Monday, July 31, 2023

In Case You Missed It – July 31, 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.

"The people of America deprive us of every privilege—they turn round and taunt us with our inferiority!—they stand upon our necks, they impudently taunt us, and ask the question, why we don’t stand up erect? they tie our feet, and ask us why we don’t run? that is the position of America in the present time, the laws forbid education, the mother must not teach her child the letters of the Lord’s prayer; and then while this unfortunate state of things exist they turn round and ask, why we are not moral and intelligent; and tell us, because we are not, that they have the right to enslave [us]." -- Frederick Douglass


Florida Governor Ron DeSantis claimed that he "wasn't involved" in writing the state's 2023 Social Studies standards, but he defended them nonetheless. In response, former U.S. Rep. Will Hurd of Texas tweeted that slavery "wasn't a jobs program that taught beneficial skills."

Florida Attempting to Revive the “Happy Slave” Myth as Real History

Beneficial skills don't matter when you don't "own your own body."

From Gadfly on the Wall Blog
Frederick Douglass was widely considered the most photographed American in the 19th century, though he never smiled in a single portrait.

He stares out of the frame with a look of quiet dignity, but never joviality or contentment.

The reason for this is simple – he didn’t want to perpetuate the myth of the “Happy Slave.”

Douglass was born into bondage until he fled to the North at age 20. He was considered a fugitive for nine more years until 1845 when English friends raised $711.66 to buy his freedom. He was already a famous orator, author and abolitionist.

But he knew the power of a picture and how a still image of him grinning ear-to-ear might be used by slaveholders to indicate that people of color enjoyed their own servitude.

Now 158 years after the Civil War, the Florida Department of Education is trying to perpetuate that same myth with its new guidelines for Black history curriculum in public schools.

Among other things, the guidelines suggest that American slavery was not all bad because enslaved people developed skills that “could be applied for their personal benefit.”

Letters from an American: July 22, 2023

Heather Cox Richardson analyzes the new Florida Social Studies standards.

From Letters from an American by Heather Cox Richardson
The Florida Board of Education approved new state social studies standards on Wednesday, including standards for African American history, civics and government, American history, and economics. Critics immediately called out the middle school instruction in African American history that includes “how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.” (p. 6). They noted that describing enslavement as offering personal benefits to enslaved people is outrageous.

But that specific piece of instruction in the 216-page document is only a part of a much larger political project.

Taken as a whole, the Florida social studies curriculum describes a world in which the white male Founders of the United States embraced ideals of liberty and equality—ideals it falsely attributes primarily to Christianity rather than the Enlightenment—and indicates the country’s leaders never faltered from those ideals. Students will, the guidelines say, learn “how the principles contained in foundational documents contributed to the expansion of civil rights and liberties over time” (p. 148) and “analyze how liberty and economic freedom generate broad-based opportunity and prosperity in the United States” (p. 154).


Bob Shepherd: Past Time to End Our Obsession with Standardized Testing

The entire post is below...

From Bob Shepherd, quoted by Diane Ravitch
"I have come to believe that there is one way and one way only that we will eliminate the federal testing mandate, which has had such blood-sucking costs over the years, direct costs and opportunity costs in loss learning, and which has brought about a dramatic devolution in our curricula and pedagogy.

"The tests will remain in place until the national teachers’ unions take up the cause of ending them, until they call a national strike to do that. This would take real guts, real leadership. But until the teachers’ unions do that, until they institute a national action to end the testing, they are COMPLICIT IN CHILD ABUSE. I mean that. It’s not hyperbole. The testing is child abuse. It robs kids of large percentages of the time that they could be spending learning. And it robs them of coherent curricula and pedagogy. Instead, they get random exercises on random “skills” from the puerile Gates/Coleman “standards” bullet list and its progeny around the country.

"ENOUGH. It’s been an utter failure. It’s been devastating. Time to end it."


Northwest Allen County Schools board pauses vote on library conference attendance request

The last sentence in the quote below says it all. School Board members are afraid of what a keynote speaker might say. As they see it, it's their job as "thought police" to protect staff members from wrong thinking which they might bring back to students. The professionalism of the employee doesn't matter.

