Monday, June 10, 2024

In Case You Missed It – June 10, 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 addition of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is one more step we can take to have a real impact on the lives of our youngest (community members),” [said Allen County Commissioner Rich Beck]. “We are ready to engage our community in securing funds not only to launch the program but to sustain it in the long run.”

Donations can be made at acpl.info/imaginationlibrary or at any branch."
-- in Allen County Public Library fundraising for Dolly Parton's Imagination Library.

LOCAL NEWS

Allen County Public Library fundraising for Dolly Parton's Imagination Library

In 1995, Dolly Parton launched the Imagination Library in Sevier County, Tennessee, where she was born and raised. She was inspired by her own father’s inability to read or write and determined that there had to be a way to help children fall in love with books. The program sends free books to children from birth to age five and helped to inspire a love of reading in the lives of the children in the mountains of her youth. Now, with your help, the same program is coming to Fort Wayne...

From Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
The Allen County Public Library is using Dolly Parton’s favorite children’s book – “The Little Engine That Could” – as the inspiration for its next fundraiser, its executive director said.

“What did the train say? ‘I think I can,’ ” Susan Baier said during a Thursday news conference. “I think we can as well. I think Allen County can make this a reality, and we are asking all of you to get the momentum going.”

The library’s staff announced a new $100,000 fundraising campaign with the Allen County Public Library Foundation to bring Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to local children. The program gives one free book each month to children from birth to age 5.

The library needs to raise money to fund the program’s launch and sustain the first two years.
Click to donate to the Imagination Library at ACPL.

FWCS expands Peacemaker program after success at South Side

From The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Next week, more than 60 Fort Wayne high school students will begin training with a local nonprofit on how to cultivate a culture of peace at their school during the 2024-25 school year.

Alive Community Outreach’s Peacemaker Academy started as a nonviolent leadership development program at South Side High School. Since 2021, school officials say the Alive initiative has contributed to a reduction in fights, late arrivals and disruptive conduct.

In February, the Fort Wayne Community Schools board awarded Alive a $500,000 contract to expand the Peacemaker program to North Side, Northrop, Snider and Wayne high schools with money from the school district’s recent Safer FWCS referendum.

Subsequent contracts will come to the school board yearly, Matt Schiebel, FWCS’ executive director of safety and community partnerships, told The Journal Gazette’s Ashley Sloboda. He said the district will evaluate the program’s progress annually and make adjustments as needed.

A STUDENT SUCCESS STORY

Man with Sixteen College Degrees Can’t Read

Check out this fascinating article…

From Nancy Flanagan who blogs at Teacher in a Strange Land
I mostly stay out of the Reading Wars. Not because I don’t have opinions on reading instruction. I emphatically do. I avoid the controversy because—as a lifelong music teacher—expressing that opinion inevitably leads to a pack of Science of Reading enthusiasts pointing out that I am not a reading teacher, and therefore what do I know?

This is deeply ironic, as those same SOR fans also spend lots of time criticizing experienced reading specialists. Also–I have taught in the neighborhood of 4000-5000 kids, over 30+ years, to read music, relying on a wide array of pedagogical techniques. But that form of reading instruction evidently carries no water with the SOR bullies.

I was intrigued today by a story in NY Times Magazine about Benjamin Bolger
NEW ORLEANS CHARTER DISTRICT

After a 7-year experiment, New Orleans is an all-charter district no more

This excellent article summarizes how the marketplace system fails children.

After a 7-year experiment, New Orleans is an all-charter district no more.

From Route Fifty
In August, New Orleans Public Schools will open a district-operated school named for Leah Chase, a late civil rights activist and revered matriarch of a culinary dynasty. The school will eventually serve 320 students from pre-K through eighth grade, with an emphasis on the city’s culture and history. Located in a historic building, it will replace the failing Lafayette Academy Charter School

As they hire Leah Chase’s teachers, pick its uniforms and curricula and arrange for transportation and lunches, district leaders are also creating the administrative jobs other school systems rely on to oversee individual buildings. These central office departments will make it easier for NOLA Public Schools to open more “direct-run” schools, Superintendent Avis Williams says.

You read that right: New Orleans’ love-it-or-hate-it, seven-year experiment as the nation’s first all-charter school system is coming to a close. Going forward, it will act both as a charter school authorizer and an old-fashioned school district.

INDIANA DIPLOMA CHANGES

‘You are hurting the future of the state’: Educators share views on Indiana’s proposed high school diploma changes

Listen to educators!

From 21 Alive
“You are hurting the future of this state in more ways than one with these proposed changes,” a teacher said. “You pay little to no regard to those in the trenches who have to figure out the logistics and add more to their overflowing plates to carry out your ideas.”

