Sunday, February 18, 2024

In Case You Missed It – February 19, 2024

NEIFPE's In Case You Missed It is off this week for the President's Day Holiday. We'll be back with more updates on February 26, 2024. Thanks for supporting Public Education.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest in Public Education news.

Be sure to enter your email address in the new Follow Us By Email box in the right-hand column to be informed when our blog posts are published.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

"...what this is going to do is add to intimidation of teachers, allow unsubstantiated slamming of schools, increase distrust of public ed, make some political hay for Rokita, and spread smoke without light. All that and waste the time of a lot of people working in public education (which school administrator will draw the task of doing the daily Check For Lies on the AG Website). What it won't do is improve the quality of public education in Indiana." -- Peter Greene in Curmudgucation, IN: From the AG, Another Edu-witch Hunt Site

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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Monday, February 12, 2024

In Case You Missed It – February 12, 2024

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.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

"For GOP lawmakers who view public education as a quasi-socialist project, the gaping hole in state budgets left by subsidizing private school tuition is a feature, not a bug." -- by Jennifer Berkshire and Jack Schneider in In Red States, the Bill for School Voucher Bait-and-Switch Is Coming Due

VOUCHERS BAIT AND SWITCH

In Red States, the Bill for School Voucher Bait-and-Switch Is Coming Due

The Indiana voucher program was supposed to save the state money and improve student achievement. Vouchers were supposed to "save children from 'failing schools.'" Sadly, the program doesn't do any of those things. The Bait-and-Switch is coming due.

From The Nation
Bait-and-switch is an old retail tactic. You lure customers in with promises of a deep discount, only to inform them that the deal has a catch. The real price tag, it turns out, is quite a bit more.

Though it took supporters of school vouchers a while to catch on, they’ve learned quickly that the trick works just as well in education policy as it does in retail sales. Pick a price that will get people in the door, and then break the news once you’ve got them where you want them.

In Arizona, taxpayers are now staring down a $400 million shortfall, with an even bigger bill coming due next year. How did the Grand Canyon State go from sitting on a huge cash reserve to facing a rising tide of red ink? Simple. Voucher proponents suggested that paying for private school tuition would cost taxpayers $65 million a year; but as it stands, the program is on track to cost roughly 15 times that. All told, Arizona taxpayers are likely to spend close to a billion dollars reimbursing the cost of tuition and luxury expenses—including ski resort passes, pianos, and theme park tickets—for families whose children were never enrolled in the public schools.

It isn’t just Arizona’s problem. Over the past two years, multiple states have enacted universal or near-universal voucher programs that far exceed initial cost projections...

FORT WAYNE AND INDIANA NEWS

Child labor is an education issue

Indiana Republicans want to weaken child labor laws.

From School Matters
UPDATE: Senate Bill 146 was amended Feb. 5 on the Senate floor to remove provisions that conflict with federal child labor law.

Indiana legislators seem determined to roll back regulations that protect children from exploitative work conditions, even if it means clashing with the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.

One anti-regulatory bill, House Bill 1093, has been approved by the House and sent to the Senate. Another, Senate Bill 146, is up for second-reading amendments in the Senate today. Both measures would significantly ease restrictions on the hours that minors can work in Indiana.

They mark a turning away from a 100-year commitment by state and federal governments to protecting children and enabling them to get an education without being burdened by working for wages.

Homestead High School project needs $18.9 million more

From The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Southwest Allen County Schools expects an additional $18.9 million will be enough to complete the final stages of Homestead High School’s multiyear transformation – a construction project initially said to cost $169 million.

The board Tuesday approved four resolutions allowing the district to proceed with two taxable general obligation bonds totaling $12.7 million.

A $6.2 million first mortgage bond is anticipated to provide further funding, said Mark Snyder, director of business. That doesn’t require board action because of previous board approval when SACS first sold bonds to pay for the Homestead additions and renovations project.
Indiana senators want to put school boards in charge of approving lessons on sexuality

The move to restrict sex education is growing again with the rise of Moms for Liberty.

From The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Indiana lawmakers are considering legislation that would require school boards to approve all lessons and materials on sexuality and require schools to publicly post a list of the teaching material on their websites, prompting concerns about who has the final say in sex education and the definition of sexuality.

State senators passed the bill Tuesday by a vote of 38-10. It now moves to the House for consideration, where Republicans also hold a supermajority.

