Monday, April 24, 2023

In Case You Missed It – April 24, 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.

Be sure to enter your email address in the Follow Us By Email box in the right-hand column of our blog page to be informed when our blog posts are published.

Our regular editor is on vacation. Enjoy the links provided below without the usual editorial comments.


‘Deregulation’ bill is about sidelining unions

From School Matters
I have to pull out the Henry Adams quote at least once every session of the Indiana General Assembly: “Politics, as a practice, whatever its professions, has always been the systematic organization of hatreds.”

How else do you explain Senate Bill 486, an “education deregulation” bill that seems to be largely about punishing the Indiana State Teachers Association and the Indiana Federation of Teachers.

The measure does include some deregulation, but a key component would repeal current law that gives teachers, through their unions, a voice in how their schools operate. Blocking it has become the top priority for the ISTA and IFT, which brought hundreds of teachers to the Statehouse last week to protest.

Why would the Republican supermajority want to punish the unions? Well, because they support Democrats...


Indiana Senate approves handgun training fund for teachers

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Indiana state senators advanced a bill Tuesday that would make state funding available for teachers seeking firearms training, a move critics have said could increase the number of guns in school to the detriment of students.

The 42-8 vote comes after this past weekend’s three-day National Rifle Association convention in Indianapolis, which fell on the second anniversary of a mass shooting in the city at a FedEx facility that killed nine people.

The House bill first advanced in February, amid teachers’ objections that having additional guns in schools would worsen school safety. On Tuesday, two Democrats joined all Republican state senators in voting for the bill.

Bill to divert tax revenue to charter schools clears Indiana House

From 8
Supporters of traditional public schools on Monday said new charter school legislation could jeopardize future school funding ballot questions.

The Indiana House voted along party lines to approve legislation that would require school corporations in Marion, Lake, Vanderburgh, and St. Joseph counties to allocate a portion of the revenue from any tax levy adopted after May 10 to charter schools in those counties. It marks a major departure in charter school funding from current policy, which uses a grant-based model...

The bill already passed the Senate, but has to go back to that chamber due to changes the House made.

School Privatization Flunks Out in Kansas and Texas

From ITPI: In the Public Interest
5) Kansas: A school privatization measure has been soundly beaten back in the state legislature and the privatizers are nursing their political wounds. “Republican lawmakers saw a negotiated school choice proposal fail early Friday morning in the Kansas Senate amid stiff opposition from public education advocates, while the fate of an education budget that districts say will cost them hundreds of millions of dollars remains in question. School districts had excoriated the choice proposal, Senate Bill 83, which also would have included the first year of a plan from Gov. Laura Kelly to increase special education funding, as tantamount to school vouchers...

6) Texas: In yet another defeat for school privatization forces in a Red State, the Texas House of Representatives has voted to prohibit state money from funding private school vouchers or education savings accounts. “The move is a setback to one of Gov. Greg Abbott’s top priorities to provide ‘school choice’ with state-funded private school tuition subsidies. The House approved State Rep. Abel Herrero’s amendment to the state budget on a bipartisan 86-52 vote.

Idaho GOP Rejects School Voucher Bill

From Peter Greene in Forbes
Last year, Idaho’s legislature passed a limited school voucher bill; this year school voucher supporters raised a more expansive proposal that was just defeated by Republicans.

Last year’s Empowering Parents Grant Program used $50 million of American Rescue Plan recovery money to give education vouchers to families. It limited the education savings account (ESA) vouchers to students who were already enrolled in public schools and whose families had an income equal to or less than 250% of the free or reduced lunch cut-off.

That program was established on a modest scale. This year voucher supporters proposed a larger, more universal form.

Senate Bill 1038 included no income limits and no requirements for previously attending public school. In other words, a wealthy family who had always enrolled their children in private school or home school would get $6,000 of taxpayer money, and that money would be pulled from the funding for schools that the students had never attended in the first place; the school’s funding would be reduced, but their operating costs would not.


Forgotten Pre-Covid Report Reveals Standardized Testing Weaknesses in PA

From Gadfly on the Wall Blog
The majority of teachers and principals in Pennsylvania hate standardized tests.

An increasing number of parents are refusing to allow their kids to take the tests.

And there may be better alternatives to the state’s Keystone Exams.

These were just some of the key findings of a blockbuster report from June 2019 by the state General Assembly’s Legislative Budget and Finance Committee.

