Wednesday, November 23, 2022

So, What do kids need?

The Indiana General Assembly's Organization Day was yesterday, Tuesday, November 22, 2022. Cathy Fuentes-Rohwer, president of the Indiana Coalition for Public Education, spoke to members of AFT Indiana at the Statehouse.

She has graciously allowed us to reprint her comments, here. We urge you to support public education in Indiana and support the ICPE. Click the link below to join:

So, What do kids need?

As we head into a budget session this January, we must ask ourselves how we can best support Indiana's children and prepare them for a bright future. As all good educators, we must start with where the child is and go from there.

Indiana ranks 31st in the country in terms of children's overall wellbeing. The American Academy of Pediatrics sounded the alarm last year when they declared a national mental health crisis for our children. Indiana is 26th in the nation in terms of mental illness rates and access to care. Our domestic violence rates are above the national average. Our child abuse rates are twice the national average. We know that these overall well being statistics are disproportionately affecting our children of color and children from other historically marginalized communities. We also know that the effects of the pandemic had a serious and continued effect on these many concerns for our kids.

It was during the pandemic that our country discovered what we public education advocates have been saying: our schools are the heart of our communities. Our public schools were and are on the frontline of care for our children. The people who work in those schools are the first responders for our kids’ health, education and overall well being. We need to support this system of community public schools.

Instead, Indiana is still faced with a real teacher shortage. Our rural and small schools are struggling to provide kids with the advanced courses and experienced, well paid teachers that all children deserve. Other school systems serving some of our most vulnerable kids are in the same boat. Our public schools are for all and serve all kids–and yet, increasingly the state legislature is siphoning away resources and precious tax dollars to those private and privately run schools that can select their few. Last school year alone, we lost around a quarter of a billion dollars to vouchers alone.

The Indiana Coalition for Public Education will be pushing for more funding in this upcoming legislative session for our public schools. The cost of inflation and the attack on public education, the failure to provide enough funding for the complexities of the burdens of poverty on children's learning and well being, the shrinking pool of teachers with experience and education to meet the needs of our kids, is creating a sustained crisis for Indiana's children.

Here is what we don't need: We don't need another reimagining of high school. You have messed around with how and what our kids need to accomplish before they graduate enough. Let teachers inform policy. Let teachers teach.

Here is what we 
don't need: an increase in public funds going into private hands through charters, innovation schools, private schools, ESAs (education scholarship accounts), or whatever the next best way of cutting public education is. Public schools have kids who are medically fragile, who are houseless, who are new to this country, who are dealing with situations that most of us can't imagine–and “school choice” will not help them. They choose public schools where they are all accepted and served. Fund PreK, not discrimination.

Here's what we also 
don't need: adults getting bogged down in absurdity, accusing our teachers of horrible nonsensical things, looking for litter boxes and porn in the classroom. Let teachers teach. Let educators inform policy. Let them teach truth in history.

Our kids need for the policymakers in this building to stop the attack on their schools, their communities, and on them. Kids need acceptance and love and to continue to walk into schools that accept them and are welcoming. They don't need this continued opening and closing of schools with the market, the revolving door of teachers, the continued loss of funding and resources into private hands that are unaccountable, to all this: STOP!

Public funds belong in public schools..where all children are accepted and cared for. Your budget is your priority: will our kids be prioritized? We will be watching. We will keep the public in public education.


Monday, November 21, 2022

In Case You Missed It – November 21, 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.

The next In Case You Missed It will post on December 5.

This week's post has important, analytical information about the NAEP test scores, including a reminder that "proficient" does NOT equal grade level.

We also have reports on the school board elections in Indiana, the governor of Virginia's plan to whitewash history, and educational harassment at a charter chain. Jan Resseger answers all of those with a call for public education advocates to fight back.

Fort Wayne Community Schools sets a test score goal and some ideas for bringing success to public school systems.


Worried About Helping Students “Catch Up”? Here’s How To Do It.

The NAEP, like most other standardized tests, is being misused and incorrectly interpreted. The public needs to be constantly reminded that "proficient" does not equal "grade level." Read Peter Greene's analysis.

From Peter Greene in Forbes
You've been seeing plenty of headlines about the dismal scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress test scores.

