Monday, June 28, 2021

In Case You Missed It – June 28, 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 debate over teaching Critical Race Theory in America's public schools (Spoiler: it's not being taught in America's schools) is "...getting ugly, and it's getting ugly quickly..."

Indiana is not immune...

Indiana’s demagogue-in-chief

From School Matters
If an issue is ripe for demagoguery, Todd Rokita will be on it like a dog on a bone. The phony outrage over what schools teach about race was made to order for the Indiana attorney general.

Rokita came out Wednesday with a “parents bill of rights” that purports to educate parents about their right to understand and be engaged in their children’s education. That sounds reasonable; but for Rokita, it’s an excuse to dive into a culture war.

Predictably, he jumps on the right-wing bandwagon to attack critical race theory and the 1619 Project. Never mind that K-12 schools almost never teach CRT, a theoretical framework for examining the role of race in society that may be taught in law or graduate schools. Or that the 1619 Project is exactly what it claims to be: an attempt to “reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.”

A troubling history

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**'s a taxpayer-funded lesson plan for political division.

It comes from Todd Rokita, Indiana's attorney general and a man forever willing to throw himself into the manufactured controversy du jour. This time it's critical race theory, a once-obscure and still poorly understood academic pursuit that has inflamed Republican-fueled tensions across the country.

Rokita, still in his first year on the job as the state's top law enforcement official after earlier stints as a congressman and Indiana secretary of state, can't be given credit for crafting the attempt to fan the divisive flames.

He's following a playbook, one already well-worn in other places.

Michael Harriot: Senior Writer for, the Nation’s Largest Black Online Newspaper

From the Al Franken Podcast
"The 1619 Project isn't Critical Race Theory. It is a product of Critical Race Theory. Just like...if you have a computer class...about Microsoft Word in your school, you're not teaching Computer Engineering."


The U.S. Has a Long History of Banning Controversial Topics and Blaming Teachers

Critical Race Theory is just one more controversy in a long line of controversies about what is taught in our schools. There are so many people who think that teachers have the power of "thought-control" over their students.

From Diane Ravitch
Historians Gillian Frank and Adam Laats write in Slate about the long history of suppressing textbooks that discuss race and class and investigating or firing teachers who veer away from the standard patriotic view of American history.

They describe the classic story of the textbook series written by progressive educator Harold Rugg of Teachers College, Columbia. Rugg wanted students to learn about the social, economic and political problems of contemporary society in the 1930s. His books were widely adopted but fell victim to a rightwing campaign that labeled them as socialist or Communist, which they were not. The campaign was successful, and the Rugg books were ousted from classrooms across the nation.

The authors tie the current efforts to ban critical race theory (taught in law school) and The 1619 Project from being taught in schools to this long tradition of avoiding controversial subjects.

Former DeVos Aid Tries To Rally Reform Troops

From Curmudgucation
[James] Blew, like many folks, doesn't like the idea of systemic racism because that requires everybody to do something about it, as opposed to asserting that racism is the result of individual choices made by some guys over there (wave hand vaguely). But in fact, our education system does manifest systemic racism in many ways--for instance, by using a funding system that is tied to the housing system that is, in many places, a systemic remnant of the systemically racist housing practices of the last century (for more, I recommend Andre Perry's excellent Know Your Price).

Suggesting that "schools are a source of racism" is, on the other hand, nuts.

Blew says that all reformsters believe the system is irretrievably broken, and he trots out the old "one size fits all from the industrial era" characterization that often makes me think that some reformsters have not actually been in a school since they graduated in 1962. He believes that instruction is aimed at the "average student," which will comes as a huge surprise to teachers actually working in the classroom, including those who spend their weekends designing differentiated lessons.

This IPS school ‘feels like segregation,’ say parents who demand enrollment changes

Indy’s Enroll policy/program is facing scrutiny by parents.

From Chalkbeat*
Damon and Brandi TaZiyah’s three children have an ideal vision of what diversity looks like in the classroom.

It’s a variety of races throughout the entire school, says 9th grader Ali.

Or, classmates are sharing their lives and learning from each other, said 7th grader Sanai.

“And being equal skin colors,” 2nd grader Laila said.

But the family said that is not the reality at Center for Inquiry School 70, a choice school intended for any Indianapolis Public Schools student who wants to attend and designed to promote high academic achievement, a global perspective and cultural diversity.


Voucher boost gives 'bonus' to select families

At one time, Indiana's school voucher program was designed to help "poor kids" escape from the "failing schools" they attended. No longer. Now it's become an entitlement which allows middle class parents to send their children to religious schools, making a mockery of Article I, Section 6 of the Indiana Constitution...

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution."

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
It's rare to hear people admit their government entitlement is not a necessity, but that's what two families who will benefit from Indiana's K-12 voucher expansion told Today's Catholic in a May 27 article.

One parent, with three of six children still in K-12 schools, stated “...we think it will help us to be able to do the other activities they're interested in – the sporting events, the camps, the extracurricular things outside of school.” The same parent added, “I feel like this is going to help us tremendously to be able to do those things more often; go to the zoo, go to the movies.”

A second parent said, “this is a bonus for us” and “With me volunteering in the school again, instead of working, this will take the pressure off.”
*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


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