Monday, October 25, 2021

In Case You Missed It – October 25, 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.


How can we keep teachers in the classroom? Who will be tomorrow's teachers? The U.S. is in the midst of a teacher shortage crisis exacerbated by the difficulties of the global coronavirus pandemic.

Today's posts also cover school choice, testing, right-wing groups invading school board meetings, and some important local news for the Allen County Indiana area.


Appreciating Good Teachers In These Tough Times for Educators

Teachers are not ok. The exodus of teachers from public school classrooms began before the pandemic, but with the difficulties of transitioning to virtual, hybrid, masked, and pandemic-stressed classrooms, greater numbers of teachers are deciding to call it quits. Where will tomorrow's public school classroom teachers come from? Who will teach your children...or their children?

From Jan Resseger's Blog
A trio of columns circulated by the Washington Post‘s Valerie Strauss should raise alarm about the pressures today driving teachers to leave the profession. An 8th grade language arts teacher from the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area, Steven Singer describes widespread teacher burnout in this second school year disrupted by COVID-19: “The teachers are not okay.”

...The superintendent in Virginia’s Fauquier County Public Schools, David Jeck wonders: “Who would want to be a teacher right now? Have you seen how teachers are being treated? Teachers have had to endure revolting public comments at school board meetings, floggings via social media… Teachers are indispensable to our society but sadly, they are not treated as such.”

...Strauss also featured Larry Ferlazzo, a high school English and social studies teacher in Sacramento and a skilled writer, who explains: “I teach in an almost ideal situation and I’m exhausted after just the first month of this year.” Ferlazzo describes teachers “dealing with the stress of potentially getting COVID-19… coping with the challenge of a substitute shortage requiring teachers to give up all their planning time (or to teach double classes) to cover absences; having to cancel medical appointments and mental health days because of not wanting to burden colleagues by making them cover even more classes… and being overtaxed by providing even more than the usual emotional support we provide to our students.”

Dear Substitute-Desperate Districts. What Are You Doing About It?

How can schools incentivize hiring? What are your administrators doing about the lack of substitute teachers?

From Curmudgucation
There's a great deal of hollering about the lack of substitute teachers. Like the challenge of filling regular teaching positions, this is not a new problem, but the pandemic has exacerbated it considerably. Everywhere you turn, you can find administrators bemoaning their lack of subs.

But if you are one of these administrators, what are you actually doing about it?

Are you raising sub pay? Sub pay is notoriously lousy, particularly if you're hiring them via some substitute or temp service. I started out substitute teaching in 1980; sub pay in local districts has risen about $25 since then. When you factor in the lack of benefits, it's impossible to make a living substitute teaching and the pool from Way Back In The Day (Moms of school-age kids who wanted a little grocery money) is gone.

What is Taught in Public Schools? Volunteer as a Substitute Teacher and See for Yourself!

Here's a good idea. Politicians who regularly bash the public schools (mostly Republicans), can volunteer to be public school substitutes. It would be nice to see some non-educators put their money where their mouths are and stand up for the students. Legislators, substitute in your neighborhood public schools...if you dare!

From Gadfly on the Wall Blog

Just imagine!

Republicans uneasy about public school can get in there and see it all first hand.

And they’ll even get paid to do it!

Not as much as they make as lawmakers. Pennsylvania’s legislature is paid the third highest salary in the country! Way more than classroom teachers or certainly substitutes. But they’d get remunerated for their time.

All they’d have to do is watch over classes of 30 or more real, live students!

Not only would lawmakers have a chance to look over teacher’s lesson plans, but they’d get detailed instructions from the absent teacher about how to actually teach the lesson!


How School Choice Becomes School’s Choice

How do charters choose their students? It turns out that parental choice of schools is actually, the school's choice of students. High achieving, easier to educate students are incentivized so that charters can show a profit and high test scores. Where does that leave the rest?

From Peter Greene in Forbes
How did charter schools end up carefully curating their student bodies? The authors point to the modern charter movement’s connection to free market ideology.
A key assumption of market theory, which envisions charter schools as businesses and parents and their children as consumers, is that all potential customers are treated equally. In reality, however, charter schools perceive students as differently valued consumers...
Charter marketing requires charters to show strong test score performance, which means students who might bring the numbers down are not high-value customers. Likewise, some students come with needs that make them more expensive to educate.

