Monday, April 19, 2021

In Case You Missed It – April 19, 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 *new* Follow Us By Email box in the right-hand column to be informed when our blog posts are published.


If you follow this blog by email...

If you signed up to receive notices of new blog posts using the old Follow Us By Email box in the right-hand column of the blog, you will stop receiving those notices soon. Click the link above to learn how to follow NEIFPE's blog posts.

The Indiana General Assembly under the Republican supermajority continues its inexorable move towards the total privatization of public education.

Indiana poised to open school vouchers to families earning over $100,000

From Chalkbeat*
Nearly half of all Indiana families already meet the income criteria to be eligible for the program. Both the House and Senate budget proposals would open voucher access even further, in some cases to families earning over $100,000 per year for a family of four.

The plans would also eliminate partial vouchers, granting even middle-income families full scholarships — which average more than $5,800 per student.

For Republican politicians, who dominate state government in Indiana, the all-but-certain expansion represents a big win in advancing their free-market vision, where parents choose what is best for their child. At the same time, the legislature plans to broaden school choice, by creating education savings accounts that would provide stipends to pay for schooling and therapies for children with special needs.

A decade after Indiana created vouchers, the program served nearly 37,000 students at a price tag of close to $173 million last year. Enrollment plateaued in recent years, and widening eligibility for vouchers could spur a surge in participation.

Public funding for private education remains deeply polarizing. While Indiana’s voucher program initially targeted students from low-income families, the Republican expansion plans would offer generous aid to middle-income families. That amounts to a subsidy for affluent families, including some who likely would have enrolled their children in private schools without aid.
Senate approves 2-year budget

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
The most strident speech against the budget came from longtime Republican Evansville Sen. Vaneta Becker. She called out the lack of effort on increasing teacher pay and the growing cost of K-12 school choice programs.

Becker said the state is losing teachers right and left because salaries are lagging the nation but, "I know most people in here don't care about that."

She also noted that an expansion of the state voucher program now makes a family of four making up to 95,000 a year eligible for a state-paid private school education. She compared that to the income limits on other state assistance programs, including 56,000 for a pregnant woman in a family of four.

"Ninety-five thousand dollars is nowhere near low-income," Becker said.

The voucher program started as a small 15 million investment and now has spent more than 1 billion over a decade, she said.

"The good thing about science is that it's true whether you believe it or not." -- Neil DeGrasse Tyson

Mask discussion goes on at NACS

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
One parent supporting mask choice said he wants NACS to have a plan. He described mask-wearing at school as an experiment, and claimed masks don't protect anybody, despite health officials saying otherwise.

"This isn't based on science," the parent said, demanding local data. "It's an overreaction."

Dr. Matthew Sutter, Allen County health commissioner, reiterated in emailed statements to The Journal Gazette last week that precautionary measures : including mask-wearing, social distancing, frequent hand-washing and avoiding large crowds : slow the spread of COVID-19.

NACS Superintendent Chris Himsel two weeks ago credited mask-wearing and other mitigation strategies for having fewer than 10 district cases linked to in-school transmission despite having more than 400 student and employee infections.

Those supporting the mask mandate included a teacher with a high-risk pregnancy. She said dropping the requirement would jeopardize her and her child's health.

A pediatrician stressed COVID-19 hasn't disappeared, and its effects on children can be serious, including heart failure.
Outside school called riskier for kids than class

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Dr. Matthew Sutter, the county health commissioner, reiterated in emailed statements last week that precautionary measures – including mask-wearing, social distancing, frequent handwashing and avoiding large crowds – slow the spread of COVID-19.

“If people choose to let their guard down, we could still see ongoing transmission of this deadly virus,” Sutter said. “And while children are not likely to die from COVID-19, we know they can spread it – particularly in their household, which may include individuals who are more at-risk for hospitalization and death.”

NACS Superintendent Chris Himsel credited mask-wearing and other mitigation strategies for having fewer than 10 district cases linked to in-school transmission despite having more than 400 student and employee infections.
child PNG Designed By 588ku from


Every teacher in the county will tell you that students who have had a chaotic school year -- sometimes hybrid, sometimes in class, sometimes at home -- will not score well on standardized tests given this year.

Every teacher in the country knows that the students who need the most help -- those who have special learning needs and those in poverty -- will not score well on standardized tests given this year.

The commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics has agreed to cancel the NAEP tests -- the Nation's Report Card -- for this year because of the pandemic. The commissioner, James Woodworth, said,
“[Due to the pandemic,] The change in operations and lack of access to students to be assessed means that NAEP will not be able to produce estimates of what students know and can do that would be comparable to either past or future national or state estimates.”
Do we really need state testing to tell us what we already know?

Cardona’s Flexibility on Standardized Testing Creates Confusion and Rancor

From Jan Resseger
After a chaotic schoolyear including remote learning and sometimes complicated hybrid schedules of in-person and remote learning, students are returning to full-time school to face the annual standardized tests. These are the tests that Congress requires under the Every Student Succeeds Act, the tests first required by No Child Left Behind (NCLB). They are the foundation of a two-decade-old scheme to hold schools accountable. Betsy DeVos cancelled required standardized testing last spring after schools shut down as the pandemic struck the Unites States.

The U.S. Department of Education announced in late February, before Education Secretary Miguel Cardona was even confirmed, that it is requiring standardized testing this spring. There is a whole lot of confusion between the federal government and the states right now because the federal guidance about testing this year features “flexibility.”

Here is some of the letter, dated February 22, 2021, from acting assistant secretary of education, Ian Rosenblum, a letter which informed states they must test students this year...

Why Standardized Tests Won’t Measure What Students Learned During The Pandemic

From Peter Greene in Forbes
Some supporters of testing have leaned hard on marketing that emphasizes the dreaded Learning Loss, with every ed tech company on the block promising a solution. But while some test advocacy seems to be the result of disaster capitalism in search of an opportunity, many folks supporting the administration are doing so out of deep concern for educational equity in this country, while others believe that schools can only find their way back from the pandemic with hard data.

The argument in favor of collecting data is a compelling one. It is completely understandable that education leaders and policymakers and even editorial kibbitzers would like to have a clear, data-rich description of where students across the country are right now. There’s just one problem.

They can’t have it.
Yong Zhao and William McDiarmid: Time to Rethink Standardized Testing

From Diane Ravitch
COVID-19 has disrupted schooling in its traditional sense. It has also disrupted other school related activities such as state standardized testing. As schools return to “normal” thanks to vaccination, many states are already pushing to resume standardized testing as part of the “normal” operations of formal education and to assess the so-called “learning loss” (Zhao, 2021). Resuming standardized testing is perhaps one of the worst things that can happen to children, especially after more than a year of social isolation and unprecedented disruption.

John Thompson: How Corporate Reform Devastated My School

From Diane Ravitch
In 2006, our John Marshall High School was enduring the worst of the five months-long, extreme meltdowns I witnessed in 18 years with the Oklahoma City Public Schools. Many days, I’d see the anarchy and the blood-splattered halls, and ask if I was dreaming. One thing that kept me sane was the discovery of education blogs, above all Deborah Meier’s and Diane Ravitch’s conversations in Bridging Differences. In a prescient example of the wisdom which grew out of their “animated conversation,” they agreed:
That a central, abiding function of public education is to educate the citizens who will preserve the essential balances of power that democracy requires, as well as to support a sufficient level of social and economic equality, without which democracy cannot long be sustained. We agreed that the ends of education–its purposes, and the trade-offs that real life requires–must be openly debated and continuously re-examined.
*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: