Monday, September 26, 2022

In Case You Missed It – September 26, 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.

Diane Ravitch shares a blog post written by Oklahoma educator John Thompson about Ken Burns' new PBS documentary, The U.S. and the Holocaust.

We share two articles about the failure of charter schools.

And we close with an exciting new project in FWCS.


John Thompson on Ken Burns’ Powerful “The U.S. and the Holocaust”

Ken Burns's new documentary on PBS, The U.S., and the Holocaust, gives teachers an opportunity to explore pre-World War II America. We have to teach students actual American history, the bad with the good. That's how we ensure that the bad doesn't happen again. [Note: link available to Indiana state standards]

"...would legislators who voted for censorship of school curriculums want to admit out loud that they want Anne Frank’s story banned? And would even the most extreme legislators follow through with mass firings at a time of teacher shortages?"

A must-read...

From John Thompson on Diane Ravitch's Blog
...The U.S. and the Holocaust also raises questions such as “what are the responsibilities of our leaders to shape public opinion rather than follow it?” and “what does this history tell us about the role of individuals to act when governments fail to intervene?” It also raises tough questions about the role of the media in spreading hate, as well as constructive information.

The film’s website also links to Oklahoma’s and other states’ Academic Standards. They call for high school students to “examine the causes, series of events and effects of the Holocaust through eyewitnesses such as inmates, survivors, liberators, and perpetrators,” and examine the “rise of totalitarian regimes in the Soviet Union, Germany, Italy, and Japan.” Such Standards also call for an examination of “how the media we consume shapes our beliefs, opinions, and actions both historically and in modern contexts in this media.”

These Standards are very consistent with the concepts that Burns explored. If I were still teaching high school, I’d be carefully building a unit that follows the Standards and instructional techniques that were carefully prepared by state and national experts. For instance, I would begin with the recommended, first question, “Why do you think many people did not question or push back against the harmful ideas presented by people who believed in eugenics?”

As also recommended, as students watched video clips, and read and analyzed the primary source materials in The U.S. and the Holocaust website, I’d ask them to share their “feelings or thoughts after each clip as some of the content covered is very heavy and may be emotional for students.” Students would take notes and engage in classroom discussions. I’d end with the recommended question, “Although the images and videos shown in the last clip are very challenging to watch, why do you think U.S. Army leaders said they needed to be shown to people in the United States and across the world?”


There's no doubt about it; Charters drain money from real public schools. We must continue to fight the privatization of public education in Indiana and the U.S.

Stephen Dyer: The Abject Failure of Charter Schools in Ohio

From Diane Ravitch
Stephen Dyer, a former state legislator in Ohio, writes a blog that tracks funding and privatization in Ohio. It’s called “10th Period.” He relies on state data to tell the truth about the failure of charters and vouchers. Here is the latest data on charter schools.

Dyer’s summary:

98 Percent of Ohio Charter School Graduates are Less Prepared for Post-Graduate World Than Students in Youngstown City Schools

Dayton is the lowest performing major urban district. Yet 2 out of 3 Ohio charter schools are less prepared than Dayton students Ohio’s new report card has revealed something extremely troubling about Ohio’s Charter Schools. On a new measure called “Students in the 4-year Graduation Cohort who Completed a Pathway and are Prepared for College or Career Success”, only 9 percent of Ohio’s potential Charter School graduates met those qualifications. More than 36 percent of Ohio’s public school district students met those qualifications.

Of the 43 Ohio Charter Schools with enough students to count in this College and Career Readiness measure, 18 schools had zero — that’s right, not a single student —who qualified as college or career ready. That means that 3 out of every 25 Ohio charter school graduates attended a school where not a single potential graduate was considered college or career ready.

But it gets worse.
Public School Closures in Oakland: Another Example of Failed School Reform and Charter School Expansion

From Jan Resseger
I am grateful that last Sunday the Washington Post’s Scott Wilson recounted the long, sad story of the school closings in California’s Oakland Unified School District. Oakland has universal school choice, and this fall, students in two of Oakland’s now shuttered public schools had to find new schools elsewhere in the school district—with five additional public schools to be closed at the end of the current school year. As Wilson explains: “The district has… been whiplashed over the years, by education trends and population changes, leaving many schools under annual threat of school closure.”

We have been watching this story develop for years. Wilson reports: “By 2003, with the district facing a roughly $35 million budget deficit, the state Department of Education took over the operation of Oakland’s public schools, laying off hundreds of teachers and eventually shuttering more than two dozen schools. The state’s day-to-day management ended six years later, but the education department still has what is effectively veto power over fiscal decisions. At the time of the takeover, the state extended the district a $100 million line of credit, which has yet to be paid off entirely. The district’s uncertain finances and poor performance also opened the door for experimentation from wealthy, mostly White philanthropists with no ties to Oakland. One initiative was the ‘small schools’ movement, financed in large part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The idea was to break up big campuses into more intimate places for learning. The money—about $25 million before it ran out—helped open about two dozen schools. But the state administrator at the time closed 14 others over several years.”

