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.

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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


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