Despite the panic, the NAEP results have provided no clear answers about any of the things people want answers about. As we saw with the "little" NAEP results, there's no clear connection between school closings and dropped scores— staying open when other schools were closed did not produce any clear advantages. And in fact some score declines mirrored other pre-pandemic declines.

Add this on top of the usual caveats about the test. NAEP’s “proficient” is set considerably higher than grade level, as noted on the NAEP site. (This is a lesson that has to be relearned as often as NAEP scores are released.) Students who don’t achieve “proficient” are not “below grade level.” And when interpreting scores, NAEP is extraordinarily clear that folks should not try to suggest a causal relationship between scores and anything else. There are too many factors in play to point to any single factor as a clear cause.


‘Anti-CRT’ candidates underperform

Sadly, Indiana's school board elections have become political.

From School Matters
Indiana, unlike most of the country, did experience a partisan red wave on Nov. 8. Republicans won every statewide race, easily. They won seven of nine congressional districts and came close to winning an eighth. They held their supermajorities in the state House and Senate. If there’s a state where anti-CRT rhetoric should have swept ideologues onto school boards, Indiana is it.

But there’s not much evidence that happened. Surveys show that most Americans, regardless of politics, have a positive view of their local public schools. Farfetched claims that schools are indoctrinating students with a “woke” agenda may play well on right-wing media, but most Hoosiers know better.


Virginia: Governor Youngkin Directs Whitewashing of History Standards

Virginia Governor Youngkin wants to remove non-white history from the state's history curriculum.

From Diane Ravitch
Educators, parents, and civil rights groups in Virginia are outraged because Governor Glen Youngkin has directed the rewriting of the state’s history standards. The Youngkin standards eliminate anything that extremists and rightwingers find objectionable. The Youngkin team initially deleted all mention of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from the elementary curriculum. Presumably any discussion of Dr. King’s life and legacy might be interpreted as “critical race theory” by the Governor’s allies.

At the same time, Youngkin’s cultural warriors expanded coverage of Ancient Greece and Rome, expecting children in the early elementary years to learn about major figures in those civilizations for whom they have no context or understanding.

In the rewrite of the standards by the Youngkin team,, a startling amount of material about African Americans was deleted. The curriculum and standards were literally whitewashed.

And as you will notice, the Youngkin draft refers to Native Americans and indigenous peoples as “the first immigrants.” What?

The Multi-Layered Attack on Public Schooling and Why We are Obligated to Fight Back

We can't sit back and let the anti-public education forces destroy our public schools. We have to fight back.

From Jan Resseger
...This background from experts prepares us to recognize today that Moms for Liberty and similar groups disturbing local school boards with racist and homophobic attacks are part of a conscious strategy of funders like the Heritage Foundation and the Goldwater and Manhattan Institutes to grow school privatization and undermine public support for our society’s largest and most universal civic institution. In my state, Ohio, House Bill 290, the universal, Education Savings Account school voucher bill, which will be hashed out this month in a lame-duck session of our gerrymandered, supermajority Republican state legislature, is intimately connected with the mass of culture war bills that have been introduced in the same legislature—bills that would ban books and ban any discussion that touches on race, gender, and sexuality. The culture war bills are there to make us define some of our children as “other” or deviant, to generate fear and unease, and to destroy commitment to a public system of education that has been made more inclusive over the decades in accordance with its declared mission of serving each and every child.

Whose responsibility is it to push back against today’s attack on public education? In his 2021, book, The Privatization of Everything, Donald Cohen assigns the obligation for protecting a democracy to its citizens: “In a democratic society, public goods…. should be defined by the public and its values. Just because some people can be excluded from having a public good does not mean we should allow that to happen. In fact, after we the people define something as a public good, we must use our democratic power to make certain that exclusions do not happen… no winners or losers—when it comes to education (or clean water, or a fair trial, or a vaccine), even if it’s possible to do so. We decide there are things we should do together. We give special treatment to these goods because we realize that they benefit everyone in the course of benefiting each one—and conversely, that excluding some hurts us all. That starts with asserting public control over our fundamental public goods… What’s important is that public goods exist only insofar as we, the voters and the people, create them. That’s how democracy should and often does work. But it really works only if we can hold on to an idea of the common good. Is it good for individuals and the whole?” (The Privatization of Everything, pp. 6-8)