The bill would require school boards to approve by July 1 all materials used to instruct students on “human sexuality,” author of the bill and state Sen. Gary Byrne told lawmakers Tuesday. Byrne told senators he intended to make sex education more transparent for parents.

Schools would also be required to post a list of the materials to their websites and the board must approve what age students will receive instruction, whether students will be taught in a co-ed setting and whether the lesson will be provided by a male or female instructor.

Rokita’s new ‘Eyes on Education’ portal prompts pushback from Indiana school officials

Indiana's Attorney General enlists the public to make allegations against public schools without any proof.

From the Indiana Capital Chronicle
A new dashboard unveiled Tuesday by the Indiana Attorney General’s Office makes public more than two dozen allegations of “potentially inappropriate materials” in Hoosier schools, like critical race theory materials and gender identity policies.

But numerous local officials told the Indiana Capital Chronicle they weren’t made aware of the complaints and contend the allegations were not properly vetted before the portal went live.

Attorney General Todd Rokita referred to “Eyes on Education” as a transparency tool that intends to “empower parents to further engage in their children’s education” and provide “real examples of indoctrination.”

The portal accepts submissions pertaining to K-12 classrooms, colleges, universities and “other affiliated academic entities in Indiana.” But it is unclear how, or if, they are vetting the accuracy of the allegations.

Indiana officials say they want more information about what fees schools are charging families

From the Indiana Capital Chronicle
Indiana’s K-12 schools are spending more than state leaders expected on student textbooks — and some are still sending bills to students’ families — prompting lawmakers to request additional information about what’s being expensed.

The questioning comes a year after the General Assembly dedicated $160 million in the current state budget to eliminate textbook and curriculum fees for Hoosier families, starting with the 2023-24 academic year.

Based on the funds available in May 2023, the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) estimated the per student reimbursement amount to schools would be approximately $151.88. Based on spending in the current academic year, however, the actual per student reimbursement amount came out to $158.21.

Still, IDOE data obtained by the Indiana Capital Chronicle shows the state reimbursed 395 traditional K-12 districts and charter schools a total of about $159 million for the current academic year — about a million dollars below what was appropriated.

What’s not clear, though, is the amount each school actually spent on textbooks and other materials overall, or how much individual districts requested in reimbursements from the 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 fortwayne.com/subscriptions/ [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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Monday, February 5, 2024

In Case You Missed It – February 5, 2024

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.


QUOTE OF THE WEEK

"'The primary role of chaplains is to provide pastoral or religious counseling to people in spiritual need,' the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana said in a statement. 'Allowing them to assume official positions — whether paid or voluntary — in public schools will create an environment ripe for religious coercion and indoctrination of students.'

"Without any oversight to prevent chaplains from imposing their own religious viewpoint on the children they counsel, HB 1192 and SB 50 could undermine the religious freedom of students of all faiths and no faith."
-- the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette** editorial board.

INDIANA GENERAL ASSEMBLY, 2024

Faith-based school chaplains would test First Amendment

We included this article from last week's In Case You Missed It again this week. It continues to be read and spread through social media. And now the Senate has passed their version of the bill.

Contact your state representative to stop this bill before it goes any further. We need trained counselors in our public schools, not religious indoctrination. Indiana taxpayers already fund sectarian religious instruction through school vouchers. No more.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Indiana’s student-to-counselor ratio ranks worst in the nation, according to the 2023 State of the Indiana Girl Report published in September.

Two bills introduced in the General Assembly — one in the House, the other in the Senate — seek to fill the counselor void, but critics say their solution is unconstitutional and could end up further harming some children’s emotional and mental health.

...Proponents of HB 1192 and SB 50 likely will tout the proposals as remedies to the mental health needs of Hoosier students.

Chaplains are trained and certified to provide spiritual and emotional support. Lawmakers should leave mental health care services to the professional school counselors qualified to do that job.

Allen County school districts react to bill aiming to address 3rd graders who fail state reading exam

Does retention even work?

"Tamyra Kelly, a public information officer for East Allen County Schools, said they’re in favor of any extra support for students learning to read.

"'In our experience, retention would not be the answer. A bill that could fund earlier intervention and supports would be most favorable to schools and their students,' Kelly said."

From WANE.com
School district leaders in the greater Fort Wayne area are reacting to a state bill that focuses on making sure students can read proficiently by the end of 3rd grade.