The report, “Standardized Tests in Public Education” was published about 9 months before the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

It effectively got lost in the chaos that followed the global pandemic.

However, now that things are returning to some semblance of normalcy, it seems that bureaucrats from the state Department of Education (PDE) are taking the wrong lessons from the report while the legislature seems to have forgotten it entirely.

The report was conducted because of legislation written by state Sen. Ryan P. Aument (R-Lancaster County). It directed the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to “study the effectiveness of standardized testing, including the Keystone Exams and SATs, and their use as indicators of student academic achievement, school building performance, and educator effectiveness.”

The key findings are as follows...


Florida Bans Instruction about Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity in All Grades

From Diane Ravitch
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis thinks that if he bans or censors a subject, then the thing he banned will disappear. Obviously, he hates gays. Therefore, his state board of education voted in the last hour or so to ban any mention of sexual orientation or gender identity unless they are part of a reproductive health course. Ironically, Florida has a very large gay population in Miami and Fort Lauderdale and elsewhere. But DeSantis believes he can appeal to the MAGA base by repeatedly showing his hatred for gays. Every fascist must have scapegoats. For DeSantis, it’s gays, trans, and drag queens, but also Blacks and immigrants. And any books about them. Some Republican mega donors have decided to back off and withhold funding him to see how far he goes with his calculated campaign of hatred and divisiveness.

The Orlando Sentinel reported...

**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, April 17, 2023

In Case You Missed It – April 17, 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.

Be sure to enter your email address in the Follow Us By Email box in the right-hand column of our blog page to be informed when our blog posts are published.


"...Over the same time period as this stunning increase in voucher spending, Indiana decreased its per-pupil funding for public education by 1.5 percent...

"...Indiana retreated significantly in its commitment to public education at the same time it substantially increased its funding of private schooling..." -- PFPS Report: The Fiscal Consequences of Private School Vouchers


Hoosier librarians step up

Indiana Republican legislative supermajority opened a new front in its apparent constant war against public education. This year they followed the lead of other Republican-led states and included censorship in their agenda. Fortunately, Indiana's librarians spoke up.

From School Matters
Hat’s off to Indiana’s librarians. They turned out in force last week when legislators considered making it easier to ban books and prosecute people who provide material that’s “harmful to minors.” And they pushed back when lawmakers suggested they didn’t know what they were saying.

But it may not matter. The legislation is on the agenda again today for a meeting of the House Education Committee, and Republicans on the panel seem determined to pass it into law.

...The amendment would require school libraries to compile lists of all their books and materials, post them online, and print them out for parents or others who request hard copies. They would also have to create and publicize a procedure for members of the public to seek to remove books from libraries. That seems heavy-handed and unnecessary, but school libraries can probably manage it. Most have computerized inventories that could be used to satisfy the law.

...But Cash’s amendment would remove the educational purpose defense. And it would eliminate the “scope of employment” defense for school and public libraries and their employees. It would retain the scope of employment defense for university, college and museum libraries.

In other words, it would make it easier for a politically ambitious prosecutor to convict a school or public librarian on a felony charge. No wonder librarians are alarmed.

Indiana House committee abandons contentious library materials amendment — for now

Rep. Bob Behning, former florist turned school choice entrepreneur, and no friend of public education made it clear that librarians and libraries are still not safe.

From the Indiana Capital Chronicle
A hotly-debated amendment that sought to ban materials deemed “harmful to minors” in school and public libraries stalled Monday, following hours of opposition testimony the week prior.

The House Education Committee did not vote on the amendment on Monday. Instead, lawmakers voted 12-0 to send the watered down bill, which deals with graduation rates, to the full House.

The amendment could still resurface on the House floor, however.

The proposal under consideration was similar to the controversial Senate Bill 12. But rather than hearing that measure, House lawmakers considered inserting similar provisions into Senate Bill 380.

Committee chairman Rep. Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis, did not comment directly when asked by the Indiana Capital Chronicle about the decision not to vote on the amendment, but he said such language will “likely” be up for debate again in the full chamber.

“The issue is not done yet,” he said.

