Monday, April 26, 2021

In Case You Missed It – April 26, 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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The coronavirus pandemmic has had an impact on school children...academically, socially, and emotionally. Do we need to spend millions of dollars nation-wide for testing? Proponents of testing say that we need to know where the students are academically and provide remediation and academic support. But do tests actually tell us where students are academically or do they simply provide information on socio-economic levels?

Testing has always had limited value. Not everything that we value in education can be tested. Perhaps we should take this opportunity to help students heal from the trauma of COVID-19 before we subject them to tests that will just confirm that wealthy students get higher test scores than students who live in poverty.

Why learning isn’t the most important thing kids lost during the pandemic

From the Answer Sheet
Whatever we do when we return will be historic by definition. If all we come up with is passing out diagnostic tests to quantify learning loss and then track kids into groups for remediation, it will be a terrible failure of imagination.

“You know what’s going to happen to the kids who couldn’t get online last year because they had to support their families or because they were homeless when the sorting happens, right?” asks Berger. “They’re going to be sorted in a way that will only exacerbate the equity issues.”

Trailing down the backside of a steep mountain at long last, and picking up speed as we head into a promising new year, we seem to have our eyes fixed on the wrong problem entirely...

Outrage Continues as Standardized Testing Moves Forward in this COVID-19 School Year

From Jan Resseger
Standardized testing—required this school year by Education Secretary Miguel Cardona’s U.S. Department of Education despite the disruption of COVID-19—is now happening in many public schools across the United States. But even as the tests are being administered, the anger and protests against this expensive, time consuming, and, many believe, harmful routine are not abating.

Last week, the Washington Post‘s Valerie Strauss reported: “The Biden administration is facing growing backlash from state education chiefs, Republican senators, teachers unions and others who say that its insistence that schools give standardized tests to students this year is unfair, and that it is being inconsistent in how it awards testing flexibility to states. Michigan State Superintendent Michael Rice has slammed the U.S. Education Department for its ‘indefensible’ logic in rejecting the state’s request for a testing waiver while granting one to the Washington, D.C., school system—the only waiver that has been given. Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen, whose state was also denied a waiver, said testing this year ‘isn’t going to show any data that is going to be meaningful for learning moving forward… The controversy represents the newest chapter in a long-running national debate about the value of high-stakes standardized tests. Since 2002, the federal government has mandated schools give most students ELA and math standardized tests every year for the purposes of holding schools accountable for student progress. The scores are also used to rank schools, evaluate teachers, make grade promotion decisions and other purposes.”

FWCS adjusts schedules for tests

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Fort Wayne Community Schools needs middle school students to ditch their routines this week.

Students attending on a blended schedule will learn virtually Monday through Friday, and the remote students will attend in person.

The swap is because of ILEARN.

Students in grades three through eight are required to take the state's standardized test in person.


Two local school boards have had to deal with parents arguing against the Governor's mask mandate for K-12 schools.

NACS panel: Masks safe for kids

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Dr. Matthew Sutter, the Allen County health commissioner, said schools are an ideal place to spread COVID-19, which makes adherence to mitigation strategies incredibly important.

“Masks are inexpensive, they're generally well tolerated, and it's worked,” Sutter said...

Board members, particularly President Kent Somers and Steve Bartkus, pressed panelists about potential negative effects – both mentally and physically – of forcing students to wear masks for hours a day.

Evidence does not show masks cause mental health declines, panelists said.

Rather, they said, students are affected by being taken away from their social circles, such as sports and school. Parents' anxieties and home situations are other contributing factors, they said.

“I think we might be a little cavalier in thinking masks are safe,” Somers said, questioning whether there are health trade-offs to wearing masks. “Isn't there some real risks to the kids?”

No, panelists said. Masks can be safely worn.
Mask debate ignites EACS school board meeting as many voiced concerns

To masks or not to masks? That was the debate at the East Allen County School Board meeting Tuesday night where teachers, parents, students and school administrators voiced their concerns over whether or not to let student unmask while at school.

At times tensions were high and after more than an hour of discussion, the rooms were still spilt.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions there were only so many seats available in the board room. This meant parents, students and other member of the public who wished to speak were asked to wait in the lobby and in other locations of the administration building.

Some parents say that the school should allow students to choose whether or not to wear a mask. They say they are not against teachers or the school system but they are worried about their student’s mental health.

However, one teacher who spoke asked the board to keep the masks as a safety precaution until the end of the school year. To that some of the parents boo-ed him.


EACS doesn't wait on stipends

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
The East Allen County Schools board Tuesday didn't want to wait two weeks to endorse Superintendent Marilyn Hissong's request to spend federal coronavirus relief dollars on $500 and $1,000 stipends for employees.

“OK, let's just do this tonight,” board President Todd Buckmaster said when board members embraced Gayle Etzler's suggestion to act immediately on what was presented as a discussion-only item.

Collectively, employees will get about $1,193,500, with individual awards based on part-time and full-time status. Those employed May 14 are eligible.

“We wanted to do this for our staff,” Hissong said. “It took everyone to make this happen this year.”

**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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