Monday, November 29, 2021

In Case You Missed It – November 29, 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 hope you had a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving.

This week we have a collection of articles that were high on our list since our last posting. Note that Peter Greene, blogger at Curmudgucuation, has half of the articles...a testament to his ability to keep up with what's happening in public education.

We'll start with FWCS, move on to the State of Indiana, then to the US national scene, and the final article, while from Canada, is also appropriate to the USA.


Aid to benefit FWCS preschools

Preschool is important...and FWCS will use federal coronavirus relief dollars to expand preschool programs in the city.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Fort Wayne Community Schools plans to use federal coronavirus relief dollars toward preschool play.

The board Monday unanimously approved acceptance of Build, Learn, Grow Stabilization grants from the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration.

These non-competitive grants are capped at $500,000 per licensed preschool program for the 2021-23 academic years and will be distributed statewide in three-month increments until the $540 million state allocation is exhausted, according to information provided to the board.

At FWCS, the dollars will support preschool programs at Abbett, Adams, Bloomingdale, Brentwood, Fairfield, Forest Park, Franke Park, Harrison Hill, Holland, Indian Village, Lindley, Maplewood, Northcrest, Scott, South Wayne, Study, Washington, Waynedale and Whitney Young.


After progress on pay, Indiana teachers want more bargaining rights

From Chalkbeat*
As they celebrate recent legislative wins on starting salaries, Indiana teachers again are calling on the legislature to restore their ability to negotiate with school districts on working conditions like hours and class sizes.

Collective bargaining for working conditions has been a long-standing issue since the state stripped away the right in 2011. But teacher unions have struggled to gain traction in a Republican-controlled legislature.

This year, the Indiana State Teachers Association says it has voters on its side: A survey commissioned by the union last summer found that eight in 10 Hoosiers supported making working conditions part of the collective bargaining process, according to ISTA President Keith Gambill.

Teachers see slight raises in state: Educators say more can be done, legislators say wait

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
As school districts around Indiana finalize new teacher contracts, a state report on the 2020-21 school year showed overall modest pay growth for teachers.

In 2021, teacher pay rose by $91.6 million statewide – an average salary bump of $1,791, according to the Indiana Education Employment Relations Board summary of collective bargaining reports.

But that growth was less than in 2020 when $126.6 million in new salary dollars went to teachers – an average increase of $2,215.

Indiana State Teachers Association Vice President Jennifer Smith-Margraf said last year saw only minor progress on the minimum salary while health insurance amounts being paid by teachers increased, reducing take-home pay.

“The state of teacher salaries in this summary justifies ISTA's concerns this past legislative session about stagnant or, in many cases, backward movement on pay increases. The report confirms the need for significant funding increases,” she said.


Introducing the Public Education Hostility Index

Indiana teachers could have told you that the Super-majority legislature has been hostile to public education for (at least) the last decade. Now there’s documentation.  

From Curmudgucation
Here at the Curmudgucation Institute, we have always realized that we are lacking one thing that every good thinky tank and Institute and Foundation has--reports. So we finally buckled down and created the American Public Education State Hostility Index (APESHI). This report now has its very own website.

The goal was to address the question, "Which states are the most hostile to public education right now?" To answer that question, we picked some factors to consider, like funding and state leadership and gag laws, assigned states numerical ratings, and added all the numbers together. Critics might argue that we have just assigned a bunch of numbers to subjective value judgments, but A) as far as I can tell, that's how the game is often played and B) they're numbers, so, you know, science.

Much of the rankings worked out to be pretty close together, though Florida's unsurprising domination of the field was unchallenged. So there is very little difference between 10th place Idaho and 11th place South Carolina. But it's still a handy tool for discussion. The full spreadsheet is available on the site; feel free to let me know in the comments where I missed something.

I'll share some results here. The top ten Most Hostile states, in order, with scores, so you can see the ties

Florida (55)

Arizona (48)

Louisiana (43)

North Carolina (43)

Arkansas (39)

Ohio (39)

Oklahoma (39)

Indiana (38)

Georgia (35)

Idaho (35)...


