Monday, September 25, 2023

In Case You Missed It – September 25, 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.

"...these problems of American education have their start in the tracking of America’s children — but not necessarily by their schools! Our children are tracked into different neighborhoods on the basis of their family’s income, ethnicity, and race. This is where our school problems begin. We seem blind to the fact that housing policies that promote that kind of segregation are educational policies, as well." -- David Berliner in Education professor: My students asked who I would vote for. Here’s what I told them.


Congress Canceled 2021 Child Tax Credit Reforms, Pushed 5.1 Million Children Back into Poverty

In his 2009 research report, Poverty and Potential: Out-of-School Factors and School Success, David Berliner outlined poverty-based factors that contributed to school difficulties. In the 2018 article quoted above, he repeats the call for true educational reform by attacking the real culprit in school problems – Poverty.

From Jan Resseger
Very few people are talking about an alarming piece of news from last week: Child poverty in America has more than doubled since 2021. On September 12, the story was in the papers and on PBS and cable news, but after that, it pretty much fell out of our collective consciousness. This news should trouble us all from an educational point of view—on top of what it says about the misery, hunger, and isolation of millions of children and their families.

David Berliner is an expert, a Regents’ professor emeritus and former dean of the College of Education at Arizona State University and the former president of the American Educational Research Association. Berliner is blunt in his analysis of how poverty affects children’s learning at school: “(T)he big problems of American education are not in America’s schools. So, reforming the schools, as Jean Anyon once said, is like trying to clean the air on one side of a screen door. It cannot be done! It’s neither this nation’s teachers nor its curriculum that impede the achievement of our children. The roots of America’s educational problems are in the numbers of Americans who live in poverty. America’s educational problems are predominantly in the numbers of kids and their families who are homeless; whose families have no access to Medicaid or other medical services. These are often families to whom low-birth-weight babies are frequently born, leading to many more children needing special education.

...Our educational problems have their roots in families where food insecurity or hunger is a regular occurrence, or where those with increased lead levels in their bloodstream get no treatments before arriving at a school’s doorsteps. Our problems also stem from the harsh incarceration laws that break up families instead of counseling them and trying to keep them together. And our problems relate to harsh immigration policies that keep millions of families frightened to seek out better lives for themselves and their children… Although demographics may not be destiny for an individual, it is the best predictor of a school’s outcomes—independent of that school’s teachers, administrators and curriculum.”


Democrats for Education Reform are just another group of millionaires and billionaires who have worked to privatize public education.

Politico Advises Democrats to Act Like GOP on School Choice

From Diane Ravitch
Why in the world should Democrats support schools that are free to discriminate, free to hire uncertified and unqualified staff, managed by for-profit entities, and are not as successful as public schools?

That is bad political advice, which you got by interviewing people whose organizations advocate for charter schools (DFER and the so-called “National Parents Union”). The only pro-public school voices in your article were Randi Weingarten and Miguel Cardona, a union leader and the Secretary of Education.

Why didn’t you interview parents engaged in the fight to keep public education public? They are in every state, fighting billionaire-funded organizations like DFER and Moms for Liberty.

Time for Reformster Benefit Poker Again

From Curmudgucation
Want to sponsor a table with ten seats plus a special guest? A Straight Flush Table costs only $100,000. For $50K you can host a Full House Table, and $30K gets you a regular table of ten. If you just want to grab a single seat for yourself, that's a mere $3K. Just want to skip the poker and have some dinner and cocktails while playing some casino games? That's a mere $250. Sadly, I will be busy that day and unable to attend...

Past celebrities, they note, have included a bunch of big name poker players, sports guys, U.S. Congressman Hakeen Jeffries, Billy Crudup and Kevin Pollak.

Do people pay that kind of money, some of you may ask, correctly noting that the Straight Flush Table costs more than most teachers make in a year. Well, in 2022 there was one Straight Flush sponsor, three Full House sponsors, and twenty-five table hosts. All of them were either guys who got rich shuffling money or corporations in the capital biz. They raised over $2 million.

This is the kind of thing that reminds me of the considerable imbalance between reformsters and public school defenders. Many of us are out here doing what we can on a budget of $0.00, and these guys just get together to drop a couple mill playing games for "exotic trips." All things that folks actually working in education can totally relate to.


Insidious harvest': Students are the victims in relentless campaign to delegitimize public schools

Schools are underfunded and defunded, teachers are driven from the classroom, professional judgment is replaced by state-sponsored tests and punishment, books are banned, and threats are issued, and then public schools are blamed for "failure."