Wilson continues: “More lasting was the charter school movement. At the time, billionaires Mike Bloomberg and the late Eli Broad spent tens of millions of dollars promoting charter schools nationally, including large sums in Oakland… But in a state that funds districts by student, every pupil who enrolled in a charter school meant money lost to the broader public education system.”


Fort Wayne principal envisions 'oasis' with outdoor classroom

Hands-on learning for students in Fort Wayne...

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
A Fort Wayne Community Schools principal can already envision what her students might experience in an outdoor classroom.

Apple trees could teach kindergartners about the life cycle of an apple, and water tables could offer lessons about erosion, said Mary Kinniry, Irwin Elementary School principal.

“What we’re most excited about is really just bringing learning to life,” Kinniry told the school board last week. “I really just hope to create an oasis within our urban district next to the school so the kids can be immersed in nature in a very unique way.”

Outdoor classroom learning equipment will be installed at Irwin and two other magnet schools next summer in conjunction with sitework needed to create the outdoor learning areas at each building. The board approved buying the equipment – including seating and shade structures – from Recreation inSites of Fishers on Sept. 12.

Officials said the $308,457 expense is supported by a grant.
**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 by the end of the day every Monday except after holiday weekends or as otherwise noted.


Monday, September 19, 2022

In Case You Missed It – September 19, 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 we read about an update on the SCOTUS ruling in Bremerton (the praying football coach), "permissionless education", lower taxes in FWCS, ranking states on school "reform", and forgiving charter school loans (favored by the same folks who are against forgiving student loans).


Praying Coach Is Too Busy For His Old Job

He didn't pray quietly. He made a big deal about it.

He wasn't fired, he just didn't reapply.

SCOTUS said the school system had to rehire him. They offered. His response? Crickets. He was too busy playing the martyr circuit.

He and SCOTUS wasted public school dollars on a case that should not have been decided the way it was. Meanwhile, permanent damage has been done to the Wall of Separation.

From Curmudgucation
You remember the case of Joseph Kennedy, the Washington state football coach who wanted to hold public prayers on the fifty yard line even though his school district said, "Don't." You remember that the case made it all the way to the Supreme Court, where the court decided in the coach's favor in a decision that required a willful ignoring of the actual facts of the case...

In the end, SCOTUS ordered the district to reinstate Kennedy as coach even though they had never fired him in the first place--he'd simply failed to reapply for the job and subsequently played victim; it didn't matter, as Kennedy's lawyer kept saying he was fired, and Justice Alito also said he was fired. But SCOTUS said he had to be re-employed, his lawyer threatened to spank the school district if they didn't, and Kennedy said he'd be back the instant they sent word.

He was sent reinstatement paperwork at the beginning of August. But now the fall football season has come and--twist!-- Kennedy is nowhere near Bremerton...

Read the full Seattle Times piece if you need to raise your blood pressure a bit.

So given the choice between doing the job he sued over, or making the circuit as a celebrity martyr, Kennedy has chosen the latter. If there was ever the slightest shred that there was a real matter of principle at the heart of this case, it should evaporate. Just one more excuse to batter the wall between church and state.


Why Permissionless Education

"Permissionless is about being unaccountable, about not having to answer to anybody. Which is just one more variation on the old Koch-far right search for a government-free Land of Do As You Please."

From Curmudgucation
"Permissionless" is a bit of a buzzword in some corners of the choicer community these days.

Jeanne Allen of the Center for Education Reform tosses it around a bit, particularly when she's working on the STOP award, a prize that Pennsylvania gazillionaire Jeff Yass funds and promotes. The P in STOP stands for permissionless.

Meanwhile, the Stand Together Trust, which used to be the Charles Koch Institute, likes "permissionless" a lot. Their substack, previously "Learning Everywhere," is now called "Permissionless Education" and the Stand Together folks even plan to do a whole session at the 30th annual SPN meeting entitled "Expanding the Permissionless Education Market: Lessons from Everyday Entrepreneurs." Because nothing says "everyday entrepreneurs" like Koch money and the State Policy Network, that great collection of big-time right-wing thinky tanks.


FWCS touts its falling tax rate

Some tax relief for the FWCS district.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
A Fort Wayne Community Schools board member wanted to make sure Monday that those watching the 2023 budget presentation understood the $345 million spending plan is expected to come with a 3% decrease in the overall tax rate.