Senate Bill 1 would support holding back students who fail the Indiana Reading Evaluation and Determination assessment (IREAD-3), a grade three reading assessment developed in accordance with state legislation, while also requiring schools to give remediation to students at risk of not passing.

The bill was written by Sen. Linda Rogers (R) and 30 other GOP lawmakers. Once referred to as the “retention bill” by some, Senate Bill 1 has been amended to contain more efforts before getting to retention, with that being more of a last resort.

CHILD TAX CREDIT EXPANSION

U.S. House Passes Child Tax Credit Expansion. Bill Heads to Senate.

Children learn best when they are safe, well-fed, and well-cared for. The tax credit expansion will help.

From Jan Resseger's Blog
For a long time, the needs of poor children have not been much of a motivator for American social policy reform.

Many of us remember Bill Clinton “ending welfare as we know it” in 1996, but we have very likely forgotten the title of the bill that ended welfare: the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, a law whose name specifically blamed the poor for a lax attitude about bettering themselves through work. The American Rescue Plan generously expanded the Child Tax Credit and made it fully refundable. That COVID relief bill, passed in March of 2021, reduced child poverty in the United States by 40 percent during that year, but Congress allowed it to expire at the beginning of 2022, when Joe Manchin and the majority of Congressional Republicans said the modest cash payments were discouraging parents from working. This month, the Washington Post reported another example of politicians punishing children for the supposed sins of their parents: Republican governors in 15 states have rejected a new, federally funded program to give food assistance to hungry children during the summer when school is not in session. Nebraska’s governor said: “I don’t believe in welfare.”

While a lot of politicians have shown themselves willing to overlook the well documented needs of millions of U.S. children, last night the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bipartisan compromise tax bill that combines business tax breaks and significant expansion of the Child Tax Credit. The bill will now move to the U.S. Senate.

FORT WAYNE AREA NEWS

Southwest Allen County Schools begins strategic plan process

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Small-group conversations Wednesday among Southwest Allen County Schools stakeholders – including students, parents and teachers – marked the beginning of a four-month effort that should end with a roadmap for the district.

School board President Jennifer Bennett expects the final product – a strategic plan – will ensure that district leaders are basing decisions on a cohesive vision.

“I’m excited to get this process going,” she told about 40 people gathered at the transportation conference room for the first of four strategic planning sessions.

Along with collecting feedback from invited participants, SACS will seek input from the broader community via an emailed survey, Superintendent Park Ginder said.

Bidding closes for NACS construction projects

From WANE.com
Northwest Allen County School Board Members approved maximum price amendments for three construction projects in the district.

Bids for the Carroll High School additions and renovations, Willow Creek Middle School, and Central Office construction are closed as contracts with Weigand Construction were approved Monday.

The guaranteed maximum price amendment for the three projects adds up to approximately $130 million. They will be funded through lease financing which will keep the community’s tax rate the same. Wayne Barker, Superintendent of NACS, said the costs are less than what they expected.

Groundbreaking nears for Northwest Allen County Schools construction projects

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Northwest Allen County Schools expects to celebrate groundbreakings next month as three projects totaling $130 million in construction costs get underway.

“Countless hours have been spent to get us to here,” Superintendent Wayne Barker told the board Monday, adding that contractors could start moving dirt next week. “It won’t come soon enough because we have students to educate, and they keep coming. So that’s a very good problem.”

The board agreed last spring to address increasing enrollment by building a third middle school and by expanding and renovating Carroll High School. The elected leaders also approved construction of a central office because it has outgrown its space at Perry Hill Elementary School. That project includes renovations to Perry Hill.

Board action Monday addressed the projects’ guaranteed maximum price. Willow Creek Middle School will cost about $73.5 million; the Carroll improvements will cost about $41.1 million; and the new central office and Perry Hill renovations will cost about $15.8 million.

**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 fortwayne.com/subscriptions/ [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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Monday, January 29, 2024

In Case You Missed It – January 29, 2024

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.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK

"'The primary role of chaplains is to provide pastoral or religious counseling to people in spiritual need,' the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana said in a statement. 'Allowing them to assume official positions — whether paid or voluntary — in public schools will create an environment ripe for religious coercion and indoctrination of students.'

"...Chaplains are trained and certified to provide spiritual and emotional support. Lawmakers should leave mental health care services to the professional school counselors qualified to do that job."
-- Editorial in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**

SCHOOL CHAPLAINS INSTEAD OF COUNSELORS?