We agree that there are professional conferences that the School Board might question paying for. Still, with the recent history of this board, and the current "culture war" atmosphere in Indiana and around the nation, there's reason to believe that the refusal to pay for this conference might be based on political rather than educational reasons.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
The Northwest Allen County Schools board wants more information about a November library conference before voting on an employee’s request to attend.

The board tabled Terri Uchtman’s professional development proposal in a 3-1 vote Monday. Members said they wanted more information about the activities planned for the Indiana Library Federation’s annual conference in Indianapolis.

The agenda posted online includes information about some speakers and indicates details about the 12 breakout sessions will be available soon.

“We don’t even know what the content is going to be,” member Darren Vogt said. “For me to approve something where I don’t know what the content is, I’m going to vote no.”

...This isn’t the first time a professional development request has divided the board. A split vote in January 2022 denied staff from attending a conference about students’ emotional well-being. Members feared what a keynote speaker might say, particularly about critical race theory.


Fort Wayne Community Schools board OKs financing for $10 million in improvements

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Fort Wayne Community Schools’ plan to finance about $10 million in safety and accessibility improvements with general obligation bonds got the board’s final blessing Monday.

The elected leaders also agreed to hire two businesses to provide services for the accessibility projects, which will affect 11 buildings.

The pre-construction services contract with FCI Construction totals $28,125. The design services agreement with Martin Riley Architects and Engineers is estimated at $449,400.

The work will be funded with general obligation bonds – a common tool districts use to pay for projects outside the operations fund.

The accessibility upgrades have an overall construction budget of $6 million. They will affect Young Early Childhood Center; Adams, Harrison Hill, St. Joseph Central and Weisser Park Elementary Schools; Jefferson, Kekionga, Lane, Northwood and Portage Middle Schools; and the Center for Academic Success at Nebraska.

**Note: The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette is behind a paywall. Digital access, home delivery, or both are available with a subscription. Staying informed is essential; 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 on Mondays except after holiday weekends or as otherwise noted.


Monday, July 24, 2023

In Case You Missed It – July 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.

"Teachers are leaving the profession in droves, and they have been doing so for a while. Short-sighted leaders are attempting to put a Band-Aid on an open wound that has been festering for more than two decades, with quick fixes such as sign-on bonuses and reductions in licensure requirements." -- University of Indianapolis Professor of Secondary Education Sarah M. Denney in IndyStar 


Who Will Teach Indiana's Children?

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

The Republican supermajority in the Indiana General Assembly has been doing its best to kill public education in the state for over a decade. Is it any wonder that qualified teachers are leaving the profession and classroom positions are left unfilled?

From IndyStar
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.

The profession is being systematically dismantled by adding layers upon layers of bureaucratic red tape, with workload and working conditions being a major factor in teacher attrition. The Indiana Department of Education reported 1,675 open teaching positions in mid-August, when many school sessions had already begun.

North Carolina Follows Indiana's Lead

North Carolina: Vouchers Fund Schools That Discriminate Based on Religion, Disability, LGBT Status

Just like Indiana...
  • Divert money from public schools to private schools -- check!
  • Subsidize the private school education of wealthy students -- check!
Apparently, North Carolina has learned how to damage public schools by watching Indiana.

From Diane Ravitch
Justin Parmenter, a National Board Certified Teacher in North Carolina, is concerned that vouchers in his state will go to private and religious schools that discriminate when they choose their students. Republicans in the Legislature have a super-majority since a teacher elected as a Democrat—Tricia Cotham—betrayed her voters and flipped parties. Republicans can pass whatever they want without fear of a veto. Would you want your tax money to fund a school that would not accept your own child or one where teachers speak in tongues?

He wrote recently:

As this year’s legislative session hits the homestretch, public education advocates are waiting to see whether proposed changes to North Carolina’s school voucher system become law.

On the House side, brand new Republican Rep. Tricia Cotham sponsored House Bill 823, a bill which would expand funding for vouchers by hundreds of millions of dollars a year until the annual amount going to school vouchers eclipses $500 million in school year 2032-33 and every year thereafter.

