Monday, September 27, 2021

In Case You Missed It – September 27, 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.


We ought to have a separate section set aside each week for Peter Greene's Curmudgucation Blog. For the second week in a row, he has two articles among our top reads. This week he writes about the waste of time that is standardized testing, specifically, the SAT, and how schools and school boards are being attacked for "teaching Critical Race Theory."

We also link to articles on how the Indiana General Assembly is discussing lowering the bar on teacher licensing to solve the problem of teacher shortages (which is, to a large extent, a problem of their own making), a unique approach to representation on charter school boards, public schools as a "public good," local economic development in EACS, and some thoughts about the pandemic.


Almost unlocking a mystery of SAT scores

Standardized test scores are overused, misused, and misunderstood in the best of times. During the pandemic, they are worst than useless. It's time to let them go.

From Curmudgucation
We've spent years marketing the SAT's flagship product to all students (in some states, we've snookered the government into requiring it), so as we add students who might not have been inclined to take the test to go ahead and take it, the average score is affected. That's how the results for every sub group can go up even as the overall average goes down.

Now throw in a pandemic year in which students who are having a rough time just don't take the test, leaving it only to those who are well-buffered from the pandemic (and whose buffering is the same sort of socio-economic background that is an advantage on the test) and voila!! Instant increase in average score.

What we have here is just one more example of why test scores from the pandemic are not worth a thing. They can't be compared to any year, they can't really be normed accurately, and they just kind of mean nothing. But we're still going to be subjected to stories that can't manage to draw a line between two data points.


Critical Race Theory Panic Continues To Widen Its Aim

Coming (if not already there) to a school board near you -- racist and ignorant ranting and protesting.

From Curmudgucation
There's way more in the list of 31 objectionable books. Spanish and Creole words might be "confusing for children." A fictional Civil War book is naughty in part because it depicts "out of marriage families between white men and black women." Someone objects to a book about Galileo because there is no "HERO of the church" to contrast with their mistakes in persecuting the astronomer. Also, there's too much sexy picture of sea horse mating in a sea horse book.

This is right on par with the York, PA district that "froze" the use of some books (not a ban, nosirree) including books like I Am Rosa Parks by Brad Metzler, a really well-done children's book about her work (he's got a million kid biographies--you can see his work on the PBS Xavier Riddle series). I've read this book to the Board of Directors at least a zillion times, and there seems little to be upset about unless you find it objectionable that a couple of white people are depicted as being mean to her. After student protests (and lots of bad press), York's all-white board reversed the ban.

But this appears to be where we're headed. Anything that parents or random citizens don't like, anything at all, can now be protested or reported to the authorities. Just say the magic words ("critical race theory"). We're talking broad, wide, stormtrooper-caliber aim, and it would be funny if these wild shots weren't hitting real targets, actual live students and teachers.


The state or districts? Indiana lawmakers weigh who should have the authority to license teachers

After decades of neglecting, belittling, and doing everything in their power to damage the teaching profession in Indiana, legislators wonder why there's a teacher shortage. Their solution? “Let’s water down the teacher requirements.”

From Chalkbeat*
...John O’Neal, a policy researcher and lobbyist for the Indiana State Teachers Association, warned during public comment that having Indiana’s nearly 300 school districts act as their own licensing bodies could lead to confusion, a lack of uniform standards, and problems with reciprocity across districts.

A teacher looking to move to another district in the state may find their locally issued license invalid, O’Neal said, adding that medical professionals and attorneys are also licensed through a central body.

“We would agree on local control on most issues,” O’Neal said. “When it comes to licensing, there should be one entity.”

Asked by Goodrich if having just one department available to process licenses was slowing down hiring and contributing to shortages, O’Neal said it was likely a minor factor in comparison to others.

“There are other reasons causing a shortage, like pay and benefits, and other things like working conditions … and professional respect that are probably more of a factor influencing those teachers’ job decisions than how fast the process is,” O’Neal said.

The sacred and the profane: A former D.C. charter school board member calls for change

Here's an interesting call for equitable representation on charter school boards.

From the Answer Sheet
After untold millions of dollars of investment and the creation of scores of schools — there were 128 operating this year — it is time for us to admit that this experiment is not working as it should.

So what must be done?

The District must rethink its charter schools, and more specifically, charter schools must be integrated. “Chocolate City” has been replaced by a city where upper-income White residents and a more diverse spectrum of Black residents exist in equal numbers.

One of the few scalable policies that dramatically improved academic outcomes for Black students was the integration of American public schools in the 1970s and ’80s. The Performance Management Framework that ranks the quality of each charter school should ensure that schools reflect the demographics of the city as it is today, particularly given that charter schools are not constrained by neighborhood boundaries that enforce segregation in traditional public schools.


EACS pondering backing TIF district

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
The East Allen County Schools board will soon decide whether to support a tax increment financing district proposed in southeast Fort Wayne.

The Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission approached the school system about creating a residential TIF district at the northeast intersection of Tillman and Hessen Cassel roads.

TIF districts work by capturing property tax revenue generated in a certain area. The funds are then used for improvements in the district, including sidewalks and other public works projects.

Kirby Stahly, an EACS administrator, said the redevelopment commission believes the unimproved land won't be developed for residential housing without the proposed TIF district, and officials further believe more housing in that area of Fort Wayne would spur commercial development.


Public schools 'a common good'

Vouchers for private schools and charter schools drain public money from the public schools. The concept of the "common good" which has been the basis of the nation's public schools has disappeared. In this short editorial, an Indianapolis parent writes about her decision to give up her private school voucher and send her children to public schools.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
I try to get parents to understand that if we defund, undermine or privatize public schools, we're doing a disservice to the majority of parents for whom private schools are not an option. I try to help them see what I finally did: that the decisions we make when it comes to our own children have an impact on everybody else.

All those years ago, that woman at the community meeting warned that we were drifting dangerously away from the idea of a common good. At the time, I couldn't understand what she meant. I do now.


COVID measures straining students: Quiet lunchrooms showing rising need for mental health

Fort Wayne Community Schools works to overcome the disruption and damage caused by the pandemic.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Experts say social connectedness is important to mental health, which is a main priority in the U.S. Department of Education's 2021-22 guide for K-12 schools.

“To create a strong foundation for students' academic success we must prioritize their social, emotional and mental health,” the Return to School Roadmap said.

The challenges children, teens and young adults have faced during the pandemic include changes in routine, disruption of education, missed significant life events and lost security and safety, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Beyond getting sick, many young people's social, emotional, and mental well-being has been impacted by the pandemic,” the CDC said. “Trauma faced at this developmental stage can continue to affect them across their lifespan.”


What do vaccine and mask deniers do when they get sick?

Who should you trust for information?

From Live Long and Prosper
You need to choose who you're going to believe.

Lack of Trusted Authority is Why Covid-19 is Kicking Our Butts The US has only 4% of the world population but nearly a quarter of all Covid cases.

That’s not a coincidence.

In large part, it’s because we don’t know how to combat the virus because we don’t know who to trust.

And the resulting credibility vacuum has enabled unscrupulous politicians, agents of chaos and other charlatans to position themselves as experts.

*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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