Monday, August 28, 2023

In Case You Missed It – August 28, 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 future of the United States depends on an educated and empathetic citizenry. It requires us to share a sense of common purpose and recognize our common humanity. It requires an environment that allows every child to thrive and see themselves included in the American story. It requires quality public education. Full stop.

"A historic battle to save this institution and the very idea of good public schools has been underway for some time. It is now intensifying. Attention must be paid." -- Dan Rather and Elliot Kirschner in The Battle To Save Public Education


Dan Rather and Elliott Kirschner: The War to Destroy Public Education

NEIFPE was formed in 2012 to help support and defend public education in northeastern Indiana. Our Mission Statement (see the rh column on our full blog page) states our opposition to privatization which has increased over the last couple of decades through the actions of the Indiana General Assembly.

It may sound paranoid, but it's hard to watch what's happening and not think that the goal is the destruction of public education.

From Diane Ravitch
Dan Rather and Elliot Kirschner wrote in their blog Steady about the importance of saving public education from the forces trying to destroy and privatize it. They remind us and the general public that public schools unite us; privatization is inherently divisive. It is ironic that the red states are implementing voucher plans as the evidence about the failure of vouchers and the null effects of charter schools grows stronger...

It is back to school. Students of all ages flock to campuses and classrooms. Fleeting memories of summer are quickly replaced by tests and textbooks.
Getting into the swing of a new semester has always included an adjustment period, but this is a particularly difficult time for many of our nation’s students and their parents, guardians, teachers, and others entrusted with the education of young minds.

...Few institutions in American life are as essential to the continuation of our democracy as the public schools. In a time of ascendent autocracy, attacks on our schools — how they are run, what they teach, what books they have in their libraries — are among the most pernicious, pathetic, and painful assaults on the health of our nation.

Another Day, Another Voucher Study…

One way the Indiana legislature is damaging public education is by diverting public funds meant for public schools into the pockets of private/parochial and charter school operators. We've mentioned before on this page that the state constitution mandates the General Assembly to support only one school system...the public one. Our legislature is funding three school systems with the money meant for one...and it's not helping our students.

In 2011, when then Governor Mitch Daniels pushed his voucher plan through the legislature, the call was to help poor kids "escape" from "failing schools" (defined as schools with low test scores). Now that we know charters and private schools don't do any better job of educating children -- the main problem is poverty -- the talking points have changed to focus on "choice."

Yet the "choice" is with the school, not the parents. Any private school in Indiana can refuse to allow your child to attend if their test scores are too low, if their parents don't conform to their ideal, if you can't afford to provide transportation, if the students themselves don't conform, or any other reason they can drum up to ensure that only the "right kind" of students attend their school. Public schools accept all students.

From Sheila Kennedy
Okay–I know it’s just one more time beating that horse (an animal quite probably dead by now…), but I can’t resist. Brookings has just issued yet another study confirming the educational downsides of voucher programs.

The study was prompted by the recent expansion of voucher programs and “education savings accounts,” (ESAs) which are functionally the same thing–the use of public money to allow parents to send their children to private schools. That expansion has occurred primarily in states that voted for Trump in 2020, which should be a clue that these programs are based on ideology; their proponents simply ignore that pesky inconvenient thing called evidence.

...This study confirms a number of the findings of previous research: for example, that after expansion of a voucher program or implementation of an ESA, pop-up schools immediately appear, many of which will close rather quickly, and that existing private schools raise their tuition.

The study notes that a decade of research has confirmed that vouchers reduce student academic achievement. Brookings cites studies from Louisiana and Indiana, among others, that found quite substantial declines in student test scores. (Indiana’s pathetic legislature simply ignored the fact that Indiana’s voucher program had demonstrably failed to perform as promised. In its recent session, the legislature made the program available to virtually all of Indiana’s schoolchildren, and is now promoting it heavily.)


Where Have School Libraries Gone?

Steven Singer makes the case for saving school libraries.