This is the fundamental flaw in the “competition will make schools better” theory, because
the surest path to success for charter schools is to seize the niche of schools serving “lower cost” students with higher test scores and stronger out-of-school opportunities and privileges.


The Proud Boys Are Coming for Public Schools

From The Progressive Public Schools Advocate extremist groups—including the Proud Boys—are aiming their threats and violence at a new target: public schools.

In Orange County, North Carolina, the Proud Boys and other white nationalist groups have begun showing up at high school football games and school board meetings, “protesting the district’s COVID-19 and LGBTQ+ policies.” Their intimidating language, apparel, and physical gestures prompted officials to hire extra security and pass a resolution opposing “incidents of hostile and racist behavior,” according to a report in the News and Observer.

The resolution charged that the rightwing agitators had “shouted racist and homophobic slurs at students” and included “emails from teachers and students who describe how unsafe they feel being around the Proud Boys.”


Peter Greene to U.S. News: Ranking Schools by Test Scores is a Truly Stupid Idea

US News and World Reports continues the misuse of testing by ranking schools by test scores...which is the same as ranking schools by the income of the students' families.

From Diane Ravitch
Peter Greene points out that U.S. News used to be a news magazine, but has turned itself into a ranking agency, mainly of colleges, then high schools, and now…wait for it…elementary and middle schools! Does it get any more ridiculous than that?

Its rankings are based mainly on test scores, which are guaranteed to favor schools that are the whitest and most affluent.


EACS approves raises for teachers

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
East Allen County Schools will use more than $4.3 million to boost teachers' salaries under a new two-year contract approved Tuesday.

Together, the $2.6 million to be distributed this academic year and the almost $1.8 million to be distributed next year is $2.4 million more than was awarded under the last agreement.

“It was a wonderful bargaining session this time,” Andra Kosmoski, president of the East Allen Educators Association, told the board. “It went smoothly, and then just the fact that you and the administration are recognizing that the money needs to go to the teachers – we appreciate it.”

With one member absent, the board unanimously and enthusiastically endorsed the contract, which runs from July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2023.

Shortages force schools to be creative with lunch

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Supply chain disruptions aren't new for schools. Food service directors encountered shortages last academic year as food manufacturers and the trucking industry were affected by illnesses and quarantines.

The challenge, however, has evolved from schools trying to order the same items, said Leeanne Koeneman of Northwest Allen County Schools.

"This year," she said by email, "it seems to be extremely haphazard as to what might be out of stock."

Pandemic supply chain disruptions topped school meal program directors' concerns for the 2021-22 academic year, according to a summer survey of 1,368 directors nationwide.
NACS leader's safety letter contradicts sheriff official

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Northwest Allen County Schools Superintendent Chris Himsel addressed recent safety concerns at school board meetings in a letter to parents.

Northwest Allen temporarily ended public comments at board meetings in September because of safety concerns reported by the Allen County Sheriff's Department.

Himsel's letter, sent Friday, followed a WOWO radio interview Thursday with Troy Hershberger, chief deputy with the sheriff's department, during which he said the department has never directed the school district on how to conduct its meetings.

Hershberger, who is seeking the Republican nomination for sheriff next year, added he is unaware of any safety concerns being reported to the district by school resource officers.

Himsel's letter disputes Hershberger's claims and releases excerpts of emails that show safety concerns were shared by a school resource officer, who said other school resource officers had raised similar concerns. The officer, who is not named in Himsel's letter, said he and the other officers are “concerned for the safety of everyone at those meetings.”

**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


Monday, October 18, 2021

In Case You Missed It – October 18, 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.

This was a busy week. Take some time to read about testing, funding, privatization, teaching, and more.


US News, Please Knock It Off

Standardized test scores, according to Alfie Kohn, are a "remarkably precise method for gauging the size of the houses near the school where the test was administered."

Measuring the "quality" of schools by ranking them by test scores does nothing but tell you the economic conditions in the school's neighborhood.

From Curmudgucation
I'm sure from their perspective it makes sense to extend the brand by ranking elementary and middle schools. This is just as bad an idea as you think it is, and raises some big questions.

How do they do it?

