Monday, August 16, 2021

In Case You Missed It – August 16, 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.

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School is starting and the news is still COVID-19 related. Whether it's anti-public school groups masquerading as anti-mask, learning loss, or school boards trying to navigate the now-politicized public health needs of students and staff, the coronavirus is still with us and driving everything education.

Raging Against Reality, Crisis, and Education's Kobyashi Maru

Student achievement and learning loss are arbitrary constructs. It would be nice if we could just approach students where they are academically, and provide the opportunities for them to grow as much as they could without having to worry about test scores.

From Curmudgucation
So here comes yet more panicky news from NWEA, hollering that Learning Loss is consuming New Jersey. It is, in many ways, baloney. First, everyone keeps ignoring the loss of standardized test prep and practice that is a factor in test results, and second, the Learning Loss here is reported based on what NWEA imagines the scores on last years test would have been had students taken them.

I'm a little tired of pointing out the many, many, many problems with the continued chicken littling about Learning Loss, pushed most often by people who intend to make money by selling a solution.

We are being subjected to a constant crisis narrative, and as well chronicled in this post at Your Contractual Obligations, certain folks have been trying to drive education in a particular direction for decades, using a tale of impending doom soaked in deficit language. The great Pandemic Learning Loss tale is the same story, with one critical difference.


What I Don’t Want My School to be Like this Covid Year

It would be nice if the grown ups around the country could act like adults.

From Gadfly on the Wall Blog
I’m going to confess something.

I don’t like wearing a mask.

For a few hours on Halloween it’s fine, but trying to teach middle schoolers through a piece of fabric for 8 hours a day is no one’s idea of professionalism or efficacy.

You know what else?

I hate getting shots.

When they put that vaccination needle to my arm, I had to turn my head away and think about something else. Both times.

But guess what?

I did them.

And I am still WILLING to do them again.

If teaching in 2021-22 requires wearing a mask and even getting a third booster to the Covid vaccine, I’ll do it.

You know why?

Because I am an adult.


Unwelcome agenda

The goal is to disrupt public education so much that the public will lose confidence in public schools (just like what has been done to politics, government, and elections). Masks (or critical race theory, or sex education, or whatever the current culture war dujour is) are just an excuse to rail against the public schools.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
[EACS Board President Todd] Buckmaster lamented the divisive approach school boards are beginning to witness across the state and said East Allen has had parents from other districts "coming in trying to stir things up."

"The sad thing is that it often throws parents against the school boards," he said. "East Allen County Schools has a really conservative school board and we are there because we want to serve the general public; it's always best when we can work together."

Purple for Parents Indiana does not appear interested in working together. Its approach is to frighten and anger parents and to disrupt democratically elected school boards. Public school parents and supporters should be aware of the outside agitators targeting their local schools and step up to challenge them.


Nearly 200 doctors clash with school district that refuses to mandate masks

Who would you listen to...local politicians who hold degrees in law, accounting, or nothing at all, or 200 doctors who have actual medical qualifications?

From the Answer Sheet
An unusual fight over a mask mandate in schools has been unfolding in a high-achieving district in Kansas, where nearly 200 doctors have been fighting a superintendent who has refused to issue a mandate despite rising coronavirus rates.

The doctors, many of whom have children in the Blue Valley school district in Johnson County, have become activists, writing letters and trying to build support in their community for a mandate.

FWCS updates grading system

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Fort Wayne Community Schools is scrapping a grading scale the superintendent says puts students -- particularly high schoolers -- at a competitive disadvantage.

The 30,000-student district is implementing a new system that redefines the percentage range for the five letter grades -- A, B, C, D and F. Changes include adjusting the A range so it begins at 90% instead of 93%.

It takes effect this academic year, which begins Aug. 16.

Superintendent Mark Daniel announced the change Tuesday during a Facebook Live update. He noted teachers -- mostly at the secondary level -- began asking him to reevaluate the grading scale when he joined FWCS last summer.

Masks for all, FWCS decrees

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
It's masks on for all Fort Wayne Community Schools students, staff and visitors, when school resumes Monday.

That's what Superintendent Mark Daniel told school board members Monday while outlining the district's new policy to cope with COVID-19.

The new requirement applies inside school buildings and on buses, Daniel said. And it applies both to vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

FWCS using virus relief funds on air quality

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Multiple carbon dioxide tests at all buildings helped Fort Wayne Community Schools decide where to invest about $15 million for air quality improvements.

The seven-member school board didn't need much convincing Monday to approve the contract with Performance Services Inc. to address heating, ventilation and air conditioning needs at nine elementary and two middle schools.

“These were buildings that constantly were on our radar of needing additional mechanical work for the units,” said Darren Hess, facilities director. “We couldn't make do with existing equipment, so we have to replace the equipment.”

The project mostly includes replacement of classroom unit ventilators and HVAC building relief fans, according to information provided to the board.


NEA and AFT are wrong on vaccinations

Since this post was published (August 3, 2021), both the NEA and the AFT have come out in support of vaccine mandates.

From Curmudgucation
Fred Klonsky has said this today, but I'm going to say it, too.

The national teachers unions (and a few other unions as well) are wrong on vaccinations.

Randi Weingarten has said it should be locally negotiated:
"In order for everyone to feel safe and welcome in their workplaces, vaccinations must be negotiated between employers and workers, not coerced," Weingarten said in a statement.
The NEA says that teachers should be given the option of weekly testing.

It's not clear why, exactly, the unions have taken this position. Certainly there are plenty of members who do not support mandatory vaccinations, but it's not like the nationals have been reluctant to take positions without worrying about internal opposition (for example, Common Core support and endorsing Hillary Clinton and too many years of test-centered accountability).

**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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