Monday, July 25, 2022

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

This week Peter Greene at Curmudgucation praises Dolly Parton for starting the Imagination Library and charter schools continue to take public funds without improving on public education.


Dolly Parton's Imagination Library has been giving away free books to kids from ages birth through five for more than 20 years. During that time she's given away nearly 185 million books. What started as a way to help the children in Sevier County, Tennessee, her home county, has grown to a program helping millions of kids in five countries.

[NOTE: Peter Greene's title for this post worried some people. They thought that something had happened to Dolly Parton. He later added an update to the story indicating that she is fine (as far as he knows) and that his title wasn't meant to imply that something was wrong with her...but that the subscription to her Imagination Library, which his children had been receiving for the first five years of their lives, had ended.]

Goodbye, Dolly (Note: She's Okay, Honest)

From Curmudgucation
Update: I wrote the headline to express a personal point and make a play on "Hello, Dolly," but apparent some readers have been panicking. Sorry. Everyone is fine, honest.)

After five great years, the Board of Directors has aged out of Dolly Parton's Imagination Library.

I have been plugging this program for years (my first post was in 2014, back before the Board of Directors was even a sparkle in our eyes). Parton has engineered putting a book a month into the hands of families all across the country--we're talking (currently) 184 million books in millions of households meeting no requirement other than they have a child between the ages of born and five. It costs the family nothing.

The quality of the books is great. Over the years we have received classics, newer books, books featuring every sort of family, every sort of kid. They are filled with wonder, kindness, beauty, excitement. This is one of the best examples of thoughtful, useful, not-trying-to-take-over-a-government function philanthropy you'll find.


Tennessee: Another School District Rejects a Hillsdale Charter School

Districts in Tennessee are pushing back on the Governor's plan to open charter schools around the state. Does it have to do with the fact that Hillsdale College (supported by Betsy DeVos and family) President Larry Arnn didn't hesitate to insult teacher training institutions as well as public school teachers?

Kudos to those districts who are supporting their college educated faculty members.

From Diane Ravitch
Governor Bill Lee of Tennessee invited Larry Arnn, president of Hillsdale College, to open 100 charter schools in Tennessee. Arnn scaled it back to 50, but Hillsdale’s patriotic charters are not getting a warm welcome in the state. A third district rejected an “American Classical Academy.” It seems they like their local public schools and don’t want to divert money away from them. The teachers are their neighbors, and the school board knows them and respects them.

A charter school program tied to the controversial Hillsdale College suffered a third rejection by a Tennessee school board Tuesday night as the Clarksville-Montgomery County school board said it wanted nothing to do with the school pushed by Gov. Bill Lee.


Blogger Gary Rubinstein digs into the graduation rate of Eva Moskowitz's Success Academy Charter Schools (spoiler: the graduation rates are not very good). His post caught the attention of some Success Academy parents who reached out to him.

First, the original post about graduation rates.

Gary Rubinstein: Nearly Half of the 9th Graders at Success Academy Won’t Graduate From There

From Diane Ravitch
Gary knew that the overall attrition rate was high but was surprised to see how high it is for students who enter ninth grade.

Over the years I’ve tracked the attrition at Success Academy. They are a K-12 program and I’ve found that generally when I compare the number of kindergarteners entering the school with the number of 12th graders that graduate 13 years later, they lose approximately 75% of their students over the 13 years.

Success Academy has argued that losing 75% over 13 years isn’t actually that bad since it equates to about 10% attrition per year, which is what district schools also have. One flaw in that reasoning is that district schools fill in those 10% of seats each year while Success Academy stops ‘backfilling’ in the 4th grade. Another problem with comparing attrition rates from Success Academy to district schools is that a student can pretty easily move from one district school to another and those schools won’t be all that different. But for Success Academy which are supposedly the best schools in the country, it is a major life change to leave Success Academy for a district school so if they really are as good as they say, you would expect their attrition to be less than the 10% per year that district schools have.
Parents respond...

