Monday, May 1, 2023

In Case You Missed It – May 1, 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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“[No Child Left Behind] will test the poor against the rich and then announce that the poor are failing. Federally required tests without federally required equity amounts to clubbing these children over the head after systematically cheating them.” -- the late Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone quoted in The Education Myth and by Jan Resseger.


It's Testing Damn Season Again

Yes. States are still wasting hours of instructional time and millions of dollars on useless standardized tests which continue to be used to punish poor children and their teachers. Peter Greene is tired of it.

From Curmudgucation
Do you want extra education time to make up for Learning Loss, or to simply expand educational offerings and opportunities for students? Get rid of the state test.

Do you want to claw back some financial savings and reclaim taxpayer dollars for more educational supports? Get rid of the state test.

Do you want to refocus schools on meeting students needs for education and support instead of focusing on getting the students to provide the test scores the school needs? Do you want to focus on the whole child instead of the test-taking child? Get rid of the state test.

This is such a waste. A waste of time, resources, attention, money and teachers' professional expertise. A bad idea poorly executed. End it.


We Need to Be Sure People Don’t Forget the Recent History of Failed School Reform

The recent culture wars against public education shouldn't keep us from remembering the failure of the last several decades of school "reform."

From Jan Resseger
I was stunned when early in April, the PBS NewHour brought in Margaret Spellings and Arnie Duncan to explain the meaning of a “Learning Heroes” survey showing that while parents think their children are doing fine in school and recovering from the disruption of Covid, standardized test scores show that our kids aren’t doing so well at all.

Nancy Bailey exposes the likely bias of Learning Heroes, a “campaign” funded by the Gates Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies and other foundations supporting corporate-style, test-and-punish school reform. Couldn’t this be another attempt to expose so-called “failing schools”?

I suspect that several of us wrote to the PBS NewsHour to challenge the bias of the “experts” they brought in to comment on education policy. I was especially grateful when Diane Ravitch captured the problem in her letter to the NewsHour: “Spellings and Duncan spent years promoting failed policies and are now called upon by PBS to comment on the outcomes of their punitive and ineffective ideas. They are in no position to say where we went wrong, because they were the architects of the disaster. You really should invite dispassionate experts to review their record, rather than invite those who imposed bad ideas.”


Book challenge, 'harmful material' language passed in unrelated bill

There was no doubt that Indiana would join in the culture wars against public education sweeping US red states. We are already on board with denying parents the right to decide on their children's medical care.

Now the state has a book-banning bill on deck...because of the huge amount of imaginary pornography in our public schools.

What's the procedure for killing public education and driving educators out of Indiana? The answer is clear to the Republican super-majority in both of Indiana's legislative houses.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Proposed legislation targeting “harmful material” in school libraries appeared to stall several times this session, but Indiana lawmakers revived the language and passed it Thursday in an unrelated bill.

A conference committee added the language to House Bill 1447, which addresses other education issues, including surveys for students. It passed mostly along party lines in both Republican-held chambers.

The bill now would require schools to publish a catalog of books and create procedures for parents or community members to challenge library books that might be obscene or harmful to minors. It would also remove the legal defense that a person provided harmful material to a minor for educational purposes.

Democrats and other critics of the bill say it will have a chilling effect on teachers and librarians.


“Union busting” bill opposed by Indiana teachers heads to governor’s desk

Somehow the Republican super-majority thinks that not requiring discussion between teachers and administrators will lead to an increased discussion between teachers and administrators.

This is a state that truly hates its public schools and public school educators

From the Indiana Capital Chronicle
Despite weeks of rallying by Hoosier teachers, the Indiana Senate narrowly advanced a hotly-debated “union-busting bill” to the governor’s desk Tuesday.

Educators and union leaders maintain that Senate Bill 486 will “silence teachers” by stripping their rights to discuss concerns over student learning with school administrators.

Specifically, the bill no longer requires school administrators to discuss topics like class sizes, curriculum and student discipline with teachers and their union. State law in place now has required such discussions for the last 50 years.

The bill was approved in a 27-23 vote after more than an hour of debate on the chamber floor. It’s not clear where Gov. Eric Holcomb stands on the issue.

Republican lawmakers in favor of the proposal have said it’s a “deregulation bill” that will empower administrators and educators. They argued the changes will ensure discussions about working conditions are more open to non-union teachers and are not limited to the 16 topics in state law.

Chaotic, twelfth-hour push nets $312M increase for traditional K-12

After expanding funding for religious and private schools, Indiana's Republican super-majority was shamed into increasing funding for public schools as well -- a portion of which will also go to religious and private schools.

From the Indiana Capital Chronicle
Late Thursday, legislative leaders announced a last-minute change to the budget, however, in an effort to ease backlash. Multiple lawmakers were also reportedly unhappy to learn that their school districts received so little money after the voucher expansion.

Now, those per-student funding increases have improved somewhat to 5.3% in the first year, and then to 1.8% the next. With the change, schools will see $8.84 billion for tuition support in fiscal year 2024, and $9.03 billion in fiscal year 2025.

That’s $312.1 million more over the biennium — an additional $148 million in year one of the budget, and $164 million the second — compared to the earlier draft of the budget. Since vouchers get a portion of this funding, their spending also increased.

At his own local schools in Fort Wayne, House Minority Leader Phil GiaQuinta said school funding increased by 1.6% the first year and actually decreased by 0.6% in the second year.

“Last week, we find out we have $1.5 billion extra and my school district is losing money. Even with the additional funds (the second year is) negative 0.4%,” GiaQuinta said. “There’s no doubt that played a part into some of the last-minute scrambling over extra dollars.”


$10 million grant to benefit Fort Wayne Community Schools mental health services

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Fort Wayne Community Schools is getting a nearly $10 million federal grant to boost mental health services.

“This is huge,” board member Steve Corona said Monday to Regan Fry, project director for the competitive grant. “Why didn’t you bring Champagne?”

The board unanimously approved acceptance of the five-year U.S. Department of Education grant, which will expand mental health capacity in 16 secondary schools that collectively serve about 15,000 students.

“That’s where we lack the most mental health support,” Fry said.

An increase of 60 FWCS mental health providers during the next five years would reduce the ratio of mental health providers for middle and high school students from 1 to 2,933 to 1 to 244, according to the grant award description released by the federal government.
**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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