Monday, September 20, 2021

In Case You Missed It – September 20, 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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You probably won't be surprised to learn that COVID and mask mandates are on our list of articles again this week.

A group of Northwest Allen County Schools parents is suing to end the mask mandate in their district, and Fort Wayne Community Schools, the only Allen County district to begin the year with a mask mandate, is working hard to provide services during the pandemic.

We learn that charter operators are making money from selling their schools (built by taxpayer dollars, by the way), and, in the first of two articles, Peter Greene (Curmudgucation) wonders why children are still carrying their "backpacks full of cash" from one private school entity to another.

Florida is changing their testing operation, but not really ending high-stakes testing, and in the second article from Curmudgucation, we learn that nearly anything taught in a public school can be considered "controversial" by someone.


NACS parents sue over mandate

It's probably not in the purview of the courts to determine if wearing masks to slow the spread of COVID-19 is scientific or not, but it's interesting that the suit claims that it's "unscientific" yet the actual people who do science say it is.

The suit also states that young people are safer from the deleterious effects of the disease, which, based on our current knowledge is true, but nothing about how those same children can unknowingly pass the disease on to others for whom it might be their parents and grandparents.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Parents whose children attend schools in Northwest Allen County filed a lawsuit in Allen Superior Court alleging that state and local school officials are foisting “an endless state of emergency” on students, teachers and staff because of COVID-19 restrictions, and they want it to end.

“Students remain subject to arbitrary, irrational, and unscientific rules regarding face masks, contact tracing, and quarantines – measures that serve no legitimate government purpose at this stage beyond foisting an endless state of emergency on K-12 students, teachers, and staff,” said the suit, filed Monday.

FWCS making vaccine strides

The number of vaccinated students in FWCS has increased and the administration urges patience.

A free article from the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Fort Wayne Community Schools began the fifth week of classes with 26% of middle and high school students fully vaccinated – a significant increase since early August, when the rate was 4%, Superintendent Mark Daniel told the board.

The district of almost 30,000 students and about 4,000 employees continues to battle COVID-19, however.

Student and employee COVID-19 cases totaled 537 in only four weeks, representing 36% of the district's 1,499 cases last academic year, Daniel said Monday. He noted 80% of the cases were among students, and 92% were among unvaccinated individuals.

The cumulative number of students quarantined has exceeded 3,600, Daniel added.

“When I say we're still in a pandemic and a crisis,” he said, “we are still in a pandemic and crisis.”


Education, Inc.

It's interesting that those who are profiting from selling and buying schools are the same folks who made political donations to Republicans...who in turn promoted school "choice" in Indiana.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
It's now been two decades since Indiana's charter school law was passed. It's tough to say the state's first foray into school choice transformed public education for the better, but it certainly has bolstered some private business enterprises.

The Network For Public Education reported recently that National Heritage Academies, which operates the Andrew J. Brown Academy in Indianapolis, is selling 69 of its 90-plus schools to a new corporation created expressly for the acquisition. Charter Development Co., a real estate arm of National Heritage, will receive the payout from a sale that requires nearly $1 billion to finance.

The founder of National Heritage and owner of Charter Development Co., J.C. Huizenga of Grand Rapids, Michigan, has made close to $200,000 in campaign gifts to Indiana Republicans and a political action committee that pushed school choice legislation in Indiana.

Backpacks Full Of Cash

Isn’t it long past time that we stop thinking of our children as money mules?

From Curmudgucation
Jeanne Allen's magical phrase, turned into a rhetorical weapon against her and other free market choicers, never seems to quite go away, perhaps because all sides find it an apt description of free-market choice. Right now they're getting ready to load up more backpacks out in LA. Allen was sure that this was a great portrayal of the awesomeness of choice, but I'm not sure we ever thought it through.

After all, in this vision of school, students are couriers. Their job is to carry backpacks full of cash to various vendors and business operators like little pack animals. The backpacks full of cash image unintentionally focuses on what many fans of the free market model are very interested in--easily moved, largely unguarded cash. We could as easily describe students as little foxes or minks, important mostly for the valuable pelts that they carry with them (and from which they will eventually be separated).

One of the great tricks of free market choicers has been to hide their primary focus in plain sight, and the focus is not education or even choice, but in free marketizing public education.

And yet, for years, few people stop to ask, "Hey, wait a minute. Why does school choice have to involve market forces? Why do we have to strap money to the backs of children?"


Florida says it’s ending year-end, high-stakes standardized testing. Here’s what it’s really doing.

"Cindy Hamilton, co-founder of the Opt Out Florida Network, who has long criticized the state’s testing scheme, put it this way: 'The Florida Department of Education has made it clear that these stakes are not going away. School grades, teacher evaluations, placement decisions, third-grade retention, those things are all still going to happen. With these stakes attached, the test becomes less about the student and more about the punitive consequences.'”

From the Answer Sheet
Here’s what DeSantis said he is doing:

The governor announced Tuesday that he would ask the Republican-led legislature (which will do pretty much anything he wants) to end the Florida State Assessment (FSA) system, which tests students in reading and math and other subjects at the end of each school year.

Those tests — and others like them used in every state for years — are given at the end of each academic year, virtually always after significant test prep that eats up days of instructional time. Scores are not available until after the school year ends, and teachers don’t know which questions students got wrong.

The new Florida Assessment of Student Thinking, DeSantis said, will give three short exams to monitor student progress in fall, winter and spring, giving teachers more time to teach as well as real-time data to target instruction — and will cost less money. He said the exams would be individualized, which would mean online adaptive tests that some Florida districts already use for progress monitoring.

“We will continue to set high standards, but we also have to recognize it is the year 2021 and the FSA is, quite frankly, outdated,” DeSantis said. “There will be 75 percent less time for testing, which will mean more time for learning.”

Many educators like progress monitoring for the reasons the governor enunciated: that it helps them measure growth in their students and adapt instruction in real time. But under the new plan, the state will decide which assessments are used, taking that choice away from districts and teachers.


What's Too Controversial for the Classroom

“The missing factor in all of these "teacher leaves the classroom" stories is an administration with a backbone.”

From Curmudgucation
But that's the academic area. It gets trickier when, like Wallis, and like too many students, you are dealing with topics that are not merely academic. For some non-zero number of parents, a teacher who simply walks into the classroom delivers an unspoken message of "I'm gay and I'm free to walk around and be a teacher in a school" and that message is controversial enough. A non-zero number of parents will find it too controversial is a Black teacher lives their Black life in the classroom in front of students.

This is the problem with "don't be controversial" directives, pleas to "just teach facts" and "don't push your opinions"--they too often mean "just be in the classroom in the same way you would if you were a heterosexual white person."

**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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