Monday, June 21, 2021

In Case You Missed It – June 21, 2021

Here are links to the last two 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.
RACISM AND CRITICAL RACE THEORY

Critical Race Theory is "...an academic movement of civil-rights scholars and activists who seek to critically examine the law as it intersects with issues of race and to challenge mainstream liberal approaches to racial justice. Critical race theory examines social, cultural and legal issues as they relate to race and racism."

Schools don't "teach" Critical Race Theory, but state legislatures and school boards around the country are coming out against the "teaching" of Critical Race Theory in public schools. Is teaching that the first enslaved people arrived on North American shores in 1619 (and earlier) untrue? Is teaching that the Constitution had slavery clauses embedded within it teaching children to hate America? Is teaching about slavery, Jim Crow, and the failure of Reconstruction anti-American?

Of course not. Racism exists. Race as a source of conflict in the United States exists. Race has had an impact on the laws, history, and people of our country. Teaching about that impact is not anti-American. It does not mean that schools are "indoctrinating" children to hate America. It means that we teach children who we are...the good and the bad.

Public Schools Are Not Indoctrinating Kids About Racism. Voucher Schools ARE

From Gadfly on the Wall Blog
Republican frenzy has reached a fever pitch with attacks in at least 16 states on schools that allegedly teach Critical Race Theory.

Right-wingers claim public schools are indoctrinating America’s youth in lies and deception about race and racism – namely the “lie” that these things remain problems.

They grudgingly concede that racism was a (slight) problem in this country before the civil rights movement, but then Rosa sat down and Martin stood up and – POOF – racism was over.

End of story. Let’s move on.

However, there are several things wrong with this besides its basic reductivism.

First, no public school actually teaches Critical Race Theory.

Second, racism is not over in the US, and talking about the facts of history and how they led to our current situation is not indoctrination. It’s education – the job of public schools.

And finally, if you really want to see taxpayer funded indoctrination, look at private and parochial schools accepting taxpayer funding through voucher and tax credit programs.

Using Critical Race Theory To Target... Everything

Critical race theory- people who have no idea what it is are twisting it to gag the teaching of real and accurate history.

From Curmudgucation
...The vast majority of people talking about and talking against critical race theory have no clear idea of what it is, and so it is being used as a bludgeon against everything unpopular or controversial. Florida Citizens Alliance, one of the many anti-CRT groups popping up around the country talks about "the many tentacles" of CRT; those tentacles include "'equity', 'diversity', BLM, 1619 project, social emotional learning, etc." They consider it a CRT red flag if a textbook claims to use culturally sensitive teaching. Parents Defending Education, one of the leading astro-turf groups in the fight is against "indoctrination" and wants a return to "non-political" education, and they want you to know that Americans (at least the real ones) hate "woke" policies. Nevada Family Alliance is opposed to the "victim/oppressor worldview" pushed by schools that are indoctrinating students to "lead the effort to accomplish 'social justice'".

CRT is everything, everywhere.

It's fitting that some of these folks have linked CRT to Common Core, because the playbook is much the same. Define the term broadly, apply it to anything you don't like, dig up some wacky examples, raise some hell. (And don't forget to throw in some accusations of Marxism.)

There are several emerging trends.
Florida’s New Critical Race Theory Gag Rule Will Have A Chilling Effect in Classrooms.

From Peter Greene in Forbes
...states have passed, or are considering, legislation that bans broad topics such as “divisive ideas” or the idea that an individual, “by virtue of his or her race or sex is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive.” Oklahoma’s law says that the concepts such as the idea that “any individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race or sex” can’t be made part of a course. The list is typically composed of characteristics that opponents of critical race theory claim it contains.

But Board of Education member Tom Grady took Florida’s rule a step further by explicitly banning Critical Race Theory and the 1619 Project, as well as explicitly forbidding any idea that racism is in any way systemic or “embedded in American society.”

