (which is based on students and families in each district receiving welfare or food stamps or caring for foster children).

Three articles about HB 1005 on our Facebook page received a lot of attention last week.

Indiana voucher supporters, opponents spar at Statehouse

From Chalkbeat*
A set of Statehouse proposals that would vastly expand public funding for private school education in Indiana inspired a marathon of impassioned testimony Wednesday, from both supporters and opponents of the controversial bills.

The legislature is considering opening the state’s existing private school voucher program to thousands of families who currently make too much money to qualify and increasing the stipends for middle-class students. The proposals would also create education savings accounts, which would give stipends to parents of children with special needs for their schooling.

The House Education Committee made several changes to the bill in bid to bring down the price tag to about $34 million in the first year, from the initial projection of over $100 million. A House Republican priority, the bill was approved by a vote of 8-4, and it will head to the Ways and Means Committee next.
The next two articles about HB 1005 were posted before the House Education Committee approved the legislation.

Betsy DeVos is gone — but ‘DeVosism’ sure isn’t. Look at what Florida, New Hampshire and other states are doing.

Indiana is only one of several states where privatization is occurring. There is a blitz of privatization articles now pending in Republican controlled state legislatures.

From the Answer Sheet

House Bill 1005 would greatly expand the state’s voucher program by allowing families with incomes up to $145,000 a year to participate. That amount is near twice the median income of families in the state and provides taxpayer assistance to families who can already comfortably afford to send their child to a private school. According to an estimate from the Legislative Services Agency, it could increase the number of students receiving state stipends by about 40 percent in 2021-22.

Some 12,000 students already attending such schools would be eligible for state funding — costing taxpayers $100 million in the first year alone. In addition, the bill would add a new “Education Savings Accounts,” which would be made available to parents with students with special needs.

FWCS leader: Call your legislator: Tells parents bill to grow school choice detrimental

House Bill 1005 would expand Indiana's school choice program and create a more generous education savings account system. It has an estimated cost of $202 million over the next two years alone.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
House Bill 1005 would expand Indiana's school choice program and create a more generous education savings account system. It has an estimated cost of $202 million over the next two years alone.

Six Big Problems With Education Savings Accounts

In this post, Peter Greene writes about the problems with Education Savings Accounts which are included in Indiana's HB 1005. Among the problems he sees are the fact that parents can choose multiple unaccountable and unqualified vendors. There's also the problem of choice. Private schools -- or in this case, educational vendors -- can choose which students to accept and which to deny. Education Savings Accounts are just another step in the move from education as a common good to education as a commodity.

From Peter Greene at Forbes
No Oversight or Accountability

Most ESA programs have little or no accountability in place to determine just how the money is being spent. In Arizona, an audit found that parents had spent $700K of ESA money on beauty supplies and clothing. In Florida, where voucher-receiving schools openly discriminate against LGBTQ students, a new bill proposes that audits be performed only every three years. Kentucky’s new ESA bill proposes audits after the state has found evidence of mis-use of funds, which seems like a rather late shutting of the barn doors. And the bill that the Iowa senate just fast-tracked in order to establish ESAs includes no call for any audits or oversight at all. (That may be in part why the Iowa Satanic Temple has announced their intention to establish the Iowa Satanic School.)


John Thompson: Oklahoma’s Disastrous Efforts to Privatize Everything

Shouldn't taxpayers have a say in how public dollars are spent? With vouchers and ESAs, there is no public oversight of public tax dollars.

From Diane Ravitch
Speaking of school privatization, this week the Epic Charter Schools board “accepted the resignation of 11-year member Mike Cantrell.” This occurred as the State Department of Education continued efforts to “recoup” $11.2 million of inappropriately spent state money. Cantrell still claims, “They don’t have a right to look at a private company’s records.” He calls the auditing process a “sham,” and speculated that maybe the auditor should be impeached.


Two articles about nominee for Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona

Carol Burris: Cardona Is a Public School Guy

From Diane Ravitch
“Most parents want to send their children to their neighborhood school. It is important to support all schools, including the neighborhood schools that are usually the first choice for families in that community.”

That statement gives me hope. Cardona did not fall into the trap of using the term “traditional public schools,” a term coined by the charter community.

“Traditional public schools” is and was always meant to be a disparaging term. Cardona’s innovative elementary school was not “traditional.” The high school I led that had an enriched, challenging curriculum for all where support and racial integration of classrooms and activities were the highest priority was not “traditional.”

Cardona deliberately chose the term–“neighborhood” to describe public schools. Unlike his predecessors he did not use “traditional” to distinguish them from charters. And he stated that they are, as our friends at Journey for Justice remind us, “usually the first choice for families in that community.”

Cardona: Testing is important, but ‘I don’t think we need to be bringing students in just to test them’

Will Indiana follow federal advice about testing?

From Chalkbeat*
Miguel Cardona sent mixed messages Wednesday morning on how he would approach federally required standardized testing this year, in the likely event that he is confirmed as education secretary.

“If the conditions under COVID-19 prevent a student from being in school in person, I don’t think we need to be bringing students in just to test them,” Cardona said in response to a question from Sen. Richard Burr during his confirmation hearing. But he suggested he still believes testing could be useful this year.

“If we don’t assess where our students are and their level of performance, it’s going to be difficult for us to provide targeted support and resource allocation in the manner that can best support the closing of the gaps that have been exacerbated due to this pandemic,” he said.

Burr followed up by asking whether states should be able to make their own decisions.

Cardona responded: “I feel that states should not only have an opportunity to weigh in on how they plan on implementing it and what’s best for their students, but also the accountability measures and whether or not those assessments should really be tied into any accountability measures.”

*Note: Financial sponsors of Chalkbeat include pro-privatization foundations and individuals such as Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, EdChoice, Gates Family Foundation, The Walton Family Foundation, and others.

**Note: The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette has changed its online access and is now behind a paywall. Digital access, home delivery, or both, are available with a subscription. Staying informed is important, and one way to do that is to support your local newspaper. For subscription information go to


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