Monday, June 6, 2022

In Case You Missed It – June 6, 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 Follow Us By Email box in the right-hand column to be informed when our blog posts are published.

The same people who don't trust teachers to choose appropriate books for their students are now calling for teachers to be armed in the classroom. Both issues are reflected in today's selections.

We also include three posts by a favorite blogger of NEIFPE readers, Peter Greene.


Disputed math text approved

NACS Board approves a controversial math textbook.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
A high school math textbook that elected officials shelved two weeks ago will indeed be taught in Northwest Allen County Schools classrooms in the fall.

The 4-0 board decision Monday followed more than 30 minutes of public comment from 15 speakers, including several who urged board members to trust the district's education professionals and approve the seventh edition of "Precalculus" by Robert F. Blitzer.

Kent Somers, board vice president, abstained.


Charter schools and ‘educational blackmail’

There is yet to be a proven benefit to students that justifies opening charter schools that drain public dollars from public education.

From School Matters
The paper identifies three types of harm that can be caused by the growth of charter schools:
  • Increased stress on financially troubled school districts.
  • Predatory real estate deals that divert resources to for-profit businesses.
  • Loss of rights for students who enroll in charter schools.
When students leave district schools for charter schools, state operating funds typically follow, sometimes leaving the districts strapped. Over time, districts can cut costs by reducing staff and closing schools. But Green and Connery say districts often have fixed costs – for example, pensions, retiree health care and debt – that can’t be easily reduced when they lose students.


‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ is Still Relevant Because it Forces Us to Confront Ourselves

Steven Singer, a middle school teacher in Pennsylvania, discusses teaching To Kill a Mockingbird in 2022.

From Gadfly on the Wall Blog
Parris is peering into a crumpled paperback with a huge smile on his face.

“Mr. Singer, I love this book…” he says.

He stops, pauses and adds, “I hate what’s happening, but I love the book.”

In my middle school classroom, that’s a pretty routine reaction to Harper Lee’s classic, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

My 8th grade students approach the climax and resolution with equal parts dread and delight.

But it doesn’t always start that way.

No book I teach has gone through a greater change in cultural opinion than “Mockingbird.”

It used to be considered a bastion of anti-racism. Now some folks actually consider it to be racist.


The (Not A) Mystery Of Class Size

How much more could your child's teacher provide to her class if the number of students was cut by 1/3? How would things change if she had 18 first graders in her class instead of nearly 30? or 20 freshman math students instead of 35?

We all know that a smaller class size means, at the very least, more time for teachers to spend with each student, but we don't want to pay for it. We're content to let the super-rich have small class sizes in their exclusive private schools, but for those "other students" in public schools? Forget it.

From Curmudgucation
The most fundamental issue of education in this country, the issue that underlies virtually all other issues, is that we want to have it and we want it to be good, but we do not want to pay for it. We want a Lexus, but we want it at Yugo prices (and we're pretty sure that Those People could just make do with a bicycle).

No issue captures this better than the issue of class size.

There is plenty of research to underscore the benefits of smaller class sizes, but seriously-- who needs it? It's bad form to pretend that anecdotal evidence is not true data, except in this case we're talking about anecdotes from several million teaching professionals, several million children, and several million parents.


The Power Worshippers and Education

The so-called "conservative" attack on public education is more than just politics as usual.

From Curmudgucation
There is much to recognize [in Katherine Stewart's book, The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism, which was published in 2019]. Betsy DeVos. Hillsdale College. The Council for National Policy, the shadowy group with a master plan for education and a truly scary membership list. If you've had the nagging sense that the religious right's attack on public education is part of something bigger, that's here. And if you have the nagging feeling that much of it doesn't make sense, Stewart will show you the angle from which it makes perfect sense.

This book is not going to make you feel better about any of it, which is probably the best reason to read it. Highly recommended.


Three Reasons Arming Teachers Is A Bad Idea

Should teachers be armed?

From Peter Greene in Forbes
Securing the firearm.

Where and how would a teacher keep the gun secured? How do we make sure that the gun can’t possibly fall into younger hands? That includes, especially, the hands of students who are deliberately trying to commandeer the gun. We have had a non-zero number of instances where students have been caught planning a school attack. It’s chilling to consider what could have or would have happened in cases where, in the planning stage, the shooter thought, “I don’t have to figure out how to get a gun into the school—there are plenty already there.”

...The chaos of a classroom.

Like virtually every teacher in the US, I often played a game of hypotheticals. What if a shooter entered my building right now? What if one entered my room? What if I had a gun in my room?

...the chances were poor that I would get a chance to use my gun safely. In most scenarios, I would have to shoot at the gunman with students either between us or behind him. If he’s armed with an AR-15 style weapon and I have a handgun, my chances to reposition myself will be slim.

I would never have been able to live with making one of my own students collateral damage.

**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 [NOTE: NEIFPE has no financial ties to the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette]

Note: NEIFPE's In Case You Missed It is posted every week except holiday weekends or as otherwise noted.

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