From Gadfly on the Wall Blog
The School Library Journal and the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reported:
“Between the 1999–2000 and 2015–16 school years, the NCES reports that the profession lost the equivalent of more than 10,000 full-time school librarian positions nationwide. That translates to a 19 percent drop in the workforce, from 53,659 to 43,367. The most rapid declines happened from 2009–10 to 2013–14. The decline slowed from then to 2014–15; but resumed larger losses in 2015–16, the latest data available.”
We see school libraries being closed in Philadelphia, Boston, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, etc. A 2016 report in The Guardian indicates how serious the problem is worldwide:
“Libraries should be a right in schools. We must give pupils the opportunity to go to a quiet place to do extra study or to choose a book to read. It is particularly important to children from deprived areas. Opening a library door helps children open their mind. For many, books are too expensive and a library allows students to borrow them.”
The problems is often one of priorities. Districts would rather spend billions on technology than libraries. However, both are important. Schools should not have to choose. They should make more diligent decisions about which technologies are most essential instead of buying every new techno-fad with huge promises and no track record.


Robinson's professionalism drew the praise of her peers – and her parent

Karen Francisco who now lives in Littleton, Colorado, retired as editorial page editor of The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette in 2021. In this op-ed she remembers former Fort Wayne Community Schools superintendent, Wendy Robinson who died last week. (The full article is available to subscribers of the Journal Gazette.)

By Karen Francisco in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
One of the first challenges Wendy Robinson faced when she was appointed superintendent of Fort Wayne Community Schools came from a school board member who didn’t like the way the district taught reading.

At-large member Kurt Walborn’s criticism of the reading curriculum was well intentioned, of course. His young son, diagnosed with dyslexia, had struggled to read until Walborn sought out a new approach. The frustrated father ran for school board and became a passionate advocate for the one-on-one tutoring technique he wanted implemented at FWCS.

Today, as school boards across the nation are disrupted by right-wing members intent on banning books, challenging public health mandates and unearthing anything that smacks of social-emotional learning, a board member targeting reading instruction seems almost quaint. But it was in writing the story about the standoff between the new superintendent and Walborn that I developed a true appreciation for Robinson’s commitment to students.

While sympathetic to Walborn’s concerns, she insisted that the district would not drop the investment and promise of its comprehensive literacy program for a single, focused reading instruction method.

“Just as he thinks Reading Recovery doesn’t work for all kids, I feel his program won’t work for all students,” she said at the time. “I’m not out to prove I’m right and he’s wrong. Every year, we are going to do our research. We can’t stay stuck in the same methods if they don’t work.”


The science that’s missing from science of reading laws

Background knowledge is crucial to comprehension. Without comprehension, children aren’t really reading no matter how well they can use phonics to sound out words.

From Chalkbeat*
In the long-running reading wars, proponents of phonics have won.

States across the country, both liberal and conservative, are passing laws designed to change the way students are taught to read in a way that is more aligned with the science of reading.

...But there has been much less attention paid to another critical component of reading: background knowledge. A significant body of research suggests students are better able to comprehend what they read when they start with some understanding of the topic they’re reading about. This has led some academics, educators, and journalists to call for intentional efforts to build young children’s knowledge in important areas like science and social studies. Some school districts and teachers have begun integrating this into reading instruction.
*Note: Financial sponsors of Chalkbeat include pro-privatization foundations and individuals such as Bloomberg Philanthropies, Gates Family Foundation, The Walton Family Foundation, and others.

**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. The next posting of In Case You Missed It will be on September 11, 2023. Thank you for your support of public education.


Monday, August 21, 2023

In Case You Missed It – August 21, 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.

"Shifting blame away from the for-profit healthcare system and the government’s response to the coronavirus is part of what makes the learning loss narrative so valuable to politicians who have no interest in challenging existing patterns of wealth and power. It is a narrative meant to distract the public and discipline teachers. Here’s the recipe: 1. Establish that closing schools hurt students using a narrow measure like test scores; 2. Blame closure of schools on teacher unions rather than a deadly pandemic; 3. Demand schools and teachers help students “regain academic ground lost during the pandemic” — and fast; 4. Use post-return-to-normal test scores to argue that teachers and schools are “failing”; 5. Implement “teacher-proof” (top-down, standardized, even scripted) curriculum or, more insidiously, argue for policies that will mean an end to public schools altogether." -- From Rethinking Schools: The “Learning Loss” Trap"


New IREAD-3 scores show no significant progress among Indiana’s third graders on 2023 exams

This article explains how Indiana's reading test scores were declining even before the pandemic and the disparity in scores achieved by different groups of children. As you read the original article, note that the author equates "test scores" with "literacy."

Also note that this article could have been titled, "2023 IREAD-3 scores show slight improvement over 2022." Even "friendly" media has a tendency to cover education negatively. 