Current Pandemic Update (11/21)

Peter Greene gives a personal account…

From Curmudgucation
So I was going to tell you how things are going in this neck of the woods. We get so many updates from major cities, I've figured all along that we might as well have updates from rural NW PA, an area that seemed, 20 months ago, to be well-positioned to weather this storm.

I was going to tell you that local schools are back to having spot outages. A class sent home to quarantine here...

I was going to tell you that the already-thin substitute ranks are down to near-nothing. That when teachers miss, the dominoes fall all over the building trying to fill the gaps...

I was going to talk about how the notification and tracking business is only marginally less ad hoc than last year...

I was going to talk about how there's a sense that there's less above-ground discussion of the situation, but lots of undercurrent...

I was going to talk about how that it all still remains concerning to we three children of my parents, who are in their mid-eighties and facing some of the challenges that come with being so well-seasoned...

I was going to talk about all that today, and was prepping that very piece, when I got word that my two four-year-old boys apparently spent a day at pre-school earlier this week playing with another child who has since tested positive for covid...

So I'm in a mood…



Charter Schools Fight For Their Right To Discriminate

Charter schools don’t want an even playing field. The bottom line is that they want to make money from public funds. 

From Peter Greene in Forbes
Two recent news stories from opposite sides of the nation highlight battles between charter schools and state regulations. They underline critical ways in which some charter schools, which often claim to be “public” schools, do not embrace the mission of public education...

...In both cases, we have a charter school that is determined to resist the notion that a public school should serve all students in its community, no matter what their background. Exclusivity is supposed to be a feature of private schools only, and not a feature for which taxpayers should be footing the bill.


What Democrats Get Wrong about the Fight to Save Public Schools

From Peter Greene in The Progressive
Recently, former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and former Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant teamed up to discuss five ways to “put aside partisan politics and think big on education,” with an eye toward putting “the interests of children first in a bipartisan or nonpartisan fashion.”

Maybe they hoped to calm acrimonious discussions about education policy and concerns about widespread attacks on school boards by offering an opportunity for folks to join hands and move forward together, perhaps toward some of the duo’s favorite education reform policies.

It’s worth noting that the op-ed was published in The Washington Times, a rightwing news organization. When I read the piece, the recommended items on the sidebar were “Dr. Fauci’s deadly lie of omission” and, ironically, “Ex-Obama education chief [Duncan] compares anti-mask Americans to suicide bombers.”

The article notes that Duncan and Bryant co-paneled at the 2021 Reagan Institute Summit on Education, so one gets the impression that Duncan is barely trying to look progressive these days.

Duncan and Bryant also shared their pride that Mississippi did well compared to other states on the 2019 NAEP test, the nation’s report card, but neglected to mention that those national scores showed a historic dip.

So what were their suggestions?


The View from Canada: Why Public Schools Are Public

From Diane Ravitch
This article was written by a Canadian educator who was educated in the U.S.

Why public schools are public

Charles Ungerleider, Professor Emeritus, The University of British Columbia

Parents seeking programs that they believe are in the “best interests” of their own children sometimes act as if the education they seek is a private benefit. In seeking an education that is in a child’s or grandchild’s best interest it is easy for parents or grandparents to lose sight of why public schools are public.

If education were primarily a private benefit, it would not be something supported by governments; it would be left to families to determine the why, the what, and the how of educating the young. But in enrolling their children in public school they do not have that discretion.

Governments provide for schooling because it is a public good, something of benefit to everyone. Few people read the legislation establishing public schools but doing so is instructive. The purposes of education are often set out in a public schools or education act that is readily accessible...

 *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, November 15, 2021

In Case You Missed it - November 15, 2021

NEIFPE is off this week. Thanks for supporting Public Education.

We'll be back after Thanksgiving. Use the links in the right-hand column to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest in Public Education news.

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.


