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.


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