I first guessed a system that used darts, a blindfold, and the broad side of a barn. But no--it's worse than that.
Scoring was almost entirely rooted in students’ performance on mathematics and reading/language arts state assessments.
So, standardized test scores from 2018-2019. But also demographics worked in by soaking the test results in a sophisticated stew of argle-bargle fertilizer, because US News employs data strategists instead of journalists...


If You’re Afraid Kids Will Learn Racism is Bad, Perhaps Public School is Not For You

Do we teach history, or do we cover up the past in order to hide our shame?

From Gadfly on the Wall Blog
Some people are terrified that kids will learn about racism.

Especially white people.

Especially that white KIDS might learn about it.

How would that affect a white child’s self-esteem, they say.

Imagine learning that racism existed in the United States.

A country founded by white people.

(Taken from brown people.

Made largely profitable by the enslavement of black people.)

Wouldn’t that make white kids feel bad?

It’s a strange question.

The latest Nobel Prize winner: Researcher who helped show money matters for schools

Yes. Money matters.

Ask any educator. We know that money helps when it comes to teaching and learning. Some of us, like author Jonathan Kozol, have been saying it for decades.
They ask, “Can you really solve this kind of problem with money? Is money really the answer?” I always think it's an amazing question. As though it's bizarre to suggest that money would be the solution to poverty. As though it's a bizarre idea that it would really take dollars to put a new roof on Morris High School in the Bronx and get the sewage out of the schools in East St. Louis; that it would take real money to hire and keep good teachers so they would stay for a lifetime in the schools that need them most; that it would take real money to buy computers. But that's what I always hear.
Perhaps this will get some of our friends to vote for legislators who care to fund our Hoosier schools.

From Chalkbeat*
The last decade has seen a wave of new studies suggesting that more money really does lead to better schools. The research has influenced court fights over school funding and reshaped the debate about what resources schools need.

Earlier this week, David Card, a Berkeley economist who paved the way for those conclusions with his own school funding research in the 1990s and by popularizing the methods used in later studies, won the Nobel Prize in economics.

By emphasizing the power of “natural experiments” to establish cause and effect, Card revolutionized not only economics, but education research, too.


Two posts about the charter school industry from Diane Ravitch

Parent: How I Was Scammed by a Charter School’s False Promises

From Diane Ravitch
Katherine Kozioziemski tells the sad story of her bad experience with a charter school that promised the moon, but turned into a grand financial scam. Her post appears on a new site sponsored by the Network for Public Education called “Public Voices for Public Schools.”

She begins:

I knew something was seriously wrong as soon as I saw the budget of the charter school my kids attended. As a member of the school site council, I was on the budget committee. Now, as I looked at the numbers, I could see for myself how dire the situation was. The school was paying five times fair market value to lease a property from a shell company created by the former CEO of the charter management company. We were on a fast track to bankruptcy.

Burris and Rees Debate For-Profit Charter Schools

From Diane Ravitch
Carol Burris, executive director of the Network for Public Education, debated Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, about whether for-profit charter schools should receive federal funds.

Here is Burris’s opposition to the proposition: Burris was the main author of the NPE report, Chartered for Profit: The Hidden World of Charter Schools Operated for Financial Gain.

Kentucky: Judge Strikes Down Voucher Program as Unconstitutional

A win for public education in Kentucky.

From Diane Ravitch
Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd agreed with the plaintiffs that the Educational Opportunity Account Program violates provisions in the Kentucky Constitution that prevent tax dollars from going to private schools.

Shepherd cited a constitutional provision that states, “No sum shall be raised or collected for education other than in common schools until the question of taxation is submitted to the legal voters.”


Best teachers have lessons for fellow educators

Teaching isn't easy...

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Today we are facing a teacher shortage unlike anything we have ever seen, of epic proportions. It is not that we do not have qualified teachers or are not producing teachers or even that too many have retired. In my heart of hearts, I believe it is because we have forgotten to say thank you to all who teach or have taught.

Most of the time, I write about the politics that influence public education. But this time, I just wanted to take a deep breath and say thank you.