In addition to massively increasing funding for vouchers, the proposed legislation eliminates income eligibility requirements so that any student in the state–regardless of financial need–may use public money to attend private schools. That means North Carolina taxpayers will be subsidizing the tuition of wealthy families whose students already attend private schools.
Idaho Joins the "Destroy Public School" Club

Idaho: How to Destroy Public Schools and Grab the Money: Connect the Dots

...and Idaho follows suit as well.

From Diane Ravitch
Idaho will spend $2.3 billion on K-12 public education in 2024. There are powerful out-of-state forces who want to get their hands on that money. Some are driven by profit, others by political ideology, religious beliefs, or a combination of interests. They all share one common goal: shift your public schools dollars to the private sector. Here are some of the dots to connect in the “privatizing public education” playbook:
  1. Make public schools look worse than other school choices. The legislature does this by continually underfunding public education. Schools can’t meet parental expectations, accommodate growth, or hire/retain experienced teachers when salaries are not competitive and buildings are falling apart. Idaho has a backlog of over $1 billion in K-12 school building maintenance and we’re still at or near the bottom in per-student investment, even after having a $2.1 billion surplus and a recent budget increase. This makes other school choices look more attractive by comparison.
  2. Undermine confidence in public schools...
  3. Hide the facts...
  4. Legislative intimidation. New laws are making classrooms a hostile workplace...
  5. Promote “school choice” and “education freedom.” ...
  6. Kill public education with vouchers (deceptively called Education Savings Accounts, or ESAs)....


Oklahoma: $39 Million in Federal Pandemic Funds Tilted Towards Private Schools, Not the Neediest

Oklahoma funnels much-needed school aid to private schools rather than where it's needed.

From Diane Ravitch
Two nonprofit news organizations in Oklahoma—The Frontier and Oklahoma Watch—teamed up to discover a misuse of federal funding by special interest groups. One such group was Betsy DeVos’s American Federation for Children. The state received $39 million to aid students during the pandemic.

Millions in federal relief money meant to help Oklahoma students during the pandemic was misspent at the hand of special interest groups who gave preferential treatment to private schoolers while hundreds of needy children missed out on financial aid, a state audit has found.

The Stay in School program provided tuition assistance of up to $6,500 for private school students whose families were financially affected by the pandemic.

An audit released Tuesday also confirmed flaws in how the state handled the Bridge the Gap Digital Wallet pandemic relief program. A joint investigation by The Frontier and Oklahoma Watch last year revealed how families spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in Bridge the Gap money on video game consoles, Christmas trees and grills.


North Carolina: Legislators Want to Declare That Charters Are Private Schools

These Charter schools want it both ways. They want public funding, and they want to be able to set their own rules without public oversight.

From Diane Ravitch
A North Carolina charter school has a rule requiring girls to wear skirts, as they did in the good old days. The courts said that if they are a public school, they can’t impose such a discriminatory rule. The school insisted it was “not a state actor” and not public. As matters stand, the school can’t force girls to wear skirts.

This is a dilemma. The national charter lobby has made a point of claiming that charters are public schools and are entitled to full public funding. They call themselves “public charter schools” to make the point. I have maintained for years that charter schools are not public schools because they don’t have an elected board, they are not accountable to anyone, they make up their own rules about admissions and discipline, etc.

But North Carolina legislators want to pass a law saying that charter schools are not public schools because the owner of the charter in question is a member of the rightwing elite. If he wants girls to wear skirts, they should wear skirts.


Fort Wayne Community Schools gives new teachers 'red-carpet moment' as orientation begins

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
The strip of red carpet Fort Wayne Community Schools unfurled for its new teachers didn’t go unnoticed Monday when the educators arrived for the first day of a two-week orientation.

As the new employees left the Parkview Mirro Center for lunch, administrator Ramona Coleman recalled the gasps she heard as staff and school board members welcomed the educators with hugs, high-fives, handshakes and fist bumps – whichever they preferred.

By adorning the entrance with a red carpet – something often used by Hollywood – the district wanted the teachers to recognize the value they are bringing to FWCS, Coleman said.

“Just like the movie stars have their Oscar moments, well, this was our red-carpet moment for our teachers,” said Coleman, assistant superintendent of human capital management. “I shared with them this morning that they could have chosen any other district. However, they chose us, and we’re very grateful that they made that choice.”
**Note: The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette is behind a paywall. Digital access, home delivery, or both are available with a subscription. Staying informed is essential; 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, July 17, 2023

In Case You Missed It – July 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.