Not content with diverting tax dollars meant for public schools to religious and private schools, Indiana Republicans are now trying to open the door to religious proselytization in public schools. Write or call your local legislators and tell them NO! to chaplains in public schools.

Bills to employ school chaplains, allow religious instruction move forward in Indiana legislature

From Indiana Capital Chronicle
Lines between church and state blurred at the Indiana Statehouse on Wednesday as lawmakers gave the go-ahead for two education bills that seek to increase students’ access to faith leaders and religious instruction.

One proposal, House Bill 1137, would require schools to approve parental requests for students to leave school during the day for religious instruction. A separate measure, Senate Bill 50, could bring paid chaplains into Indiana’s public schools. Both bills advanced from their assigned committees and now head to the respective chambers for further consideration.

Faith-based school chaplains would test First Amendment

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Indiana’s student-to-counselor ratio ranks worst in the nation, according to the 2023 State of the Indiana Girl Report published in September.

Two bills introduced in the General Assembly — one in the House, the other in the Senate — seek to fill the counselor void, but critics say their solution is unconstitutional and could end up further harming some children’s emotional and mental health.

House Bill 1192 and Senate Bill 50 would allow public and charter schools to employ chaplains, or approve them as volunteers, to counsel students and staff. Though school chaplains wouldn’t be required to divulge privileged or confidential communications, the bills are written to invite skepticism as to the ultimate goal of allowing pastoral care.

The Senate version, authored by Sen. Stacey Donato, R-Logansport, says a chaplain may only provide secular assistance, unless the student (or their parent or guardian) gives consent for religious advice, guidance and support services. The House proposal of Rep. Doug Miller, R-Elkhart, does not include such language.

“The primary role of chaplains is to provide pastoral or religious counseling to people in spiritual need,” the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana said in a statement. “Allowing them to assume official positions — whether paid or voluntary — in public schools will create an environment ripe for religious coercion and indoctrination of students.”

Without any oversight to prevent chaplains from imposing their own religious viewpoint on the children they counsel, HB 1192 and SB 50 could undermine the religious freedom of students of all faiths and no faith.

KINDERGARTEN FOR KINDERGARTENERS!

Nancy Bailey: It’s Time to Take Back Kindergarten!

Play is children's work...for better health, better learning, and happier children!

From Diane Ravitch
Nancy Bailey is a retired educator who has seen the damage wrought by No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, and the nonsensical grandchild called Every Student Succeeds Act. We can say now with hindsight that many children were left behind, we did not make it to the Top, and every student is not succeeding.

Nancy knows that the greatest casualty of these ruinous federal laws and programs are young children. Instead of playing, instead of socializing, instead of living their best lives as children, they are being prepared to take tests. This is nuts!

Nancy explains in this post (originally from 2021 but nothing has changed) why the status quo is harmful to small children and how it should change...
INDIANA POLITICS

NPE Action endorses Jennifer McCormick for Governor of Indiana.

Jennifer McCormick, former Indiana State Superintendent of Public Instruction, gets NPE-Action's endorsement for Indiana Governor.

From the Network for Public Education Action
The Network for Public Education Action gives its strongest endorsement to Jennifer McCormick for Governor of Indiana. Jennifer is a lifelong educator and native of Indiana. 

Jennifer is a former teacher, principal and school superintendent. She served as State Superintendent of Public Instruction from 2017 to 2021. During that time she took on the legislature, eventually changing political parties. 

Jennifer told us that as governor, she “will focus on aggressively funding the expansion of quality and affordable childcare as well as universal PreK so all children have the foundational skills necessary to succeed in the K12 environment. She said she “will appoint a Secretary of Education and members of the state board of education that understand the ever-evolving needs of Indiana students and implement programs that develop the skills critical to thrive in a changing world and prepare Hoosier kids for careers, college, and life after high school.”

FORT WAYNE AREA NEWS

We have lots of news from Allen County and Fort Wayne this week. See the link to subscribe to the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette at the end of this post.

Implications are imposing for education overhaul bills

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Lawmakers are throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks in their quest to educate more Hoosiers — whether through job training or traditional college.

But some of the discussions carry concerning consequences. Two major proposals this year deserve in-depth examination that a short session likely can’t provide.

First up is an effort by House Republicans to allow key higher education scholarships and grants to be used for job training instead of toward full-time college credits.

The legislation impacts the 21st Century Scholars program, Freedom of Choice Grant and the Higher Education Award. Collectively, the current budget includes about $330 million annually in state funding for that aid.

