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


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