From the Indiana Capital Chronicle
One in five Hoosier third graders continue to struggle with foundational reading skills, according to new standardized test results released Wednesday.

Data from the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) shows 81.9% out of the roughly 82,000 third graders at public and private schools in Indiana passed the 2023 Indiana Reading Evaluation and Determination, also called the IREAD-3 test. Tests were administered statewide this spring and summer.

The results are nearly stagnant from the last academic year, when 81.6% of students’ scores indicated reading mastery. The state education department’s goal is that 95% of students in third grade can read proficiently by 2027. As of this spring, 242 schools have reached that goal — an increase from 210 schools a year ago.

Latest results indicate Indiana’s younger students also still lag behind pre-pandemic reading fluency.

In response to the outcry about stagnant test scores, Indiana teacher, Justin Oakley, posted the following at Indiana Educators United, a private Facebook Group [note: edited for clarity and length].
Just some thoughts [about the] Indiana politicians going on news and or social media about "abysmal" 3rd grade reading scores...and "loss of learning/reading scores" in [the] past decade

Let's recap...

Who's been in COMPLETE CONTROL OF ALL LAWS AND POLICY in Indiana since 2011? Billions of dollars passed out [and] AWAY from public schools? (recently, a 740% increase...making $220,000+ to qualify for vouchers to private/religious/etc schools) (the federal poverty or qualifications for free/reduced lunch is family making $28,000) That seems pretty obnoxiously ONE SIDED...?

Also, with a straight face follow along with here: the same foaming at the mouth, wild eyed , snarling toxic culture warriors [are] pushing book bans and removing books. Quick question: can you simultaneously be mad at reading levels...[and] ban books? Can we say teachers ain't teaching your kid to read while you're pushing to remove books in same, sane, universe of consciousness? Or, am I missing something here coherent?

...the majority of our political leaders couldn't pass ILEARN or 8th grade Math and Language Arts testing. (Or, [get a] passing grade on Civics testing) OR better yet, make it one full day teaching in a local school they represent.

...Thanks to the hardworking teachers and education staff that have to listen to this insanity daily and still do a job!!!!!! *And, care about kids.


Who’s Indoctrinating?

"It's only indoctrination if I don't agree with it. Otherwise, it's fact."

From Sheila Kennedy
There’s a psychological mechanism called “projection,” — it’s when people accuse others of faults they themselves harbor. Several commenters to this blog have noted that the GOP routinely engages in projection.

Ron DeSantis’ Florida just shot down any lingering doubts about the accuracy of that observation.

Over the past few years, Republican culture warriors have become positively hysterical over the “indoctrination” of students by public schools and universities. To some extent, they’re right–after all, education imparts facts and–at best– enables critical thinking. A very expansive definition of “indoctrination” might stretch to include the broadening of a student’s frame of reference.

On the other hand, I have previously argued–and firmly believe– that what really upsets Republicans is the lack of indoctrination–the failure of educators to convey their preferred, albeit distorted, versions of history and science.


Pronouns law a ‘stunning waste of time’

In his School Matters blog, Steve Hinnefeld wonders whether the Republicans in the Indiana General Assembly don't know what they're doing or don't care. Perhaps it's both.

From School Matters
...why would Indiana legislators come up with a regulation that will cause extra work and confusion at the start of the academic year. Either they don’t know what they’re doing, or they don’t care.

The regulation comes from House Enrolled Act 1608, approved by lawmakers and signed by Gov. Eric Holcomb in the spring. Dubbed the “pronouns law,” it requires schools to notify a parent within five days if their child asks to be called by a different name or pronoun at school.

The intent is clear. Legislators wanted to be sure parents were informed if their child adopted a different gender identity at school. It’s part of their philosophy of supporting “parents’ rights.”

But they backed away from explicitly targeting gender identity, maybe because it would have invited a lawsuit, and made the law much broader. It says at least one parent must be notified if a student asks to change their name or the “pronoun, title, or word to identify the student” at school.

It would appear to require notification if, for example, a student named William asks to be called Will. That’s how many schools seem to be interpreting it: Any deviation from the name on enrollment records calls for telling a parent. In a large school, that’s likely to be dozens, maybe hundreds, of notifications.

The Dallas Miracle! Superintendent Wants Joy in the Classroom, Not Test Prep!

It's nice to read about a superintendent who understands that children are more than test scores.

