Monday, June 26, 2023

In Case You Missed It – June 26, 2023

UPDATE: †NEIFPE's In Case You Missed It is posted every week except holiday weekends or as otherwise noted. Our next scheduled post will be July 10.

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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“When it comes to things like this, banning tends to be a reactionary power move rather than something that’s well thought out,” Stone explained. “I think that talking about race in general—even using the word ‘race’—causes discomfort for a lot of people. As we gain traction in Hollywood, the publishing industry and every other area, I think there’s an overall discomfort with facing up to the fact that racism is still a thing that we need to be talking about. But I don’t think it’s possible to talk about it without people being uncomfortable.” -- Nic Stone, author of the frequently banned book, Dear Martin


Josh Cowen: To a Reformer Who Supports Vouchers

This article is one of several in response to Chad Aldeman's column providing reasons to accept vouchers.

From Diane Ravitch
Josh Cowen is a Professor if Education Policy at Michigan State University who spent nearly two decades involved in studying the effects of vouchers. In this post, published here for the first time, he responds to a school choice advocate, Chad Aldeman, who recently made his case for his views.

Josh Cowen writes:

Can’t we all just get along?

That’s the question underlying a new column by education reform specialist Chad Aldeman.

Although he avoids saying so directly, he’s talking about the latest rush to expand school vouchers in state legislatures during the current lawmaking cycle. It’s mostly happening in red states, and supporters have broader names including the all-encompassing “school choice,” which Aldeman uses, to the more jingoist “education freedom.”

It’s worth reading and considering. I’ve done so in part because, as Peter Greene has pointed out, Aldeman is among the more serious thinkers on education reform issues and because he hints at questions I get myself a lot from journalists covering reform: what would it take to get me to support voucher programs today?

Database: How much money private schools get in Indiana's voucher program

Indiana's updated and expanded voucher law provides vouchers for families with an income of more than $200,000.

Indiana’s taxpayer-funded private school voucher program was launched 12 years ago. In the 2022-23 academic year, more students than ever used the program to help cover or pay the tuition at private or religious schools.

The program provides up to 90 percent of the amount that a voucher student’s public school corporation of legal settlement would receive if the student enrolled in a public school district. Those public funds are used to cover tuition and fees, or go toward the cost of attending a private school. Last school year, the average actual grant amount was $5,854.

To qualify for Indiana's Choice Scholarship, students were required to meet one of eight eligibility tracks and income eligibility. In 2021 lawmakers increased the income eligibility to $154,000 for a family of four — that’s 300 percent of federal free or reduced-price lunch eligibility.

An update to the law that goes into effect July 1 removes all eligibility tracks and increases the income eligibility up to $220,000 for a family of four.

Support for school choice undercuts Hoosiers' natural conservatism

Former Journal Gazette editorial page editor, Karen Francisco comments on the unwillingness of Hoosiers to accept change...unless it involves public education.

From Karen Francisco in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
...there’s one area where Hoosiers show no reluctance toward change. Their acceptance of so-called school choice has been downright radical. Since the state’s charter school law was adopted in 2001, Indiana has unquestioningly supported an endless stream of costly education alternatives, including a near-universal voucher program that cost more than $311 million this past academic year and virtual charter schools that collected $154 million for thousands of students who earned no credits.

In keeping with its unquestioning support for education disruption, Indiana was at the cutting edge of a troubling new development in public education: the rise of right-wing charter schools. A report I co-authored for the Network for Public Education reveals the spread of public charter schools targeting parents likely to be attracted by the “anti-woke” rhetoric of the far right.

We identified 273 currently open charter schools that offer a “classical” curriculum or market themselves to white, conservative families. Another 66 schools are set to open this fall or next. Many are part of chains that we feature in the report. For-profit management corporations run 29% of these charters, a percentage nearly twice as high as the charter sector as a whole. They are spreading most rapidly in suburban and rural communities, including my new state, Colorado.


Orwellian Language and the Moral Perversion of American Politics

Citizens of Indiana -- and the rest of the country -- would benefit from a class in recognizing propaganda.

From Jan Resseger
“Diversity, equity, and inclusion” was, I think, originally a phrase used to describe training programs for staff in all sorts of agencies and institutions to help medical personnel, police, teachers, workers in jails and prisons, staff at nonprofits, librarians, and others be aware of their own racial, ethnic, or religious biases. Such programs are commonly described as anti-racism training. But, of course, by banning “diversity, equity, and inclusion,” state legislatures don’t define precisely what is being banned. Maybe politicians want to ban this sort of training for people who work with the public. Maybe the new laws also mean that states’ higher education institutions cannot explicitly look for new staff who would make their faculties more diverse. Or, as in Ohio’s proposed Senate Bill 83, a law may also mean that faculty members are prohibited from leading class discussions which might make some students feel guilty or uncomfortable about their biases. Notice that the phrase is imprecise enough that it can be used by politicians who want to pass laws that impose their own political biases.

We ought to take some time linguistically to reflect on the meaning of “diversity, equity, and inclusion” as Orwellian language. When our lawmakers ban “diversity, equity, and inclusion,” are they endorsing separation and segregation, inequality, and exclusion? Or are politicians simply employing the phrase to fan the fears of voters who are uncomfortable in our multicultural society?

We need to demand that our politicians be precise in their choice of words. When they try to ban “diversity, equity and inclusion,” what is it about our society that our politicians are rejecting, what kind of bigotry are they appealing to in an effort to get elected, and what sort of barriers are they trying to impose?

Nancy Bailey: Why Do Corporate Reformers Love “The Science of Reading”?


From Diane Ravitch
Many of the same individuals who favor charter schools, private schools, and online instruction, including corporate reformers, use the so-called Science of Reading (SoR) to make public school teachers look like they’ve failed at teaching reading.

Politicians and corporations have had a past and current influence on reading instruction to privatize public schools with online programs. This has been going on for years, so why aren’t reading scores soaring? The SoR involves primarily online programs, but it’s often unclear whether they work.


Indiana education officials roll out school guidance on newly passed laws

The Indiana Capital Chronicle provides a summary of new laws impacting education.

From the Indiana Capital Chronicle
A GOP-led effort will require schools to use “science of reading” curricula approved by IDOE by the 2024-25 academic year. HEA 1558 codifies a statewide definition of the science of reading.

The phonics-based literacy approach incorporates phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. Education experts say it gives students the skills to “decode” any word they don’t recognize.

The legislation also requires collegiate educator preparation programs to embed the science of reading into their curriculum and prepare future educators to receive a literacy endorsement.

...As part of Gov. Eric Holcomb’s 2023 legislative agenda, the General Assembly allocated $160 million to eliminate textbook and curricular fees for Hoosier kids.

The state’s next biennial budget prohibits Indiana schools from charging students for curricular materials.

Even so, some school officials say Indiana’s new budget does not provide enough funding to cover all textbook and curriculum costs. And while the next spending plan stops schools from billing students for curricular materials, it does not address other fees. For now, IDOE officials are telling schools to direct questions regarding the ability to charge other fees to the school corporation’s legal counsel.
**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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