Each program has slightly different rules, but generally there are GPA and credit completion requirements. And all specify that students must be attending a two-year or four-year program on a full-time basis...

...The second major proposal is Senate Bill 8, which will blur the line between two- and four-year degree institutions that was set up 20 years ago.

At that time, under Gov. Mitch Daniels, a study by the Government Efficiency Commission recommended establishing Ivy Tech as a true community college system, and phasing out associate degree programs at other campuses.

That’s because it would be cheaper to earn an associate degree at Ivy Tech the first two years then transfer to a traditional four-year school for bachelor’s and graduate degrees.

Indiana education secretary says schools can get started on proposed literacy initiatives

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Will Hoosier schools have the funds to launch new literacy mandates proposed by state lawmakers? Indiana Secretary of Education Katie Jenner this week maintained they do – at least for now.

She said Thursday the Indiana Department of Education has enough holdover dollars to roll out additional reading tests and expanded summer school options laid out in Senate Bill 1, which is under consideration at the Statehouse.

And more state funds are expected to be requested in the 2025 budget session.
FWCS to offer employees child care stipend with $750,000 grant

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Fort Wayne Community Schools will use $750,000 in state funding to help employees pay for child care.

The program’s implementation should provide the district with information it doesn’t have about its 4,050 workers, said Mitch Sheppard, philanthropy director.

“If you were to say, ‘What do our employees need? How severe is the child care need?’ We really don’t know,” she told the school board Monday.

The one-time grant from the Family and Social Services Administration will be distributed on a reimbursement basis to employees using state-licensed child care facilities. The program will launch as soon as possible, Sheppard said.

Remote learning challenges: What school officials in Allen County are considering

From WANE.com
Area school district officials told WANE 15 Tuesday they are learning as they go as winter weather challenges have led to more remote learning days.

WANE 15 spoke with Mark Daniel, superintendent of Fort Wayne Community Schools (FWCS), and Park Ginder, superintendent of Southwest Allen County Schools (SACS), and Tamyra Kelly, the Public Information Officer at East Allen County Schools (EACS) to see how remote learning days have gone so far...

...At FWCS, Daniel said there’s a lot of room for improvement. He said they want students more engaged and interactive.

“Remote learning days are not the same as being in school in person,” Daniel said. “So we know that we’re trying to be flexible, but at the same time, we need our students and our parents and our staff to fully engage.”

Each school year, each district gets 3 e-learning days where students work independently, but remote learning days that require students to Zoom with a teacher are unlimited.

Daniel said if things don’t improve, there could be changes.

Northwest Allen County Schools sees challenges due to property tax cap

From WANE.com
Northwest Allen County Schools (NACS) is seeing the effects of a property tax cap passed by the Indiana General Assembly in 2023.

House Bill 1499 capped property taxes at 4% to provide relief for homeowners as home values were skyrocketing over the past few years. That cap has resulted in less money than anticipated being funneled into Indiana schools. Most districts are faring well because their growth in student population is stable. But NACS is an outlier, said Superintendent Wayne Barker.

According to Barker, the rapidly growing district is losing out on around $1.2 million in tax money over two years due to this cap. As the more people move into the district limits, the district needs more buses, drivers, faculty and staff. All of that requires money. This means other projects will have to wait, Barker said.

FWCS board accepts $500,000 for $14.7 million early learning center, more fundraising expected

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
A formal campaign should be announced soon for a $14.7 million early learning center benefiting teen parents in Fort Wayne Community Schools, the district’s philanthropy director said.

About $4 million in contracts and soft commitments has been raised so far, Mitch Sheppard told the school board Monday while presenting a $500,000 Early Learning Indiana grant for approval.

“We’re bringing this one forward because the donor has asked us to get the grant on the books,” she said. “You’ll be hearing a lot more about (the project) soon as we’ll have some donations of land and significant additional fundraising to back it up.”

Southwest Allen County Schools receives Juul settlement payments

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Southwest Allen County Schools’ participation in a nationwide lawsuit against electronic cigarette giant Juul Labs Inc. has started paying off.

The district’s nine traditional schools received a collective $43,193 boost from the settlement’s first installment. The school board approved the distributions Tuesday as part of its consent agenda.

SACS, Fort Wayne Community Schools, East Allen County Schools and Northwest Allen County Schools were among entities nationwide that accused Juul of designing and marketing its products to appeal to youth.