From Diane Ravitch
During her state of the district address last May, superintendent Stephanie Elizalde said the district would soon eschew the numerous tests designed to find out whether students were ready for the STAAR in favor of, as she put it, more “joy” in the classroom.

In last year’s address, she declared teaching to the test was “officially dead,” and added that some schools were testing as frequently as every few weeks in preparation for the STAAR test, and doing classwork in between those assessments that also practiced STAAR strategy.

“How about we put them all together and we have a huge bonfire?” she said.


Former, longtime FWCS superintendent Wendy Robinson dies

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Wendy Robinson, whose career with Fort Wayne Community Schools spanned nearly 50 years, died Friday.

Robinson retired in June 2020, at age 69, as superintendent of FWCS, which this month welcomed nearly 30,000 students back to classrooms.

Julie Hollingsworth, an FWCS board member and former educator in the district, said Robinson was incredibly smart and politically savvy. She was always conscious of the district’s reputation.

“We had a very respectful relationship,” Hollingsworth said Friday. “She had a good sense of humor, and I enjoyed working with her as a colleague.”

Robinson’s impact at FWCS, Hollingsworth added, said a lot about her work ethic and dedication.

...FWCS released a statement saying the district was saddened to hear of Robinson’s death.

“Dr. Robinson was a lifelong advocate for children, and supporting public education was her passion. She truly believed educating all children to high standards was the moral purpose of all educators. She had high expectations for the employees of Fort Wayne Community Schools – no matter the position – because every staff member had a role to play in students’ lives,” the statement said.

Robinson was with FWCS for 47 years, starting as an elementary teacher.
Dr. Wendy Robinson visits an FWCS classroom.

**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, August 14, 2023

In Case You Missed It – August 14, 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.

"Because America’s schools are so highly segregated by income, race, and ethnicity, problems related to poverty occur simultaneously, with greater frequency, and act cumulatively in schools serving disadvantaged communities. These schools therefore face significantly greater challenges than schools serving wealthier children, and their limited resources are often overwhelmed. Efforts to improve educational outcomes in these schools, attempting to drive change through test-based accountability, are thus unlikely to succeed unless accompanied by policies to address the OSFs that negatively affect large numbers of our nations’ students. Poverty limits student potential; inputs to schools affect outputs from them." -- David Berliner in Poverty and Potential: Out-of-School Factors and School Success, March 2009.


Enough Tinkering. To Improve Education for All, Attack Inequity Not Teachers or Public Schools

Poverty effects student achievement. The 2009 report by David Berliner, Poverty and Potential: Out-of-School Factors and School Success, listed a number of "out of school factors" associated with poverty that had an impact on school achievement.

In 2007, Education Policy Researcher Gerald Bracey wrote, "When people have said 'poverty is no excuse,' my response has been, 'Yes, you're right. Poverty is not an excuse. It's a condition. It's like gravity. Gravity affects everything you do on the planet. So does poverty.'"

More than twelve million American children live in poverty. No amount of tinkering with charter schools, vouchers, testing, or any other privatization scheme will help improve students achievement until we address the underlying problem.

Government support for charter schools and vouchers fosters an out-for-yourself destiny rather than one of mutual benefit. Personal choice as a governing principle for an education system promotes escape from a network of mutuality, setting people against one another in a divisive winner-and-loser competition.

Only an unequivocal explicit rejection of the ideology of privatization will stop the erosion of democracy and the advance of inequity, resegregation, and divisiveness. More transparency and the banning of for-profit charter schools are insufficient. Neither is evidence of less-than-stellar achievement results for charter schools and voucher-funded private schools. Fewer, but still consequential, state-level tests, are not enough. None of those measures will turn around the wrong turn of bipartisan education policy of the last several decades because they all fail to challenge and replace underlying inequitable anti-democratic principles


Teach for America Promised to Fix the Teacher Exodus Before Anyone Even Noticed There Was One. Now It’s Choking on Its Own Failure

It turns out that five weeks of training isn't enough training for someone to become a competent teacher.

From Steven Singer at Gadfly on the Wall Blog
Teach for America (TFA) was a solution to a problem it helped create.

Educators have been leaving the profession for decades due to poor salary, poor working conditions, heavy expectations and lack of tools or respect.

So Wendy Kopp, when in Princeton, created a program to fast track non-education majors into the classroom where they would teach for a few years and then enter the private sector as “experts” to drive public policy.

These college graduates would take a five week crash course in education and commit to at least two years in the classroom thereby filling any vacant teaching positions.

