Monday, December 19, 2022

In Case You Missed It – December 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.

NOTE: The next posting of NEIFPE's In Case You Missed It will be on Jan 9, 2023. Happy Holidays.

Today's articles feature charters, vouchers, and superintendent salaries.


U.S. Senate Rejects GOP Effort to Overturn Biden Administration Charter Regulations

Private schools that receive public tax dollars should be subject to public oversight.

From Diane Ravitch
Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina offered a resolution to overturn the Biden administration’s new regulations on federal funding of charter schools. The vote was 49-49, strictly on party lines. Even charter school supporters like Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey and Senator Michael Bennett of Colorado voted to sustain the new rules.

Every Republican voted to reject the rules. The charter lobby was not at all pleased.

The Network for Public Education has worked very hard to persuade the Department of Education and Congress to regulate the federal Charter Schools Program. When Betsy DeVos was Secretary of Education, there was no chance that the Department would try to regulate the $440 million handed out to new charter schools every year. The federal government was the single biggest contributor to new charter schools.

NPE published reports about the large number of charter schools that closed or never opened. It wrote about for-profit charters that were enjoying federal largesse. It drew attention to charter school scandals, including white flight academies subsidized by federal funds.

Not until the Biden administration took office did anyone in the Department take seriously its responsibility to oversee federal funding of charters.

What do the new regulations require? What did every single Republican Senator try to block? We’re [sic] they upset about the limits on for-profit operators? Or did they object to transparency and accountability for federally funded charters?

NPE executive director Carol Burris explained in this article published at Valerie Strauss’s Answer Sheet blog...


Josh Cowen: What about the Kids Who Give Up Their Vouchers?

Vouchers cause disruption to students' lives when they transfer in and out. The reasons students leave voucher schools are varied. Sometimes the school decides that the student isn't "the right kind of student." Sometimes the student and their family decide that school isn't right for them. Sometimes the cost of the school so exceeds the voucher that the student can't afford to attend. Whatever the cause, student mobility has an impact on student learning.

From Diane Ravitch
Betsy DeVos likes to say that schools shouldn’t be “one size fits all.” She’s conceding more than she knows with that analogy because unlike clothing, or a car you can test drive down at the Ford dealer, there’s a real cost to trying a school on and having it fail to fit.

Study after study has shown how harmful school mobility is for kids, both those who actually move between schools and those whose classrooms are full of peers coming in and out.

As Russell Rumberger, an expert in this area has succinctly summarized:

“The research literature suggests that changing schools can harm normal child and adolescent development by disrupting relationships with peers and teachers as well as altering a student’s educational program.”


Maine “Town Academy” Voucher School Refused to Address Racial Intimidation

Private schools which accept public funds should be subject to public oversight.

From Public Voices for Public Schools
The “Big 10” Maine Town Academies have been in operation for over 225 years. They are known as “60/40” schools because at least 60% of their funding is public money. Many are almost 100% publicly funded, and these voucher schools are “private schools” when it is convenient and “public” when they want public money.

The ”private” nature of our town academy became a reality when I sought protection from continuing racial harassment—both of my children and me. What follows is what happened to us and why taxpayers should not continue to fund town academies without serious reforms.


Fort Wayne Community Schools superintendent gets $10,000 raise

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Superintendent Mark Daniel’s salary will increase by $10,000 under his first raise since returning to Fort Wayne Community Schools more than two years ago.

The 4.6% pay bump brings Daniel’s annual salary to $225,000.

Anne Duff, school board president, announced the board’s decision to increase the superintendent’s compensation Monday. Approval wasn’t required during the meeting, Duff said, but the elected leaders wanted to mention the raise for transparency’s sake.

“I think we all agree that he’s done a great job for us,” Duff said.

Daniel – a 1979 North Side High School graduate who also started his education career there – was one of three finalists for FWCS’ top job. He succeeded Wendy Robinson, who retired from the position in 2020 after leading the district for 17 years.