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
We hate being told, “I told you so” – but here it comes in response to the latest NWEA test score announcement that student achievement has not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels.

That’s almost like the weather forecaster who predicts with confidence, “There’s 100% chance of darkness tonight, with possible clearing in the morning.”

Proponents of choice and privatization in education (i.e., vouchers, charters, virtual schools, tax-credit scholarships) lament that “if only” their preferred “fixes” had been prioritized all along, U.S. education would have bounced back much more quickly.

People who support traditional public education know that these crocodile tears hide a celebration. It turns out that the foes of public education are like carnival barkers: They bluster, shout, entice and preach about the glories of partisan/privatized education despite extensive evidence that such an education does not result in better achievement when compared to public schools.

But still, the foes of public education celebrate any news that demonstrates the damage done to public education, public educators and public school students.

In their attempt to sow doubt, confusion and falsehoods, the foes of public education planted several different crops to ensure this insidious harvest...


Republicans Hold Congressional Hearings on Chinese Influence in American Schools

Turkey or China?

From Diane Ravitch
The Republican leadership of the House Education Committee held hearings on the threat posed by Communist China to American public and private schools. Read the summary and ask yourself the following questions: Would red states grant the Confucius Classrooms a charter to run their own schools? Would they let a school organized by the Confucius Classrooms accept voucher students? Are they equally concerned about the scores of Gulen schools that receive public funds and operate as charter schools? Gulen is a Turkish imam who lives in seclusion in Pennsylvania; the board of trustees of his schools are led by Turkish men; the Gulen schools have a large number of Turkish teachers on staff. When will the House Committee on Education investigate the Gulen schools?


Budget balanced: Trusted voice in Indiana school finances closes book on career

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Kathy Friend couldn’t let a question after her final Fort Wayne Community Schools budget presentation go unanswered, even though it was about a number two decades old.

She had the answer for board member Steve Corona the next day. Her first FWCS budget – for the year 2001 – totaled $215.7 million.

Friend will retire as the district’s chief financial officer on Oct. 31, about a week after the expected adoption of next year’s $365 million budget. By comparison, Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry’s city budget proposal for next year is $235 million.

Her nearly 24-year tenure at FWCS was about more than managing the district’s money, however. Considered an expert on Indiana’s education funding formula, Friend has mentored many school business officials and effectively lobbied about funding issues at the Statehouse, her colleagues said.

Southwest Allen County Schools projects tax rate will decrease in 2024

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Southwest Allen County Schools anticipates its tax rate will decrease by about 4 cents next year despite advertising a rate that reflects a nearly 9-cent increase.

Mark Snyder, the business director, told the school board Tuesday that the advertised rate – 89.76 cents per $100 in assessed value – is intentionally inflated to ensure SACS captures all available tax dollars. His projected rate is 76.87 cents.

“We advertise high to make sure we get all the revenue,” he said during his 2024 budget review.
**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 every Monday except after holiday weekends or as otherwise noted.


Monday, September 18, 2023

In Case You Missed It – September 18, 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.

"Our country’s inaction and failure to address child poverty is both harmful and tragic. Making matters worse, it is a policy choice by our nation’s policymakers.

"The biggest problem is that one-third of our nation’s children fail to qualify for the full Child Tax Credit because their parents make too little.

"Let me repeat…our tax code punishes children because their parents make too little.

"Unless harming children is your goal, this policy makes no sense. If the Child Tax Credit were to no longer discriminate against low-income children, there would be 3–4 million fewer children in this country living in poverty. Child poverty could be cut in half." -- Executive Director of First Focus Campaign for Children, Bruce Lesley in The Child Tax Credit: Boosting the Lives and Well-Being of Our Children


Frank Breslin: Critical Thinking Is the Most Important Lesson in High School

"Knowing a great deal is not the same as being smart; intelligence is not information alone but also judgment, the manner in which information is collected and used." - Carl Sagan

From Diane Ravitch
The following warning should be affixed atop every computer in America’s schools: Proceed at your own risk. Don’t accept as true what you’re about to read. Some of it is fact; some of it is opinion masquerading as fact; and the rest is liberal, conservative, or mainstream propaganda. Make sure you know which is which before choosing to believe it.

Students are exposed to so many different viewpoints on- and offline and so prone to accepting whatever they read, that they run the very real risk of being brainwashed. If it’s on a computer screen, it becomes Holy Writ, sacrosanct, immutable, beyond question or doubt.