Steve Corona, who also sits on the Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission, tied the school district's declining tax rate to the investment that businesses are making in the city.

"I know from time to time there's questions about the city of Fort Wayne providing tax increment financing to induce businesses to expand or relocate here," Corona said. "We can see the downtown changing, but this is proof that the value of our community is rising, and as a result our tax rate is going down."


Florida ranked No. 1 for "education freedom" — by right-wing group that wants to privatize it all

A New Heritage Foundation "report card" celebrates how well you underfund public schools and how well you dismantle public schools. The "report card" ranks states according to school vouchers, deregulation, and conservative parent activism. Sadly, though not surprisingly, Indiana is right up near the top at #4.

The Network for Public Education, on the other hand, puts Indiana at #48 out of 51, and Florida at #50.

From Salon
"The fact that the Heritage Foundation ranks Arizona second in the country, when our schools are funded nearly last in the nation, only underscores the depraved lens with which they view the world," said Beth Lewis, director of the advocacy group Save Our Schools Arizona, which is currently leading a citizen ballot referendum against the state's new universal ESA law. "Heritage boasting about realizing Milton Friedman's dream reveals the agenda — to abolish public schools and put every child on a voucher in segregated schools."

"This is a report that celebrates states not funding their students," agreed Andrew Spar, president of the Florida Education Association, the state's largest union. Noting that Florida in fact ranks 45th in the nation in average per-student funding, Spar continued, "In their report, it seems like the states that fund their students at a higher level have a worse ranking than those who invest less in their children."

This amounts, Spar continued, to "the Heritage Foundation celebrating the rankings of how well you underfund public schools, how well you dismantle public schools. I don't think we should celebrate the fact that we're shortchanging kids."

"With this report," added [Carol] Burris [Executive Director of the Network for Public Education], "the Heritage Foundation puts its values front and forward — that schooling should be a free-for-all marketplace where states spend the least possible on educating the future generation of Americans, with no regulations to preserve quality." It's no accident, Burris added, that Heritage's top two states, Florida and Arizona, were ranked as the worst on the Network for Public Education's own report card this year.

"These two states now have such a critical teacher shortage, due to their anti-public school agenda, that you do not even need a college degree to teach," said Burris. "Parents who are looking for the best states in which to educate their children should take this report card and turn it on its head."


Charter Schools Collected $1 Billion in PPP Loans That Were Forgiven

How dare the government forgive student loans...oh, wait.

From Diane Ravitch
Since President Biden announced a program to forgive $10,000-20,000 in student loan debt, new attention has been paid to the Trump administration’s Paycheck Protection Program. PPP doled out billions of dollars to businesses of all kinds, many of which didn’t need the money but took it anyway. Free money.

Among those that collected significant sums were religious schools, private schools (some of which had multi-million dollar endowments), and charter schools.

Regular public schools had a separate stream of money to help them survive COVID-19, but they were not allowed to apply for PPP money, which was only for private businesses and nonprofit.

Charter schools were allowed to double dip. Betsy DeVos was Secretary of Education, after all. So charter schools qualified for public school funding and for PPP.

Carol Burris wrote a brief summary...

**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 by the end of the day every Monday except after holiday weekends or as otherwise noted.


Monday, September 12, 2022

In Case You Missed It – September 12, 2022

Here are links to articles from the last two weeks that received 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 Nation's Report Card" supports the need for teachers in the classroom. Charters continue to spread in Indianapolis and more Indiana high school students can earn college credits.

We start with two articles about the importance of public education...


Are Schools A Waste Of Time And Money? Only If You Have A Time Machine.

From Peter Greene in Forbes
As part of a New York Times series of essays headed “What is school for,” economist Dr. Bryan Caplan suggested that “school is for wasting time and money,” a case that he has made before in a 2019 book entitled The Case Against Education.

His main argument in the NYT essay boils down to, “people don’t remember most of the academic material they learned in school.” There are three problems with his argument— problems that are shared by some other critics of schooling.

First, the argument that adults don’t remember much of what they learned in school (a version of the student complaint “When will we ever use this stuff”) is that it requires the use of a time machine to buttress a kind of retroactive utility.

In Game 6 of the 2021 World series, the Atlanta Braves won 7-0 over the Houston Astros. Those runs were scored in the 3rd, 5th and 7th innings. So, clearly, the time spent letting the Astros bat was wasted, nor was there any need to play any of the other innings in which nobody scored. It was, an economist might argue, a waste of time and money to play all those parts of the game that did not obviously affect the final outcome.

