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.

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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".

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.


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.


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.


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...



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.


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


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