Gary Rubinstein: Parents at Success Academy Speak Out: “I Was Not Allowed to Attend My Son’s Graduation”

From Diane Ravitch
If they attended a public school, they could see the principal, the superintendent, or any number of officials who might be able to intervene.

So Success Academy parents have reached out to Gary to see if he can help them.

But at a charter school, if you have a complaint, they may tell you to choose another school. Leave.

This post is about a mother who was not allowed to attend her school’s graduation. It seems there were a couple of incidents. On one occasion, she failed to buy exactly the right pants for him to wear at school. On another, she went to his classroom without permission.
Note: NEIFPE's In Case You Missed It is posted weekly except holiday weekends or as otherwise noted.

Monday, July 18, 2022

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

Lisa Haver: The Mysterious Hiring Practices of the Philadelphia School Board

Is there a reason that people who don't know anything (or very little) about the field of education are hired to teach, or in this case, to lead a school district? This is part of the "I went to school so I know all about education" attitude.

Apparently, the school board in Philadelphia believed that anyone could lead a large, urban, school district. When they found out that they hired someone unqualified, it cost them nearly a half million which would have been better spent on the students.

From Diane Ravitch
After years of pain and frustration that included the closing of neighborhood schools, privatization driven by standardized tests, crumbling infrastructure, and more than one debacle, the people of Philadelphia were psyched for new leadership in the school district.

The door to new priorities seemed to open with the arrival of Tony Watlington as the next superintendent.

But that door slammed shut before his tenure had even begun with the news that he’d brought in a Tennessee-based consulting firm to help him navigate his first year in the job. In May, the Board of Education voted unanimously and without deliberation to approve a one-year contract with Joseph & Associates. Price tag: $450,000. The board approved this contract — the last on a list of 92 official items — near the end of an 8-hour meeting.


Indiana spring test results show students lag in proficiency

What's more important, state test scores or helping students heal from the emotional and mental health-damaging effects of the coronavirus pandemic?

It won't be long before Indiana goes back to punishing schools for teaching hard and expensive to educate students in order to "prove" that public education is "failing (also here)." They'll use test scores to do it.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Indiana’s rate of student learning is increasing, but many students lag in proficiency, state education officials said Wednesday upon the release of spring standardized test results.

Fort Wayne Community Schools – where only 17.8% of students in grades three through eight performed at or above proficiency standards for both English/language arts and math – knows it still has work to do, spokeswoman Krista Stockman said.

“We know our students have not fully recovered academically from the pandemic,” she said, “and we will continue to work on getting students back to grade level expectations and beyond.”

Statewide, proficiency rates in English and math improved from 2021 scores, with 41.2% students testing at or above proficiency standards in English and 39.4% of students performing similarly in math. About 30% of children were proficient in both subjects, according to ILEARN results.

New Northwest Allen County Schools superintendent to share 90-day plan this month

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
The new Northwest Allen County Schools superintendent promised the board Monday he will return in two weeks with details about his 90-day plan.

Wayne Barker, who began leading the 8,000-student district July 1, said the July 25 meeting will provide an opportunity for the five board members to provide input on the short-term goals.

Monday marked his first NACS board meeting as superintendent. He replaced Chris Himsel, who retired June 30 after a 12-year tenure.

Barker’s first 90 days will include an event he is looking forward to – the first day of school in August. So far, he said, he’s spent much of his time in the administration building, and is eager to get to the district’s 11 schools.


Mercedes Schneider: Arizona’s Race to the Bottom!

Arizona is just one more state which is ready to hire unqualified people to "teach" their children. The nationwide teacher shortage has been caused by policies that drive professional teachers out of the classroom -- low salaries, overwork, constant media and political teacher bashing, and reliance on test scores as the end-all of a student's experience in school. Now that there aren't enough teachers, states are contriving "alternative paths to teaching" that allow those with little or no educational experience or training to fill teaching positions.

From Diane Ravitch
In an effort to address teacher shortages in Arizona classrooms, the Arizona legislature passed a revised version of AZ SB 1159, which Arizona governor, Doug Ducey, signed into law on July 05, 2022.

