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


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