Success Academy Parents Speak Out. Part 2 “I was told my seventh-grade daughter had to repeat entire grade because she failed one course by one point”

From Gary Rubinstein's Blog
Success Academy is known for its high 3-8 standardized test scores and its extreme rigidity. In a way, the rigidity is part of what causes them to have such high test scores. They demand compliance from their students and from the families of those students. When a student or the family of a student is not conforming to the expectations of the school, that student or family are going to be harassed, humiliated, and punished until they either fall into line or ‘voluntarily’ transfer to another school.

The heartbreaking saga of a girl I will call ‘Carla’ began pleasantly enough eight years ago when she was accepted into Success Academy Springfield Gardens as a kindergartener. From kindergarten through fourth grade, she thrived at the school. Her fourth grade report card grades were mostly the highest or second highest category, except for writing where she was struggling.

In fifth grade, she started having problems academically, though not catastrophically, and then as we all know, the pandemic hit and schools in New York went remote for the next year and a half. For the end part of fifth grade and all of sixth grade, Carla struggled to learn remotely. She had various connection issues and would wait in zoom waiting rooms endlessly. She was really traumatized by the pandemic year and was eager to return to in person classes for her seventh grade year.


FWCS sets reading goal of 95% passing by 2027

It's too bad that FWCS needs to focus on test scores. The pandemic caused emotional trauma, aside from academic losses. Focusing on the test scores alone, and of third graders, in particular, might cause some to ignore the real needs of children. Luckily, we know that most teachers rarely ignore the needs of children to focus entirely on test scores, but children's needs, rather than test scores, should be the system-wide focus.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
The Fort Wayne Community Schools board formalized its expectations Monday about students' reading skills, matching a statewide goal of reaching a 95% passing rate on a key exam by 2027.

Board member Steve Corona, who presented the resolution, hopes FWCS' resolution encourages other boards and districts to do the same.

"We as a state have to get serious about this," Corona said after the meeting.

FWCS and other districts saw their scores plummet on the Indiana Reading Evaluation and Determination assessment, or IREAD-3, when testing resumed in 2021 after disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The exam measures third grade literacy proficiency.


Disrupting disruption: How 3 school districts improved with steady work

From the Answer Sheet
Public schools are frequently in the news these days, and seldom is the news good. The spotlight is on ideological donnybrooks over how race and gender-related topics are discussed in classrooms; the growing demand that parents, not teachers, decide what their children should be taught; assaults on the system by opportunistic politicians; and the learning loss blame game, with schools faulted for keeping schools closed during the pandemic. Some state lawmakers have proposed junking the common school and replacing it with a market-based regime.

The good news is that it doesn't have to be this way.

In “Disrupting Disruption,” my co-authors and I shine a light on three racially and ethnically diverse school systems: Roanoke, nestled in Virginia’s Shenandoah mountains; Union, Okla., Tulsa’s neighbor; and Union City, N.J., across the Hudson River from Manhattan. Their students don’t resemble those in highflying places like Wilmette, Ill., or Lexington, Mass., predominantly White and well-off, with their off-the-charts test scores and graduation rates, and they do not appear on any list of the nation’s highest-performing districts. But they look like much of America, where White students don’t constitute a majority, and many come from low-income families.

**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, November 14, 2022

In Case You Missed It – November 14, 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.

If you read one article this week, make it the first one in our list below. Peter Greene, at Curmudgucation, reminds us that support for public education doesn't end when an election is over. Privatizers haven't stopped. Neither should we.

Speaking of privatizers, we have two articles that measure the damage done to public education by charter schools.

Finally, we end this week with three short pieces about our local Fort Wayne area schools.

Thank you for your support of public education.


The election is over and the supermajority of anti-public education forces is still in control in Indiana. We need to be active, vocal, and vigilant in our support of public education.

The Long Haul

From Curmudgucation
I want to speak in favor of the long haul.