This revision allows for Arizona school districts and charter schools to apply to the state to operate classroom-based, teacher-prep programs in which participants need only pass a background check and be enrolled in an accredited bachelors degree program before being allowed into the classroom– supervised, sort of maybe.

Just enrolled– meaning not even a single credit hour yet earned is acceptable, and in no particular field. Furthermore, the bill language is loose regarding who could be actually instructing the class, since the bill states that participants do not “regularly” instruct class unless a “full-time teacher, certificated teacher, instructional coach, or instructional mentor” is present.
Random thoughts - The Teacher Shortage

The President of Hillsdale College (funded by Betsy DeVos and family) insulted the entire education profession. Teaching? "Anybody can do it."

From Live Long and Prosper
Hillsdale College President Larry Arnn said about teaching, "Anybody can do it" and claimed that teacher training programs were "the dumbest part of every college." In his mind, it follows that "teachers are trained in the dumbest parts of the dumbest colleges in the country." That attitude along with salaries more than 20% lower than other similarly trained college graduates, might have something to do with the teacher shortage. Prospective teachers either believe what they hear, or don't want to enter a profession whose practitioners are overworked, underpaid, and regularly insulted.


The Network for Public Education has announced the location of its tenth-anniversary conference. The event will take place in October 2023 in Washington D.C.

Details to follow on the NPE website.

**Note: The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette is 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.

Monday, July 11, 2022

In Case You Missed It – July 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 Follow Us By Email box in the right-hand column to be informed when our blog posts are published.
Can just anyone be a teacher?

Can anyone be a teacher? How about a superintendent? Do you need any experience?

There's good news about the Federal Charter Schools Program and bad news about vouchers.

FWCS workers get a raise, and fewer high school graduates are going to college.


Nothing new here...just the usual assumption that anyone who has been to school can be a teacher. After all, how hard could it be? Just tell kids what they need to learn and they learn it right? Also, a twist on this...the Philadelphia School Board thinks anyone can be a superintendent. No experience is necessary.

Anyone can teach

Idaho Lowers Standards for New Teachers: Anyone Can Teach!

From Diane Ravitch
The Idaho legislature overwhelmingly approved a bill to drop requirements for new teachers, leaving it to districts to write their own standards.

In Idaho, anyone can teach so long as they have a BA degree, pass a criminal background check, and don’t have an infectious disease.

In short, teaching in Idaho is no longer a profession. The charter industry considers this a victory.

Anyone can be a superintendent

Philadelphia Inquirer Editorial Wonders Why New Supe Needs $450,000 Handholding

From Diane Ravitch
The Philadelphia School Board hired an inexperienced school superintendent, then signed a contract to pay $450,000 to a firm to train the new superintendent. Former Nashville school board member Amy Frogge wrote an open letter to the Philadelphia school board, warning about the track record and failures of the consultant they hired.

The Philadelphia Inquirer published this editorial.


Federal Charter Schools program

Carol Burris Explains the Changes to the Federal Charter Schools Program

Charter schools now need to be more transparent and accountable.

Full Disclosure: NEIFPE is a member of NPE's Grassroots Education Network.

From Diane Ravitch
The charter lobby, overflowing with cash, bought ads on major television programs to fight the Department’s effort to regulate the federal funding of charters, especially the proposed exclusion of for-profit charter operators. The Network for Public Education did not have millions or even hundreds of thousands to lobby on behalf of public schools. It did not buy any TV or radio time. NPE is funded by the 350,000 friends who contribute small amounts of money to fight privatization. Contrary to the claims of the charter lobby, NPE is not funded by the teachers’ unions. It is funded by parents, teachers, principals, and other citizens who don’t want to lose their public schools.