The terms of Daniel’s contract state the board can increase his base salary by 1% to 10% if he is evaluated as highly effective or effective and achieves annual performance objectives established by the board.

Under Daniel’s leadership, Amp Lab at Electric Works became a reality and FWCS partnered with Junior Achievement of Northern Indiana to implement the 3DE concept at the high school level, Duff said. She noted Daniel also worked with Tom Kelley in forming the Jim Kelley Career Pathway Center.


East Allen County Schools eyes southeast Fort Wayne property transfer

It's disappointing that a public school system is doing anything to support privatization. Here we have East Allen County Schools transferring property to a charter school.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
East Allen County Schools doesn’t intend to make money off property it recently learned it still owns.

Instead, it is planning a straight transfer of the two southeast Fort Wayne parcels to a charter school that has property nearby, said Chief Financial Officer Pat McCann, who presented information about the situation during a public hearing and subsequent board meeting Tuesday.

The midday public hearing at the East Allen Career Center in New Haven generated no input.

The parcels along Christofer Lane and Werling Drive were apparently overlooked when, in 2006, EACS gave the former Village Woods Middle School building to an organization that wanted to open a community center in the space.

Smith Academy for Excellence purchased the property, 2700 E. Maple Grove Ave., in 2019 for $69,000. The charter school’s construction plans affect the nearby EACS-owned parcels, McCann said.

“East Allen County Schools does not have any need for the two parcels,” he said, “and Smith Academy is requesting that the parcels be transferred.”

**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, December 12, 2022

In Case You Missed It – December 12, 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.

Our children and our public education systems are being hurt by bad policies.


The Impact of Active Shooter Drills in Schools

Active shooter drills are hurting our children. We're hurting them by trying to teach them how to avoid being killed by weapons that have no business being on the street. Instead of taking bold action against the easy availability of weapons of war, we're traumatizing our children.

From Everytown
...Active shooter drills in schools are associated with increases in depression (39%), stress and anxiety (42%), and physiological health problems (23%) overall, including children from as young as five years old up to high schoolers, their parents, and teachers. Concerns over death increased by 22 percent, with words like blood, pain, clinics, and pills becoming a consistent feature of social media posts in school communities in the 90 days after a school drill. These findings unveil even more reason to pause before rushing toward active shooter drills as a potential solution to school violence, as evidence suggests that they are causing lasting emotional and physical harm to students, teachers, and the larger community.


Why Public Schools Are On the GOP’s Hit List

This is certainly true in Indiana. For the last decade, the Republican supermajority in the General Assembly has targeted public schools. Vouchers and charter schools have drained money from public education. Punitive testing and union-busting actions have driven teachers from the classroom. Privatization is the goal. The complete destruction of public education seems to be the plan.

By Thom Hartman in The Hartman Report [bold in original]
So why would Pompeo, pursuing the 2024 Republican nomination for president, risk triggering an American domestic terrorist to train his sites on [Randi Weingarten, President of AFT]? Why would an educated man have such antipathy toward public school teachers?

Public schools are on the GOP’s hit list, just as they were in Chile during the Pinochet regime, and for the same reasons:

— Fascism flourishes when people are ignorant.

— Private for-profit schools are an efficient way to transfer billions from tax revenues into the coffers of “education entrepreneurs” who then recycle that money into Republican political campaigns (just like they’ve done with private for-profit prisons).

— Private schools are most likely to be segregated by race and class, which appeals to the bigoted base of the Republican party.

— Most public school teachers are unionized, and the GOP hates unions.

— While public school boards are our most basic and vigorous form of democracy, private schools are generally unaccountable to the public.

— Whitewashing America’s racial and genocidal history while ignoring the struggles of women and queer folk further empowers straight white male supremacy.

— Nothing inspires fear and terror in the minds of parents than a threat to their children, and the GOP — being totally committed to enriching the rich and impoverishing everybody else — has nothing else to sell than fear and hate to win elections. (See item #1: fascism.)


The Culture War on Public Education

Blogger Peter Greene explains the danger and harm to our schools and our children by ”culture wars.”

