Monday, March 27, 2023

In Case You Missed It – March 27, 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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Quote of the week: "We know what works [for education]. So why don’t politicians want to do it? Simple – it’s impossible to monetize and profit from this approach the way they can with vouchers." -- Cecily Riesenberg


House speaker consults for virtual-school business

Huston's Republican-dominated Indiana General Assembly passed a budget last month that increases funding for virtual schools by 15-20% while limiting the increase of funding for real schools to 5% or less.

How much of that increase goes into Speaker Huston's pockets? How much will Speaker Huston's clients benefit from that increase?

From School Matters
Indiana House Speaker Todd Huston made headlines last year when he left his $460,000 job with the College Board after a controversy regarding legislation to restrict teaching about race. He’s now back in the news, with conflict-of-interest questions raised about his side gig as a consultant.

The Indiana Capital Chronicle reported last week that Huston is one of at least 15 legislators who report on their statements of economic interest that they serve as consultants, sometimes helping businesses that work with or are regulated by the state. Huston started his TMH Strategies Inc. about a month after he left the College Board and lists two clients: Stride Inc. and the tech company Spokenote.

Stride, formerly K12 Inc., is a for-profit provider of virtual education that reported revenue of nearly $1.7 billion in fiscal year 2022. It operates seven Indiana-based virtual public, charter and private schools as well as several private online schools that may enroll Hoosier students, according to its website.


I am a Charter School Abolitionist, and You Should Be, Too

Speaking of charter schools...

From Gadfly on the Wall Blog
After three decades, it should be achingly clear.

Charter schools are a terrible idea.

These types of schools have been around since 1992, a year after Minnesota passed the first law allowing certain public schools to exist under negotiated conditions (or charters).

It works kind of like this. Here are all the rules public schools have to follow in order to be funded by taxpayer dollars – they have to be run by elected school boards, have open records, accept all students from the community, etc. Now here are the tiny set of rules this one particular school has to abide by – it’s charter, if you will.

So there’s one set of rules for authentic public schools and another for each individual charter school.

This means charter schools can be governed by appointed boards of bureaucrats, they don’t have to share their records with the public who are paying the bills, they can even pocket some of that taxpayer money as profit (and in many cases they can still call themselves non-profit). And they don’t even have to accept all students! They can cherrypick whoever is easiest to teach and tell those they rejected that it’s all the result of a lottery – a lottery that they don’t have to share with anyone to prove it was impartial.

No wonder the situation has been a disastrous mess!


Texas: Teacher in Amarillo Explains the Voucher Hoax

The choice is with the schools. If your child is the wrong color, doesn't get the right score on standardized tests, or doesn't behave in a certain way...if your family doesn't conform to the required configuration or support the correct religious organization, then a private school can choose to reject your child.

From Diane Ravitch
Data shows that vouchers benefit the wealthy who need it the least, hurt the disadvantaged the most, abuse taxpayer dollars, and erase the separation between church and state. Vouchers act like a discount for wealthy students already in private schools. Picture a country club that won’t allow any new members, but now their current members get to use taxpayer money to subsidize part of their dues. Not only is everyone else stuck at the public pool, but now we’re all paying for a few people to go to the country club, and we have less money to maintain or upgrade the public pool. That’s how vouchers work in the states that have them...

Vouchers only offer the illusion of choice.

Many states have tried vouchers, the data shows they failed and abused public resources. Not only do charters and private schools in Arizona, Indiana, Ohio, and Louisiana, have worse educational outcomes than public schools, but when so many programs receive public money, it’s impossible to monitor where the money goes in the same way that public schools are held accountable...

There are answers on how to actually reform education. We can follow the lead of countries like Finland that consistently rank high on international measures of reading and math skills. Finland doesn’t have vouchers. They don’t even have private schools. There, every school is public and wellfunded. Every student can get a quality education from their neighborhood school, and every student has an equal opportunity to achieve. Finland attracts the best and brightest to the teaching profession by requiring a masters degree and paying them as much as doctors or lawyers. Finnish teachers are empowered, respected, and trusted...

We know what works. So why don’t politicians want to do it? Simple – it’s impossible to monetize and profit from this approach the way they can with vouchers.


This educator-turned-lawmaker wants to end the misuse of standardized testing

N.Y. Representative Jamaal Bowman thinks it's time to end the overuse and misuse of testing in the USA. We agree.

From The Answer Sheet
...On the federal level, one member of Congress says he has had enough with standardized testing. Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), the former principal of a middle school in the Bronx, is introducing legislation on Thursday that seeks to change the federal law that requires the testing to allow schools to do something more useful.

The bill is called the More Teaching Less Testing Act, which is exactly what it seeks to do — allow states more flexibility in designing and administering summative tests.

It would eliminate the requirement in the 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act — which was a rewrite of the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act — that annual statewide standardized tests in reading and math in grades 3 to 8, and once in high schools, as well as assessments once in each grade span in science for all students and annual English-language proficiency assessments in grades K-12 for all English learners. It would offer options for states to choose from — including grade-span testing, which limits the amount of times tests are given in each level of schooling — and representative sampling — and would reduce the amount of testing as well as cost.

Bowman, who in 2009 founded the Cornerstone Academy for Social Action, a Bronx public middle school that focused on a holistic curriculum, served as principal for a decade before winning an upset victory in the 2020 primary for the House seat he later won and has held since then.

Bowman said that he knows from experience that standardized tests don’t provide teachers with any information about their students they don’t already know and that the massive amount of test preparation robs students of quality learning time...


Allen County teachers sign letter against 'anti-LGBTQ' bills

Indiana lawmakers are trying to deny the existence of certain students. Our local teachers are fighting back.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
More than 100 Allen County educators signed a letter opposing three Indiana bills they say target LGBTQ families and youth.

The bills – Senate Bills 12 and 480 along with House Bill 1608 – “hurt teachers and students’ ability to focus on learning in the classroom,” according to a news release distributed by “No Hate in Our State” rally organizer Thad Gerardot.

The letter’s signatories include teachers from school districts around the county along with educators from area universities. Gerardot said many teachers volunteered for the March 11 rally and that teachers they knew distributed the letter to other educators.

The letter said that data from The Trevor Project shows 45% of Hoosier youth considered suicide last year.

“Unless kids feel safe, what we as educators teach them won’t matter,” the letter stated.


Florida: State Education Board Will Extend “Don’t Say Gay” Through 12th Grade

" is a slap in the face to gay families in Florida, as well as to people who are comfortable with discussions of reality."

From Diane Ravitch
Florida’s state board of education voted to expand its ban on any mention of LGBT topics through 12th grade, effectively censoring the topic for all grades. This move is intended to protect the rights of parents who don’t want their children to learn that gay people exist, but it is a slap in the face to gay families in Florida, as well as to people who are comfortable with discussions of reality.

The DeSantis administration next month could effectively bar all public school teachers from providing classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity, a move that would expand Florida’s controversial 2022 law and go even further than the legislation Republican lawmakers are pushing in Tallahassee this spring.

A proposed State Board of Education rule, scheduled for a vote next month, says teachers in grades 4 to 12 “shall not intentionally provide classroom instruction” on either topic, expanding the prohibition in last year’s law that critics dubbed “don’t say gay.” Teachers who violate the rule could face suspension or revocation of their teaching licenses.
**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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