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.

THIS WEEK

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

TEACHER SHORTAGE

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.”

FWCS STAFF SHORTAGES

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."

CRT

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.
CHARTER EXPANSION

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.

REMOTE LEARNING

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...

UNIONS

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 fortwayne.com/subscriptions/

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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.
THIS WEEK

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.

IMPACT OF THE PANDEMIC

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.

SCHOOL CHOICE, PRIVATIZATION

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.

FWCS TEACHER IS INDIANA TEACHER OF THE YEAR FINALIST

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

From WANE.com
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.

NEWS FLASH: TEACHING IS HARD

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.

SEARCHING FOR CRT

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.
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