Monday, July 12, 2021

In Case You Missed It – July 12, 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.

The battle over Critical Race Theory is not over, but this week's list of articles includes more than CRT focused pieces. There are other issues which still interest our readers -- Common Core, teaching homeless students, celebrity sponsorship of schools, and more.


As states place new limits on class discussions of race, research suggests they benefit students

Right-wing pundits and voters are raging against Critical Race Theory, yet it may surprise you to learn that discussing race and how racism exists in our society is actually good for students. Unfortunately, the anti-CRT crowd isn't really interested in helping students. They, apparently, are only interested in white-washing the nation's history.

From Chalkbeat*
A handful of recent studies have found that students are more engaged in school after taking classes that frankly discuss racism and bigotry — just as some educators like Mason fear such discussions could be threatened by a wave of broad state laws designed to limit the teaching of what some are calling “critical race theory.”

“These experiences where [students] grapple head-on with issues of identity and race and racism … does something to their level of engagement,” said Emily Penner, a professor at University of California, Irvine who has studied courses that include discussions of racism. “That process is really useful to them in an academic sense, probably in a personal sense as well.”

A handful of recent studies offer evidence of those benefits.

Douglass’ speech should be in school libraries

It seems that state AG Todd Rokita is unaware that Indiana requires schools to keep a copy of Frederick Douglass's famous speech about Independence Day. If he did, he might have thought twice about publishing his divisive Parents Bill of Rights.

From School Matters
Did you know that Indiana schools are required to keep a copy of Frederick Douglass’ speech “What to a Slave is the Fourth of July?” in their school libraries? I wonder how many schools actually do this. And how many Hoosier teachers assign their students to read or hear Douglass’ powerful words.

The speech, delivered 169 years ago today, is one of 15 “protected writings, documents and records of American history or heritage” identified in Indiana law. The expected documents are on the list: the U.S. and Indiana constitutions, the Declaration of Independence, the Federalist Papers, etc. But it also includes Douglass’ speech, Chief Seattle’s letter to a U.S. president (which may be apocryphal) and abolitionist David Walker’s “Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World.”

Learn from the past...or repeat it.

“If Black children are old enough to experience racism, then other children are old enough to learn about critical race theory.”

From Live Long and Prosper
...Those who object to CRT (including their cable news allies) have redefined it to encompass anything that has to do with race, a Marxist incursion into K-12 education, a communist plot, or any number of other anti-American plots to indoctrinate our children. Even if CRT isn't being taught in America's K-12 classrooms, it is being rebranded as a danger to America.

The protests against the non-existent CRT threat come at the tail-end (hopefully -- but beware, the delta variant) of the coronavirus pandemic...which, in turn, arrived at the end of the previous political administration. Are people more susceptible to conspiracy theories after four years of the Cult of Trump? Are parents so frustrated by the forced educational adjustments of the pandemic that they are exploding in rage at...anything? Are right-wing politicians searching for something to enrage "the base" to replace the declining interest and anger against caravans, Dr. Seuss, socialism, and other political manipulations?

For whatever reason, it's apparently time to attack education -- again.

The Single Biggest Scourge of Education Reform

Only teachers, among all the professions, are told how to do their jobs by people with no experience in the field. Only teachers are micromanaged by legislators, state school board members, and other politicians, who have never set foot in a classroom as an educator.

From Curmudgucation
Privatization? Profiteering? Vouchers? Charters? Teacher-proof classrooms? High-stakes testing?

No, these issues, in their worst forms, all have their roots in the same soil, the same fertile ground from which all rotten education fruit grows.


The current flap flying under the banner of critical race theory panic is just the freshest example of people who really, truly don't understand how schools actually work.

An Indianapolis tutoring program meets homeless students where they are

This seems to be a great program, but it would be nice if Indiana addressed the problems of the homeless.

From Chalkbeat*
...working with School on Wheels, an organization that brings tutors to unhoused students. After a year of working virtually with them, the group returned to schools and more recently to shelters, seeking to replicate that human connection that sparked Novak’s distracted student.

Karen Routt, who directs the group’s work in schools, said the pandemic created challenges. For one, the organization struggled to locate students.

Staff members combed apartment complexes and motels in search of their students, sometimes conducting tutoring sessions in parking lots. They read to children outdoors while socially distant, conducted tutoring sessions via Zoom, and in Washington Township created a learning pod for virtual studies. But safety measures kept volunteers from meeting with children face to face.

Partner schools, which normally identify unhoused families and refer children to School on Wheels, lost touch with students in unstable housing — as did many school districts nationwide during the pandemic. Because of pandemic precautions and public fears, homeless shelters remained below capacity, further shrinking the number of families referred to the program.


Celebrities Fund Public Schools, Not Charter Schools

Celebrities from Tony Bennett (the singer, not the former Indiana schools chief), to George Clooney, to Dr. Dre, have invested in public schools.

From Diane Ravitch
The chair of the California State Board of Education, Linda Darling-Hammond, disparaged these efforts as “charity,” when what is need is justice.

Since so many media stars like John Legend and a bevy of billionaires from the Walton family to the Broad Foundation to the DeVos family to Charles Koch, and billionaire hedge funders with less familiar names have spent hundreds of millions to support alternatives to public schools, I salute those celebrities who put their money into public schools, not charter schools.

“The Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, founded by the singer Tony Bennett, has operated for decades within New York’s public school system, for example. And LeBron James has opened a highly successful public school with wraparound social services in Ohio. But a group of Texas charter schools founded in 2012 by Deion Sanders, the former N.F.L. player, closed in insolvency after three scandal-plagued years.”

It seems unfair to criticize private philanthropy to public schools while remaining silent about the billionaires (and the federal government with its Charter Schools Program, funded at $440 million annually) pouring hundreds of millions every year into the aggressive expansion of corporate charter chains that defund public schools.

Nicholas Tampio: Whatever Happened to the Common Core?

From Diane Ravitch
On June 16, Emily Richmond of the Education Writers Association led off a lively social media exchange by tweeting: “Hey, remember the Common Core?”

One special education researcher replied that the Common Core is “implemented now in every classroom in America just under another name.”

Another teacher tweeted: “You mean what NY conveniently rebranded as “Next Generational Learning Standards”? It’s never gone away. 😞”

People also responded with memes of actors saying “Shhh!” and “We do not speak his name.”

Here, I would like to explain how the Common Core is implemented in nearly every classroom in America, and why people rarely say its name anymore.


8% Of schools miss state goal

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
After years of providing billions to fund K-12 schools, legislators in 2019 established a guideline that districts shouldn't transfer more than 15% of the tuition support dollars sent by the state to the operations fund. That was because they had been accused of not giving enough money for teacher pay raises.

“It was a simple piece of legislation about oversight,” said Sen. Jeff Raatz, R-Richmond. “The 15% was somewhat arbitrary. We needed a starting point.”

The highest transfer rate was 28.2% by Cannelton City Schools in Perry County – one of the smallest districts in the state.

Now that a baseline has been established Raatz said state and local education officials can begin to watch for problems. “If we are transferring too much does it indicate there is something wrong with the district? Are they heading in the wrong direction?” he said.

*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


No comments: