Monday, May 16, 2022

In Case You Missed It – May 16, 2022

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 WEEK

Are charter schools public or private schools? When it comes to gathering funds, charters claim to be public schools. When it comes to profit, they want to be private. Peter Greene and Diane Ravitch explain.

In the Fort Wayne area, we read about the South Side High School centennial as well as a textbook controversy in NACS.

Finally, Americans love music but don't have a problem with underfunding music programs.

CHARTERS

Can We Finally Have The Necessary Debate About Charter Schools

Are charter schools private schools? Should they be able to operate at a profit? Who's responsible when there are problems? Is there a publicly elected school board?

From Curmudgucation
Are charter schools public schools, or private businesses?

The pitch has always been that charter schools are public schools, that they are "laboratories of education" that would enrich the entire "education ecosystem." But that promise has existed beside the reality that charters have conducted themselves largely like businesses, holding onto their "proprietary information" and opening and closing for reasons that have more to do with business decisions than concern about the local education ecosystem.

The proposed rule changes highlight this dichotomy. To increase their chances of getting a chunk of grant money from the federal Charter School Program (CSP), new charter schools would have to do the following...

The Founders Wanted Public Schools, Not Charter Schools or Vouchers

The "common good" was a goal of the US Founders. Do charter and voucher schools fill the need for a "common good?"

From Diane Ravitch
The charter lobby—the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools—has been fighting furiously to block proposed regulations by the U.S. Department of Education that would ban federal funding of for-profit charter schools and white-flight charters. They have received sympathetic editorials, repeating the falsehoods that these sensible regulations would harm all charter schools (they won’t). Their ads are even on national television (I saw one last night on a cable news station), falsely claiming that the regulations are a direct attack on charter schools (they are not).

Who knew that the charter trade association would resort to outright lies to protect low-quality for-profit charter operators and keep federal funding available to open new white-flight charters? The regulations have zero effect on existing charters. They affect only the federal funding spent to open new charters, $440 million a year, which has been recklessly spent on for-profit chains and on charters that never opened or closed soon after opening. Why waste federal money on grifters and entrepreneurs?

By their lies, you shall know them.

WHERE DO MUSICIANS COME FROM?

Musicians Aren't Hatched

We value music here in the US, but treat school music as a "frill."

From Curmudgucation
We have a weird, dichotomous relationship with music in this country. On the one hand, we consider it a necessity. We'll shell out money for streaming services, require a sound system in our cars, and readily embrace each new advance of technology that allows us to include more music in our personal bubble. Some of us pay big bucks to hear music live. And we expect music to enrich everything else--television, movies, gaming, advertising, every public and private occasion. Most of us do not go a day without it; many of us don't even go a waking hour without it.

And yet, we continue to treat music education as some sort of extra, like a lace doily to set under a piece of cake, and not the cake itself. It is always treated as expendable, as something that's not so necessary. Sometimes the cutting is truly non-sensical. I've heard more than one tale of a district that doesn't want to hurt its high school marching band program, so they cut back on elementary programs instead, as if marching band members will somehow just magically appear from the ether.

That's just our society's attitude writ small--we like music, so we like musicians, but we don't really understand where they come from. They just sort of appear, people who have been struck by musical lightning, or maybe hatched at the musician hatchery.
FORT WAYNE AREA LOCAL ARTICLES

South Side High School Tours

South Side High to offer tours: Downtown to join centennial celebration

Take a trip down memory lane. Join the South Side HS tour...

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
South Side High School will continue celebrating its centennial with events next week, including a colorful, downtown nod to the milestone year, a news release said Thursday.

Tours of the school, 3601 S. Calhoun St., will be offered during an open house from 2 to 5 p.m. May 21. Displays will include photographs and blueprints of the school throughout the decades.

South Side has undergone multiple expansions since it opened in 1922. At that time, its website states, it was the largest one-story school building in the United States, and it was among the first schools nationwide to use a series of ramps instead of stairs. Only one set remains, the release said.

It is the oldest Fort Wayne Community Schools building except for the Bill C. Anthis Center, spokeswoman Krista Stockman has said. That downtown location dates to 1902 and first served as Central High School.

Is interracial marriage inappropriate? Who should choose math textbooks -- math experts or school board members?

NACS School Board VP: Interracial Marriage is inappropriate in math text book

NACS gives approval to all textbooks but 1 in math

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
The Northwest Allen County Schools board member who wanted extra time to review four proposed math textbooks praised three titles Monday, but he criticized the other for including story problems about "inappropriate" topics including interracial marriage.

The five-member board unanimously approved the K-12 textbook adoption for next academic year except for a pre-calculus book.

The textbook adoption was delayed two weeks because Kent Somers, board vice president, said on April 25 he was concerned that four of the proposed titles "have been identified in other districts or other places."

On April 15, the Florida Department of Education announced 54 of the 132 submitted textbooks didn't make the state's initial adoption list for math instructional materials.

By the book: Objection to proposed math text anything but cagey

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
On Monday, Somers gave his approval to four “outstanding” books. Education publisher Pearson's evocatively titled “Precalculus” was excluded by Somers because the author was “a little bit cagey in how he'd presented material.”

The textbook, now in its seventh edition, was written by Robert F. Blitzer, an emeritus professor at Miami Dade College where he was an award-winning mathematics teacher for 30 years. He has a master of arts in mathematics from the University of Miami and a doctorate in behavioral science from Nova University.

In promotional material for the book, Blitzer, sporting long hair, round wire-framed glasses and a walrus mustache, is quoted as saying, “Your world is profoundly mathematical.”

Drawing upon pop culture and up-to-date references, Blitzer wrote the series so that it would “appeal to students of all majors and connect math to their lives, showing them that our world is more mathematical than they realize.”

**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 fortwayne.com/subscriptions/ [NOTE: NEIFPE has no financial ties to the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette]

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Monday, May 9, 2022

In Case You Missed It – May 9, 2022

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 WEEK

Fort Wayne Community Schools has to figure out a way to be more efficient amidst a shortage of bus drivers.

A charter school administrator abuses a child.

Surprise! Public school parents like their local schools.

And a NEIFPE blog recognizing the most popular posts of the past week wouldn't be complete without one or two posts from Peter Greene at Curmudgucation. Today's entries: Teacher appreciation week and a look at how we teach reading.

FWCS STRUGGLING TO RESCHEDULE BUSES

FWCS ponders changes in bus schedules: Options on the table amid driver shortages

Wouldn't it be nice if the public funds spent on charter and voucher schools in the Fort Wayne Area went to the public schools...attended by the majority of local students? Salaries could be raised for education support personnel, like bus drivers, attracting more people to the workforce.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Fort Wayne Community Schools is rethinking school schedules as it grapples with a shortage of bus drivers, Superintendent Mark Daniel said during an online update Tuesday.

“Everything's on the table,” he said of adjusting transportation plans to increase efficiency with fewer and fewer drivers.

Daniel addressed the topic in the final minutes of the hourlong Facebook Live event – the last of the academic year – after a viewer inquired about a possible schedule change for middle and high school in two years.

CHARTER VICE-PRINCIPAL PUNCHES 5-YEAR-OLD

San Antonio: IDEA Charter School Vice Principal Arrested for Punching 5-Year-Old

Your tax dollars at work.

From Diane Ravitch
The vice principal of an IDEA charter school in San Antonio was arrested for punching a 5-year-old child.

Betsy DeVos, when U.S .Secretary of Education, gave the IDEA chain more than $200 million from the federal Charter Schools Program to expand.

TEACHER APPRECIATION WEEK

Appreciating Teachers In May

Last week was National Teacher Appreciation Week. Peter Greene wonders if the end of the year is the best time for this kind of recognition. Sure, teachers have made it through another long year filled with challenges and stress (as have the kids!). But would it be better to appreciate teachers at the beginning of the school year for having the courage to show up in the first place?

Perhaps it's time to appreciate teachers all year long and finally give professional educators the respect they're due.

