Monday, June 19, 2023

In Case You Missed It – June 19, 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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"Look for the [Indiana] voucher share to go up this fall as the program grows to include families that make up to four times the limit to qualify for reduced-price school meals: $220,000 for a four-person household.

"Legislators like to say Indiana “funds students, not systems.” We don’t. The students and their families never touch the money; it goes straight to the schools. We’re funding an unaccountable system of private education that teaches religion and can discriminate. That’s just wrong."
-- Indiana blogger Steve Hinnefeld in his blog post, Voucher program grew in 2022-23


You might have gotten something in the mail from your Indiana state legislator last week which touted the General Assembly's huge increase in funding for education. What the mailing neglected to say was that voucher schools and charter schools received a much higher percentage of the increases than did public schools.

This year, the Republican supermajority in the state legislature continued its quest for a completely privatized school environment in Indiana by throwing more public dollars at religious schools, private schools, and privately run charter schools. It doesn't seem to matter to them that the vast majority of Indiana's children go to public schools; the tax money that they collect for education is being diverted from public to private despite no evidence that private is better...or even comparable.

In our Quote of the Week, above, Steve Hinnefeld noted that Republicans claim we need to "fund students, not systems." Unfortunately, the Constitution of the State of Indiana says otherwise (emphasis added).
Article 8. - Education.

Section 1. Knowledge and learning, generally diffused throughout a community, being essential to the preservation of a free government; it shall be the duty of the General Assembly to encourage, by all suitable means, moral, intellectual, scientific, and agricultural improvement; and to provide, by law, for a general and uniform system of Common Schools, wherein tuition shall be without charge, and equally open to all.
Indiana’s “school choice” voucher program grew 20% last year — with more growth coming

Are religious, private, and charter schools "equally open to all" as required by the state Constitution? Not always. Religious schools are allowed to limit their enrollment to students they choose. LGBT+ students, students with LGBT+ parents, and some students with disabilities are regularly rejected. Charter schools, as well, have ways to limit which students attend their schools.

Indiana should quit subsidizing the privatization of education and follow the Constitutional mandate by supporting the state's public schools.

From Indiana Capital Chronicle
Indiana’s private school voucher program grew by 20% in the 2022-23 school year — the largest increase in the number of students in nearly 10 years, according to a new report.

The Indiana Department of Education’s (IDOE) annual Choice Scholarship Program analysis released this month showed state funds paid private school tuition for 53,262 Hoosier students.

That’s compared to 44,376 students who used vouchers during the 2021-22 academic year.

With that growth came increased costs. The state spent $311.8 million on the program in the 2022-23 school year — 29% more than the year prior.

Voucher participation and spending are expected to jump even more this fall after state lawmakers expanded the program to be nearly universal and open to almost all Hoosier families.

The broader eligibility provisions are projected to grow the voucher program to some 95,000 students by 2025 — and more than double the state money spent on the Choice Scholarships, costing taxpayers $1.1 billion over the next two years.


Michigan: State Board of Education Passes Resolution Supporting “Freedom to Read”

While states around the nation are banning books which teach accurate American history and those with "controversial" characters, Michigan's state Board of Education adopted a "Freedom to Read" resolution allowing professionals to make professional choices.

From Diane Ravitch
Mitchell Robinson is a professor of music education at Michigan State University who was recently elected to the Michigan State Board of Education. He shared a resolution that he introduced and that was passed by the State Board. Are there books that are not age-appropriate? Yes. Can we trust teachers and librarians to select the right books for the children in their care? The Michigan State Board of Education thinks we can. Michigan law already forbids pornography in schools.


Kathryn Joyce: How Sarasota County Became Florida’s Laboratory for Far-Right Extremism

The privatization of public education is widespread.

From Diane Ravitch
Kathryn Joyce is an outstanding journalist who has written several excellent articles about the far-right conspiracy to destroy public education. In this important article, published by both the Hechinger Report and Vanity Fair, she examines the rightwing takeover of public schools in Sarasota, Florida, by the extremist Moms for Liberty and their hero Governor DeSantis.

Joyce begins...


Carol Burris: The New Christian Nationalist Charter Schools

For years judicial interpretation of the First Amendment prohibited public funding of religious institutions. No more. Now tax dollars are flowing freely from state coffers to church schools.

From Diane Ravitch
Carol Burris, executive director of the Network for Public Education, writes here about the latest disturbing development in the charter school industry—the growth of charter schools that promote a Christian Nationalist perspective. Her article was published on Valerie Strauss’s blog The Answer Sheet at the Washington Post.

Valerie Strauss introduces Carol’s article:

The religious right scored a win this week when Oklahoma’s virtual charter school board approved the opening of the nation’s first religious charter school, which, if it is actually allowed to open as planned in 2024 for grades K-12, will weave Catholic doctrine into every single subject that students take. Given that charter schools are publicly funded, and public schools aren’t supposed to provide religious education (although they can teach about religion), you may wonder how this school could be given permission to exist.


Teacher Honor Roll: Northwest Allen educator's passion for her students shines

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
School: Eel River Elementary

Grade or subject teaching: Applied skills

Education: Bachelor’s degree in mild intervention from the University of Saint Francis

Years teaching: 1

City born and current hometown: Fort Wayne

Book you’d recommend: “You Are Enough: A Book About Inclusion” by Margaret O’Hair

Favorite teachers: Michelle Hoffacker, Sherry Shoda and Kathy Weibel

Favorite teaching memory: I have enjoyed planning hands-on and real-life experiences for my students to learn and engage in their world. During the spring we had 10 caterpillars that we watched turn into butterflies. They were all excited to let go of the butterflies outside and watch them fly away.
**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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