The Fiscal Consequences of Private School Vouchers

This report focuses on the real impact that seven state voucher programs have on public education. The states highlighted are Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

From Public Funds Public Schools, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Education Law Center

The pattern of education spending in these seven voucher states is unmistakable. Private school voucher programs are initially proposed as limited in size and scope, then grow as existing programs are expanded, and/or additional voucher programs are established. This results in greater and greater amounts of public funding diverted to private educational institutions and private corporations. At the same time, as noted, funding for public schools in these states has largely decreased.

Although direct cause and effect is difficult to prove, the bottom line is clear: As states transfer millions of dollars to private hands, there are fewer available state resources for projects that serve the public good, from mass transit to public parks, libraries, and schools.


Who will teach Indiana's children? Hard to attract, retain teachers in current climate

The shortsighted goal seems always to have been the destruction of public education and the teaching profession.

From the Indy Star
According to a Chalkbeat study analyzing teacher turnover data from eight states, the teacher shortage remains, and it is getting worse. Rising teacher turnover rates and growing shortages put the quality of our children’s education at risk.

The teaching profession is bleeding qualified teachers, and our children are suffering. If we want to save the teaching profession, and by extension, our children’s education, we need to reduce the bureaucratic workload on teachers, set aside damaging political battles and require all educators to come to the classroom with appropriate training and certification.

Legislators act to help schools find the right kinds of teachers, staff

We're glad that this Republican-sponsored bill makes sure that school children are safe from possibly dangerous adults, but taking credit for "broadening the pool of available teachers" after spending a decade trying to destroy the teaching profession strikes us as just a bit hypocritical.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
State lawmakers have taken action on two education bills within the past week. One could broaden the pool of available teachers. The other is intended to restrict school districts from hiring instructors and other staff convicted of certain felonies.

House Bill 1528, authored by state Rep. Dave Heine, R-Fort Wayne, expands eligibility to the Next Generation Hoosier Educators Program to include those participating in transition-to-teaching programs and alternative teacher certification programs. It also moves the annual scholarship amount allowed to $10,000 per individual, with a maximum single- year state expenditure of $1 million.

Heine’s bill heads to Gov. Eric Holcomb’s desk after winning unanimous support from the full Senate on Tuesday.

Currently, high school and college students interested in a career in education may earn a renewable scholarship of up to $7,500 each academic year. In exchange, students agree to teach for five years at an eligible Indiana school or repay the scholarship.

In fiscal year 2022, there were around 650 scholarship recipients with a mean award of about $7,300 each, for a total annual expenditure of $4.8 million, according to the Legislative Services Agency.

Indiana State Teachers Association President Keith Gambill said the scholarship program is a justified measure for the legislature to pass to attract more people to the teaching profession.


Architects shape Northwest Allen County Schools building plans with input, site visits

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Site visits and stakeholder meetings are helping officials shape plans for Northwest Allen County Schools building projects proposed as solutions to overcrowding, an administrator told the district’s elected leaders Monday.

“I really believe we’ve got three great architect firms working for us right now,” said Brandon Bitting, assistant superintendent for operations and safety.

The 8,200-student district is preparing to build a new middle school and to renovate and expand the high school because a demographer told NACS last fall to expect enrollment to increase by more than 800 in the next decade.

**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.


Sunday, April 16, 2023

Letter: Voucher expansion gutting public schools

NEIFPE member Kathy Candioto sent this letter to the editor about Indiana's school voucher plan.

Published: April 13, 2023

On March 1, Jennifer McCormick, the former Indiana state superintendent, spoke at an education forum at our downtown library.

The Journal Gazette quoted McCormick: “Vouchers are a program for wealthy, white, suburban kids. Period.”

Two letters have criticized McCormick for making such a “broad” statement. Both writers stated that vouchers are used by many low-income, hard-working families who do not live in the suburbs.

Of course, this last statement is true. In fact, in 2012, vouchers were created for low-income families who could not afford to attend private schools. Also, at that time, students were required to attend public school for one year before applying for a voucher.

In her defense, the former superintendent is fully aware of the families who have applied for vouchers. In her statement, McCormick was expressing her disappointment at the expansion of school vouchers in the past 11+ years.

In this year’s House budget proposal on education, legislators are asking for a $500 million increase over the next two years. This increase can only be achieved by raising the income limit for voucher applications.

This proposal would increase the family income limit for federal free or reduced-priced meals from the current 300% of income eligibility to 400%. And, in turn, that increase would boost the income limit for a family of four from the current $154,000 to $220,000. Again, a family of four with an income of $220,000 would be able to apply for tuition help in sending their children to a private school using taxpayer dollars.

