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.

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"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.


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