From Peter Greene in The Progressive
It seems like ages since so many of us suddenly had to take a crash course in critical race theory (CRT). Then, seemingly five minutes later, just as Christopher Rufo, a fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute, had promised, the CRT panic broadened into the “culture wars,” fought on a dozen different fronts by educators: “Don’t say gay” laws, “anti-woke” legislation, calls to ban books, gag laws for teachers, and private rights of action, so that parents could sue schools any time they felt a line had been crossed.

Culture wars continue to flare, but we should be discussing their true victims.


Opinion: Ohio lawmakers will 'circumvent the will of the people' with school board bill

Jeanne Melvin is a retired public school teacher who spent 39 years as a central Ohio educator. She is a founding member and president of Public Education Partners, an all-volunteer statewide coalition of parents, grassroots citizen groups, school board members, educators, and school administrators that advocate for high-quality public education in Ohio.

From the Opinion Page in the Columbus Dispatch
Written by guest columnist, Jeanne Melvin
Because of the state [Board of Education]’s influence, it’s very important to have members who are true advocates for public education.

Our elected state school board members serve the will of their constituents. They are not selected to serve at the pleasure of the governor's political party, which is no friend to public education.


State prepares to launch new education dashboard

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
A new state education dashboard is set to launch “very soon,” Indiana Secretary of Education Katie Jenner said Tuesday.

The Indiana Graduates Prepared to Succeed (GPS) website – or at least the first version – is nearing completion and will be discussed during today’s State Board of Education meeting.

While Jenner did not provide an exact launch date during a virtual demonstration of the dashboard, she said it will happen in December “short of anything major happening.”

One of the major goals of the GPS dashboard’s design is to break down data in a way that makes the information accessible to people around the state. It includes year-by-year statistics on various metrics, including the percentage of eighth graders enrolled in the 21st Century Scholars program, the FAFSA completion rate and the median income of graduates, along with data from state assessments like ILEARN and IREAD-3.

The data can be broken down by school and by school district. It can also be viewed by demographic statewide or on a school-by-school basis.

**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, December 5, 2022

In Case You Missed It – December 5, 2022

Here are links to the last two 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 start with politics.

Since public education is paid for with tax money, it has frequently been used as a political football by politicians. This has become even more pronounced since the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Our political discussions today range from bashing teachers' unions to the conspiracy theories promoted by right-wing pressure groups.

Other topics covered in today's posts are testing and vouchers.


Teacher: Why I Quit

After Teaching For 11 Years, I Quit My Job. Here's Why Your Child's Teacher Might Be Next.

There's a teacher shortage in the U.S.

Peter Greene describes it as "a slow-motion walkout, an open-ended strike that's hard to see because teachers are walking off the job one at a time." The pressures of teaching coupled with the last few years dealing with COVID, followed by the political backlash against masking, the conspiracies of "grooming," CRT, book banning, and the like, have created a perfect storm. Would you continue to work in an industry in which politicians, the media, and even your patrons bullied you, called you names, and threatened you?

Not to mention the almost daily incidents of school violence...and the lack of political will to control firearms in our society.

From Huffpost
...there is currently a full-blown cultural war against teachers (and counselors and school board members). It’s not a coincidence that the anti-teacher narrative has grown in tandem with the push for “universal school choice.” The corporate education reform movement is far from organic. The people pulling the strings (and providing the dark money) have a very specific ulterior motive: to discredit the public school system so they can completely privatize education. Ironically, their “indoctrination” accusations and efforts to restrict educators’ professional autonomy are actually in service of their own goals to censor what students learn and gradually eliminate the separation of church and state. If you think I’m exaggerating, read this.

This movement is not democratic. Proponents want to consolidate power over the education system among an even smaller group of decision-makers with different priorities from most Americans. Currently, decisions about how to operate schools are made by school boards composed of district residents — usually elected by other district residents — who, at least in theory, have students’ and communities’ best interests at heart. But when public institutions become vehicles for profit and political influence, shareholders do not historically prioritize the common good.