The earlier requirement to attend a public school before applying for a voucher has long been lifted. Today, many of the students using a voucher to attend a private school have never and never intended to attend a public school.

McCormick, a strong supporter of public dollars for public schools, knows that if this Republican budget proposal passes, we will see one-third of additional state education money go to private schools that educate fewer than 10% of Indiana students.

Kathy Candioto

Fort Wayne


Monday, April 10, 2023

In Case You Missed It – April 10, 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.

Be sure to enter your email address in the Follow Us By Email box in the right-hand column of our blog page to be informed when our blog posts are published.


"Voucher programs change swiftly from a minor expense to a major budget expense, an unaccountable taxpayer-funded subsidy for private schools even as public schools are slowly defunded. Any promise that a voucher program will have a minor impact on state finances is an empty one." -- Peter Greene


Indiana: Bill Would Criminalize Librarians, Allow Parents to Censor Books

The Indiana General Assembly is not against censorship. While Republicans in the Indiana legislature might think Indiana teachers are competent enough to carry around loaded weapons, they certainly don't think teachers are capable of choosing appropriate reading material for their students.

On the other hand, parents, who legislators consider too incompetent to make their own decisions about medical care for their children, are more than capable of deciding what reading material should be available to their children, and every other child in their local schools.

From Diane Ravitch
The Indiana legislature is considering a bill that would empower parents to censor books they find objectionable and to criminalize librarians who allow such books in libraries. The story was originally reported on WYFI, the NPR station in Indiana.

Chalkbeat reported:

The House Education Committee heard hours of testimony Wednesday from school employees, librarians, and others across Indiana who expressed opposition to a proposed amendment to a bill that would strip these employees of a legal defense against charges they distributed material harmful to minors.

The hearing was the latest evolution in a months-long legislative process driven by concerns among some parents that pornography is rampant in schools. While lawmakers have drafted legislation to address these concerns, they’ve presented little evidence to suggest it’s a widespread problem. The latest iteration of the legislation also targets public libraries.

Indiana lawmakers debate bill allowing parents to challenge “obscene and harmful” library materials

From the Indiana Capital Chronicle
Current Indiana law already outlines criteria that has to be met for a book to be considered criminal.

Outlawed materials must, as a whole:
  • describe or represent, in any form, nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, or sado-masochistic abuse
  • appeal to the prurient interest in sex of minors
  • be patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community as a whole with respect to what is suitable matter for or performance before minors
  • lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors
Lawmakers aren’t seeking to change Indiana’s decades-old statutory definitions. Republicans held, too, that they aren’t seeking to have classic novels or books “where someone has two moms or two dads.”

“I don’t think anybody thinks the word sex is obscene or sexually explicit,” Cash said, referring to individual references that might exist within a single book. “And if they do — well, that’s why there’s a process.”

But Democrats on the committee repeatedly pointed out that while some parents view certain materials as harmful or obscene, others might disagree.

Lobbyists Congratulate Themselves for 20 Years of NCLB Standardized Testing

There are piles of dollars to be made in public education, even if you don't have a clue about education!

From Gadfly on the Wall Blog
It’s hard to learn your lesson – especially if doing so costs you money.

Case in point: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, the largest lobbying organization in the country, issued a new report examining the impact of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the George W. Bush era law making standardized testing the centerpiece of K-12 education.

So an organization representing oil companies, pharmaceutical giants and automakers just opined on public school policy as if it were made up of experts.

And guess what?

Business folks don’t know what the heck they’re talking about in education.

Because after sorting through 20 years of NCLB controversy, political shenanigans and factual mistakes, the supply side cabal thinks the law is just fine.

It’s kind of like a judge watching a driver plow his car into a brick wall repeatedly and then instead of taking away his license, awarding him a safe driver certificate.

It doesn’t take a political scientist to figure out why.

Think about it. These are supply side cultists. If our education policy is working just fine as is, then there’s no need to raise taxes on all the business interests the free market fan club represents to fix the problem.

And, moreover, we can keep funneling the education dollars we do spend to corporations (many of whom are represented by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation) who profit off the law by making tests, grading tests and selling test prep material.

The only thing shocking here (maybe) is the way the media publishes the Foundation’s results as if they were truths handed down from on high.

