Monday, March 13, 2023

In Case You Missed It – March 13, 2023

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.

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State legislatures around the nation are working hard to defund and damage public education through book banning, charters, and vouchers.


Targeting teachers, school libraries exercise in legislative overreach

This op-ed penned by Michael Shaffer ought to anger you. Legislatures around the country, including the Indiana General Assembly, are jumping on the book-banning bandwagon in support of a minority of loud extremists who use threats, intimidation, and fear to force schools to bend to their will.

Not content with diverting billions of tax dollars to fund private and religious schools, the mob of book banners and their cronies in Republican-gerrymandered state legislatures want to limit the rights of (what is likely) the majority of parents who want their children to have access to accurate accounts of history and literature reflective of reality.

What constitutes "inappropriate?" The book banners want to decide for you.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
...SB 12 (authored by Jim Tomes, R-Wadesville, to protect the “little tykes” and passed by the brain trust in the Senate) states, any teacher or school librarian who willingly subjects students – who include significantly more than “little tykes” – to material harmful to minors can be found guilty of a Level 6 felony and subject to 2 1/2 years in prison.

We would all agree with this, wouldn’t we? After all, who would want anything to happen to our school-age children that is harmful to them?

But wait, there’s more. It starts with a very carefully chosen word that has my blood boiling.

“Inappropriate.” Any parent or guardian can file a complaint against any book that a school has in its library or teacher has in their book collection that is inappropriate. Let that sink in.

Inappropriate? Not pornographic?

Just to be clear, we are not talking about taking Playboy or Hustler magazine off the shelves of your local high school library periodical sections. The bill specifically uses the word “inappropriate” and applies to any public school K-12 classroom or library in Indiana.

I am not in favor of putting pornographic materials in the hands of kids. But that is not what this bill is talking about.

This bill comes straight from the hands of Purple for Parents and Moms for Liberty (a branch of the American Legislative Exchange Council), which have self-appointed their organizations as the guardians of purity and appropriateness for our children, all the while spewing hate speech and falsities as quickly as they can hurl invectives in their auctioneer-paced rampages.

It is only fair to point out that SB 12 only applies to traditional public schools and charter schools; voucher schools are not affected at all.

Apparently, the only Indiana teachers and librarians completely safe from felony prosecution are those who teach in voucher schools, as long as they practice the right religion...

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.: Whose Black History Will Be Taught?

The "war of northern aggression." That's what they called the Civil War.

Pretending that the Civil War and the Reconstruction amendments solved the problem of racism in the United States and neglecting to teach our children about our true history is educational malpractice.

From Diane Ravitch
Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. reviews the long debate about how to teach Black history in an article in the New York Times. The debate began as rationales by sympathizers of the Confederacy, who changed the Civil War into “The War Between the States.” In a visit to Charleston, South Carolina, not long ago, I heard the war described in a historic home as “The War of Northern Aggression.”

Dr. Gates writes:

Lurking behind the concerns of Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida, over the content of a proposed high school course in African American studies, is a long and complex series of debates about the role of slavery and race in American classrooms.

Miami Herald: “Parental Rights” Is the Battle Cry of Extremists

Which parents get to choose the books to deny to everyone? Do the extremists speak for all parents? Not likely.

From Diane Ravitch
Their narrative goes that to be “pro-parent” you must not want your children exposed to topics like “critical race theory,” or you only support a whitewashed version of this country’s history of racism. Being pro-kid means you don’t want them to learn that there are men who date men, women who date women and people who don’t identify with the gender assigned to them at birth. It means you want school libraries sanitized from content that might offend your sensibilities.

It means that there’s one way to look at America and education and anyone with a different opinion be damned, called names like leftist, communist, anti-American.

It’s as if only groups like Moms for Liberty represent what parents want. The group seems more preoccupied with banning books than concerned that too many kids in our schools cannot read at grade level. The leader of its Miami chapter once called the protests after the death of George Floyd at the hands of police “race wars” and repeated QAnon conspiracy theories on Instagram, Politico reported.

To be a parent, under this definition, means to be a conservative in the most extreme sense of the word...

The Rev. Dr. Robin Meyers on Oklahoma’s State Superintendent: “I Alone Will Indoctrinate Your Children”

"Beware the zealot who is going to save you from something that may or may not exist and intends to burn down your house to do it."

From Diane Ravitch
Dr. Meyers writes:

Oklahoma’s new state schools superintendent is about to take a desperate situation and make it awful.

His plans for stamping out “wokeness,” critical race theory, and boys using the girl’s bathrooms sounds nothing like a plan to advance education, and more like a platform to become Ron DeSantis Jr. The irony of this culture war approach to education is transparently hypocritical. Walters claims to be all “for academics and against indoctrination,” while making it clear that he alone will decide who gets hired, who gets raises and what gets taught in our schools. That is the very definition of indoctrination.

Beware the zealot who is going to save you from something that may or may not exist and intends to burn down your house to do it. Beware the fearmonger who incites the masses to muzzle free and open discourse about dangerous ideas so that he can make duplicate zealots for even worse ideas. Beware the evangelist who rails against other people’s sins while lining his pocket from two jobs at taxpayers’ expense while vowing to cut wasteful government spending. Ryan Walters makes more than the governor.


Indiana House budget covers textbook fees at schools' expense

For years, parents of Indiana public school teachers have had to pay for their textbooks despite the Indiana Constitutional guarantee of "a general and uniform system of Common Schools, wherein tuition shall be without charge, and equally open to all."

The Indiana General Assembly now wants to put the burden of textbook fees on the local school systems, while increasing state money for private and religious schools.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
The House plan enables lawmakers to claim a win for parents no longer facing textbook fees while touting increases in school funding. But a disproportionate part of the new money goes to expanding the voucher school program.

The Senate could provide true relief for the students attending public schools in our state by using some of the money carved out to grow the voucher system to cover the tab for books and other needed curriculum materials. The money is there. It’s just a question of priorities.


Charter schools win in proposed Indiana budget amid public advocacy campaign

As expected from the anti-public schools Republicans in the Indiana General Assembly, "[p]roperty tax losses could be in the cards for some traditional public schools"

From Indiana Capital Chronicle
Charter schools in Indiana could see big gains under the current draft of the next two-year state budget. But the deal could cause long-term losses for traditional public schools, some of which stand to lose millions of dollars needed for teacher raises and other non-classroom expenses.

A new funding stream carved into the House Republican budget would mandate the amount of funds every public school district and charter school receives for operations, which are collected through local property taxes.

Charter schools would still be unable to tap into local tax revenues, but instead would get $1,400 per student from state funds in 2024, and $1,500 in 2025, according to the draft budget. A current state grant offers charter schools $1,250 per student each school year...

...That would mean cuts to local operations funds at some schools — especially in districts with a large tax base such as Indianapolis. It’s still not clear how exactly individual school districts could be impacted, however. A fiscal impact statement says schools statewide could lose $87 million in 2025 and $177 million in 2026.
**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.


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