“While we will continue to use state-mandated ILEARN results to inform our practices, SACS remains steadfast in our commitment to the growth and development of our students in ways that a single test is ill-equipped to measure.” -- SACS Superintendent Park Ginder


Test scores show 31% of Indiana students proficient in math, English

Once again we have proof that test scores measure family income: something we have known for decades. It's time to end the grading of schools (either officially or through the media) using test scores. The legislature will take this as permission to divert even more public money to religious and charter schools.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Standardized test results released Wednesday show just 31% of Hoosier students are at or above proficiency standards in both English and math.

Allen County ILEARN scores weren’t much better – and were even worse in Fort Wayne Community Schools, where only 18% of test takers were deemed proficient in both subjects, according to scores from the Indiana Department of Education.

Results were 30% in East Allen County Schools and 37% in each Northwest Allen County Schools and Southwest Allen County Schools.

...Local school officials stressed the assessment is one of many tools used to measure student achievement. They noted the scores help inform their practices.


Moms for Liberty [sic] continues their bullying of public schools, public school boards of education, and public educators. And now they've jumped into the "reading wars" even though they, as a group, know nothing about reading instruction. They reflect a selfishness persistent in America -- "I want what I can get for me, and by extension, my family, and to hell with what's good for society."

MFL Attacks Schools

Heather Cox Richardson: Moms for Liberty Signals the GOP’s Dumb Extremism

From Diane Ravitch
Moms for Liberty, which bills itself as a group protecting children, organized in 2021 to protest mask mandates in schools, then graduated on to crusade against the teaching of “critical race theory.” That, right there, was a giveaway because that panic was created by then-journalist Christopher Rufo, who has emerged as a leader of the U.S. attack on democracy.

Rufo embraces the illiberal democracy, or Christian democracy, of Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán, saying: “It’s time to clean house in America: remove the attorney general, lay siege to the universities, abolish the teachers’ unions, and overturn the school boards.” Radical right activists like Rufo believe they must capture the central institutions of the U.S. and get rid of the tenets of democracy—individual rights, academic freedom, free markets, separation of church and state, equality before the law—in order to save the country.

Because those central democratic values are taught in schools, the far right has focused on attacking schools from kindergartens to universities with the argument that they are places of “liberal indoctrination.” As a Moms for Liberty chapter in Indiana put on its first newspaper: “He alone, who OWNS the youth, GAINS the future.” While this quotation is often used by right-wing Christian groups to warn of what they claim liberal groups do, it is attributed to German dictator Adolf Hitler. Using it boomeranged on the Moms for Liberty group not least because it coincided with the popular “Shiny Happy People” documentary about the far-right religious Duggar family that showed the “grooming” and exploitation of children in that brand of evangelicalism.

Politicization of Reading Instruction

Learning to Read in Middle School

From Teacher in a Strange Land
I am fascinated by the increasing politicization—no other word for it—of reading instruction. How to best teach reading has always been contentious in the United States, from the 1950s look-say method featuring Dick and Jane, accused of letting Ivan slip ahead of us in the space race, right up until last week, when Moms for Liberty jumped into the Faux Science of Reading (FSoR) fray.

It’s unclear why Moms for Liberty has aligned itself with the phonics-forward FSoR movement. I get that white parents, accustomed to being first in line for educational goodies, feel threatened when they’re told that other children may be having their needs met first. I know racism is a thread that has run through the entire history of public education in America. I also know that many ordinary citizens feel bewildered and angered by rapidly changing social beliefs and customs around acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community.

A friend of my says you can measure social progress by observing who can be beat up on Saturday night without consequences—Wives and girlfriends? Ethnic minorities? Gentle souls like Matthew Shepherd and Elijah McLain? I hate living in a country where threats align with archaic ideas about who’s in charge of our customs and institutions, including public schools. I hate it, but I understand why it happens.

What I do NOT understand is why a far-right, power-grabbing, deep-pocket-funded group of purported “concerned moms” are choosing to endorse One Right Way to learn the skill of reading.