From Curmudgucation
So maybe it makes sense to appreciate teachers now, when they are up against it, trying to convince students that there are, in fact, more school days left even though the Big Standardized Test just finished. Maybe teachers need that extra boost during May, when only teachers are praying for cold, miserable days that do not make students shift into summer gear. Maybe now, as everyone is lurching toward the finish line, particularly in this pretend-post-pandemic year (which, according to most of my teacher friends, is actually worse than last year), is the perfect time to holler some attagirls at teaching staffs. But many times, I have wondered if a teacher appreciation week in September would be far better.

It's nice to hear "Ya did good" at the end of a run, but a hearty "Thanks for showing up to take this on. We'll be with you every step of the way," would be great, too. Being appreciated at the end of your run is a nice thing, an expression that people think you did a good job. Appreciation at the start shows some trust and confidence without waiting around to make sure you really did do a good job.

CURRICULUM: READING

Can the Reading Pendulum Be Swinging?

Here's an interesting take on the "Reading Wars" from Peter Greene, a retired secondary teacher. Content and knowledge matter!

From Curmudgucation
...Knowledge matters. Content matters. To state what seems obvious to me, it's hard to read or learn to read if you don't know much. It's easier to read or learn to read if you have a wealth of background knowledge. New learning is most easily acquired when it can be connected to old knowledge. So if you want to teach children to read, building up their storehouse of prior knowledge is a critical-- maybe the most critical-- thing you can do to build a foundation.

This point of view has never gone away, but it seems to be gaining traction lately.

Note, for instance, this piece from Louisiana's education chief and committed reformster John White. White's point is that the NAEP is a faulty test because it doesn't measure "what students know."

MOST PARENTS LOVE THEIR LOCAL PUBLIC SCHOOLS...AND THEY SHOULD KNOW, RIGHT?

NPR: New Poll Shows that Most Parents Like Their Public Schools and Teachers

Year after year parents all over the country give their own schools higher grades than the nation's schools.

Public schools get their highest grades from those who know them best...from public school parents. Could it be that the media skews the reporting on public schools so we only hear how bad the nation's schools are? Is the "common knowledge" that America's public schools are failing false? Is that "common knowledge" actually based on mostly misused and overused test scores?

Answers: Yes, yes, and yes.

Here's yet another poll showing that "our schools are great." Those "other schools" must be the ones that are failing.

From Diane Ravitch
NPR released a new poll showing that, despite the loud mouths attacking public schools, most parents like their public schools and teachers.

They like their schools despite the hundreds of millions, if not billions, invested in promoting school choice, charter schools, vouchers, and privatization.
**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 fortwayne.com/subscriptions/ [NOTE: NEIFPE has no financial ties to the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette]

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Monday, May 2, 2022

In Case You Missed It – May 2, 2022

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 WEEK

Due to a technical error, last week's IN CASE YOU MISSED IT from NEIFPE was unpublished or removed from the blog. It has been reposted and, if you scroll down you will find it below this May 2, 2022 post. We apologize for any inconvenience.

This week's popular articles and blog posts focused on charter schools and the so-called "parental rights" movement.

We start with an announcement from one of our local school districts.

FWCS CHANGES FOCUS FOR TITLE I MONEY

FWCS's Title I money will be focused exclusively on elementary schools.

FWCS elementaries focus of Title I funds

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Fort Wayne Community Schools is changing its spending strategy for the $12 million in federal funding it receives to serve children living in high-poverty areas.

The district, which has about 50 schools and almost 30,000 students, decided in its annual review of Title I spending to use the money solely at all of its elementary schools next academic year, spokeswoman Krista Stockman said. The list includes Towles Intermediate School, which serves grades one through eight.

This year, the Title I schools comprise 25 elementary schools, four middle schools and three high schools. Together they serve almost 17,000 students, according to state enrollment data.

FORT WAYNE CHARTER APPLICANT SEES THE WRITING ON THE WALL

Unwanted charter school wisely gives up

Our hometown newspaper editorializes about the withdrawn application of a charter school.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
As organizer of the proposed Fort Wayne Preparatory Academy, state law required the board to hold a public hearing in the community before it could decide the school's fate. That meeting was Monday at the Allen County Public Library's main branch, where the planned charter encountered heavy resistance.

The academy had sought to open in the 2023-24 academic year with 150 elementary students. Leaders wanted to expand to middle grades, eventually serving 400 students, according to the 268-page application. The academy expected to draw students from FWCS, and its application said it planned to open in “the southwestern area of Fort Wayne.” But it identified “one current target” on the city's southeast side – the former Zion Lutheran Academy building at 2313 S. Hanna St.

About 25 people – including Fort Wayne Community Schools board members and Superintendent Mark Daniel – urged the state's charter school board to reject the application. Opponents questioned the academy's proposed budget and staffing plans. They pointed out two of the academy's three board members live in the Southwest Allen County Schools district and not FWCS, and they criticized the record of the education service provider, Accel Schools.

CHARTER IN INDY GETS TO USE BROAD RIPPLE HS BUILDING

Purdue Poly seeks a deal to use Broad Ripple High School for one year

There should be no such thing as a "cash-strapped" school district. The Indiana Constitution requires that the legislature...

"...provide, by law, for a general and uniform system of Common Schools, wherein tuition shall be without charge, and equally open to all."

It would seem obvious that the state is responsible for making sure those "common schools" are properly funded. If a school or district is "cash-strapped" then the school board and state must work together to fully fund the district.

From Chalkbeat Indiana*
Four years after Broad Ripple High School closed its doors, students may return to its classrooms — but just for a year.

Indianapolis Public Schools is considering letting Purdue Polytechnic High School North temporarily use part of the building while the charter school’s permanent home is under construction.

It’s an interesting twist in the saga over Broad Ripple High School. Purdue Poly had sought in 2018 to take over the building but later backed out of the contentious debate that pitted choice-friendly lawmakers against the cash-strapped district.
POLITICS/PARENTAL RIGHTS

I'm Not Going To Defend SEL

Is Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) the newest target for the anti-public education crowd?

From Curmudgucation
Social and Emotional Learning is the new target of the GOP attempt to set multiple education brushfires in hopes of stampeding voters towards a Republican victory (as well as one more way for the authoritarian crowd to hammer home their central point of "Trust nobody except Beloved Leader"). The attacks range from overblown to intellectually dishonest to giant piles of bovine fecal matter to the odious, evil charges that the teaching profession is simply a haven for groomers.

And there is irony in these attacks from the right, because SEL is just the latest packaging of what we used to call "soft skills," and some of the greatest push for getting these into schools has come from the business community ("Hey schools! Fix my meat widgets so they communicate and cooperate better!!")

All that said, I'm not going to be the one to defend SEL in the classroom.

POLITICS/PARENTAL RIGHTS

AZ: An Even Worse Parental Rights Bill

Public schools belong to the entire community, not just the parents whose children currently attend. Like the public library, public parks, and public thoroughfares, the public schools benefit everyone, not just the children attending the school.

To be sure, parents are allowed to remove their children from public schools and send them to private schools or provide home schooling. Certain conditions must be met because the education of the citizenry is in the interest of everyone in the community.

Those parents who choose to enroll their children in a private school (assuming that the private school allows their children to attend) should be required to pay for it themselves.

"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." - John Adams

From Curmudgucation
As more and more of these rear their heads across the country, the language gets sloppier and -- well, just bad. Recently approved by the Senate and previously okayed by the House, Arizona's HB 2161 throws a new verb into the mix-- usurp.

As in, no political subdivision of the state or any other government entity or any official etc (because in this phrase, the bill's writer was exactingly detailed and thorough) "shall not interfere with or usurp the fundamental right of parents to direct the upbringing, education, health care and mental health of their children."

And if that seems hugely broad and vague--well, it gets worse. Because the very next sentence says that a parent may bring suit against the "government entity or official" based on any violation of the statutes or action that "interferes with or usurps the fundamental right of parents to direct the upbringing, education, health care and mental health of their children."
*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 fortwayne.com/subscriptions/ [NOTE: NEIFPE has no financial ties to the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette]

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Monday, April 25, 2022

In Case You Missed It – April 25, 2022

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 WEEK

This week's local education news was dominated by an application for a new charter school in the Fort Wayne area. The application was eventually withdrawn due to strong opposition.


ACCEL SCHOOLS FACES OPPOSITION IN FORT WAYNE

Fort Wayne charter school application withdrawn

For-profit charter school chain, Accel Schools, has withdrawn their application for a new charter school in Fort Wayne due to strong local opposition and poor planning. Articles dealing with the backlash against the charter school application follow...

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
An application to establish a new charter school in Fort Wayne has been withdrawn after the school faced overwhelming opposition this week.

Bridgett Abston, the Indiana Charter School Board's director of authorizing, evaluation and assessment, said today the board received an email saying Fort Wayne Preparatory Academy's application had been withdrawn.

The charter school board was to discuss the application during a meeting Thursday in Indianapolis.

The proposed charter school had planned to open in the 2023-24 academic year with 150 elementary students. Leaders had planned to expand to the middle-school grade levels, eventually serving 400 students, according to a 268-page application.

The academy expected to draw students from FWCS and open in southwest Fort Wayne within the FWCS district.
Below are two articles dealing with the charter school opposition in Fort Wayne.

New Fort Wayne charter school proposal receives major backlash at public hearing

From WFFT-TV
There wasn’t much support for the new school at Monday's meeting.

Teachers, parents and school board members were among the public speakers to share their thoughts.

In total, 26 of the 27 speakers said the application should be denied.

"I wonder how much research they’ve actually done on the clientele they want to serve," said one speaker.

"I don’t think this community needs another charter school," said another.

"I urge this application [to] be rejected."

These are just a few of the comments from people who spoke out against the new charter school.
Critics blast charter school proposal

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
A proposed Fort Wayne charter school faced overwhelming opposition during a public hearing Monday that filled an Allen County Public Library room to capacity, prompting about 50 people to gather in the grand hall.

About 25 people -- including Fort Wayne Community Schools board members and FWCS Superintendent Mark Daniel -- urged the Indiana Charter School Board to deny Fort Wayne Preparatory Academy's application next week.

The proposed charter school wants to open in the 2023-24 academic year with 150 elementary students. Leaders plan to expand to the middle school grade levels -- eventually serving 400 students, according to a 268-page application.
AN INSIDE LOOK AT ACCEL

Jeff Bryant: Inside a Chaotic For-Profit Charter School

Read this article for an inside look at how Accel Schools runs their locations...this one in Toledo.

From Diane Ravitch
It didn’t take long for Tasha Stiles to realize there was something very wrong with the school where she had just started teaching.

First, there was her rushed orientation to the school, Toledo Preparatory Academy, an early kindergarten through eighth grade charter school in Toledo, Ohio, operated by for-profit charter chain Accel Schools. She told Our Schools that her training during orientation in August 2020 consisted mostly of one workshop on “basics,” which included how to record attendance and enter grades. There was no school handbook or written guidelines about student discipline practices or instructional protocols.
FLORIDA'S ATTACK ON PUBLIC EDUCATION CONTINUES

Florida releases 4 prohibited math textbook examples. Here they are.

Florida has moved the culture wars to math textbooks. This is what happens when your governor has too much power and is running for President.

From the Answer Sheet
Days after announcing that it had rejected 41 percent of math textbooks submitted by publishers — some of them because of references to critical race theory and other “prohibited” topics — the Florida Department of Education on Thursday released four examples of lessons it considers unacceptable.

Last week, the department said some of the rejected textbooks — 54 of 132 — were not aligned with Florida’s content standards, called the “Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking,” or BEST, while others were rejected for the subject matter. “Reasons for rejecting textbooks included references to Critical Race Theory (CRT), inclusions of Common Core, and the unsolicited addition of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) in mathematics,” it said.

The department came under criticism for not releasing any examples, so on Thursday, it did.

**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 fortwayne.com/subscriptions/

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Monday, April 18, 2022

In Case You Missed It – April 18, 2022

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 WEEK

Two Allen County school boards are in the news with articles about public comments and a superintendent search.

We also report about Teach for America, prayer in school, charter schools, and a national report card in which Indiana earned a grade of "F".
SACS SCHOOL BOARD CHANGES COMMENT PROTOCOL

Comment. Period.

A new Indiana law requires school boards (but not other governing agencies like city councils) to allow time for public comments. Southwest Allen County Schools (SACS) has opted to put the time for public comments at the beginning of each board meeting.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
During Southwest Allen County Schools' board meeting March 15, parent Shawn McCarthy asked members to consider putting public comments at the start of meetings instead of holding them for the end. The suggestion was warmly received.

"I'm going to tell you, you're right," board president Brad Mills told McCarthy last month. "I want to address it."

The board did. Public comment will now occur at the beginning of meetings, after the Pledge of Allegiance and "communications" : an agenda item the district uses to highlight student and staff achievements.

Superintendent Park Ginder said Mc-Carthy's feedback and a new state law concerning public participation at school board meetings spurred the change. That law takes effect July 1 and mandates all public and charter school boards offer an oral public comment period at all public and virtual meetings.

Currently, the public is allowed to attend board meetings, but boards haven't been required to allow people to speak at most sessions.

The legislation was proposed after confrontational and disruptive school board meetings over the past year, sparked by COVID-19 protocols, saw some boards suspend or restrict public comments.

NACS NEEDS A SUPERINTENDENT

Poor precedent: Superintendent search stall would ill serve NACS

Indiana's Republican supermajority was unsuccessful when they tried to pass a bill forcing candidates for school boards to declare a political party affiliation. A candidate for the Republican Convention suggested that the board wait till after the election to name a new superintendent to replace Chris Himsel, who was hounded from his position as superintendent by right-wing parents. This would give the voters the opportunity to replace board members up for reelection with people who are against masks (aka following the state's guidelines during a pandemic).

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
[The post of superintendent is] a nonpartisan office. [Board President] Felger's correct when he said the district doesn't function well without a superintendent.

They had an excellent one in Himsel, whose endeavors during the years earned him the 2017 state superintendent of the year designation and a reputation as an outstanding educator.

After enduring months of ridicule from a faction of parents enraged over the mask mandate, Himsel took a leave of absence earlier this year before retiring last month.

TEACH FOR AMERICA LOSING GROUND

Gary Rubinstein: Whatever Happened to TFA?

They're not gone yet, but the number of Teach For America "teachers" has been dropping. It's true that many college graduates join Teach For America for altruistic reasons. They may truly want to help kids before they move on to other careers...but that doesn't eliminate the problems with the program.

Do we mourn the loss of teachers who are poorly trained, led by ineffective leaders, and who joined forces with teacher-bashing reformers?

Or do we cheer?

From Diane Ravitch
You might think that, with teacher shortages in many districts, this would be a golden moment for Teach for America. But it is not. Gary Rubinstein, one of the original members of TFA in the early 1990s and now a career teacher in New York City, surveys the current woes of Teach for America in this post. He identifies three reasons for the downturn in TFA’s fortunes. He begins:
Teach For America has an operating budget of $300 million. Their main responsibility is to recruit and prepare corps members to teach for a minimum of two years in low-income communities. They started in 1990 with 500 corps members. In 1991 they grew to 750 corps members. By 2005 they had 2000 corps members and they peaked in 2012 with 6000. Now, according to Chalkbeat, They are at a 17 year low, back to 2000 recruits.

CHARTER SCHOOL MYTHS

Top 5 Charter School Myths Debunked

Do charter schools save us money? Do they provide a better academic program than traditional public schools? Are they actually public schools?

Steven Singer, who blogs at Gadfly on the Wall, gives us answers to five myths about charter schools.

Spoiler Alert: The answer to the above questions is "no!"

From Gadfly on the Wall Blog
If there’s one thing people love to argue about, it’s charter schools.

Go to any school board meeting, PTA forum or editorial page, and you’re bound to see folks from all different walks of life getting red in the face over these institutions.

But what are they anyway? And why do they generate so much passionate disagreement?

To answer these questions and many more, I’m going to examine five of the most pernicious myths about charter schools, debunk the fallacies and come to the simple truths.

1. Charter Schools are Public Schools...

QUICK ANSWER: NO.

NPE GRADES THE STATES: INDIANA GETS AN "F"

Public Schooling in America: Measuring Each State’s Commitment to Democratically Governed Schools

The grades in this report indicate each state's commitment to public education. Indiana, as one might have guessed, earned an "F" rating.