Teachers continually caution students against taking what they read at face value, since some of these sites may be propaganda mills or recruiting grounds for the naïve and unwary.


If You Don’t Want Teachers to be Saviors, Don’t Put Them on a Cross

Why is there a continuing exodus of teachers from the classroom?

From Gadfly on the Wall Blog
...teachers salaries are not commensurate with other professionals. They are paid 20% less than other college-educated workers with similar experience, and a 2020 survey found that 67% of teachers have or had a second job to make ends meet.

You want more teachers of color to enter the profession? Then stop making privilege a prerequisite to apply!

This is why so many teachers are leaving the profession. They don’t want to be sacrificial offerings anymore.

The entire country is in the midst of a national educator walk out. Teachers are refusing to stay in the classroom due to poor salary, poor working conditions, heavy expectations and lack of tools or respect.

After decades of neglect only made worse by the Covid-19 pandemic, we’re missing almost a million teachers.

Nationwide, we only have about 3.2 million teachers left!

Finding replacements has been difficult. Across the country, an average of one educator is hired for every two jobs available.


Congress Threatens to Increase Already Alarming Child Poverty by Allowing Essential Programs to Expire

As Republicans dismantle social and economic safety nets, children fall into poverty. Schools will be expected to pick up the pieces...and will be blamed when they fail to do the impossible.

From Jan Resseger's Blog
In a misguided column last week, the Thomas Fordham Institute’s Michael Petrilli blamed schoolteachers for lagging test scores since the COVID 19 disruption. Petrilli demands that Congress pass another No Child Left Behind Act to hold teachers and schools accountable. Diane Ravitch responded: “NCLB and Race to the Top were cut from the same cloth: Contempt for professional educators, indifference to the well-established fact that test scores are highly correlated with family income, and a deep but misguided belief that punishing educators and closing schools were cures for low test scores.”

It seems worth exploring that Petrilli fails to consider the ongoing turmoil in the lives of our nation’s most vulnerable children. What about the mental health issues for children and adolescents during and since COVID? And now that COVID seems to have waned, what are the continuing economic stressors for millions of our nation’s poorest parents? Here is the September 5, 2023 assessment by Olivier Knox who pulls together the Washington Post‘s Daily 202: “The biggest political story of the moment isn’t House Republicans flirting with impeaching President Biden for TBD reasons. It’s the expiration of a wave of federal programs passed in response to the pandemic to make life easier for millions of Americans. Millions—possibly tens of millions—are losing Medicaid coverage…. Billions in COVID-era federal funding to keep child-care centers open expire at the end of September, leaving states to scramble.” And WIC, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and children up to age 5 faces “another looming benefits deadline that could affect millions of Americans.” Knox reports that all of these supports for our society’s poorest families are threatened by “hard-right” House Republicans: “(T)he federal government responded to the pandemic with trillions in federal aid for states and for millions of Americans. It now seems poised to watch over the dismantling of that emergency lattice, piece by piece.”


Charter Schools Can’t Claim to Be Public Anymore

When schools take public funds they should follow the same rules as real public schools.

By The Network for Public Education's Carol Burris in The Progressive
When an Oklahoma state school board approved what would become the nation’s first taxpayer-funded religious charter school, opponents of the proposal called it “deeply un-American” and “a flagrant violation of long-standing constitutional law.” An Oklahoma parents group and a handful of state and national civil organizations filed a pair of lawsuits to block the new school. Creating a taxpayer-funded religious school “turns on its head the concept that charter schools were supposed to be public schools,” American Federation of Teacher president Randi Weingarten argued.

Indeed, they were supposed to be public schools. But anyone who has been watching the devolution of charter schools could see this coming from a mile away.

Charter schools, which were originally proposed to be district-run, innovative public schools, have since morphed into national charter school chains, Christian nationalist schools, and facades for for-profit corporations.

From charter schools in churches with websites displaying crosses to “faith-friendly” charters, the charter industry has been flirting with religiosity for years. Under former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, the federal Charter School Programs were given the green light to award grants to religious organizations that own or operate charter schools.


Important New Publication Explores How Inadequate School Funding is Intertwined with Race and Segregation

Despite the preference of some politicians, racial issues are part of the American culture. Instead of pretending they don't exist, we should learn from our mistakes.