Thank You, Teachers

Dan Rather: Thank You, Teachers

We'll try to ease the pain of the above post with Dan Rather's thank you to teachers for their work.

From Diane Ravitch
“The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called ‘truth.’”

I believe every word of it. These aren’t empty sentiments. They come from my lived history. A while back here on Steady, I shared my own experiences as a student of public schools, including an emotional return to my elementary school in Houston.

For all the challenges our schools face, right now millions of children are learning about the world and themselves thanks to dedicated teachers. Teachers are going the extra mile, reaching out to kids in need, tweaking lesson plans to include new insights, passing their own inspirations to the young people before them.

The work is not easy — far from it. And it can be an incredible grind, especially when it seems that society doesn’t value it or is even outright hostile to teachers. With this as a backdrop, it is understandable that many are choosing to leave the profession. This is not a reflection on them, but rather on the nation that is allowing it to happen.

Moms for Liberty? Moms Against Public Education!

Mercedes Schneider on “Moms for Liberty” Takeover of Local School Board: Let the Litigation Begin!

The radical right wing in the United States understands that "all politics is local." Aside from anti-public education legislation from state legislatures, a place to begin their effort to destroy public education is the local school board. Supporters of public education must organize to defeat them at the polls.

From Diane Ravitch
Mercedes Schneider describes the arbitrary and capricious actions of the Berkeley School Board in South Carolina. “Moms for Liberty” won control of the board in the recent election. At its first meeting, it fired the superintendent and the board’s attorney and immediately replaced them.

I posted a report previously about this extremist takeover, written by Paul Bowers, a journalist in South Carolina who attended the tumultuous meeting.

She points out that the superintendent had been rated “proficient” unanimously by the previous board only a month earlier.
Politicians Jockeying for Position

Pompeo: Randi Weingarten Is “the Most Dangerous Person in the World”

Mike Pompeo is testing the waters for a presidential run in 2024 by bashing teachers' unions. He claims that the most dangerous person in the world is a teachers union president.

From Diane Ravitch
Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo just proved that he is the stupidest person in the world. He said in an interview that Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers, is “the most dangerous person in the world.”

More dangerous than the President of China, Xi Jinping, who is threatening the survival of Taiwan and re-imposing a repressive regime across China.

More dangerous than President Kim, the dictator of North Korea, who is threatening South Korea and the rest of the world, with his intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons.

More dangerous than Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, who is trying to destroy the people of Ukraine by destroying their access to heat, light, and water as winter begins,in addition to raining deadly missiles on them.

No, Pompeo says, Randi is “the most dangerous person in the world.”

Why? Because she leads a teachers’ unions, and unions are evil.

Florida: School Boards Endorsed by DeSantis Begin Firing Superintendents

Florida's Governor Ron DeSantis has been working overtime to damage his state's public schools.

From Diane Ravitch
Have you ever heard of a state governor endorsing candidates in local school board elections?

At the last election, DeSantis endorsed 73 local school board candidates who share his hard-right views. More than half won. Most of the same candidates were endorsed by the fringe group “Moms for Liberty.” Where the DeSantis candidates won a majority, they wasted no time in firing the superintendent. Teachers in DeSantis-led counties must be very careful in teaching about race, racism, gender, American history or anything likely to offend the ideologues who control the board.

Politico reported on the swift actions taken by DeSantis-endorsed school boards:
Florida: Why Does Governor DeSantis Appoint Local School Board Members?

From Diane Ravitch
In one county, his appointees fired the district superintendent and school board attorney at their first public meeting.

Just days ago, he appointed a campaign donor to the Miami-Dade school board.

LOL, We Already Knew It

Grumpy old teacher explains that we already knew that state testing was a waste of time and money.

From Grumpy Old Teacher
...the teacher was told that the state did not report data (test results) by benchmark and the district did not allow teachers to review questions with students and analyze why students chose wrong answers; therefore, a third test was needed so teachers could look at the questions, go over them with students, and look at what wrong answer was most often chosen and why it was wrong.