Monday, November 8, 2021

In Case You Missed It – November 8, 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.

Racism is in the news, again...state laws against teaching about race, book banning, elections which focus on race in school...It's all here. We also highlight a new charter school in Minnesota, along with some articles left over from last week.


I Triggered Bill Maher By Writing About Standardized Testing and White Supremacy

Commedian Bill Maher didn't like what Steven Singer wrote...chances are he didn't actually read the post...

From Gadfly on the Wall Blog
...Maher disagrees with what I wrote.

In fact, the very idea annoyed him as a prime example of namby-pamby liberals taking their agenda too far.

What did I write in the article?

Only that standardized testing is a tool of white supremacy.

In fact, that was the title of the article, which seems to be about as far as Bill read because he ignored any arguments, facts or historical citations in the piece.

On his show, “Real Time with Bill Maher” this week, he posted the title of the article and the graphic that appeared with it when it was republished on

What he didn’t post was my name. I am the author, after all, but I guess that’s not important.

The crucial bit was how triggered Bill was by my assertion.

By connecting such allegedly alien concepts as standardized testing and racism, Maher thinks I devalued the meaning of “white supremacy.”

Replying to Moms for Liberty: What about These Books?

Peter Greene reviews his twitter conversation with Moms for Liberty and gives them some idea about how to ask their questions politely.

From Curmudgucation
This is my reply to Moms for Liberty...

...banning a book is huge, huge deal. Having it pulled from a school library in an attempt to keep it away from students is a huge, huge deal. Not only that, but it doesn't work. The good people of Boston banned Huckleberry Finn (too much friendliness between a white boy and a Black man), and they turned it into a best seller. I guarantee you that the books that have turned up on these current banning lists are now being sought out by the students [Moms for Liberty] wanted to protect.

I see a huge irony in your current movement. Many of your folks are also anti-vax and anti-mask, arguing that simply letting students be exposed to the virus will not be a problem because natural immunity and their own strength will protect them. And yet when it comes to "these books," the approach is to prevent exposure at all costs.

More Rough Days Ahead For Public Ed

Critical Race Theory in public K-12 schools was the main issue in the Virginia elections even though it's not being taught in any K-12 schools. The point is that those parents against talking about race are "hurt" because the history of the United States isn't perfect. We wonder if they think we ought to not teach the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution because both documents contain racist references...

From Curmudgucation seems reasonable to assume that a whole bunch of GOP politicos have, in the wake of the Virginia governor's election, will conclude that a winning strategy is to treat public education as a punching bag. Filled with indoctrinators! Naughty books! Race stuff! A bunch of commie lesbians turning your kids trans! A scam to make the unions rich! And, of course, they suck at educating children!

We'll hear it all from various candidates for the next three years because, as of right now, it appears to work. There are, of course, alternative explanations (e.g. Virginia has, 11 out of 12 times, elected a governor from the party out of national power). But this seems like a simple one, and it's easy to do, and the ground troops are already in place in the form of a hundred anti-CRT/masks/vax/closed schools groups. Brandishing the dirty book can be the 21st century's wave the bloody shirt. I'm afraid we're in for three years (at least) of calls for banning books and regulating teacher speech.

Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman Seizes Control of the State Board of Education

From Jan Resseger
On Friday, two members of the Ohio State Board of Education, including the board’s elected president, were forced to resign because the all-powerful president of the Ohio Senate opposed their vote to retain an anti-racism resolution passed by the state board last year following George Floyd’s murder and not to retract that resolution.

The two who were forced to resign were in the minority when the state board voted in October to replace last year’s Resolution 20. Here is how, yesterday, the Plain Dealer‘s editorial board summarized the original Resolution 20: “The resolution… condemned ‘in the strongest possible terms, white supremacy culture, hate speech, hate crimes and violence in the service of hatred’ and said the board itself would work to ‘engage our members in open and courageous conversations on racism and inequity’ while offering training ‘to identify our own biases.’ The resolution directed the Ohio Department of Education to examine curriculum and standards to see if any changes were needed to ‘eliminate bias’ and ensure accuracy, and to encourage and support school districts, parents and communities in examining their own practices.'”