Back in March, the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) announced a proposal to change the number of high school diploma options from four down to two. They say the consolidation is part of an ongoing effort to rethink the high school experience making it more career-relevant and learner-centric.

In the proposal, Indiana’s future diplomas would include the Indiana GPS (Graduates Prepared to Succeed) Diploma, a more flexible version of the current Core 40 diploma, and the Indiana GPS Diploma Plus, a work-based learning approach. IDOE says the new diplomas will align with the state’s current graduation pathways and the five characteristics of the Indiana GPS model.
**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, June 3, 2024

In Case You Missed It – June 3, 2024

Here are links to articles from the last two weeks 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 rise of vouchers is especially damaging given that we now know what does boost educational outcomes: more spending on public education. Leaving these potential gains on the table and promoting voucher programs instead of investing in public education demonstrates that kids’ education is not a priority." -- from Vouchers undermine efforts to provide an excellent public education for all

INDIANA VOUCHERS

Indiana's 2023-24 Voucher Report is out now. Here are three articles about the findings.

Indiana: Vouchers Gain Momentum as Income Limits Are Removed

From Diane Ravitch
Indiana started small with vouchers. They were supposed to “save poor kids from failing schools.” But it was the old camel’s-nose-under-the-tent routine. The real goal of voucher advocates was not to help poor kids escape “failing schools,” but to subsidize upper-middle-class and wealthy families who already had children in private schools.

And although 87% of Indiana’s students are enrolled in public schools, the Republican governor and legislature continue to expand the voucher program.

A new state report described the voucher expansion. Mind you, no one claims that students are getting a better education in nonpublic schools, just that are getting public money to subsidize the costs.

439 million ‘dollars to discriminate’

From Steve Hinnefeld at School Matters
Indiana’s 2023-24 voucher report is out, and the results are what we expected. The program, which provides state-funded tuition vouchers for students in private schools, got a lot bigger and a lot more expensive with legislation that made nearly all Hoosier students eligible.

It enrolled a record 70,095 students, a 31% increase over the previous year. And the cost to taxpayers ballooned to $439 million, some 40% higher than in 2022-23.

Indiana private school voucher participation sees historic boost, according to new report

From Indiana Capital Chronicle
Indiana’s private school voucher program enrollment jumped about 32% in the most recent school year, marking a historic single-year jump, according to the state’s latest voucher report.

The state-funded program enrolled a record 70,095 students in 2023-2024, costing taxpayers $439 million — which is around 40% higher than the $311 million spent on vouchers in the year prior.

MORE ON VOUCHERS

Vouchers undermine efforts to provide an excellent public education for all

Vouchers harm schools and students.

From Economic Policy Institute
Since the early 2000s, many states have introduced significant voucher programs to provide public financing for private school education. These voucher programs are deeply damaging to efforts to offer an excellent public education for all U.S. children—and this is in fact often the intention of those pushing these programs.

TEXAS BIBLE CURRICULUM

Texas education leaders unveil Bible-infused elementary school curriculum

Texas injects religion into its public schools.

From Dallas Weekly dot com (DW)
...Districts will have the option of whether to use the materials, but will be incentivized to do so with up to $60 per student in additional funding...

...an initial review of the proposed state textbooks show that religious materials feature prominently, with texts sourced from the Bible as the most heavily used...
RELIGIOUS CHARTERS

What Would Religious Charter Schools Mean for Public Education?

More on public dollars used for religious purposes...

From Education Week
The charter school movement was once the golden child of the U.S. education reform world, celebrated and bolstered by billionaire philanthropists and by politicians of both major parties. But charter schools are in the midst of radical changes and are confronting an increasingly unstable alliance supporting them.

ALFIE KOHN

The Siren Song of “Evidence-Based” Instruction

Education lecturer and author Alfie Kohn writes about evidence-based instruction. There's thoughtful information here that can be used to analyze the current "science of reading" fad.

From Alfie Kohn
I’m geeky enough to get a little excited each time a psychology or education journal lands in my mailbox. Indeed, I’ve spent a fair portion of my life sorting through, critically analyzing, and writing about social science research. Even my books that are intended for general readers contain, sometimes to the dismay of my publishers, lengthy bibliographies plumped with primary sources so that anyone who’s curious or skeptical can track down the studies I’ve cited.

Why, then, have I developed a severe allergy to the phrases “evidence-based” and “the science of…” when they’re used to justify certain educational practices? It took me awhile to sort out my concerns and realize that these terms raise five distinct questions.

1. What kind of evidence?

INDIANA NEWS

Indiana’s new diplomas emphasize flexibility for older students, but some requirements are controversial

From Chalkbeat Indiana*
A proposed redesign of Indiana’s high school graduation requirements to emphasize student choice and work-based learning has drawn concerns from educators who say it’s too much change too soon.