Indoctrination from the Right

Stephen Owens: What Home Schooling Christians Fear

One persistent right-wing trope is that public schools "indoctrinate" children. Here we read about how the indoctrination is coming from the right wing.

From Diane Ravitch, quoting Stephen Owens
The Washington Post had an article that feels tailor-made to produce schadenfreude in progressive circles. Titled The revolt of the Christian home-schoolers, the reporter detailed the experiences of a couple that chose to send their kids to public school after rethinking their own upbringing in closed, homeschool Christian communities. White evangelical readers will not be shocked by most of what’s written, as I believe most of us worshipped next to families that tsk-tsked mundane cultural experiences such as Halloween, dating, or public education.

Some folks almost gleefully shared the summary quote from the father, Aaron Beall: “People who think the public schools are indoctrinating don’t know what indoctrination is. We were indoctrinated.” After reading the piece I’m struck by my own ignorance of how many people’s experience with homeschooling is similar to the Beall’s. I’ve encountered dozens of (current and former) homeschool families in the churches I attended, the private school where I worked, and even in the real world! (That last part is a joke—homeschooled children become adults and usually don’t want to be labeled with the mean stereotypes of the schooling any more than those people who went to private or public school). The families I’ve encountered fall on a spectrum ranging from “act typical of any public/private school people” to “believed Song of Solomon was smut” but I’ve yet to meet anyone as extreme in their beliefs as who this article is describing.


House Republicans Propose Deep Cuts to Education, Health, Welfare Programs

Republicans in legislatures across the nation continue to complain about how poor America's public education is...and then do their best to make sure that public education is underfunded. We don't's their future, too. Perhaps the answer lies in the next article, under the title, "HOW TO BUY A LEGISLATOR."

From Diane Ravitch
House Appropriations Committee Republicans today released the draft fiscal year 2024 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies funding bill, which will be considered in subcommittee tomorrow. The legislation is an assault on education and job training, decimates research funding, and abandons ongoing public health crises.

For 2024, the bill provides $163.0 billion, a cut of $63.8 billion – 28 percent – below 2023. This year’s Republican allocation was the lowest for the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies bill since 2008. The legislation:
  • Decimates support for children in K-12 elementary schools and early childhood education.
  • Abandons college students and low-income workers trying to improve their lives through higher education or job training.
  • Stifles lifesaving biomedical innovation by cutting funding for cancer research, mental health research, and neurological research, and by slashing funding for advanced research projects intended to develop new cures and therapies.
  • Surrenders to ongoing public health crises in mental health, opioid use, HIV/AIDS, and health disparities.
  • Harms women’s health by cutting programs that support maternal and child health, eliminating programs that provide access to health services and contraception, and adding numerous partisan and poison pill riders related to abortion and reproductive health.
“When 161 House Republicans voted earlier this year to eliminate all K-12 funding at the Department of Education, I was horrified, but that was just the beginning. Now, in the midst of a teacher shortage, they have introduced a bill that would kick 220,000 teachers from classrooms. We are witnessing a widespread attack on public education that should horrify all of us” Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-03) said. “Regardless of age or stage in life, this bill means you cannot count on government for any help. It limits women’s access to abortion while stripping maternal health services and making diapers more expensive. It decimates access to preschool, education, and job training. People can only hope they do not get cancer or need mental health services—you will not find support from House Republicans. These awful cuts will make it very hard for people and should not even be considered by this committee.”
Key provisions included in the draft fiscal year 2024 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies bill are below. The text of the draft bill is here. The subcommittee markup will be webcast live and linked on the House Committee on Appropriations website.


Lobbyists spent $20.7 million during session. Here’s which groups spent the most.

One correction we would make to this article. The authors state that voucher funding allows Indiana students to "use state money to attend the school of their choice." The truth is that voucher schools can choose the students they allow through their doors. Public schools accept all children. Private schools are allowed to discriminate.

From State Affairs: Indiana
Lawmakers approved a massive expansion of the state-funded voucher system, enabling roughly 97% of Indiana students to use state money to attend the school of their choice. Likewise, charter schools will receive millions of dollars in future years, in some cases siphoning away money historically dedicated to traditional public schools.

