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


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