Thank you to all who teach. Thank you to those great teachers who go to work every day not knowing what that day holds. Teachers who may never win an award for spending that extra hour preparing a special lesson that will reach every child in your room. Teachers who face criticism they do not deserve. Teachers who lose sleep trying to think of one more way to make a difference in the life of a student who has failed in every other school she has attended, but is trying in her new school. Teachers who have been told they are the best a principal has ever worked with but they are afraid to believe it because it's easy to get discouraged when there is still one more paper to grade and one more assessment to plan.


Paychecks and balances

Who could have predicted that demonizing teachers, cutting salaries and benefits, and reducing job security might have made their job a slightly less attractive option?

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Staffing shortages at Fort Wayne Community Schools have district officials considering hybrid instruction schedules, with some students alternating between in-person and virtual learning. The district is struggling to find bus drivers, food service workers and teachers – both substitutes and full-time teachers. As of Thursday, FWCS had job postings for more than 50 certified teaching positions.

The state's largest district isn't alone. A new survey by Indiana State University's Bayh College of Education finds 96.5% of participating districts reported teacher shortages. It's the highest number of vacancies in seven years of surveying school corporations, according to the Terre Haute's Tribune-Star. Of 290 Indiana districts, 199 responded to the survey.

The percentage of school districts reporting shortages increased by 9% over the previous year.

This was a busy's more...

Public Education Advocates
Public school defenders fight - and switch
Public school advocates switch parties

Restricting the history curriculum
Texas, Education And The Holocaust
The ultimate result of preventing history from being taught

Ohio State Education Board Repeals Anti-Racism Resolution: Part of National Wave of Rage and Controversy in Legislatures and Boards of Education
More about ignoring history so little white children's feelings aren't hurt

Time to end the tests
Could the era of high-stakes tests be coming to an end?
More learning and less test-prep

For-Profit schools in Sweden
Sweden: Why Do For-Profit Schools Survive Despite Overwhelming Public Opposition?
Sweden is one of the few nations that allow for-profit schools to be funded by the government. That's a bad idea.

Mask up, schools
Masks on, schools advised
Allen County Health Commissioner tells local schools to mask up.

On teaching
Is Teaching An Art Or A Science? Well...
Teaching is an art...or is it a science?

*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


Monday, October 11, 2021

In Case You Missed It – October 11, 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.


Critical Race theory, teacher shortages, charters draining funds for public's all here this week.


There's a nationwide teacher shortage...and the pandemic has made it worse. Teachers are retiring early, leaving the profession, and there aren't enough new teachers in the pipeline to replace them all. The usual teaching areas are the worse...special education and math.

Before the pandemic, the Indiana anti-public education majority in the legislature was making arrangements to lower the qualifications for teaching in the state's public schools. Now that the shortage is growing, there will undoubtedly be more "emergency requirements" that will be enacted. At the same time, the federal government is cracking down on poorly trained special ed teachers.

Top Five Actions to Stop the Teacher Exodus During COVID and Beyond

From Gadfly on the Wall Blog
As the COVID-19 pandemic drags on, schools across the United States are on the brink of collapse.

There is a classroom teacher shortage.

There is a substitute teacher shortage.

There is a bus driver shortage.

There is a special education aide shortage.

The people we depend on to staff our public schools are running away in droves.

It’s a clear supply and demand issue that calls for deep structural changes.

However, it’s not really new. We’ve needed better compensation and treatment of school employees for decades, but our policymakers have been extremely resistant to do anything about it.

Instead, they’ve given away our tax dollars to corporations through charter and voucher school initiatives. They’ve siphoned funding to pay for more standardized testing, teaching to the test, and ed tech software.

But the people who actually do the work of educating our youth. We’ve left them out in the cold.

Indiana will end emergency permits for special education teachers next year

Perhaps it’s time for Indiana to consider teaching students receiving special services more thoughtfully.

From Chalkbeat*
Indiana will stop issuing emergency permits for special education teachers after this school year, ending a long-standing practice that helps schools staff hard-to-fill positions.

The change, made to comply with federal regulations, comes as school districts grapple with staffing shortages worsened by COVID-19 and affects around 1,200 educators who will need to take additional steps toward their full licensure in order to stay in the classroom.

State officials informed schools in June about the looming cutoff. The federal Every Student Succeeds Act in 2015 tightened rules for special education teachers, prohibiting them from having licensure requirements waived on an “emergency, temporary, or provisional basis.”
96% of districts report teacher shortages: Number highest in 7 years, annual survey says

"The top six shortage areas remain the same, but there’s been a shift in the rankings. Those top areas are special education, math, science, elementary education, foreign languages and English."