One clue as to why school choice advocates were successful this year could be in the data compiled and recently released by the Indiana Lobby Registration Commission showing how much each lobbyist spent trying to persuade lawmakers between Nov. 1, 2022, through April 30, 2023 — the period covering the most recent legislative session.

Hoosiers for Quality Education, a school choice advocacy group, and its affiliate reported spending a combined $433,754 on lobbying over the course of six months, hundreds of thousands more than any organization spent lobbying for their own interests. Most of that stemmed from spending on a massive public-facing advertising campaign arguing that charter school students were being unfairly underfunded.
**Note: The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette is behind a paywall. Digital access, home delivery, or both are available with a subscription. Staying informed is essential; 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, July 10, 2023

In Case You Missed It – July 10, 2023

Here are links to the last two 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.

"The best choice is your local public school. It welcomes everyone. It unifies community. It is the glue of democracy." -- Diane Ravitch

July 1 was Diane Ravitch's 85th birthday.


U.S. Supreme Court Bans Affirmative Action in College Admissions. Will It Matter?

From Diane Ravitch
In a decision handed down today, the United States Supreme Court banned the use of race-based affirmative action in college admissions. The six conservative justices voted for the decision, the three moderate-liberal justices voted against it.

The media coverage stresses the likelihood that entrants to elite universities will become more Asian and more white, because of reliance on standardized tests, where those two groups typically have higher scores.

But we do not yet know how much it matters to eliminate official policies of affirmative action.


Supreme Court Declines to Rule on Whether Charter Schools Are Public or Private

From Diane Ravitch
Matt Barnum, writing in Chalkbeat, reports that the U.S. Supreme Court declined today to rule on whether charter schools are public or private.

The case at hand was a charter school in North Carolina that required girls to wear certain types of clothing. If the school were deemed “public,” its rule would be considered discriminatory. If it were deemed “private,” the school could write its own rules about student dress.

So the question remains open, and the Court of Appeals ruling that the school could not discriminate remains in place.


Politico: Republicans Flock to “Moms for Liberty” Event

From Diane Ravitch
Politico reported on the rising significance of “Moms for Liberty” among leading Republicans. “Moms” are known for their advocacy of censorship, book banning, and hatred for public schools.

BATTLE OF THE MOMS — Moms for Liberty is having a busy month...

How extremists ‘won by losing’

From School Matters
The John Birch Society was “the original Moms for Liberty,” as the headline on a recent episode of “Have You Heard” podcast puts it. Like the contemporary extremist group, it specialized in far-right rhetoric, conspiracy theories and bullying tactics. It appealed to a small but passionate group of true believers.

But there’s one big difference. The Birch Society, in its heyday of the late 1950s and ‘60s, was almost universally considered a fringe group. The news media marginalized it. Popular entertainers mocked it. Republicans, even many conservative Republicans, kept their distance.

Today, by contrast, Republican officeholders and candidates trip over themselves to appeal to Moms for Liberty and similar groups, like Indiana-based Purple for Parents. Indiana legislators fell in line with their agenda of attacking so-called critical race theory, diversity education, and LGBTQ+ youth. Lawmakers banned state funding for Indiana University’s Kinsey Institute based on disproven right-wing claims.


Indiana: More Laws to Stifle Freedom of Thought and Democracy

From Diane Ravitch
These are some of the new Indiana laws that will take effect on Saturday. [Indiana is run by the GOP and they have NO respect for public schools or teachers.] Gary is a poverty area and they cannot vote for their school board members. 87% of Hoosier children attend public schools and they are continuously underfunded.

Book bans — Every public school board and charter school governing body is required to establish a procedure for the parent of any student, or any person residing in the school district, to request the removal of library materials deemed “obscene” or “harmful to minors.” School districts must also post a list of the complete holdings of its school libraries on each school’s website and provide a printed copy of the library catalogue to any individual upon request. (HEA 1447)

Charter schools...

Gary schools...