The rule manages to be both specific and vague at the same time; like many of these bills, it offers a definition of CRT that proponents of CRT would not necessarily recognize. Attempts to clarify are not necessarily helpful; when asked the department about teaching the Ocoee massacre, a 1920 attack by a white mob on a Black community, a reporter was told, apparently in writing, “The Ocoee massacre was a historical event. Like all historical events, it will be taught thoroughly.”

Justin Parmenter: North Carolina Tries to Control What Teachers Teach

From Diane Ravitch
NCBT Teacher Justin Parmenter writes here about the reaction of the Republican-controlled Legislature to their rampant fear that teachers might try to indoctrinate students into radical views of American history and society, like discussing shameful episodes in the past. The legislators want patriotic history that makes students proud to be Americans. First they passed a law requiring teachers to make public their lesson plans to prove that they are not “indoctrinating” students.
HIRING TEACHERS

Virus relief to hire teachers

Fort Wayne Community Schools will use coronavirus relief funds to add additional teachers.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Fort Wayne Community Schools is increasing its instructor roster with help from federal coronavirus relief dollars.

About a dozen of the 45 teachers hired Monday will be paid with the third round of temporary funding, which can be spent through fall 2024.

The investment in people is part of a strategy to narrow student learning gaps, Superintendent Mark Daniel said, telling the school board the district has added 40 positions.

With more personnel, FWCS can reduce class sizes and focus on students especially in need of help, Daniel said.

VOUCHERS

IN: Voucher Increase To Serve Church, Not Taxpayers

Indiana's voucher program has become a middle-class entitlement program. It's not about helping poor children. It's not about claiming that private schools are better than public schools. It's about giving even well-to-do families (in some cases with incomes over six figures), that already send or intended to send their children to private -- and in this case, Catholic -- schools, public funds so they can afford extra vacations, sporting events, camps, and other outside of school activities.

From Curmudgucation
Today's Catholic (Serving the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend) offers an article that gives a good picture of what vouchers really do. After all the rhetoric about choice and free exercise of religion, what are taxpayers really paying for?

Indiana has had a huge voucher program for ten years, and this year, the state budget included a big expansion of the program. The Indiana Catholic Conference lobbied for that expansion, which would "give more middle-income parents the option to choose a faith-based education for their children." Well, yes, because six-figure income families are now eligible.

That emphasis on religious education is the whole point and purpose.* Dr. Joseph Brettnacher, superintendent of Catholic schools for the diocese, lays out the mission:
The most important aspect of the Choice expansion is that more families will have the ability to send their children to faith-based schools, where students can develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ within His mystical body, the Church. Our goals for students are to create disciples of Jesus Christ, help them fulfill their destiny to become saints and reach heaven.
PUNISHING CHILDREN: RETENTION IN GRADE

Alabama Joins the Third-Grade Punishment Club

Decades of research into retention in grade has shown that it doesn't work as a solution to low achievement. "The majority of research fails to find compelling evidence that retention improves long-term student achievement. An overwhelmingly large body of studies have consistently demonstrated negative academic effects of retention. Contrary to popular belief, researchers have almost unanimously found that early retention during kindergarten to grade three is harmful, both academically and emotionally. Many studies find that retention does not necessarily lead to increased work effort among students as predicted."

So, why do we still do it?

From Live Long and Prosper
The Alabama attempt at this, using Individualized Reading Plans without additional support. The classroom teacher is supposed to take care of the whole thing. This is typical of the U.S. -- We require more from teachers without providing more support. Our children aren't a high enough priority for us to spend the money needed to assure their success.

We're failing our children because we're too cheap. Then we blame the student for learning at their own rate and punish them with retention. We are shortchanging our own future.
**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/

###

Monday, June 14, 2021

In Case You Missed It – June 14, 2021

NEIFPE is off this week. We'll be back with more updates on June 21, 2021. Thanks for supporting 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.


###

Monday, June 7, 2021

In Case You Missed It – June 7, 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.
DOES THE PUBLIC WANT "CHOICE"?

Failing grades

We no longer care about student achievement. Now it's about "choice" and the voucher schools get to "choose" their students.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Behning and his colleagues finally have managed to establish parent "choice" -- not student achievement -- as the ultimate value.