Reread that paragraph carefully. Ha, ha, ha, did a district employee just admit what we always knew?! That state and district tests have little value for the classroom teacher. Their tests tell us nothing except that our schools no longer focus on what students need. It’s about the data. Students are nothing more than dogs running around a track for the bettors and the house who sets the odds so that it always wins.


School Vouchers Don’t Increase Academics; They Increase Bigotry

Vouchers don't work...other than to divert public tax dollars from public schools to private and religious schools.

From Gadfly on the Wall Blog
Let’s be honest.

At best, school vouchers are a failed education policy experiment.

At worst, they’re an attempt to normalize bigotry.

Using taxpayer money to send your child to a private or parochial school has got nothing to do with getting a quality education.

If we look at the facts, using a school voucher to go from a public school to a private one actually hurts kids academically.

Large-scale independent studies in Indiana, Louisiana, Ohio and Washington, D.C., show that students who used vouchers were as negatively impacted as if they had experienced a natural disaster. Their standardized test scores went down as much or more than students during the Covid-19 pandemic or Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

This should come as no surprise. When we give children school vouchers, we’re removing their support systems already in place.

They lose the friends, teachers, and communities where they grew up. It’s like yanking a sapling from out of the ground and transplanting it to another climate with another type of soil which may not be suited to it at all.

Vouchers have nothing to do with helping kids escape struggling public schools.


Even with a Gerrymandered, Voucher-Supporting Legislature, Ohio Advocates Will Keep on Pushing for a Strong System of Public Education

Ohio finds itself where Indiana has been for more than a decade -- in the grip of an anti-public education supermajority in the state legislature.

From Jan Resseger
After the November election, we woke up in Ohio to a troubling political reality. We have only one remaining Democratic official elected statewide—U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, who now begins the final two years of a six year term. Our state is highly gerrymandered, and all the people elected to run our state government, from Governor Mike DeWine on down, are Republicans—most of them increasingly conservative. Republicans now hold a 26-7 supermajority in the Ohio Senate and a 68-31 supermajority in the Ohio House of Representatives.

Although the term-limited, outgoing House Speaker, Bob Cupp lowered himself by joining Senate President Matt Huffman to create illegal (and implemented nonetheless) gerrymandered legislative and Congressional districts for the November, 2022 election, Cupp’s biography summarizes a complex and nuanced political career: “Speaker Bob Cupp is serving his fourth term in the Ohio House of Representatives. He has served as an elected official in all three branches of government and at both the local and state levels: as an Allen County commissioner, a four-term state senator, a court-of-appeals judge, and a justice of the Supreme Court of Ohio.” Extremely knowledgeable about public school finance, Cupp led a several-years-long commission to design a new Fair School Funding Plan and sponsored the legislation as part of the FY22-23 state budget.

Here, however, is the Columbus Dispatch‘s Anna Staver describing Cupp’s replacement, Derek Merrin, who was just elected by his peers to become House Speaker in January: “A 36-year-old realtor and real estate investor who launched his political career before he could legally drink is about to become one of the most powerful lawmakers in Ohio… Merrin told reporters… that he plans to push a ‘bold conservative agenda’ in the next General Assembly… Merrin helped shepherd the 2019 ‘heartbeat bill’ through the House Health Committee where he served as chairman… When the next two-year legislative session gets underway, the leaders of both the Ohio House and Senate will be strong supporters of expanding school choice. Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima, is known around the statehouse as the school voucher guy, and Merrin co-sponsored ‘the backpack bill.’ That’s a plan by House Republicans to make every K-12 student in Ohio eligible for a tuition voucher for private school. ‘Speaker-elect Merrin has been a strong supporter of funding students, not systems,’ Center for Christian Virtue President Aaron Baer said. Baer worked closely with lawmakers on House Bill 290, (the Backpack Bill) which was introduced more than a year ago.”

Senate President Matt Huffman has been shamelessly willing to brag about the power his gerrymandered, Republican supermajority grants him. Last spring, he told reporter Anna Staver: “We can kind of do what we want.”

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.