From NPE, the Network for Public Education
In 2018, the Network for Public Education and the Schott Foundation issued a report entitled Grading the States. That report examined America’s commitment to democracy by grading each state and the District of Columbia on the number of publicly-funded but privately governed educational “choice” programs it had and whether those programs had sufficient safeguards to protect students’ well-being and civil rights. Since then, the march to privatize one of our country’s most precious institutions—our public schools—has continued. Indeed, it has intensified.

SCHOOL PRAYER CASE GOES TO SCOTUS

SCOTUS Will Take On School Prayer

The Supreme Court will decide whether a public school coach can pray publicly while "on duty" as an agent of the school. Does this cross the First Amendment line of "establishment of religion?"

One wonders whether the case would have gotten this far if the coach insisted on a Muslim prayer at the end of each game.

From Curmudgucation
Later this month, the Supreme Court will take on the case of Kennedy v. Bremerton School District. If you have not been paying attention to this case of the praying coach, you should take a look, because once again the court is contemplating smashing holes in the wall between church and state.

The case comes from Washington State, where high school football coach Joe Kennedy made a practice of taking a knee for a brief prayer at the end of games. He started the practice when he was hired in 2008, along with motivational prayers for the team, and the district let it go while it was small and quiet. But then he started taking his knee in the middle of the football stadium, while players were still on the field and fans were in the stadium. It became quite a Thing, with players (sometimes from both teams) joining him for the prayer and, reportedly on one occasion, so many folks rushing the prayer that they knocked over marching band members. The district told him to knock it off and tried to find a compromise (he was offered another location), but Kennedy decided he would Take A Stand and keep at it anyway...
**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 fortwayne.com/subscriptions/

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Monday, April 11, 2022

In Case You Missed It – April 11, 2022

Here are links to articles from the last two weeks 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 WEEK

The NEIFPE Blog is back after a sustained absence due to our blogger's bout with COVID-19.

The most popular articles on our social media from the last two weeks just happened to come from only two sources -- the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette** and the blog, Curmudgucation.

Time to catch up.
NACS NEEDS A NEW SUPERINTENDENT

NACS tenure ends for Himsel

In a completely understandable move, Chris Himsel has turned in his resignation as superintendent of Northwest Allen County Schools. Himsel has been targeted by so-called "parents' rights" patrons of the district (and some from outside the district) because he followed the state guidelines on mask-wearing during the pandemic. The attack expanded into a "hate-Himsel" campaign that covered censorship and Critical Race Theory in addition to student and community health.

Himsel has been a voice of reason in support of public education since he was hired. His retirement is a great loss to NACS. Hopefully, he will continue to use his voice to advocate for public education.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
The Northwest Allen County Schools board on Monday formally accepted Superintendent Chris Himsel's retirement along with the terms ending his 12-year tenure, allowing the district to begin searching for a new leader.

Himsel, who was not in attendance, said in a statement to The Journal Gazette that he was honored to serve exceptionally talented students with an extraordinary team.

“Together, we developed the talent and nurtured the creativity of each learner and made positive differences in the lives of the children we were blessed to serve,” said Himsel, who has been on medical leave since December.

High standards

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
In a letter to district employees, Himsel thanked them for the dedication and talent they bring with them to work each day and reminded staff what they had accomplished during his 12 years with NACS.

"We created a culture of service to and caring for others," Himsel began. He cited the district's Random Acts of Kindness clubs; the Champions Together program that models inclusivity; the Relay For Life cancer-awareness event it has hosted the past five years; and districtwide fundraisers for health and service organizations such as Erin's House for Grieving Children, Community Harvest Food Bank and Riley Hospital for Children.

"We created a culture of achievement," Himsel continued. He noted nearly 80% of NACS graduates earned college credit or a career credential in high school; the district's graduation rate has remained above 95% since 2011; and more than 50% of NACS students have earned honors diplomas since 2017. In 2010, when Himsel joined the district, just 28% of students graduated with an honors diploma.

Additional successes at NACS during Himsel's tenure include:

• Expanding summer school offerings and increasing options for students to earn high school credits while in middle school.