LOCAL NEWS

Public meetings scheduled to approve new SACS Superintendent

This is a video report on a series of public hearings for SACS proposed superintendent.
June 11 at 7 PM, Administrative Conference Room
June 18 at 6 PM, School Board Meeting
July 1, First day on the job if approved
From 21 Alive News

Southwest Allen County Schools announces new superintendent

From WANE.com
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Southwest Allen County Schools has announced that a new superintendent will take over for the district starting July 1 after Dr. Park Ginder announced his retirement after the 2023-2024 school year.

The SACS Board of Trustees has named Dr. Kent DeKoninck as the next superintendent of the SACS district.
Fort Wayne, IN

*Note: Financial sponsors of Chalkbeat include pro-privatization foundations and individuals such as Bloomberg Philanthropies, Gates Family Foundation, The Walton Family Foundation, and others.

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, May 20, 2024

In Case You Missed It – May 20, 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

"Vouchers were supposed to improve educational outcomes for poor children. The programs have not only failed to improve learning outcomes, they have increased racial segregation, facilitated religious discrimination, and been a windfall for the wealthy (many of whom already had children in private schools), all while robbing the nation’s public schools of desperately needed resources.

They’ve been a civic and educational disaster."
-- Sheila Kennedy in Race, Religion, Money And Vouchers

VOUCHERS CONTRIBUTE TO AN INCREASE IN SEGREGATION

Race, Religion, Money And Vouchers

Not only do voucher programs drain money from public schools, fail to increase student achievement, and fill the bank accounts of religious organizations with public tax dollars, but they have also led to a rise in school segregation.

From Sheila Kennedy
The nefarious effects of educational vouchers continue to be documented.

The Washington Post recently reported on a study confirming what a number of prior studies have suggested: that an unexpected rise in racial segregation is largely attributable to the expansion of school voucher programs.
Ahead of the 70th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, a study being released Monday shows a pronounced increase in school segregation since 1988, particularly in large school districts with significant numbers of Black students.

Overall, school segregation between Black and White students has increased by 25 percent since 1991 in the 533 large districts serving at least 2,500 Black students — a significant increase but nowhere near the decline that occurred in the aftermath of Brown, according to the study. (Of note: the paper makes clear that most of the school segregation in the United States is driven by demographic differences between districts, not within them.)
The study found that the problem was not housing segregation, although that certainly helps explain school segregation, because housing has become less segregated since 1991. It also found that rising school segregation isn’t driven by economic inequality, which has also declined over this period.
The researchers point to two specific policies: federal courts releasing school districts, including Charlotte-Mecklenburg, from obligations to desegregate schools beginning in significant numbers in the late 1990s; and school-choice policies that let parents pick what school their children attend.
Surprise!–NOT.

YET ANOTHER BILLIONAIRE WANTS TO "FIX" EDUCATION

Peter Greene: Elon Musk Proclaims His Views about Fixing Education

Your child's teachers know more about education than your local, state, and federal legislators, media pundits, and the billionaires who regularly dump their riches into schemes detrimental to public schools.

From Diane Ravitch
I think most educators would agree that they are tired of getting lectures from billionaires about how to teach or how to fix the problems of American education.

But Peter Greene reports that the richest man in the world, Elon Musk, has decided it’s time for him to add his uninformed views to those of Bill Gates, Betsy DeVos, the Walton family, and a long list of financiers, all of whom use their wealth to change the schools.
TEACHER COMPENSATION -- STILL INADEQUATE

The Grinch Who Stole Teacher Appreciation Week

The younger the children, the more important the teachers are, and the less they're paid. It's time to realign our priorities to favor our children...and our future.

From Teacher in a Strange Land Blog - Nancy Flanagan
I’ve always been of the opinion that teachers get so few routine perks in their professional lives they deserve every random treat or award that meanders their way–from sticky little misspelled mash notes to free use of a leased SUV.

After all, there aren’t many workplaces where professionals end up providing their own materials, cleaning services and professional development. There aren’t many college-educated specialists who gladly share their expertise for free–or attend a weekend conference on their own dime, then arrive at work on Monday morning, without a thought for “comp time.” Because if they didn’t show up, someone would have to pay. And it shouldn’t be the teacher next door, or their students.

For these reasons, and a hundred more, nobody begrudges teachers the tokens of appreciation that come their way this week, from the handmade construction-paper cards to the potluck lunch from the PTA. I love it when teachers invite their former students to check in on Facebook–or when they post their stats (years of experience, states/countries/schools, degrees, subjects and so on). It’s good to see colleagues reclaim their honor or share a few points of pride.