What’s the matter, journalists? You’ve never heard of a conflict of interest?

An organization like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation with proven ties to the Koch Brothers and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is somehow the epitome of unbiased advocacy!?

The organization’s own report describes the Foundation as “tireless advocates for high-quality academic standards, assessments, and accountability as tools for educational equity.”

By its own admission, then, this is the testing industry evaluating itself. And – surprise – it gave itself a high score!


Voucher expansion shows lawmakers have lost sight of their mission

In 2011, Indiana's voucher program was started to "help poor kids in failing schools." Back then there was no talk about fixing the so-called "failing" schools...just get some kids out and let the public school system collapse.

Now we know the plan to help "poor kids" was just another ruse to transfer public dollars to private hands. It has taken a while, but the Republicans in the Indiana General Assembly have, once again, raised the state's investment in school vouchers. Now it's possible for wealthy folks -- who would have sent their children to private schools anyway -- to send their kids to private schools on the public's dime.

And the poor kids? They're going to be left in underfunded public schools.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
What many people who voted to support this program of parental choice don’t know is that it was never intended to get “poor kids out of failing schools.” What the state does not want the people to know is that every single promise they ever made about how the voucher program would be run, and who would benefit the most from it, has been compromised.

But allow me to stick to just one simple angle of the big lie and debunk it once and for all, then we can get back to our need for a modern-day Robin Hood.

Niki Kelly of the Indiana Capital Chronicle pointed out in an exceptional piece that ran in The Journal Gazette on Monday that while the state is preparing to commit to “a massive expansion of state-funded vouchers for private schools at much higher eligibility levels for middle- to upper-income Hoosiers,” it is at the same time committing to much lower gross income limits for programs and services that are actually essential to struggling Hoosier families.

While it is hard to accept the reasoning of the state, the program will provide full vouchers to families who earn up to 400% of the free and reduced lunch level so that these families can send their children to private schools.

That means that a family of four can earn up to $220,000 and still qualify for the full voucher.

Meanwhile, Kelly reported, the cutoff for the supplemental nutrition program is 127%, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families is between 13% and 16% of the federal poverty level, On My Way Pre-K is capped at 127%, and free and reduced-price lunch ceilings out at 185% of the federal poverty level.

If that is not enough to cause you to go and look for a hero, allow me to give you the statistics that the state does not want you to know. A total of 99.976% of all of the voucher schools are affiliated with a religious organization or church. In 2011, Black students made up 24.11% of the population of voucher schools; last year they were 10.45%. In 2013, 9% came from F-rated schools, last year, fewer than 1% of the population came from F schools.

The Empty and Expensive Promise of School Voucher Programs

Sadly, it's not just Indiana.

From Peter Greene in The Progressive
When New Hampshire’s Republican lawmakers inserted a school voucher bill into the state budget, proponents claimed that the new program would be no big deal, that it would only cost the state about $130,000. That was in May 2021. Less than two years later, the program’s cost now stands at $14.7 million—and the legislature is poised to spend more on it.

That pattern—school voucher programs swiftly ballooning to take a huge chunk of public dollars to fund private schools—has been repeated across the country.

In a new report from Public Funds Public Schools (PFPS), researchers look at seven states that have been running a school voucher program long enough to develop a track record. The results of the study show that program costs mushroom quickly into major state expenditures, directing mountains of taxpayer money at private schools even as public schools find themselves working with less funding.

Florida Vouchers: A Multi-Billion-Dollar Hole in the Budget

From Diane Ravitch
Florida lawmakers are about to take the biggest educational gamble in American history — financed with your tax dollars.

They want to offer every child in Florida the chance to use publicly funded vouchers at private schools that have virtually no regulation and offer no guarantee that the students will get educated.


Using charters to fix ailing IPS schools yields instability and inconsistent academic results

Indianapolis schools are still struggling while non-educators bungle "get rich quick" schemes to help poor kids pass tests. Charter schools can't replace adequate food...or secure shelter...or warm clothes.

Are they surprised to learn that charter schools would face the same problems that public schools face?

If the Indiana General Assembly stopped wasting its time on culture-war issues and began to address child poverty, test scores would go up.