Surprise! It didn’t work.

In fact, it made things worse. Apparently deprofessionalizing education isn’t an incentive to dive into the field.

‘We’re under attack’: Public school officials alarmed over rise of school vouchers that will have biggest year ever

Public schools cannot choose their students. Private schools can. Public schools must report to the state and account for every penny they get in tax money. Private schools don't have to.

...Public schools must account for every penny.

“In the voucher program, no dollars are accounted for,” Downs said. “Each district in Indiana is governed by a school board that must publicly report every expense.”

With the religious schools, it’s anyone’s guess where the money is spent, although some have noted large scale building programs that came about after the voucher program was introduced.

“If you get federal dollars for say, special education. Those dollars are supposed to support your existing programs you are legally responsible to provide. It cannot supplant. What that means is you can’t take that money, pay for things you’re already paying for and use that money somewhere else,” Downs explains.

“So if we’re going to look at how these religious organizations or private schools are using tax dollars, it’s important to know we need to be able to see if those dollars are supplanting dollars that are going to something else that taxpayers may not be in favor of.

“The solution is anybody who receives these dollars needs to open up their records and show us how their money is being used like any school district. Every school district has monthly meeting where every penny is reported in an open board meeting and the board has to vote to approve and accept those expenses,” Downs said.

“And that is every expense.”


"There's some raunchiness": Florida crackdown on books comes for Shakespeare

From Salon
...rather than read titles like "Romeo and Juliet" or "Macbeth" in full, students will be assigned excerpts from the works. District officials stated that students seeking to read the classics in full may do so if they obtain copies; however, teachers have been cautioned to heed the excerpt-only guidelines, as they could face parent complaints or disciplinary action for going against them.

The decision was made "in consideration of the law," according to school district spokeswoman Tanya Arja. "There's some raunchiness in Shakespeare. Because that's what sold tickets during his time," said Joseph Cool, a reading teacher at Gaither High School. "I think the rest of the nation — no, the world, is laughing us," he added. "Taking Shakespeare in its entirety out because the relationship between Romeo and Juliet is somehow exploiting minors is just absurd." When asked by the Tampa Bay Times if he felt students could glean the same experience from reading play excerpts as one might from the full works, Cool replied, "absolutely not."

The Real Agenda of Moms for Liberty

From The Nation education officials from four states—Florida, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and South Carolina—took the stage with Moms for Liberty cofounder Tiffany Justice. Their goal seemed to be to disparage public schools, painting a picture of a “literacy crisis” that they blamed on teachers’ unions and the encroachment into the classroom of “woke nonsense.” “These are folks that want to destroy our society; they want to destroy your family, and they want to destroy America as we know it,”


Gary Rubinstein: Is the Math Taught in School Useful? No.

From Diane Ravitch
Part of my evolution in thinking about these ideas comes from watching my own kids who are now 15 and 12 go through the standard math curriculum. They have had decent teachers throughout the years and have always gotten 4s on the New York State tests so you would think that I’m thrilled but when I look at the things that they learned (because they were part of the curriculum) and the things that they have not learned (because they were not part of the curriculum) it frustrates me. Many parents who are not math teachers might feel the same way when they look at what their children are learning in math but they don’t dare question it. It reminds me of The Emperor’s New Clothes, nobody wants to seem like they aren’t smart enough to know why we have to learn how to multiply mixed numbers with different denominators. But as a math teacher who thinks about things like ‘what is the goal in learning this concept?’, ‘Is this concept needed to learn a more difficult concept?’, ‘Does this topic provide opportunity for the students to have ‘aha’ insights for themselves?’, I am constantly critiquing what I see my children learning about. And within my own teaching I am always trying to teach whatever topics are in the curriculum in a way that gives my own students an experience where they get to use their reasoning skills and not just blindly follow an algorithm.


Celebrating public schools at the start of a new year

ISTA (Indiana State Teachers Association) President, Keith Gambill opens the new school year.

From Indiana Capital Chronicle
Our dedicated public school educators work tirelessly to provide an unparalleled educational experience for every child, regardless of their background, ZIP code or circumstances. They’re not just conveyors of knowledge; they’re the architects of inspiration. They ignite the flames of curiosity, encouraging our students to ask questions, challenge assumptions, and explore the world around them. By cultivating critical thinking and problem-solving skills, our educators equip our children with the tools they need to succeed.