Midwest Dispatch: Minnesota Launches a Pro-Police Charter School

A police run charter school...what could go wrong.

From The Progressive
Should cops be allowed to start their own charter school using public funds? This is the question facing residents in Ramsey County, Minnesota, the second largest county in the state.

Ramsey County is home to Sheriff Bob Fletcher, the purveyor of a self-styled, Cops-like YouTube channel called “Live on Patrol.” Fletcher started the livestream in late July 2020, in the middle of ongoing uprisings over the murder of George Floyd. His alleged intention was to build more trust between law enforcement officers and the public, though he has been accused of uttering racist comments during his broadcasts.

Now, Fletcher and other Ramsey County Sheriff Department staffers have co-founded a charter school. The School of Leadership for Public Service, which is set to open next fall, would enroll students in grades six through ten and has raised a host of red flags.


Diary Of A Socialist Indoctrinator

From Peter Greene in Forbes
One vision of what a teacher's journal might be like in a parallel universe as envisioned by Donald Trump Jr.'s critique.
Illinois: Parent Groups Sue to Remove COVID Safety Measures

From Diane Ravitch
Organized parent groups in Illinois are suing school boards, the state board of education and the Governor to remove mask mandates and other safety measures from the schools.

Monday, November 1, 2021

In Case You Missed It – November 1, 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.


If you read one complete article from those below, make sure it's the first one. Peter Greene, who blogs at Curmudgucation explains the complexities of teaching controversies to students. Greene taught secondary students, so age-appropriateness is, of course, required when working with children of all ages, but his comments are insightful and helpful to understanding the processes present in classrooms across the nation.

In other news this week, the Wall Street Journal posted an op-ed by a libertarian who denies that public education is necessary, followed by a rebuttal. We also have three local news articles about teacher salaries and the push from a Fort Wayne legislator to politicize school board elections.


How I Taught Controversial Texts

How should a teacher cover controversial topics without getting into trouble with parents or administrators? Peter Greene used honesty, openness, and care. This is worth your time to read if you're interested in how the Critical Race Theory uproar is affecting public education...

or if you're a current teacher trying to teach under the scrutiny of the Critical Race Theory uproar...

or if you're a parent whose children are attending public schools during the time of the Critical Race Theory uproar.

From Curmudgucation
So the critical race theory panic has, in many cases, boiled down to a good old-fashioned desire to ban books, most notably in Virginia where, somehow, Toni Morrison's Beloved is being debated (and, I should add, spoiled for those who haven't read it). I am not going to make my argument against banning here, because that's a book in itself. But I am going to talk about what the teaching of these scary texts can actually look like in a classroom.

One of the things that inevitably happens when the book banning talk starts is a reductiveness, a highlighting of little pieces, ripped from context in the same way that a seventh grader might start showing his buddies "just the dirty parts" of some book.

But context is everything--both the context within the book and the book's context within the classroom. Despite David Coleman's attempt to separate reading from context, context is, if not everything, pretty damn close to it.


Imagine a class with 25 kids — and all of their parents insist on telling the teacher what to teach

How much input should parents have in the curriculum for their child?

From the Answer Sheet
Imagine you have a class of 25 students, and the parents of each one of them have their own ideas about how the teacher should — or should not — lead a lesson on the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s “I Have a Dream” speech.

Each parent or set of parents proceeds to email, call, text or show up at school to discuss with the teacher their view of the lesson. Some demand that the lesson be posted online (a practice some state legislators want to mandate). Children tell their parents about the lesson and those who are unhappy complain to the teacher, possibly the principal, the superintendent and the school board, and may organize protests.

Now consider how many lessons a teacher teaches in a day. And let’s note that some classes have many more than 25 students, especially now, when classes are being doubled in many schools because of teacher shortages.