Fort Wayne Community Schools to limit students' access to cellphones

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Fort Wayne Community Schools leaders agreed Monday to spend $120,864 on equipment limiting students’ access to their cellphones during the school day.

The district will pilot the use of magnetic lock-and-release student phone pouches at four middle and high schools beginning this academic year, although the exact timing is unknown, said Jack Byrd, chief systems officer.

The sealed magnetic devices will allow students to keep their phones in their possession throughout the school day, but the phones will be inaccessible until they can be unlocked by specialized magnets.

**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 fortwayne.com/subscriptions/ [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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Monday, January 22, 2024

In Case You Missed It – January 22, 2024

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.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

"Public schools (and free college) made it possible for America to produce an explosion of invention and innovation throughout the mid-20th century; now other countries are surpassing us, as the dumbing-down of our kids has become institutionalized in Red state after Red state.

And public schools gave many students their first experience of interacting with people who look different from them and grew up under different circumstances, awakening many young people to the discrimination and unfairness inherent in how America has historically treated minorities.

All of which explains why Republicans so badly want to put an end to public education in America."
-- Thom Hartman, quoted by Diane Ravitch in Why Rightwingers Oppose Public Schools

VOUCHERS AND THE ALL-WHITE "ACADEMY" MOVEMENT

Thom Hartmann: Why Rightwingers Oppose Public Schools

From Diane Ravitch
...in 1954, the US Supreme Court upset the education apple cart by declaring in their Brown v Board case that “separate but equal” schools, segregated by race, were anything but “equal.” That decision fueled two movements that live on to this day.

The first was the rightwing anti-communist movement spearheaded by the John Birch Society, which was heavily funded back then by Fred Koch, the father of Charles and David Koch. They put up billboards across the country demanding that Americans rise up and “Impeach Earl Warren,” who was then the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, for requiring “communist” racial integration of our schools.

The second was the private, all-white “academy” movement that has morphed over the years into charter schools and the “school choice” movement of today. It received a major boost when the white supremacist co-founder of neoliberalism, Milton Friedman, published a widely-read and influential article in 1955 explicitly calling for what he called “education vouchers” to fund all-white private schools to “solve the national crisis” the Court had created.

WHAT REALLY MATTERS TO PUBLIC EDUCATION

Jan Resseger: The Culture Wars Are Obscuring What Really Matters

From Diane Ravitch
Jan Resseger, dedicated champion of social justice, explains that the culture wars are a ruse that diverts [us] from far more important issues. Book-banning and attacks on diversity-equity-inclusion are outrageous, but even more so is our indifference to structural issues, such as adequate funding, persistent racial segregation, and the privatization movement.

THE INDIANA GENERAL ASSEMBLY CONTINUES ITS ATTACK ON PUBLIC EDUCATION

It’s Not a Good Start for the Short Session

Vic Smith provides in-depth coverage of the Indiana General Assembly's continuing quest to privatize public education in Indiana. Follow him and support the Indiana Coalition for Public Education

From the Indiana Coalition for Public Education
Two Senate bills, SB 255 and SB 143, directly implement Milton Friedman’s plan to give school funding to parents and not to schools, abruptly ending the way public education in Indiana has been funded for over a century.

Both bills must be strongly opposed, and promptly. Senate Bill 255 has been scheduled for a hearing on Thursday, January 18 at 9 a.m. in bill author Senator Mishler’s committee, the Senate Appropriations Committee, which meets in Room 431.

One immediate effect of both bills would have taxpayers for the first time pay $7,000 for ANY student in an unaccredited home school.

Indiana lawmakers seem unlikely to tackle school consolidation in 2024 session

From the Indiana Capital Chronicle
A new statewide report is fueling discussions about consolidating Indiana’s smallest school districts, but state lawmakers continue to lack an appetite for action — at least for now.

For years, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce has asked the General Assembly to move legislation that encourages school districts with fewer than 2,000 students to consolidate.

Small and rural school officials — longtime critics of the chamber’s lobby for more school consolidation — are pushing back against the new study and the potential for Indiana policies that would require small schools to increase their student population.

“We don’t have a problem with consolidation, but it needs to be driven by locals — it has to be something they want for it to be successful,” said Chris Lagoni, executive director of the Indiana Small and Rural Schools Association. “Our members do feel like there’s a lot of attacking going on here.”

“The state has said we want more private schools, we want more public schools, we want more choice, more choice, more choice,” he continued. “The chamber advocated for those policies. That’s why we’re just having a hard time understanding this issue — because we’re not attacking it equally across all choices.”