Beyond academics, our public schools are vibrant communities that celebrate diversity and promote inclusivity. In the classroom, students from various backgrounds come together, learning side by side, fostering empathy, and developing a deeper understanding of one another. These interactions lay the foundation for a future where compassion and cooperation transcend social barriers, creating a more united Indiana.

As we embrace the joy of returning to school, it’s essential to recognize that education goes beyond the classroom. Our schools play a pivotal role in nurturing the physical and emotional well-being of our students. School-based programs ensure that children have access to nutritious meals, mental health support, and a safe haven where they can flourish.


Fort Wayne Community Schools staff celebrates new academic year

Fort Wayne Community Schools starts a new year.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Standing at Parkview Field’s home plate, Rhonda Eitsert faced her Fort Wayne Community Schools co-workers Tuesday and described her childhood fraught with upheaval and insecurity.

More than 4,000 employees – who filled the stands from third base to first base – listened to Eitsert and others during a morning event celebrating the start of the new academic year.

...Eitsert, a nutrition services dietitian, told the crowd she spent two years in foster care. During her middle school years, she lived in seven homes, attended six schools and acted like a fool in class as a survival strategy.

She said she was fortunate to have educators, including eighth grade science teacher Roy Williams, who challenged her to “dig deep” and find her own path. Williams told her he knew she could be successful and that he would be proud of her if she could achieve that potential in his class – a message that resonated with her.

Eitsert would later become the first person in her family to graduate from college, and she would raise three college-educated children. She shared her story to remind educators how they can affect students.

“It’s a testament to a teacher with a superpower – the power to influence a life,” Eitsert said. “While you may not remember all of your students, many of them will remember you. You never know when you might become someone’s Mr. Williams, leaving an indelible mark on their journey.”


School resource officers offer more than policing for local schools

Local school resource officers bring more than just a badge to their schools.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
“I believe that it takes a village to raise a child and you can count me as being part of your village,” the Allen County Sheriff’s Department officer said in describing his approach with Southwest Allen County School students. His strategy includes mentoring and coaching.

Kirkland said he wants to pay forward the support he had from school resource officers growing up.

“There was a resource officer in my path – multiple resource officers actually, men and women in law enforcement – that were able to guide and mentor me,” he said. “I just want to do the same for others.”

The Allen County Sheriff’s Department employs 14 school resource officers who are assigned throughout the county. The Fort Wayne Police Department places school resource officers across six city middle schools.

**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, August 7, 2023

In Case You Missed It – August 7, 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.

"Parents who have children in public schools are satisfied with them, based on their experience. But the general public swallows the negative narrative spewed by the mainstream media and rightwing politicians and thus has a sour view of public schools. This gap in perception has persisted for many years but seems to be increasing as Republican politicians like Texas’s Greg Abbott and Florida’s Ron DeSantis amp up their attacks on public schools.

"Since it is not newsworthy to report that most parents are satisfied with their children’s public schools, the media loves to publish stories about crises and failure. Eventually, it becomes the conventional wisdom." -- Diane Ravitch


Matt Barnum: Pundits and Politicians Despair about Public Schools, But Parents Are Happy with Them

As has been true for decades, American public school parents are happy with their children's public schools. Media coverage, on the other hand, means that "those other schools somewhere else" are no good.

If parents are overwhelmingly satisfied with their local schools, where are the terrible schools?

From Diane Ravitch
The pandemic upended many things about American schooling, but not this long-standing trend. In Gallup’s most recent poll, conducted late last year, 80% of parents said they were somewhat or completely satisfied with their child’s school, which in most cases was a public school. This was actually a bit higher than in most years before the pandemic. A string of other polls, conducted throughout the pandemic, have shown similar results.

“Contrary to elite or policy wonk opinion, which often is critical of schools, there have been years and years worth of data saying that families in general like their local public schools,” said Andy Smarick, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank.


For at least two decades the Indiana General Assembly and other state legislatures around the country have done their best to divert tax money from public schools to privately run charter schools and private religious schools. If someone had devised a plan to specifically strip public schools of needed funds they could not have come up with a better way to do it. This year, for example, more than 95% of Indiana families are eligible for vouchers to help pay for religious school education.

The voucher plan was originally meant to help low-income students "escape" from "failing" public schools. Most of the students who now use Indiana's school vouchers are not low-income, and many are from families who have been paying for private education without state assistance. For this reason, the Republican supermajority in the Indiana General Assembly has stopped referring to school vouchers as a plan to help low-income students and is now focused on "parental choice." Ironically, when schools are privatized it's the school that has the choice of what students are allowed to attend, not the other way around.