Carol Burris, executive director of the Network for Public Education, has worked tirelessly to persuade the U.S. Department of Education and members of Congress to require accountability and set rules for the federal Charter Schools Program. She wrote numerous reports, based on government data, to demonstrate the need for oversight. The program receives $440 million a year with no scrutiny, and its waste, fraud, and abuse are legion. Unlike the charter lobby, NPE has a small staff. Carol is the only full-time employee. Her hard work paid off. Despite the millions of dollars spent by the charter lobby to keep the federal dollars flowing without accountability, transparency or oversight, the Department ignored them.

Carol Burris explained the new regulations in a post on Valerie Strauss’s blog “The Answer Sheet” at The Washington Post.

The cost of Vouchers

Indiana voucher cost nears quarter billion dollars

Indiana gave voucher schools, nearly all of which are religious schools, almost a quarter billion dollars last school year.

Meanwhile, Article 1, Section 6 of the State Constitution reads, "No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution."

You might ask, "How can they do that?" Simple, get the State Supreme Court to declare it constitutional.

From School Matters
Indiana awarded $241.4 million in the 2021-22 school year to pay tuition and fees for students to attend private schools. That’s 44% more than the state spent on vouchers the previous year.

The increase, detailed in a Department of Education report, isn’t surprising. The Indiana General Assembly in 2021 vastly expanded the voucher program, opening it to families near the top of the state’s income scale and making the vouchers significantly more generous.

Nearly all the 330 private schools that received voucher funding are religious schools.Some discriminate against students, families and employees because of their religion, disability status, sexual orientation or gender identity. Indiana is bankrolling bigotry.

SCOTUS ruling in Carson v. Makin: Maine religious schools get public funds

A Way Around

If a state funds private schools it MUST also fund private religious schools.

From Sheila Kennedy
What is surprising is how little the 6-to-3 decision in the Maine case, Carson v. Makin, will matter practically. And the reason offers a glimpse of hope for those who worry about a future dominated by the court’s conservative supermajority — including the many Americans troubled by the court’s decision in the gun case, New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen.

Let’s start with the Carson case. Anticipating this week’s decision, Maine lawmakers enacted a crucial amendment to the state’s anti-discrimination law last year in order to counteract the expected ruling. The revised law forbids discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation, and it applies to every private school that chooses to accept public funds, without regard to religious affiliation.

The impact was immediate: The two religious schools at issue in the Carson case, Bangor Christian Schools and Temple Academy, said that they would decline state funds if, as Maine’s new law requires, accepting such funds would require them to change how they operate or alter their “admissions standards” to admit L.G.B.T.Q. students.


FWCS board approves bus driver, custodian wage hikes

Pay hikes for FWCS bus drivers and custodians.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Fort Wayne Community Schools’ board voted unanimously to ratify a four-year collective bargaining agreement between FWCS and Teamsters Local 414 representing bus drivers.

Drivers’ wages will increase by 4% this year, consistent with teachers’ compensation. And the parties agreed to shorten the length of time needed for a driver to advance on the wage scale.

The board also unanimously approved an amendment to the three-year contract with Sodexo Services of Indiana. The agreement increases hourly rates for custodial staff for the upcoming school year.


Allen County mirrors statewide decline in high school grads going to college

Fewer Indiana high school graduates are going to college these days...

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
After years of incremental declines, the latest Indiana College Readiness Report found the college-going rate of the first high school class affected by the coronavirus pandemic fell to 53% – a 10% drop from the previous year.

The Indiana Commission for Higher Education released the findings this month. The rates reflect students enrolled in various programs, including those for certificates.

Virtual-only classes and COVID-19 protocols, such as vaccine and mask requirements, factored into students’ plans, local school officials said. At least one area superintendent predicts a rebound in college-going rates for this year, but he isn’t as optimistic for 2021 because it was even more affected by the pandemic.

“We had students making decisions based on school expectations,” said Park Ginder, Southwest Allen County Schools superintendent. “Here, you had to have a shot. Here, you had to have a shot and a mask. And we knew of kids who chose to stay home and work, maybe begin a career or pursue travel, in some cases. Not a lot, but in a few. We used to call that a gap year, but I might call it a COVID year.”
**Note: The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette is 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.