From the Terre Haute Tribune Star
According to an annual survey, 96.5% of participating Indiana school districts reported teacher shortages, the highest in the seven years of surveying school corporations.

Disciplines most affected are special education and math, according to the survey done by Indiana State University’s Bayh College of Education.

The 2021-22 survey had 199 participating school districts, including some charter schools; Indiana has 290 public school corporations.

“This year and last have brought more challenges than many previous [years],” said Terry McDaniel, ISU professor of educational leadership, who oversees the survey. “As a result, we are seeing educators being burned-out, scared, disappointed, and no longer enjoying the profession. We are also seeing fewer people entering the profession.”


Stressed FWCS to consider e-learning

Locally, Fort Wayne Community Schools is making plans to deal with "rolling blackouts" due to staff shortages including transportation, food service, custodial, and others in addition to instructional staff.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Staffing shortages are stressing Fort Wayne Community Schools to the point that district leaders are brainstorming remote-learning scenarios, Superintendent Mark Daniel said Tuesday.

The almost 30,000-student district is stretched thin across all departments, including food service and transportation, which is 72 bus drivers short, Daniel said. Further, he said, FWCS faces "major shortages" with substitute teachers.

He warned the audience watching his Facebook Live update that changes are likely looming.

"There will come a time when we cannot physically accommodate every student every day because we don't have personnel," Daniel said. "We've been stretching and stretching, and I think now we're to chewing gum on trying to fix things."


OH: Protect Our Children From Everything

The list of things that the movement against so-called "critical race theory" wants to prohibit is extensive and includes everything every right-wing, anti-public education, religious right activist has ever wanted including sex education, values clarification, social-emotional learning, and diversity training -- not to mention accurately teaching the history of race relations in the United States.

From Curmudgucation
CRT continues to be a catch-all for every complaint about public education ever, while also trying to generate discontent with public education, the better to fuel new attempts to simply get rid of it and replace it with a good-luck-you're-on-your-own marketplace even as taxpayers send money to religious schools. From complaints about critical race theory (which came after complaints about closed schools and mask mandates) we've moved on to the old refrain against everything that schools might teach that some conservative christianists disapprove of.

It would be a mistake for public education to take the stance that parents should shut up and sit down, but it would also be a mistake to let a small, vocal, albeit well-organized group intent on turning the clock back to a whitewashed version of 1955 decide what schools should do. The notion, as expressed by Mike Pompeo, that "parents should decide what their children are taught in school" is one more dismissal of educator expertise and a sure recipe for educational stagnation. I absolutely get the visceral fear of having your children grow up to be something foreign to your own beliefs and experience, but I don't get the notion that "don't let me children learn anything that I don't know myself" is a solution to anything. This is not freedom; this is a clumsy attempt to tie freedom up and gag it. Plus, I'll bet dollars to donuts that even as I type this, children are online googling items from the list of forbidden subjects. Good luck with that opt out thing.

Texas: The District Needed Funding for More Schools. Instead, the Commissioner Opened More Charter Schools

In Texas, much-needed public school funds have been diverted to charter schools.

From Diane Ravitch
Enrollments in the Cleveland Independent School District in Texas was growing rapidly. Voters passed bond issues, but it wasn’t enough. The superindent turned to the state for help. Sadly, Governor Gregg Abbott and his hand-picked State Commissioner Mike Morath are obsessed with charters, despite the fact that their academic results are below those of public schools.

Here is the sad story of Abbott and Morath’s devotion to charter expansion.


Nora de la Cour: For-Profit Remote Learning is a Disaster

From Diane Ravitch
Nora de la Cour is a high school teacher and writer. This article about the sham of for-profit remote instruction appeared in Jacobin. Study after study has demonstrated the poor results of virtual instruction, but the research does not deter the greedy entrepreneurs who see the profit in virtual charter schools. You may recall the recent press release from the National Alliance for Charter Schools about how charter schools increased enrollment by 250,000 during the pandemic; what the press release didn’t admit was that the “increase” was due entirely to growth in virtual charter enrollments, which may turn out to be a temporary response to the pandemic.

