Monday, May 3, 2021

In Case You Missed It – May 3, 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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DO WE REALLY NEED STANDARDIZED TESTING DURING COVID?

The United States been obsessed with testing since No Child Left Behind. The increase in testing was supposed to increase student achievement based on the success of the "Texas Miracle" which never actually happened.

We know that the obsession with standardized testing hasn't really helped children learn more, so do we really need to subject kids who have been traumatized by COVID lockdowns, Zoom-schools, and other pandemic adjustments to the stress of high stakes testing?

Just how much have we ILEARNed?

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
As I started teaching in 2002, significant emphasis on testing was just starting. Since that time, our schools across the country have been retooled to improve on the one measure used: performance on the test.

It changed education for the worse. The promise of better schools was made on the idea that educators could and should use results to improve teaching practices. In my life, I have not met a single teacher who had not entered the profession to make a difference for kids. Unfortunately, there has been little to no investment allowing all teachers to have a hand in a meaningful assessment or in providing support in interpreting results to make positive changes.

Accountability for student performance without teachers, schools or districts understanding what scores mean or how school policies and processes need to change is a serious issue. Results of the state summative test can't be used to change classroom instruction directly, but the reality is that we tell teachers they aren't doing it right and we tell them to do it better without any support as to how.

The overemphasis on testing and scores has caused a loss of focus on what kids can and can't do.

Teachers suffering ill effects as severely as students are

This soon-to-be retiring teacher speaks out against inappropriate testing.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
I am retiring in June after 32 years in education as a first and second grade teacher and reading interventionist. I truly have given my heart and soul to children over the years through teaching and loving the ones I have been blessed to know.

I just finished giving the ILEARN practice test for third through fifth grade to children who qualified for various reasons to be tested in a small-group setting. Some reasons are physical, such as vision and hearing issues, others have Individual Education Plans.

I can't begin to tell you the sorrow I feel as we year after year present a "test" to children that is so unbelievably developmentally inappropriate.

Even in a normal year without the threat and complications of COVID-19, the bar continues to be raised to the point that only the brightest, most advantaged children have a chance at success. I worry our state has made a mess of student assessment.
RESHAPING EDUCATION IN INDIANA - GIFTS TO PRIVATIZERS

Indiana lawmakers passed measures that will reshape education. Here’s what you should know.

Among the things you should know is that the supermajority in the 2021 Indiana General Assembly has expanded vouchers to families who make nearly double the median Hoosier income; they have made it more difficult for teachers to join and maintain their union membership; and they made it easier for untrained college graduates to teach in order to alleviate the teacher shortage of their own making. Elections matter.

From Chalkbeat*
Indiana legislators reshaped education in significant ways this year by helping schools cope with setbacks from the COVID-19 pandemic, eliminating the threat of state takeover for struggling schools, nearly doubling funding, and broadening school vouchers for middle-class families.

The additional $1.9 billion lawmakers directed toward education over the next two years will enable school districts to raise teacher pay — a win for educators that comes a year and a half after thousands rallied at the statehouse to demand better pay.

FWCS NEWS

FWCS to use some virus relief aid for new tech

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Fort Wayne Community Schools is spending some of its federal coronavirus relief dollars on tablets, laptops and internet providers.

The board Monday approved four sets of technology purchases that will be partially or entirely financed by the second round of federal emergency funding announced in February.

FWCS' allocation was more than $40 million.

The board approved buying 4,493 iPads, including setup services, and 3,693 iPad cases with a keyboard from Apple for about $1.6 million.

The number of cases and iPads don't match because 800 devices don't require a keyboard, and their cases will be bought separately, officials said.
Five questions for Noah Smith: Fort Wayne Community Schools board member

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
I want FWCS to be the district of choice and a source of pride for the Fort Wayne community. As a state, we are not only below average on important educational initiatives like teacher pay, we are well below average. I believe Fort Wayne is an “above average” city and want our school district to be thought of as “above average” as well. I don't see how we can get there without more support from the state, which means more money.

I appreciate the state's new budget for 2022 and 2023 and its investment in our teachers. I hope to see consistency in this investment going forward. As a taxpayer, it's hard to see state leaders throw more money at schools that don't share our “gift” of accountability and transparency, particularly vouchers and (Education Savings Accounts) at private schools, as heretofore there has been a decrease in the support it provides for those traditional public schools that serve over 94% of all students.

ENABLING SEGREGATION IN MINNESOTA

Minnesota: Elites Propose Constitutional Amendment to Enable Segregated Schools

The next step in school choice...standardized tests, and segregation in the name of "efficiency." One wonders why Indiana'a supermajority didn't think of this first.

From Diane Ravitch
...leading figures in the state charter lobby want to pass an amendment to the state constitution that would make segregated schools acceptable, while adding that school quality would be determined by standardized tests.
*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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