“My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.” -- Carl Shurz, US Senator (MO), 1871

From Jan Resseger's Blog
What happens when we get so used to a long injustice that we can’t see it anymore? In a fine new collection of articles, University of North Carolina law professor, Osamudia James explains how blind we have all become to the role of racial segregation for producing and sustaining educational inequality: “Inequality in the American school system is increasingly framed as a function of class… K-12 schools as well as institutions of higher education embrace ‘race-neutral’ policies that consider socioeconomic status rather than racial or ethnic identity. Racial segregation, if acknowledged, is no longer understood as the product of intentional policies that trap and isolate students of color and their families in underserved communities and school districts. Rather, racial concentration and isolation are (seen as) products of ‘individual choices.’… (S)chool finance disparities are presented as simply the unfortunate outcome of the more limited resources of communities of color.”

The spring-summer 2023 edition of Poverty & Race, a publication of the Poverty & Race Research Action Council forces us to look at racial segregation itself as a primary cause of the unequal funding of public education...


Poll shows partisan split on schools

Three-fourths of America's parents are satisfied with their local schools, yet nationally the public has a much lower confidence in American education. Where are all the unsatisfactory schools if most of the local ones are satisfactory?

From School Matters
Parents’ faith in their children’s schools remains high but the public’s confidence in American K-12 education is at a record low, according to polling by the Gallup organization? Why would that be?

Relentless attacks on public schools are certainly part of it. As Peter Greene writes in Forbes, “There was a time when supporting public schools was as politically innocuous as babies and apple pie.” Now, criticism is common, loud and extreme, and “accusations that teachers are pedophiles and groomers and porn peddlers are not unusual,” he writes.

In the recent Gallup poll, 76% of parents said they were very or somewhat satisfied with the school attended by their oldest child. But, among all respondents, only 36% were satisfied with the nation’s schools, tying the all-time low. That’s a huge gap: 40 percentage points.


Fort Wayne Community Schools eyes tax rate decrease in 2024

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Fort Wayne Community Schools expects its tax rate to decrease by 1.8% next year under a $365 million budget presented Monday.

The expected rate – 87.15 cents per $100 in assessed value – is associated with the levies for the operations fund, debt service fund and existing referendum debt, Chief Financial Officer Kathy Friend said.

It excludes the Nov. 7 referendum, which FWCS is budgeting for separately. A successful ballot measure would let FWCS assess a tax levy for eight years to support safety and well-being initiatives.

The maximum 10-cent rate would generate about $12 million annually, but the district wouldn’t collect that full amount in 2024. It’s instead budgeting a $7.2 million spending plan with a 6-cent tax rate.

State honors three northeast Indiana school districts, one teacher

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Three northeast Indiana school districts and one Fort Wayne teacher were collectively awarded nearly $450,000 through a recent statewide recognition program.

The Indiana Department of Education honored Bluffton-Harrison Metropolitan School District, East Allen County Schools, Fort Wayne Community Schools and FWCS teacher Brandon Porter during a black-tie event in Indianapolis, the agency said in a news release.

Katie Jenner, Indiana secretary of education, compared the Educational Excellence Awards Gala to red-carpet events used to celebrate movie stars and professional athletes.

She said the teachers who celebrated Friday have positively affected hundreds of students throughout the years and are community leaders.

“Their incredible impact deserves to be celebrated at the grandest level we can,” Jenner said in a statement. “Bringing them together for an awards night to roll out the red carpet and provide surprise monetary awards is one small way we can spotlight the massive impact they continue to make on our state.”

**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, September 11, 2023

In Case You Missed It – September 11, 2023

Here are links to the last two weeks' 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.


"These attacks are couched in the vocabulary of "parents’ rights" and student freedom, but they don’t serve the students at all, nor do they advance the rights of parents interested in a good, comprehensive education for their children, as opposed to one dictated by the most narrow-minded ideologues in their state." -- Michael Hiltzik in The right-wing campaign to make our kids dumber.


Chris Rufo: A Soldier in the War Against Public Schools

Rob Rogers created an excellent TikTok video that shows where Chris Rufo fits into the war on public schools.

From Diane Ravitch
Rufo invented the “critical race theory” hysteria out of whole cloth. He’s proud of his malicious role in “laying siege to the institutions.” Of course, Ron DeSantis appointed him to the board of New College as part of a rightwing takeover of that once highly esteemed liberal arts college that welcomed free-thinkers. To people like DeSantis and Rufo, free thinking is anathema.

