Monday, April 12, 2021

In Case You Missed It – April 12, 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 EXPANSION IN INDIANA

New Indiana budget proposal scales back private school voucher expansion

The Indiana Senate scaled back the increase in Indiana's voucher program proposed by the House of Representatives. Public school advocates and more than 170 school boards spoke out against the massive increase that the House proposed.

From Chalkbeat*
After a chorus of opposition from public school districts and advocates, Indiana Senate Republicans significantly scaled back an expansion of the state’s private school voucher program under their budget proposal Thursday.

The Senate plan would not extend private school vouchers to as many middle-class families as suggested in the House budget proposal and other legislation discussed this session. It also would dramatically curtail a proposal for education savings accounts, which would give stipends to parents of children with special needs who do not attend public schools.

The Senate would nonetheless make the state voucher program, which currently serves more than 36,000 students, more generous than it is currently. Students from a family of four earning nearly $110,000 per year could be eligible for vouchers under the Senate plan. It would raise the eligibility for new students to 200% of the subsidized meal income qualifications and 225% for returning students and those receiving special education, instead of the House’s proposed cap of 300%.

No Pause in Indiana's Push for Privatization

The Senate might have scaled back the House's massive gift to privatization, but an expansion of vouchers is still an expansion of vouchers.

From Live Long and Prosper
The bill now goes to a conference committee where House members will try to put back what the Senate took out. Speaker of the House Todd Huston, whose campaign contributions include $35,000 from Betsy DeVos's Hoosiers for Quality Education (see also here), said that the house will "be negotiating very aggressively" to get back what was taken out so they can satisfy their lust for privatization.

One might even think that the plan all along was for the House to propose an extreme expansion of vouchers, then have the Senate back off a bit to pacify public school advocates (and more than 170 school boards around the state), and settle on a more "modest" increase in voucher money and an ESA plan.

It's still an increase in Indiana's ever increasing move towards total privatization.
FIGHTING VOUCHERS

Scholars show how to challenge voucher discrimination

Steve Hinnefeld explains one possible way to fight against vouchers.

From School Matters
...supporters promote vouchers to expand opportunities for students and families. But, as the programs expand, state officials often enable them to deny those benefits to entire groups of students.

“Vouchers were sold as program that all could benefit from, but the anti-LGBT provisions give the lie to that statement,” Green said.

Charters vs. Vouchers

What's worse, Vouchers or Charters? Both have had their part to play in harming America's public schools, but one has more potential to destroy them altogether. Do you know which one it is? Peter Greene casts his vote.

From Curmudgucation
I have tried (I love a good thought experiment), but I cannot imagine a world with a voucher system that is not really a pay-your-own-way, two or three tier system (with the vestiges of public education occupying the lowest tier). Charters have adopted and tacked on free market ideology as a tool and a desired outcome, but vouchers cannot be separated from it, because the whole concept of vouchers is about replacing shared societal responsibility for maintaining a common good with opportunities for folks to make a buck. At the same time, the wealthy will still get the education they want for their children, while being freed of any requirement to help foot the bill for educating Those Peoples' Children. And I am unable to imagine--nor have I seen anyone propose--a voucher system that works otherwise.
LOCAL FORT WAYNE EDUCATION

PFW allowing student teachers to substitute for local school systems

Purdue University in West Lafayette modified its policy and now allows student teachers to get paid for substituting. Purdue Fort Wayne (PFW), follows suit.

From Fort Wayne's NBC
Back in March, Purdue modified its policy regarding student teachers working as paid substitutes.
“We knew our school partners were struggling with needing subs, so when we heard about Purdue’s move, we wanted to do the same. Student teachers pay full tuition for the experience of working full-time under the guidance of a mentor teacher – they do not get paid. I love that this provides an opportunity for our students to both help their schools and make a financially challenging semester a little easier.”

Isabel Nuñez, director of Purdue Fort Wayne’s School of Education

NACS teachers support masks: Union backs precautions as others voice opposition

The teachers of Northwest Allen County Schools take a stand on wearing masks.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
As parents lobby the Northwest Allen County Schools board to relax masking rules, teachers are speaking up in support of mask-wearing and other coronavirus precautions.

Such protocols make in-person instruction possible during the pandemic, protecting students from the greatest threat to their social and emotional health – isolation from classmates and teachers, the Northwest Allen County Education Association said in a statement.

“To safely achieve the 'in-person' structure, precautionary measures such as the wearing of masks and social distancing must be implemented and respected,” the union said. “These precautionary measures allow educators to effectively support the academic success and emotional health of the thousands of NACS students and families in our community.”
FROM DIANE RAVITCH

My Broken Heart

NPE President, Diane Ravitch, told her readers about her upcoming heart surgery.

From Diane Ravitch
I was born in 1938. I’m in pretty good health, considering my age. But one of the valves in my heart has a leak. It must be repaired. On April 8, I am having open heart surgery. The surgeon will break open my breastbone to reach my heart, then wire it back together. He assures me I will be fine, but fatigued, when it’s over.

I have tried to take it in stride, but it’s hard not to find it scary. Terrifying, actually.

Karen Francisco: Why I Fight to Save Public Schools

While she's recovering from heart surgery, Diane Ravitch asked others to write blog posts for her. In this piece, Karen Francisco, editorial editor of the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**, chronicles her journey towards public school advocacy.

From Diane Ravitch
I wish I could say Indiana has seen some success in fighting off the privatization monster, but that’s far from the truth. More than $1 billion has now flowed to private and parochial schools through the voucher program, with no accountability. A scandal involving a virtual charter school cost taxpayers at least $85 million, with seemingly no concern from lawmakers or taxpayers. In the current legislative session, the Republican supermajority is throwing everything at school choice: income limits that make vouchers available to wealthy families, ESAs, full funding for online-only schools and more.

*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, 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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