From Chalkbeat*
Since 2015, IPS has brought on 10 charter operators to turn around nine of its chronically low-performing schools, categorizing them as restart schools within its Innovation Network of schools that are part of the district but have greater autonomy than traditional schools. But their test scores, even when COVID’s disruptions are accounted for, have for the most part improved only slightly or not at all. Two restart operators have been replaced. One restart school has closed. And no school has actually exited restart status.

As local charter schools increase in number and size, the district’s restart model is one way to examine whether the autonomy provided charter schools truly does turn around poorly performing schools. And the 2023 state assessments — which are ramping up in March and April — will provide another stress test for these restart schools.

Before the pandemic hit, passage rates on the state’s third grade IREAD test for the four restart schools that had operated for more than one year increased in some years and decreased in others. The share of students reaching proficiency in both English and math on state exams increased at most restart schools from 2021 to 2022, although the same is true in general for schools statewide as test scores rebounded from pandemic-driven declines.


Katherine Marsh: Why Children Don’t Fall in Love with Reading

Wouldn't it be nice if citizens and educators could get back to discussing educational topics?

From Diane Ravitch
What I remember most about reading in childhood was falling in love with characters and stories; I adored Judy Blume’s Margaret and Beverly Cleary’s Ralph S. Mouse. In New York, where I was in public elementary school in the early ’80s, we did have state assessments that tested reading level and comprehension, but the focus was on reading as many books as possible and engaging emotionally with them as a way to develop the requisite skills. Now the focus on reading analytically seems to be squashing that organic enjoyment. Critical reading is an important skill, especially for a generation bombarded with information, much of it unreliable or deceptive. But this hyperfocus on analysis comes at a steep price: The love of books and storytelling is being lost.

*Note: Financial sponsors of Chalkbeat include pro-privatization foundations and individuals such as Bloomberg Philanthropies, 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.


Monday, April 3, 2023

In Case You Missed It – April 3, 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.

Be sure to enter your email address in the Follow Us By Email box in the right-hand column of our blog page to be informed when our blog posts are published.

"This year alone, 29 state legislatures are considering bills to either create or expand existing voucher programs. This is on top of the 72 voucher and tax credit programs in 33 states already subsidizing private and homeschooling, costing billions every year. Voucher programs are proliferating even though research shows that, on average, vouchers negatively affect achievement—the declines are worse than pandemic learning loss. In fact, vouchers have caused 'some of the largest academic drops ever measured in the research record.'" -- Randi Weingarten


In step: For Indiana GOP, public schoolchildren are – almost – the highest priority

Just one more reason to support local newspapers.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Dear children in traditional public schools,

We Republican legislators care about you, the 93% of all students in the state who attend public schools. We want you to think we are doing our best to provide a public education (not necessarily a great education) and to keep you safe (from the things we feel are most dangerous to you).

As a result, we plan to provide more money to education than ever before. However, we have just a couple of caveats to explain regarding our commitment to you.

Regarding the quality of education you get, we cannot guarantee anything. In fact, we no longer feel responsible for the quality of education in our state. Instead, we feel that parents should go out and find a school that satisfies your needs. We are strong believers in the idea of school choice.

But we should warn you that not all schools, outside of your local public school, may choose you. Private voucher schools do not have a strong record for accepting disadvantaged students of poverty. They are very picky as to your ability, religion, behavior and lifestyle.

Who knew?

On the other hand, we believe in those voucher schools and promise to provide more than 30% of all new education funding to those very wealthy families who earn up to $220,000 per year as rich people are entitled to state welfare, too, you know.

Originally, those voucher schools were supposed to “rescue” disadvantaged students of color from faltering public schools, but, oh well, nobody’s perfect.


Who Is Putting Up the Big Money Behind Vouchers?

Who's pushing vouchers? If you said, "Betsy DeVos," give yourself a gold star.

From Diane Ravitch
Inside Philanthropy reported on the major funding behind the push for vouchers.

Vouchers are not popular.

There have been nearly two dozen state referenda about vouchers. Vouchers have always lost, usually by large margins.

State legislatures have ignored the voice of the people and passed voucher legislation despite the public vote against them. Vouchers were rejected in Utah in 2007. Vouchers were rejected in Florida in 2012. Vouchers were rejected in Arizona in 2018. Yet the legislators in these states passed sweeping voucher laws, benefitting home schoolers and students already attending private schools.


There is a lot of money behind the voucher “movement.” The only thing moving in this “movement” is millions of dollars from rightwing billionaires into the pockets of Republican politicians.

