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.

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"...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.


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