Instead of trying to fund three systems of education (public, charter, private/religious), the General Assembly ought to follow Article 8 of the Indiana Constitution and
...provide, by law, for a general and uniform system of Common Schools, wherein tuition shall be without charge, and equally open to all

Textbook fee elimination will require adjustments

Fortunately, Indiana parents will no longer bear the burden of enormous textbook fees because of the inability (or refusal) of the legislature to fully fund public education.

Unfortunately, the General Assembly hasn't provided enough money to cover the costs of textbook fees for the state's public school systems.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Parents are getting a big win as their kids go back to school this year: no more textbook fees. But as the details unfold, school districts around the state are preparing for a shortfall between what the state is going to give them and what the actual costs are.

Lawmakers, pushed by GOP Gov. Eric Holcomb, did the right thing in the state budget and eliminated those pesky fees, which sometimes cost parents hundreds of dollars per child.

Indiana was one of only seven states to charge the fees even though the state constitution requires a free public education.

But there are questions about whether legislators set aside enough money to make up the costs.

Indiana's near-universal voucher program starts now

Billions of tax dollars are being funneled into the accounts of religious institutions.

From Axios Indianapolis
When Hoosier students start heading back to school this week, it's expected that thousands more will do so at a private school while the state picks up the tuition tab.

Driving the news: State lawmakers earlier this year expanded eligibility for the Indiana Choice Scholarship program, known as private school vouchers, allowing all but the wealthiest Hoosier families to get a voucher to cover at least part of the cost of private school tuition.

Why it matters: The change is expected to balloon participation in the program, diverting millions of public dollars away from public schools and sending the money instead to mostly religious schools that don't have to accept all students or follow the same non-discrimination laws.

How it works...

Evidence suggests voucher schools push out struggling students

Parents don't always get to choose their schools. Private and charter schools often choose their students.

From Steve Hinnefeld in the School Matters Blog
Do private schools push out students who receive state-funded tuition vouchers when they struggle academically? A newly published research study provides evidence that they do.

On the other hand, the researchers don’t find support for the idea that the schools are “cream skimming”: that is, admitting more voucher students who are high-achieving and easier to educate.

The study, “Cream Skimming and Pushout in Students Participating in a Statewide Private School Voucher Program,” was published in the journal Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis. Authors are R. Joseph Waddington and Ron Zimmer of the University of Kentucky and Mark Berends of Notre Dame.

...[The researchers] find little evidence that students with low test scores or a history of discipline problems were less likely to enroll in private schools with vouchers. But they do find evidence of pushout: for example, the lowest-achieving voucher students were 3 to 9 percentage points more likely to leave private schools than higher-achieving peers, a “modestly” higher rate.


Florida Adopts Curriculum to Indoctrinate Students in Rightwing Views

The right-wing governor of Florida has complained that public schools try to "indoctrinate" and "groom" students. The opposite is true.

From Diane Ravitch
Gov. Ron DeSantis repeatedly says he opposes indoctrination in schools. Yet his administration in early July approved materials from a conservative group that says it’s all about indoctrination and “changing minds.”

The Florida Department of Education determined that educational materials geared toward young children and high school students created by PragerU, a nonprofit co-founded by conservative radio host Dennis Prager, were in alignment with the state’s standards on how to teach civics and government to K-12 students.

The content, some of which is narrated by conservative personalities such as Tucker Carlson and Candance Owens, features cartoons, five-minute video history lessons and story-time shows for young children. It is part of a brand called PragerU Kids. And the lessons share a common message: Being pro-American means aligning oneself to mainstream conservative talking points.


Houston: Miles Seeks Approval to Hire Uncertified Principals and Teachers

These folks know nothing about education. They apparently believe that "anyone" can teach. It takes a trained professional to make the thousands of daily educational decisions that teachers make. It's more than just babysitting.

From Diane Ravitch
Mike Miles is asking the Texas Education Agency to allow him to recruit uncertified teachers, principals, and deans. This move follows the Broadie playbook that education experience doesn’t matter. Broadies are known for their love of TFA. Miles may be reaching even lower since uncertified teachers do not require a college degree.

Houston ISD is seeking board approval this month for a waiver from the Texas Education Agency to hire uncertified deans and assistant principals for the next three years.

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