Michael Hiltzik: The Republican Plan to Dumb Down America’s Youth

Republicans say they want to get rid of “indoctrination” but they are busily erasing free inquiry and critical thinking. What do they actually want? Indoctrination.

From Diane Ravitch
For reasons that may not be too hard to understand, Republicans and conservatives seem to be intent on turning their K-12 schools, colleges and universities into plantations for raising a crop of ignorant and unthinking students.

Donald Trump set forth the principle during his 2016 primary campaign, when he declared, “I love the poorly educated.”

Is Public School On Its Deathbed?

Peter Greene reviews an interview with author Cara Fitzpatrick about her new book, "The Death of Public School: How Conservatives Won the War Over Education in America". The book will be published next week.

From Curmudgucation
It's not just about privatizing the education product; it's about privatizing the responsibility for procuring an education for your children. A world in which vouchers rule and public education is dead is a world in which getting your child a quality education is nobody's problem but yours. It's a world in which you have to find vendors you can convince to take your child on as a "customer," and if that's hard--well, that's your own problem. Hard to pay for that quality education on your own, even with your voucher pittance? That's also your own problem.

Voucherworld is all about ending society's shared responsibility for providing each child with a decent education, and letting the market decide who deserves what based on their ability to pay, just as the market decides who deserves to drive a new Lexus and who deserves to drive a used Kia. Who deserves a fancy prep school, who deserves a microschool of neighborhood kids gathered around a computer screen, who deserves an education composed of facts rather than church-approved "facts," and who deserves to get an "education" in widget building? In voucherworld, the marketplace will decide, and parents will have no avenue for appeal.


“School Choice”: Who Chooses? The School or the Family?

Teachers College Press released this description of recent research on school choice.

From Diane Ravitch
...“charter schools often play an outsize role in shaping enrollment.” They cite an assortment of practices that charter schools have implemented to deter the enrollment of certain groups of students. And they conclude, “even when parents are able to enroll their child in their preferred school of choice, academic requirements and disciplinary policies may prevent enrollment in subsequent years.”

One Question: What's Behind the Politics of School Choice?

A panel of experts weighs in.

From The Progressive

Board Member of the Indiana Coalition for Public Education

The answer to this question is complex because “school choice” does not exist in a vacuum. The politicization of education is intrinsically connected to housing, economic development, and juvenile justice reform, laced with the co-opted language of equity that entices families to segregate voluntarily. However, the main motivation for modern attacks on education likely stems from the need to increase tax revenue in major urban cities nationwide.


What the legislature got right

Steve Hinnefeld at School Matters discusses some of the education bills the legislature got right.

From School Matters
Four months have passed since Indiana legislators finished their work. Yes, the session was mostly a disaster when it comes to education, but there were a few positives. Let’s give credit where credit is due.


Northwest Allen County Schools expects flat tax rate next year

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Northwest Allen County Schools anticipates its tax rate will remain flat next year – an aspect one board member expressed gratitude for, considering the district recently opened a new elementary school and is undertaking three building projects.

“To be able to responsibly manage the budget and keep a tax rate that is consistent, if not lower, is something I feel really thankful for,” board Secretary Kristi Schlatter told Chief Financial Officer Brandon Basham after his 2024 budget presentation Monday.

A public hearing about the proposed budget is set for 6 p.m. Sept. 20 at Perry Hill Elementary School, 13121 Coldwater Road, with adoption Oct. 9.

Blackhawk Middle School renovation to cost nearly $16 million

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Blackhawk Middle School’s makeover won’t exceed $16 million, the Fort Wayne Community Schools board learned Monday.

The elected leaders also agreed to spend nearly $360,000 to install security film on windows districtwide.

The Blackhawk project is among three major school renovations to be funded by the 2020 referendum. The board agreed in January to hire Weigand Construction Co. to update the building, which was built in 1972. The work will include architectural, mechanical, plumbing and electrical improvements.

Teacher Honor Roll: FWCS educator makes students feel loved, valued, smart

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Kelcey Stinson (Raleigh)
School: Forest Park Elementary

Grade teaching: Third grade

Education: Ivy Tech Community College, Associate of Science in elementary education; Purdue University Fort Wayne, bachelor’s degree in elementary education.

Years teaching: Three

City born and current hometown: Fort Wayne

I will say my favorite part of each day is community circle with my students. It is a time when we come together and connect as a class family and learn new things about one another. No matter how busy our day is, I make sure to fit this in because it brings happiness, love and joy into each and every day.

**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.