All the usual rightwing suspects are pumping big money into the push for vouchers. Betsy DeVos, Charles Koch, the Bradley Foundation.


Indiana budget should increase funding for public schools — not vouchers — Democrats say

Republicans in the Indiana General Assembly obviously favor private schools. This year's budget is no different. The largest increases go to privatization while the vast majority of Indiana's kids who attend public schools get less.

From the Indiana Capital Chronicle
Democratic state lawmakers continue to decry education funding “inequities” in the state’s draft budget and are now mounting pressure on their Republican counterparts to “fully fund” Indiana’s traditional K-12 public schools in the next spending plan.

House Republicans tout that nearly half of their budget proposal, 48%, goes to K-12 education, which will get a “historic” boost of nearly $2 billion over its current appropriation.

But members of the minority caucus argue that one-third of that new funding will go to the Choice Scholarship program — which allows families to receive vouchers to attend private schools. And another chunk would come off the top to cover textbooks.


Randi Weingarten: In Defense of Public Education

Public schools accept everyone.

From Diane Ravitch
...Those of us involved in public schools work hard to strengthen them to be the best they can be. But only public schools have as their mission providing opportunity for all students. And by virtually any measure—conversations, polls, studies and elections—parents and the public overwhelmingly like public schools, value them, need them, support them—and countless Americans love them.

Public schools are more than physical structures. They are the manifestation of our civic values and ideals: The ideal that education is so important for individuals and for society that a free education must be available to all. That all young people should have opportunities to prepare for life, college, career and citizenship. That, in a pluralistic society such as the United States, people with different beliefs and backgrounds must learn to bridge differences. And that, as the founders believed, an educated citizenry is essential to protect our democracy from demagogues.

Thomas Jefferson argued general education was necessary to “enable every man to judge for himself what will secure or endanger his freedom.” Franklin D. Roosevelt said: “The real safeguard of democracy … is education.” And Martin Luther King Jr., in accepting the United Federation of Teachers’ John Dewey Award, made clear, “Education is the road to equality and citizenship.”

When kids go to school together, they become part of a community; their families become part of a community. That community comes together at school concerts, basketball games and science fairs, and for shelter and comfort, when people are displaced by natural disasters or, far too often, at vigils for victims of gun violence. In good times and bad, public schools are cornerstones of community, of our democracy, our economy and our nation.

But some people want that cornerstone to crumble—and they’re wielding the sledgehammers.


Sara Stevenson: Trust Librarians to Review Books, Not Vendors

From Diane Ravitch
Every once in a while, a bill comes along that creates a big-government, complicated solution to a problem that can be resolved at the local level. Such is the case with Texas House Bill 900: Restricting Explicit and Adult-Designated Educational Resources (READER) Act.

As a former public school librarian in Austin, I have serious questions about this bill. By no later than Sept. 1, 2023, each book vendor selling library books must submit a list of every book it sells that is either “sexually relevant” or “sexually explicit.”

The first problem is, book vendors, the intermediaries between publishers and libraries, are basically salespeople. They’re not publishers, they’re not librarians and they’re not ratings agencies. None of this is in those companies’ business plans, and they will not be ready by the deadline. It’s like asking a shoe repairman to make you a dress.

Professional librarians, on the other hand, have always been entrusted to select reading materials that align with the curriculum but also include books for reading pleasure. School librarians use selection aids and other resources when choosing the best library materials for their community schools. And Texas law requires us to have a master’s degree and at least two years of teaching experience.


David Sirota: How Paul Vallas Helped Wall Street Loot Chicago’s Public Schools

From Diane Ravitch
When he led the Chicago school system, mayoral candidate Paul Vallas took actions that resulted in more than $1.5 billion being transferred out of the city’s budget-strapped public schools and to some of the wealthiest individuals and banks on the planet, a new report shows.

Now, Vallas is in an election runoff against Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson to lead the city of Chicago, with big support from wealthy investors and other corporate interests — including from executives at law firms and banks that benefited from the controversial financing methods he used as CEO of Chicago Public Schools from 1995 to 2001.

With less than two weeks left before the April 4 election — which polls show is a tight race — Vallas has faced little scrutiny over his tenure as the Chicago Public Schools chief, even though he helped create a slow-moving financial disaster for America’s fourth-largest school system.
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