But education historian Jack Schneider, in a Zoom session Tuesday with the Indiana Coalition for Public Education, said there was never a discussion in which the public agreed choice was the goal. It is not even what the public wants, he argued.

"What they want is fully funded neighborhood schools," said Schneider, an assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell and a public-school parent in the state (ranked No. 1 on the Quality Counts 2021 survey). "In no case are people actually saying, 'What I want is to be able to play consumer with regard to schools.' No, what they want is a good school in their neighborhood."

He said choice creates a "false scarcity" of good schools and makes parents compete, even as those students who need the most services are set up to lose.

"It's a con -- an absolute con -- and people should be ashamed of themselves when they talk about advancing choice for the people who most need it when, in fact, those are the people who are going to be most harmed by it," Schneider said.

MORE MONEY SENT DOWN THE VOUCHER RABBIT-HOLE

For the first time, private virtual schools seek to accept vouchers in Indiana

As this article plainly shows, state-funded vouchers are being used by religious organizations despite the Indiana Constitution's prohibition in Article I, Section 6...
No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution.
The state's Supreme Court approved the process based on the fact that the state launders the money through parents of students who attend religious schools. It's still tax dollars.

Religious schools have the right to reject students based on religion, educational needs, and sexual preferences of the students or their parents. An argument can be made that private schools ought to be allowed to choose their students, but not when they do it with public tax money.

Virtual schools have a record of failure. There's no reason to assume that private, state-funded virtual schools will be any better, especially when Indiana has a past history of allowing voucher-funded schools to escape basic accountability.

From Chalkbeat*
Two new private schools hope to join the growing wave of online education in Indiana and accept state funded-vouchers to subsidize tuition — a first for virtual schools.

Both are spin-offs of existing schools, with the virtual branches allowing them to extend their reach to students across the state. Columbus Christian School is launching FaithPrep Indiana, a virtual K-12 private school with a religious mission. The GEO Foundation, which runs several charter schools in Indiana, is creating Geo Focus Academy, also serving grades K-12 and enrolling high schoolers in college classes.

“It’s going to be an opportunity for families to really take advantage of a Christian education, and to be able to do it if they want their kids at home, if they want to travel with them,” said Columbus Christian Superintendent Kendall Wildey, who will serve as head of school for FaithPrep. “We’re still going by all the state guidelines. It’s just more flexible with people’s time.”

ATTACKS ON CRITICAL RACE THEORY

Jeff Bryant: The Truth Behind Attacks on Teaching “Critical Race Theory”

Diane Ravitch's blog post has a link to the article by Jeff Bryant. It is definitely worth reading. The controversy over Critical Race Theory joins vouchers and charter schools as another weapon used by privatizers to damage public education in the US.

From Diane Ravitch
Journalist Jeff Bryant writes that the motivation behind the much-discussed attacks on teaching “critical race theory” is not solely about teaching the history of racism. The goal of rightwing politicians is to silence the teaching of all subjects they don’t like. Despite the Republicans’ frequent complaints about “cancel culture,” they have embarked on a national crusade to cancel uncomfortable facts about science and history.

PUBLIC SCHOOL ACCOUNTABILITY

South Bend academy told to repay state $620,000

Indiana's public schools are accountable to the state for the money they receive and the students they educate. Publically funded private and voucher schools should be held to the same accountability.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Auditors reviewed enrollment and attendance figures dating to July 2018 and found dozens of students counted in the district's requests for enrollment-based funding who had never logged into South Bend's online learning platform, the South Bend Tribune reported.

School administrators admit some students' lack of participation was overlooked during enrollment counts, and the district has paid back more than $360,000.

But the district has disputed claims over some students' status during the 2018-19 and 2019-20 school years.

District representatives have supplied state auditors with additional student records and urged the State Board of Accounts to reconsider repayment requests for some students who may have attended in-person activities or transferred between in-person and virtual programs.
*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/

###