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.

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"...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.


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