Some public schools could face tax losses under proposed legislation

This is another attempt to divert public money from public schools to privately run schools.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Last week, the Indiana House Ways & Means Committee heard testimony on a proposal extending a cap on referendum levies that could inhibit the ability of public school corporations to convince voters to pay extra property taxes for needed improvements.

Authored by Ways & Means’ Republican Chair Jeff Thompson of Lizton, House Bill 1120 would still allow public school districts to seek additional funding through referendums, but not more than 3% above the maximum tax a district would have levied in the previous year.

When it comes to paying for K-12 education, state lawmakers have a history of moving taxpayer money from public school districts to charter schools.

ANYONE WHO VALUES LIFE...

Iowa: Principal Dan Marburger Dies Defending His Students

From Diane Ravitch
Dan Marburger, who served for almost three decades as principal of the Perry High School, died of the wounds he sustained after being shot by a high school student on January 4.

The high school student killed an 11-year-old sixth grader and wounded several others, then killed himself.

Mr. Marburger gave his life to save the lives of students.

In this country, “gun rights” have more protection than the lives of students, teachers, and principals. Don’t believe those politicians who say they protect “life” but oppose gun control. This is a contradiction or outright hypocrisy. Anyone who values life must demand gun control.

FORT WAYNE AREA NEWS

Schools 101: Southwest Allen, Warsaw programs creates district advocates

Teaching the public about public schools.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Southwest Allen County Schools parents ask Erin Nash questions about topics such as elearning and snow days as if she’s a district expert.

“And I’m not,” said Nash, president of Aboite Elementary School’s Parent Teacher Club.

But she’s more informed about SACS now than she was when the academic year began. She is among 25 people getting an in-depth look at district operations through Southwest Education Advocates, a monthly program that launched in October.

Sessions address topics including school finance, transportation, technology, maintenance, safety, food service, curriculum, special education, testing, English language learners and guidance programming. Daytime tours of three schools – including lunch at one – are planned for March.

“We’re trying to help them understand the big picture of what happens not just during a school day, but what it takes to support a school,” Superintendent Park Ginder said after this month’s session. “We want them to have a well-rounded experience about what it takes to support the learning in the classroom.”
**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 fortwayne.com/subscriptions/ [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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Monday, January 15, 2024

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #377 – January 15, 2024

 Vic's Statehouse Notes is a publication of the Indiana Coalition for Public Education.

Number 377 - January 15, 2024



Vic's Statehouse Notes
By Dr. Vic Smith

It's Not a Good Start for the Short Session




Two Senate bills, SB 255 and SB 143, directly implement Milton Friedman’s plan to give school funding to parents and not to schools, abruptly ending the way public education in Indiana has been funded for over a century.

 

Both bills must be strongly opposed, and promptly. Senate Bill 255 has been scheduled for a hearing on Thursday, January 18 at 9 a.m. in bill author Senator Mishler’s committee, the Senate Appropriations Committee, which meets in Room 431.

 

One immediate effect of both bills would have taxpayers for the first time pay $7,000 for ANY student in an unaccredited home school.


Wow!

 

This blockbuster attack on public schools comes in a session when Republican leaders have been saying that controversial bills would not go forward in this short session.

 

This is an existential threat to public education right out of Milton Friedman’s playbook. Education accounts would be available to all parents through an on-line form operated by the Indiana Treasurer to provide $7,000 in services, the approximate amount provided to each student in the local public school.

 

This is a blockbuster that would unravel public education just as Milton Friedman’s followers have pushed for.

Context for Senate Bill 255

 

SB 255 expires the Choice Scholarship (Voucher) Program and the Education Scholarship Account (ESA) Program on June 30, 2025, replacing them with the newly named Funding Students First (FSF) Grant Program as a two-year pilot program through June 30, 2027. It allows parents of students who are homeschooled or who attend public or non-public schools to apply to the Treasurer for a grant.

 

It is unknown what would happen at the end of the two-year pilot program.

 

This is the first time unaccredited home school students would get the same funding now given to private school voucher students. The non-partisan Legislative Services Agency estimates state expenditures would go up by S46.5 million.


