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.

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"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.


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