De la Cour sees the push for for-profit remote learning as another front in the privatization movement.

She begins...


Emails and Vampires [Updated]

Curmudgucation blogger, Peter Greene, has updated this post from three years ago about the Janus v. AFSCME decision. Sadly, it's still having an impact on teachers.

Although imperfect, teachers need their unions.

From Curmudgucation
It's almost as if this whole thing isn't about teachers' First Amendment right at all.

It's almost as if this was just a ploy to bust up the unions and make sure that teachers had even less voice in the world of education. It's almost as if this was a way to drain funds from the Democratic Party...

[Updates: First, I can confirm that the emails are hitting Pennsylvania, too, as confirmed by one in my wife's school email spam box that arrived yesterday.

Second, My Pay My Say has its very own Facebook page, so if you wanted to share some thoughts with them about their campaign, that would be a place to do it.]
*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


Monday, October 4, 2021

In Case You Missed It – October 4, 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.

While pundits worry about "learning loss" due to the pandemic, Steven Singer writes about the mental and emotional stress of the pandemic on students. "...this is not what teaching middle school used to be like."

It's more important than ever to protect and promote public education. Below are articles discussing charter schools, dark money, school choice, the national teacher shortage, and the continued attack on public education by Critical Race Theory opponents.

In local news, a Northrop High School teacher (FWCS) is an Indiana Teacher of the Year finalist.


My Students Haven’t Lost Learning. They’ve Lost Social and Emotional Development

It's not just "learning loss." Who is watching out for the mental health of America's public school students? Why teachers, of course.

From Gadfly on the Wall Blog
After 18 months of a pandemic, even when they aren’t infected with disease, children still are suffering tremendously from the effects of Covid-19.

Adolescents are dealing with higher rates of anxiety, depression, stress, and addictive internet behaviors.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that children between the ages of 5 and 11 visiting an emergency department because of a mental health crisis increased 24 percent from April through October of 2020 compared to the previous year. Among 12- to 17-year-olds, the number increased by 31 percent.

Suicide attempts among 12- to 17-year-old girls increased by about 50 percent over winter 2019, according to the CDC.

And these numbers are probably under reported since these increases took place at the height of a pandemic when many people were hesitant to seek medical attention.

As usual, the place where these issues are most visible is our public schools.


Why charter schools are not as ‘public’ as they claim to be

Charter schools use public funds but aren't as "public" as people might think.

From The Conversation
Proponents of charter schools insist that they are public schools “open to all students.” But the truth is more nuanced. As an education policy researcher – and as author of a new book about charter schools I wrote with fellow researcher Wagma Mommandi – I have discovered that charter schools are not as accessible to the public as they are often made out to be.

This finding is particularly relevant in light of the fact that charter school enrollment reportedly grew at a rapid rate during the pandemic. Specifically, according to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, enrollment increased 7% from 2019-20 to 2020-21. The organization says that is the biggest enrollment jump in a half-decade.

In our book, we identify and describe 13 different approaches that charters use to bring certain types of students in and push other kinds of students out.

How I Got Scammed by My Charter School’s False Promises

One reason we have public education is so that parents can send their children to a local school and not have to worry about getting scammed. Public schools and school boards are answerable to the public.

From Public Voices for Public Schools
I knew something was seriously wrong as soon as I saw the budget of the charter school my kids attended. As a member of the school site council, I was on the budget committee. Now, as I looked at the numbers, I could see for myself how dire the situation was. The school was paying five times fair market value to lease a property from a shell company created by the former CEO of the charter management company. We were on a fast track to bankruptcy.

How did a charter school created by parents and teachers morph into a series of shell corporations and a money-making scheme so complex that the Securities and Exchange Commission would ultimately step in? The story begins nearly two decades ago with budget cuts. Like districts all over California, the Livermore schools had been forced to make deep cuts, including shuttering two beloved magnet schools. The Livermore Valley Charter School, which opened in 2005, emerged from a grassroots desire to provide art, music and science—all of the things our district schools were being forced to eliminate.
Bipartisan School Choice Is Over

Democrats for Education Reform and the GOP are splitting up on school choice.