This is what the folks over on the right have always good at. The long march toward dismantling public education arguably stepped of with that made-to-order condemnation of public ed, A Nation At Risk, and there's been a slow steady tread in that direction ever since. High stakes testing, by which we can "prove" that public schools are failing. Bad top-down standards, by which we hobble public ed and sow distrust of it. Continued attacks on schools for teaching Bad Things, by which we further convince folks that public ed cannot be trusted. Charter schools, by which we move the Overton Window to where the idea of multiple many-tiered privately owned and operated schools don't seem so far fetched. (And some of this has been on the move since long before even A Nation at Risk--some of these folks are very patient).

All of these (and others as well) were pushed and supported by some people with a sincere belief in their value, but the anti-public ed crowd made use of the opportunity that was presented. Because opportunism is a critical element of the long game...

...If you work in public education, you should be a vocal advocate for public education. Beyond doing the work, you need to stand up for it.

Randi Weingarten on the Election

From Diane Ravitch
“When public education was on the ballot, public education mainly won. Dynamic, progressive governors who ran on a positive agenda focused on the promise and potential of public schools prevailed. Ballot initiatives in California, Massachusetts and New Mexico passed. Even in Florida, against millions spent by Ron DeSantis, levies boosting funding for schools saw widespread success.

“These results show a deep reservoir of support for public schools and for the sustained investment that parents want to help their kids thrive. And the endorsement of collective bargaining provisions in multiple states and cities comes at a time when the labor movement—including unions representing educators—maintains strong and enduring approval. AFT members—educators, healthcare workers, public employees, and retirees—campaigned relentlessly for what our kids and communities need, and those efforts made a difference.

Charters hurt public education. Here's the research...

Four Ways Charter Schools Undermine Good Education Policy

This post discusses a research article titled, How Charter Schools Undermine Good Education Policymaking by Helen Ladd.

From Peter Greene in Forbes
Charter schools are privately owned and operated schools funded with public tax dollars. That tension between private interests and public education has been at the heart of much debate about charter school policy. In a policy paper released today by the National Education Policy Center, Helen Ladd (Duke University) argues that there are four ways in which modern charter schools are at odds with good education policy.

Charter Schools Worsen the Teacher Shortage

The study Diane Ravitch refers to in her post can be found in the post, How Do Charter Schools Affect the Supply of Teachers from University-Based Education Programs?

From Diane Ravitch
...This study is one of the first to examine the possibility that charter schools affect the teacher pipeline. We focus specifically on how charter schools affect the number of traditionally prepared teachers who receive a bachelor’s in education.

Using data from 290 school districts with at least one commuter college nearby, we analyze the effect on the traditional teacher pipeline from schools of education. We draw the following conclusions:

Increasing district charter school enrollment by 10% decreases the supply of teachers traditionally prepared with a bachelor’s in education by 13.5-15.2% on average.

Charter-driven reductions in the supply of traditionally prepared teachers are most apparent in elementary, special education, and math education degrees.

This is consistent with the fact that charter schools mostly serve elementary grades, express interest in subject matter experts (e.g., math majors), and are less likely to assign students to special education.

These charter-driven reductions are concentrated in metropolitan areas and are largest among Black teachers.

Given how central teachers are to the educational process, any effect on the teacher pipeline is important...


Here are three articles about Fort Wayne area schools.

Fort Wayne Community Schools to seek input from parents on high school start times

Fort Wayne Community Schools will seek input from parents at a handful of meetings regarding a proposal to change high school start and end times to earlier in the day.

The idea of an earlier start time is “to give students more opportunity to work, obtain internships and participate in co-curricular activities after school,” the district said in its notice about the meetings.
Bands strut their stuff at state

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Marching bands from across Indiana, including seven from the Fort Wayne area, took the field Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium to compete for the state's marching band titles.

The highest-placing area band was Homestead in Class A, which was won by Carmel.

FWCS aims to become model of inclusivity

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Written in black dry erase marker, ideas for how to make Fort Wayne Community Schools a model of inclusivity covered a whiteboard in Maureen Bender's downtown office.

It's an effort that will involve staff, students and the community, and Bender is navigating the process with few K-12 models to consider for guidance. Diversity, equity and inclusion work has traditionally happened in higher education or the corporate sector.

