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.

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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.


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.”


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.


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


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