• Establishing before- and after-school tutoring.

• Starting full-day kindergarten.

• Implementing strategies to reduce student anxiety and encouraging them to persevere and overcome adverse childhood experiences.

• Balancing a general fund budget that, in 2010, had a debt of more than $6 million.

"These accomplishments, and many others, benefit each NACS child in some way," Himsel wrote. "Our accomplishments over the past 12 years reveal what can be achieved when nobody cares about who gets the credit while collectively focusing on meeting the needs of children. None of these accomplishments reflect the work of an individual, instead they exemplify the collaborative work of many."

AN IDEA WHOSE TIME HAS COME: TEACHER RESIDENCY

Schools to welcome teacher residents

It's about time. This will be an incentive for young people to enter the field of education during a time of national teacher shortages.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
The program, created in 2019, is modeled after medical residency and apprenticeship programs. It provides yearlong paid teaching experiences for student educators who plan on teaching kindergarten through 12th grade, the statement said.

It said students teach alongside an experienced mentor teacher, preparing them for the classroom after graduation. School corporations partner with Indiana colleges to execute the program in their district.

MORE PRIVATIZATION COMING TO FORT WAYNE

Proposal made for charter school

Another charter school wants to disrupt the education of children in the Fort Wayne area.

The charter application claims that the "majority of the schools [in the district] are low-performing." FWCS has a higher than state-average graduation rate...and even if they didn't, low-performing schools are a result of high poverty, not poor education. Furthermore, charter schools have not been shown to perform better than public schools.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Community members will soon get to weigh in on a new K-8 charter school eyed for Fort Wayne.

Fort Wayne Preparatory Academy wants to open in the 2023-24 academic year with 150 elementary students. Leaders plan to expand to the middle school grade levels : eventually serving 400 students, according to a 60-page application filed with the Indiana Charter School Board.

A public hearing about the proposed academy is set for 5:30 p.m. April 18 in the Globe Room of the Allen County Public Library, 900 Library Plaza downtown.

CURMUDGUCATION: IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

ICYMI: Can It Be April Already Edition (4/3)

Peter Greene offers up a compendium of notable readings from the previous week...another way to keep up with education news.

From Curmudgucation
...You can make sure you don't miss this weekly digest or any other scintillating posts by subscribing via the little box over in the right column (I have no idea where it is on your phone). There's also a Facebook page where you can catch all the writing I send out into the world.

So here's some reading for this week. Remember that if you think something is valuable and worthwhile, you can amplify by sharing the post through whatever avenues you use.

PARENTAL RIGHTS IS THE NEW ANTI-PUBLIC SCHOOL MOVEMENT

Moms For Liberty's Big Takeover Plans

The "parental rights" movement does not understand the purpose of public education in a free society. The public schools belong to the public, not the parents alone. Any parent should have the right to send their child to a private school if they choose, at their own expense.

From Curmudgucation
...the parental rights movement at its most extreme seems to have nothing at all to do with a children's rights movement. I'm a parent, and I absolutely get the rights and responsibilities that parents have to protect and guide their children, but there's a line past which it all starts to become creepy, as if you own this child and will engineer the tiny human to turn out to be exactly what you choose them to be, and much of the parental rights activist rhetoric lives close to that line. "I have total ownership and control of my child" is exactly how you get to the notion of "My child didn't turn out exactly the way I demanded they turn out, so somebody else must have messed with their head." Parental rights are a real thing, and parental responsibilities are a very real thing, but children are actual human beings and not lumps of clay to be crafted by other adult humans.
"Don't Say Gay" Reactions: Masks Off

The attacks on public education are coming fast and furious in preparation for the mid-term elections.

From Curmudgucation
The chilling effect is a major feature of the law, amplified by the enforcement of the law by parents. Florida has now given every parent the ability to interpret the law as they see fit (including whatever mom created that Tweet above). It doesn't matter if some bring nonsense suits that lose in court--school districts have neither the time nor the money to defend themselves from nonsense suits, and district administrators will continue putting the kibbosh on anything that might trigger their district's most anti-LGBTQ parents.

Ugly days ahead in Florida.

**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 fortwayne.com/subscriptions/

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