Context for Senate Bill 143

 

SB 143 would extend the ill-advised law passed in the 2021 budget using state money to fund unaccredited home schools for special education students. Parents of a few special education students argued that they needed complete control of their special education student’s schooling. The General Assembly passed this limited program and budgeted $10 million for the Indiana Treasurer to run the on line program. Then only 137 students signed up the first year and 431 in the second year, costing about $5.5 million according to the Legislative Services Agency.

 

Instead of trimming back the budget which was not being used, SB 143 proposes to spend the rest of the $10 million by opening up the home school funding to ALL home school students, not just special education students, on a first-come, first-served basis.

 

This is obviously a “foot in the door” bill to do what Milton Friedman’s followers are trying to do right away in the sweeping Senate Bill 255: give money to parents to choose among private school and home school options. Friedman wanted to end all state involvement in schools and treat education as a private good rather than the public good it currently is, providing the backbone of our communities and our democracy. 

 

SB 143’s ESA expansion would give public school opponents a toehold to expand the program each year with a bigger budget until eventually every student could have a home school ESA, while public schools shrink and lose their roles as centers of the community and conduits of democracy to the next generation. 

 

SB 255’s expansion is not incremental but makes all unaccredited home school students eligible for state funding right away. All voucher restrictions based on family income are gone. This goal has been the Holy Grail for Milton Friedman followers, and SB 255 makes it all come true.

 

What are some of the problems here?


1) Tutors and providers on the list approved by the Indiana Treasurer do not have to have criminal background checks, unlike all teachers and even volunteers in public schools.

 

2) Extremist home schooling parents could teach hate, discrimination and autocracy on the taxpayer’s dime. No one would know.

 

3) This would be the end of high standards for education in Indiana. Taking the ILEARN test is the only requirement, but there are no consequences to the home school or to the student for a low score. The two-decade push for higher standards in Indiana schools would be over. 

 

4) There is no supervision and no accountability for the parents running the home school using your tax dollars. They have to select providers from a list approved by the Indiana Treasurer, but the rest of the unaccredited home school has no oversight by anyone.

 

 5) This radical change will jolt the Indiana education system so much that highly sought young teachers will choose to go to other states, adding to our teacher shortage.


6) The non-partisan Legislative Services Agency estimates state expenditures would go up by S46.5 million.

 

Can We Risk Our Democracy?

 

State laws ban racial discrimination in our public schools. Private schools offering vouchers must sign a pledge on penalty of perjury to uphold the same laws against discrimination. There are no such laws, however, restricting home schools from teaching discrimination or supporting autocracy. 

 

These bills put our democracy at risk! 

 

How many radically educated students would it take to topple the broad consensus in support of our Constitution?

 

No one will ever know what kind of home schools these parents are operating. They do not have to file reports or host any visitations. The tax payers are shut out of any influence over curriculum. Tax payers pay the bill and then lose all say in the direction of the ESA schools.

 

The followers of Milton Friedman are actively supporting the bill because they want no government role in schools except to fund private schools. Let your senator and the following Education Committee members know how strongly you oppose these bills and the funding of unaccredited home schools.

 

You can copy these e-mail addresses and paste them into the "TO" field of your email:

 

Senate Education Committee: Senate Bill 143

 

Senator.Hunley@iga.in.gov

Senator.Buchanan@iga.in.govSenator.Crane@iga.in.gov;

Senator.Dernulc@iga.in.govSenator.Donato@iga.in.gov;

Senator.jdford@iga.in.govSenator.Leising@iga.in.gov;

Senator.Qaddoura@iga.in.govSenator.Raatz@iga.in.gov;

Senator.Rogers@iga.in.govSenator.Deery@iga.in.gov;

Senator.Johnson@iga.in.govSenator.Yoder@iga.in.gov



Senate Appropriations Committee: Senate Bill 255

 

Senator.Mishler@iga.in.govSenator.Bassler@iga.in.gov;

Senator.Brown@iga.in.govSenator.Busch@iga.in.gov;

Senator.Charbonneau@iga.in.govSenator.Crider@iga.in.gov;

Senator.Qaddoura@iga.in.govSenator.Raatz@iga.in.gov;

Senator.Freeman@iga.in.govSenator.Garten@iga.in.gov;

Senator.Holdman@iga.in.govSenator.Yoder@iga.in.gov

Senator.Niezgodski@iga.in.gov;Senator.Randolph@iga.in.gov;

 

Our public schools that have served as the backbone of our democracy for 170 years deserve our support.

 

Thank you for your active support of public education in Indiana!

 

Best wishes,

 

Vic Smith     vic790@aol.com 


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