Monday, December 4, 2023

In Case You Missed It – December 4, 2023

Here are links to the last two 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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"Taxpayers can end up paying for the same building multiple times. First, the taxpayers pay for the school district to build it. Then they pay for the charter operator to buy it from the school district. Then, in cases like the White Hat fiasco, they end up not owning the building at all, as the CMO [Charter Management Organization], or some CMO real estate subsidiary, walks off with the building when the charter fails. In the worst of situations, this means that CMOs actually win whether the charter school succeeds or not." -- Peter Greene in Charter School Real Estate Profits


Charter School Real Estate Profits

How many times should the public purchase a single school building? With charters managing their own real estate, it can be more than once.

From Curmudgucation
The ultimate problem with charters getting into the real estate business is that it exacerbates a fundamental flaw of the "run schools like a business" approach of free market based school choice-- if a school is a business, then its interests conflict with the interests of students. Every dollar spent educating students is a dollar not spent enriching the business and its owners, and vice versa. The argument that the free market will punish the business for not spending enough on students is not really valid; in a free market, the challenge for an education-flavored business is not how to provide the very best education for students, but how to find the bare minimum they can get away with and still make a profit. Maximizing profit means minimizing service provided.

That tension is present in all free marketeering of education. But when the most attractive driver of profit is not even the service, but the building the service is housed in, it just makes matters worse.


It’s time for private schools to open the books

Private schools that use taxpayer dollars need to be open about where the money is being spent. Note, too, that most vouchers go to religious institutions which pay no taxes of their own.

From Indiana Capital Chronicle
Maybe you saw the yard signs this summer? Across the state, a private organization — the Institute for Quality Education — put money toward promoting the dollar amount a child can receive from the state of Indiana to help pay for private school.

It’s around $6,000 this school year, per the yard signs. In 2023-24, almost all Hoosier children qualify for a private school voucher if they can find a private school that will accept them.

A program that was founded on the premise of providing opportunities for low-income and minority families has grown significantly since it was first challenged in court in 2012, one year after state legislators passed legislation establishing it. Yet while the program has expanded to include almost all families, the same problems persist: little accountability for taxpayers and few protections for families.

As the state sends millions more tax dollars to private schools this year — an estimated $500 million, more than 35 times the initial cost to taxpayers in the 2011-12 school year — taxpayers still have no idea how these voucher dollars are being used by the schools that receive them. Is the money going into the classroom to help students? Unsure. Is the school financially distressed? Who knows.

There are no state-required audits as there are for public schools. There are no public school board meetings in which to ask questions.

Indiana vouchers grew less than expected

Small comfort...

From School Matters
Indiana’s private school voucher program grew by a third this fall, according to data from the state Department of Education. Some 69,271 students were awarded state-funded vouchers to pay for private school tuition. That’s up from 52,614 in fall 2022.

It’s less of an increase than was expected when the Indiana General Assembly dramatically expanded eligibility for the program. Families now qualify if their income is no more than four times the threshold for reduced-price school meals. That’s $220,000 for a family of four.

An estimated 97% of Hoosier students should qualify. When the voucher expansion passed as part of the state budget, the state Legislative Services Agency projected the program and its cost would grow by over 70%, to over a half billion dollars in 2023-24.

That seemed like a reasonable guess. According to last year’s state voucher report, over 35,000 students attended private schools with their families paying their own way. If most of those families now qualified and opted for vouchers – and if the increasingly generous program drew more students to private schools – a big increase in the program would be expected.


How Can Anyone Afford to Teach Anymore?

Normally, when there's a shortage of workers, the pay goes up. Not so with teachers. Is it because teachers are mostly women? Is it because privatizers want an employee base of workers who can be replaced cheaply? Whatever the reason, teachers continue to take a pay cut just by their choice of profession. America's priorities need some adjustments.

From The Progressive
Teacher shortages have been reported in all fifty states, and 86 percent of public schools are hard pressed to fill vacant teaching positions. Low pay is often cited as a cause of the shortages. Let’s put that in context.

On average, teacher pay in the United States is nearly 25 percent less than what other college graduates receive, according to a study by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). If you are a teacher in New Hampshire, as I am, your paycheck is nearly 30 percent less than other college graduates. Let that sink in.

People who go into teaching are taking on the same level of debt as other college graduates (or more), yet they are receiving nowhere near the same financial benefits. The typical U.S. graduate with a four year degree walked away with their diploma and $29,417 in debt in 2022. In my home state, the average debt for a bachelor’s degree topped the nation at an astounding $39,928.


Standardized Tests Lie

Your child's teacher knows more about education than do the legislators in Indianapolis. Your child's teacher knows more about your child's progress than can be shown on any standardized test. Trust educators.

From Gadfly on the Wall
Whom do you trust?

So much in life comes down to that simple question.

When two groups disagree, which one do you believe?

...Those with the most exposure to the most diverse educational experiences are teachers and testing companies.

On the one side you have teachers who instruct students for at least 180 days a year, giving formal and informal assessments throughout to provide a classroom grade. On the other you have the testing companies that give students a single assessment over a period of hours or days.

And often they come to different conclusions.

Many times children get high classroom grades but low scores on the standardized test.

So let us ask the question that the media never does: which should we believe?


4 northeast Indiana school districts get state literacy grants

Indiana has jumped into the Science of Reading Movement. For information, see the Executive Summary of The Science of Reading Movement: The Never-Ending Debate and the Need for a Different Approach To Reading Instruction by Paul Thomas of Furman University, published by the National Education Policy Center.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Indiana has awarded nearly $15 million in grants to support literacy, including more than $850,000 to four northeast school districts.

The Indiana Department of Education announced on Monday that 72 school corporations would receive the grants, which are expected to reach more than 65,000 students in kindergarten through third grade. The grants are meant to support the implementation of evidence-based practices aligned with science of reading.

Science of reading integrates instructional practices with efforts focused on phonics, phonemic awareness, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension, the news release said.
Fort Wayne Community Schools Plans for 'Success'

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
FWCS Superintendent Mark Daniel is looking forward to when the students who are in eighth grade now become high school seniors.

That’s because the class of 2028 will be the first to experience the Schools of Success, Fort Wayne Community Schools’ new approach to high school.
Snider's Kurt Tippmann one of five national Power of Influence Award winners

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Snider football coach Kurt Tippmann is one of five coaches to win the Power of Influence Award, the American Football Coaches Association announced on Thursday.
School district donates land to Fort Wayne trail project

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Fort Wayne Community Schools is contributing to the city’s Hanna Street Trail construction efforts.
Fort Wayne Community Schools plans $2 million in North Side stadium upgrades

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
A Fort Wayne high school athletics facility is set for nearly $2 million in upgrades, including installation of synthetic turf.
Northwest Allen County Schools tweaks school capacities as redistricting eyed

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
The demographic firm Northwest Allen County Schools hired to develop redistricting scenarios will have updated school capacity information to consider as it creates options for the growing district.
Audit reveals equity priorities at Fort Wayne Community Schools

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Fort Wayne Community Schools board members informally indicated their support Monday for requiring culturally diverse training for employees.

“Diversity is huge in our district,” President Maria Norman said during an hourlong work session about equity. “I think anything that we can do to help people better understand different cultures, different races...”
Fort Wayne Community Schools addresses student behavior with $10,000 grant

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
A consultant will provide educators at a Fort Wayne middle school with strategies to reduce unwanted student behavior, thanks to a $10,000 grant from the Indiana State Teachers Association Foundation.
**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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