New Indiana education dashboard data sheds light on student performance, teacher retention

From Indiana Capital Chronicle
An updated education data dashboard released this month by the Fairbanks Foundation shows declining teacher retention across Indiana, as well as increases to student suspensions and expulsions, among other trends. For the first time, the Community Data Snapshot additionally displays academic outcomes and workforce readiness information for Marion County on a school-by-school basis. Users can then sort that data by race, ethnicity and family economic status and other characteristics. The updated dashboard allows users to explore data by school corporation and compare metrics across school types, including by each district, public charter, Innovation Network, and private school — a feature not available through other online dashboards.

Rcharvet: How I Taught My Students to Love Reading

From Diane Ravitch
Rcharvet, a retired teacher and regular commenter here, explains how the pedagogy of the Common Core taught his students to dislike reading. They were supposed to read excerpts of books, not a complete book. They were expected to analyze the meaning of words and sentences instead of following the narrative of the story. Mr. Charvet became a subversive. He explains here.
...When I taught reading, I would read out loud so kids would HEAR the characters voices (yes I did the voices as well). For struggling readers they typically move through a sentence like they are walking on glass. But, we worked together.

One book that we started was “The Pig Man.” It started out slow (geez I was slow) but started liking the book to the point kids were saying, “Can we read The Pig Man and find out what happened?” They felt the words. They connected to the characters. We could ask questions like, “If you were Tommy what would you do in this case? What should the Pig Man do about the broken statue?” Then because I was making a connection to the book and trying to follow the curriculum I was deemed “moving too slow” and the department head said, “Just collect all the books and move on.”

What did I know?

Tom Ultican: “The Right to Read” is Horse Manure

Ultican shows the graphs of NAEP scores over the past thirty years: reading scores have been unchanged for 30 years. The rhetoric about “the crisis in reading” is a hoax.

From Diane Ravitch
In this illuminating post, Ultican analyzes a documentary called “The Right to Read,” which he compares to the propaganda film “Waiting for Superman.” Behind the film, he writes, is the whole apparatus of the corporate reform movement, armed with derogatory claims about public schools and a simplistic cure for literacy.

He begins:
The new 80-minute video “The Right to Read”was created in the spirit of “Waiting for Superman.” It uses false data interpretations to make phony claims about a non-existent reading crisis. Oakland’s NAACP 2nd Vice President Kareem Weaver narrates the film. Weaver is a full throated advocate for the Science of Reading (SoR) and has many connections with oligarch financed education agendas...

...One of the first media interviews about “The Right to Read” appeared on KTVX channel 4 in Salt Lake City. Ben Heuston from the Waterford Institute answered questions about the new film and the supposed “reading crisis” in American public schools. Heuston who has a PhD in psychology from Brigham Young University claimed that two-thirds of primary grade students in America read below grade level. That is a lie. He is conflating proficiency in reading on the National Assessment of Education Performance (NAEP) with grade level and should know better.


Michigan Passes Historic Increases for Education

From Diane Ravitch
It’s amazing to see what a state education budget can look like when you have pro-education legislators in charge–and teachers chairing the House and Senate Education Committees and the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on PreK-12.

The budget includes:

•universal school meals

•foundation allowance increase of 5% — the largest in state history

•fully funded special education programs

•expanded Pre-K programs

•student teacher stipends for K-12

...Budgets are about more than dollars—they are moral documents; and in Michigan we are showing that we value our children, our families, and our future...


John Thompson: The Misinterpretation of NAEP Data

From Diane Ravitch
John Thompson writes here about the negative consequences of shallow reporting on NAEP data. Reporters are sensitive to whether scores are up or down, but tend to ignore contextual factors that may play a role in student performance.

He writes:

Despite the problems with education metrics, the decline in the nation’s 2022 math and reading scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) test is worrisome – if we look at the big picture.

As Diane Ravitch explained, the decline in scores during the pandemic was a “duh” moment. Rather than publishing panicky headlines, these predictable drops in scores should be seen in the broader context of the decade of declines which followed the implementation of rushed and simplistic corporate school reforms. And, as we should have done previously, we must acknowledge what reformers should have previously understood – meaningful increases in learning require inter-connected, holistic team efforts, as opposed to metric-driven instructional shortcuts.

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, July 3, 2023

In Case You Missed It — July 3, 2023

NEIFPE is off this week. We'll be back with more updates on July 20, 2023. Thanks for supporting Public Education.