The problem, of course, is that we only know which parts of the game affect the outcome when the game has been played. It’s easy to say of students “that only a tiny fraction of what they learn durably stays in their heads.” Even if that is true (and I have some questions about how well we can measure what “durably stays”), it is impossible to know what that tiny fraction will include before the fact.

Anya Kamenetz: The Attack on Horace Mann’s Historic Vision of Public Schooling

NPR education reporter, Anya Kamenetz, wrote this for the New York Times. She explains why our democracy needs public schools.

From Diane Ravitch
For the majority of human history, most people didn’t go to school. Formal education was a privilege for the Alexander the Greats of the world, who could hire Aristotles as private tutors.

Starting in the mid-19th century, the United States began to establish truly universal, compulsory education. It was a social compact: The state provides public schools that are free and open to all. And children, for most of their childhood, are required to receive an education. Today, nine out of 10 do so in public schools.

To an astonishing degree, one person, Horace Mann, the nation’s first state secretary of education, forged this reciprocal commitment. The Constitution doesn’t mention education. In Southern colonies, rich white children had tutors or were sent overseas to learn. Teaching enslaved people to read was outlawed. Those who learned did so by luck, in defiance or in secret.


Mom in Texas Shuts Down Extremists and Joins the Honor Roll

A mom in Texas stands up to those who are bringing the culture wars to school board meetings.

From Diane Ravitch
“We know that books are continuing to be purged. We know student library aides have been banned. We know that a group of non-parents have pushed for these removals and continue to do so,” she began. “So, being a taxpayer does not grant special privileges over students, staff, and parents. I do not want random people with no education background or experience determining what books my child can read, what curriculum they learn, and what clubs they can join.”

“Just because you can get up at every meeting and rant and rave does not give you authority over my child’s education.”

“Your personal religious beliefs, people in this room and on this board, should not have an effect on my child’s education either. Our school are not to be used for personal political agendas and our children are here for education, not religious indoctrination,” she told the room as she looked various board members and attendees directly in the eye.


Why NAEP Scores Plummeted During Pandemic

For a while during the pandemic, teachers were heroes. They adapted to online teaching. They worked hard to learn new techniques and to try to meet the needs of their students while avoiding illness. Now, when the already misused standardized tests show that students didn't learn as well virtually, teachers are being blamed. There doesn't seem to be any acceptance that teachers weren't to blame for the pandemic, or for the state-wide responses and requirements. Why can't teachers work miracles?

From Diane Ravitch
...students need to have human contact with a teacher and classmates to learn best. Virtual learning is a fourth-rate substitute for a real teacher and interaction with peers.

Tech companies have told us for years that we should reinvent education by replacing teachers with computers. We now know: Virtual learning is a disaster.

The crisis we should worry about most is the loss of experienced teachers, who quit because of poor working conditions, low pay, and attacks by “reformers” who blame teachers at every opportunity.


Two charter schools seek to enter Pike Township, which has no charters

Whenever charter schools startup it's always good to ask several questions.
  • Does the location need more schools?
  • Are there enough students to support another school?
  • Are the public schools fully funded?
  • Does the local school board have any control over the new schools?
Indianapolis is falling into the charter school trap which has failed miserably elsewhere.

Privatization continues...

From Chalkbeat-Indiana*
Two charter high schools within Indianapolis Public Schools boundaries are hoping to expand to Pike Township, an area that currently has no charter schools.

Purdue Polytechnic High School, the growing charter school that opened its second Indianapolis campus inside Broad Ripple High school this year, hopes to open a third Indianapolis high school in August 2023, according to a letter of intent submitted to the mayor’s Office of Education Innovation (OEI). The office authorizes charter schools in Indianapolis that are approved by the Indianapolis Charter School Board.

Believe Schools, which operates Believe Circle City High School in the Crown Hill neighborhood, also hopes to open Believe: Pike Academy in August 2024.

Both schools hope their expansion into Pike Township will help serve students of color. They would become the only physical charter schools in Pike Township if approved by the Indianapolis Charter School Board. The Indiana Charter School Authority and OEI, which oversee nearly all of the charter schools in Marion County, have not previously authorized charters in Pike.


College Core expands to 141 schools

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Access to a program that lets students earn up to a year of college credits while in high school has expanded by 57 schools, including five in northeast Indiana, state education officials said Wednesday.

This brings the total number of schools offering the Indiana College Core to 141, a 68% increase, according to a news release from the Indiana Commission for Higher Education and the Indiana Department of Education.

"As we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the core, high schools and higher education providers have now come together like never before to expand access to this incredible opportunity for our students," said Katie Jenner, Indiana secretary of education.

*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 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 by the end of the day every Monday except after holiday weekends or as otherwise noted.