Of course, all parents won’t weigh in on every lesson, and they won’t do it every day, but the result would still be untenable for any school.

“It’s absurd for parents to tell teachers what to teach,” said Diane Ravitch, an education historian and advocate for public schools. “The result would be chaos, and in most cases would be parents telling teachers to teach the way they were taught decades earlier.” What’s more, she said, “It thoroughly discredits the teacher’s professionalism and expertise,” adding: “I can’t think of a more effective way to demoralize teachers and drive them out of the classroom.”

WSJ: The Libertarian View of Public Schools

Don't read this without reading the next post, too. In these two posts, Diane Ravitch reports on the WSJ op-ed and its rebuttal.

From Diane Ravitch
The Wall Street Journal recently published a screed against the very existence of public schools, written by a libertarian lawyer. Imagine teaching in a school where children are allowed to learn only what their parents already believe, no matter how bizarre or hateful it may be. Imagine the difficulty of having a coherent society where there are no compromises, no bonds of mutuality among people of different faiths and ethnicities. The illustration accompanying the article shows the government turning diverse children into identical cookie cutter people. No one today could reasonably argue that the people of the United States, 90% of whom were educated in public schools, have identical views, values, and beliefs. It is Libertarians who would have all of our children molded into clones of their parents and grandparents, with everyone attending schools that narrowly confined them to their own religious, racial, and ethnic enclave. In reality, private sectarian schools are far more likely to “indoctrinate” children than are public schools that include teachers and children from different backgrounds.

Peter Greene Responds to the WSJ Attack on Public Schools

From Diane Ravitch
Peter Greene responded to the opinion piece by law professor Philip Hamburger, who claimed that public schools are not “constitutional” because they suppress parents’ freedom of speech, that is, their ability to ensure that their children hear, read, and learn only what their parents want them to learn.

Greene begins...


West Virginia: Privatizers Control New State Charter School Board

Note...there are no supporters of public education on this new West Virginia charter school board.

From Diane Ravitch
A regular commenter on the blog, known as Chiara, reports the composition of West Virginia’s new board for authorizing charter schools. The legislature endorsed new charter schools in a state that has never had them. Several of them will be for-profits. Two will be virtual charters. There are three other entities that can authorize the privately run schools that are publicly funded.

Partisanship of politics has no place in school policy

Do we really want to politicize school board elections? 

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
What would partisan school boards look like? Expect the political gridlock seen in Congress or the supermajority rule found in the state legislature. Board members would be accountable not to students, parents and taxpayers, but to the party officials who determine their political fate. Education policy would be filtered through a Democratic or Republican lens.

While school board members don't currently declare a party affiliation or seek nomination in a primary election, their political leanings aren't necessarily unknown. Some are active in party politics; some use school board service as a springboard to higher elected office.

Nonpartisan elections, however, have served the state well in separating politics and district policy, and voters appear to favor that approach. Last year, Fort Wayne Community Schools District 2 voters threw out incumbent Glenna Jehl after she retweeted right-wing posts that criticized the state's COVID-19 policies and accused Democrats of “supporting terrorists.”


FWCS officially approves pay hikes

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
It's official – Fort Wayne Community Schools is investing almost $21 million to give most employees 4% raises this year and next.

Of that, $13.8 million will go to teachers – $6.8 million in year one and $7 million in year two –while $3.4 million will go toward non-teaching staff each year, Kathy Friend told the board Monday. She is the district's chief financial officer.

Board members – who discussed the teachers contract in September – again thanked lawmakers for approving a state budget that allows the almost 30,000-student district to increase salaries and wages.

“I think that that's an important point to make, that we couldn't do it without them,” member Jennifer Matthias said. “Hopefully, we'll continue to see those increases.”

SACS teachers close to pay raise

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Southwest Allen County Schools teachers are days from working under a new one-year contract that will raise the minimum base salary by $2,500.

The proposed base salary range is $43,500 to $78,500 under terms the board considered Thursday. The maximum reflects a $3,000 increase from the previous agreement.
**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