From Curmudgucation
Many observers have followed this dissolving partnership (Jennifer Berkshire has covered it exceptionally well-- try here and here) looking at the causes. Part of the issue has been that Democrats were always the junior partners; school choice has been near and dear to conservative hearts for generations, while Democrats were brought into the fold more recently. Often they were simply Democrats of convenience, as typified by Democrats for Education Reform (DFER), a group whose creation hedge funder Whitney Tilson described thus:
“The real problem, politically, was not the Republican party, it was the Democratic party. So it dawned on us, over the course of six months or a year, that it had to be an inside job. The main obstacle to education reform was moving the Democratic party, and it had to be Democrats who did it, it had to be an inside job... In fact, our natural allies, in many cases, are Republicans on this crusade, but the problem is not Republicans. We don’t need to convert the Republican party to our point of view…”
Democrats came into school choice on the theory that choice would bring improved education results and lift people out of poverty. Technocrats thought disruption--moving fast and breaking things--would revolutionize education. But none of that happened. Years--decades--passed and test scores didn't rise and charter schools didn't provide genius new education ideas and the gaggle of education amateurs running about didn't actually have any great successes and poverty was not erased.

UnKochMy Campus: Send a Message

Here's something you can do, now.

From Diane Ravitch
Each year in October, UnKoch My Campus coordinates a National Day of Action that focuses on building public awareness of the impact of the Koch network within institutions of education and our broader democracy. This year, we will take collective action and reach out to Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, requesting that he address the issue of dark money in education, all the way from Kindergarten through college. Our K-12 and Critical Race Theory reports have shown us the role dark money’s influence has in destabilizing our democracy, advancing climate denial, and prioritizing private profits over people and our planet.

Join us October 28th and 29th! We want to make sure Secretary Cardona knows about the impact of the Koch network and how they are leveraging our institutions of education to spread climate disinformation and destabilize our democracy.

Click the link below and we’ll do the work for you. Simply enter your information and we’ll add your name and return address to the postcard. SIGN UP FOR A POSTCARD BEFORE OCTOBER 15th.


Northrop High School teacher among top 3 finalists for Indiana Teacher of the Year

Lisa Clegg is an English language learner (ELL) teacher at Northrop High School in Fort Wayne. As an educator, now in her ninth year of teaching, she is passionate about student connections, community and the importance of making sure every voice is heard. Clegg is innovative in her methodology and values student achievement both inside and outside of the classroom. During her time at Northrop High School, Clegg’s ELL students have nearly doubled district average gains in language acquisition. Additionally, she has implemented an ELL peer mentor program that ensures each student in her program has the tools to succeed.


School superintendent asks: ‘Who would want to be a teacher right now?’

Teaching has always been a harder job than the public thinks. Just because someone, as a child, sat in class and observed teachers doesn't mean they understand the depth of commitment needed to last in an education career. And now, during the pandemic, it's even harder.

From the Answer Sheet
Teachers have had to endure revolting public comments at school board meetings, floggings via social media and even being called “losers” by national leaders. This kind of treatment needs to end immediately.

Teachers are indispensable to our society, but sadly, they are not treated as such. We have to not only defend our teachers, but praise them and elevate them to a level commensurate with the value they add to our communities. I recognize that the vast majority of folks in our community agree, and they do respect, appreciate, and recognize the value they provide to our community.

Teaching is hard work. Unless you have done it yourself, you may not be able to relate entirely. I am not, by the way, pitting teaching against any other profession. I wouldn’t attempt to draw those comparisons unless I had actually walked in those shoes. And yet, some will do just that even if they’ve not spent a single day teaching in a classroom.


Illinois: Mysterious Group Asks Schools if They Have Materials Included in “1619 Project”

The purge has started.

From Diane Ravitch
I received the following alarming notice from a friend in Illinois. Some organization wants to know whether schools in the state have any articles or books cited in “The 1619 Project.” This looks like the beginning of a McCarthyite witch hunt.

Subject: Interested in the 1619 Project? Work in IL schools and educational spaces? You’ll want to be aware of this. Public school districts are receiving this FOIA notice from a company called LocalLabs, a Chicago-based publisher (of sorts) that sells its FOIA research to news media outlets of all kinds. The librarians I work with are now scrambling with their districts’ attorneys and compliance officers to fulfill this request. I find it interesting that they’ve cherry-picked these particular titles and perhaps you do, too.