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.

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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 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.

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.


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.


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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