"We've even looked at models throughout the country for where that exists (in K-12), and there's very few," Bender said. "We're drawing on experience and knowledge from both those entities to try and pave our own path here at Fort Wayne Community Schools."

**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, November 7, 2022

In Case You Missed It – November 7, 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.


Charters and NAEP scores are in the news this week. Plus NACS is growing and needs to plan for the future.


Indianapolis charter school announces intent to acquire IPS school building if it closes

The image of this charter school as a “vulture circling” comes to mind. Don’t forget that it’s our legislators who are turning our public schools into “roadkill.” Time to vote for people who respect our public schools that serve all students without discriminating.

The charter school is in the same neighborhood as the public school. Were there enough students for another school in that neighborhood? What kept the public school from improving its program? Could it have been a lack of funding caused by a drain on public funds by charters and vouchers?

From Chalkbeat*
A charter school within Indianapolis Public Schools borders is hoping to acquire Paul Miller Elementary School 114 if the school board approves its closure next month.

Victory College Prep, a K-12 school just half a mile from School 114, hopes to use the property to accommodate its growing enrollment.

“The Paul Miller property is just two city blocks from the VCP campus — and annually, in recent years, we’ve welcomed a growing number of Paul Miller transfer students into our VCP classrooms,” Ryan Gall, the school’s executive director, told the board on Thursday.

The district’s Rebuilding Stronger plan — an attempt to address declining enrollment amid charter school growth — would leave multiple school buildings open for charter schools to potentially occupy. Victory College Prep is the first to publicly announce its intentions to acquire such a building.

State law allows charter schools to lease or acquire empty school buildings for $1.


Preston Green: Charter Schools Must Be Regulated

Charter schools use public funds. They should have public oversight.

From Diane Ravitch
Preston Green, Ed.D, is the John and Maria Neag Professor of Urban Education at the University of Connecticut. He delivered these remarks as part of the Graduate Schools of Education’s annual Barbara L. Jackson, Ed.D., lecture. Green is a specialist on the subject of education and the law. He warned that charter schools without sufficient oversight may actually threaten students’ civil rights. For the protection of students, charter schools must be regulated by government.

Jan Resseger: Don’t Get Stressed About the NAEP Scores

Diane Ravitch asks some good questions about our obsession with testing. Why should we expect this year's fourth graders to do better than last year's fourth graders? Do we have realistic expectations? Click to read the article.

From Diane Ravitch
Since the two sets of NAEP scores were released recently, commentators have gone into a panic about “learning loss” and used the declines to promote their favorite reform: more of this, less of that. DeSantis even released a press release claiming falsely that Florida’s formula of ignoring the pandemic was just right (California stuck with the CDC guidelines and did at least as well, maybe better, than Florida, but Gavin Newsom did not issue a press release).

Jan Resseger has words of perspective that I sum up as: why are we surprised that learning was disrupted by the pandemic?

My question, having served on the NAEP board for seven years, is why the media and the reform crowd thinks that NAEP scores should go up every year? Why should fourth and eighth graders this year know more than fourth and eighth graders two years ago or four years ago? Isn’t it reasonable to assume that students of the same age and grade are likely to have the same scores? Yet if they do, the media sends out loud lamentations that scores are “flat.” Oh, woe! Surely we want to see a rise in the scores of the lowest scoring students, and a narrowing of gaps, but the media assumes that everyone must increase their scores or the education system is failing. This is nuts...


Northwest Allen County Schools told to prioritize middle schools with enrollment forecast

NACS is growing.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
With Northwest Allen County Schools’ enrollment forecasted to increase by more than 800 students in the next decade, a demographer recommends the middle and high schools get top priority...

McKibben’s forecast shows NACS will have 8,996 students in the 2032-33 academic year. That’s 859 more students than it has now, he said, and most of that forecasted growth will happen in the next five years...

McKibben said a few primary factors are driving growth in NACS: the sustained rate of new home construction and the relatively high number of elderly housing units turning over coupled with a steady rate of young families moving into the district.

Future NACS boards must address the middle schools. The two buildings are full now, he said, and enrollment for grades six, seven and eight is forecasted to climb to nearly 2,200 students, from about 1,950.
*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.