But it’s time we asked ourselves just who gets ‘appreciated’ once a year–and whose work is considered vital, essential, and fully professional year-round, with no need for annual symbolic gestures. There’s something about Teacher Appreciation Week that smacks of a pat on the head for being willing to go the distance without adequate compensation or support. We’re supposed to persist and excel ‘for the kids’–a phrase that teachers rightfully perceive as specious and manipulative.

UPGRADE FOR SCHOOL MEALS

School meals get an upgrade: What to expect going forward

From the Center for Science in the Public Interest
In April 2024, the USDA issued its 2024 Final Rule Requirements for School Meal Programs. This rule, effective July 1, 2024, updates school meal nutrition standards to bring them in closer alignment with the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The rule will institute the first-ever added sugar limits for school meals and update sodium standards, among other changes.

The meal pattern changes will begin to take effect starting in school year 2025-26 and will be phased in through school year 2027-2028. The new rule represents a significant step toward science-backed nutrition standards in US schools.

In the last decade, the nutritional quality of school meals has improved significantly, thanks in large part to a 2012 rule that updated school nutrition standards following passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Between school years 2009-2010 and 2014-2015, school meals increased in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, and decreased in saturated fat and sodium.

Despite these marked improvements, school meals still have room for improvement...
LOCAL NEWS

Indiana sees record participation in voucher program

Indiana's voucher program was never meant to help "poor kids" in "failing schools." The plan has always been to divert money from public education to line the pockets of religious institutions and entrepreneurs. The fact that this harms public education is not a problem for most, and a feature for some.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Participation in Indiana’s school voucher program has nearly doubled in the last three years, with a record 70,095 students – including nearly 10,000 from Allen County – receiving money this academic year to attend private K-12 institutions, according to a new annual report.

The additional 16,833 participants – the largest-ever increase in the Choice Scholarship Program – represented a 31.6% hike from the previous year, the Indiana Department of Education report said.

Participation totaled 35,698 as recently as the 2020-21 year.

This year, students were awarded about $439 million – a 41% increase from last year’s $312 million, the report said.
How much have your county public schools lost to vouchers?

**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, May 13, 2024

In Case You Missed It – May 13, 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

"Democratic House Minority Leader Shelli Yoder called prohibiting other methods of teaching 'heavy-handed' and 'tyrannical,' even if well-intentioned.

"'If we’ve done one thing it is to communicate to teachers that we do not trust your profession, and we’re gonna micromanage it,' Yoder said. 'And we’re going to make sure that you use this one method of teaching reading. That does create a bit of a pause for me.'"
-- Indiana Joins States Mandating the Science of Reading in Classrooms

THE SCIENCE OF READING MANDATES

Indiana has jumped on the Science of Reading (SoR) bandwagon which includes banning other methods of teaching reading. The state's NAEP scores in reading have dropped, though they are still around the national average. This has given the legislature the excuse to micromanage education, while -- no surprise -- blaming teachers, for the "reading crisis." Other states with legislatures not favorable to public education are joining in -- like Iowa.

The Science of Reading debate is a rehashing of the ongoing "Reading Wars" which pits so-called "phonics first" techniques against so-called "whole language" methods. The debate is not settled.

How many reading education experts are members of the Indiana legislature?

For more information on this topic, see...

The Science of Reading Movement: The never-ending debate and the need for a different approach to reading instruction

ILEC Response: Reading Science: Staying the course amidst the noise (Albert Shanker Institute)

Iowa Mandates “Science of Reading”

The following two articles from Diane Ravitch provide some information about the debate.

From Diane Ravitch
The “Science of Reading” is the panacea of the moment. Iowa’s Governor Kim Reynolds signed a bill requiring the use of SofR in the state’s classrooms.

ADEL, Iowa (Gray Television Iowa Capitol Bureau) – Governor Kim Reynolds signed a new law Tuesday meant to boost literacy rates for Iowa children. It requires schools teach a specific reading method, called the Science of Reading, and develop individual plans for students not at grade level.

Nick Covington: What the “Science of Reading” Overlooks

From Diane Ravitch
Nick Covington taught social studies for a decade. He recently decided to delve into the mystique of “the science of reading.” He concluded that we have been “sold a story.”

He begins:

Literacy doesn’t come in a box, we’ll never find our kids at the bottom of a curriculum package, and there can be no broad support for systemic change that excludes input from and support for teachers implementing these programs in classrooms with students.

Exactly one year after the final episode of the podcast series that launched a thousand hot takes and opened the latest front of the post-pandemic Reading Wars, I finally dug into Emily Hanford’s Sold A Story from American Public Media. Six episodes later, I’m left with the ironic feeling that the podcast, and the narrative it tells, missed the point. My goal with this piece is to capture the questions and criticisms that I have not just about the narrative of Sold A Story but of the broader movement toward “The Science of Reading,” and bring in other evidence and perspectives that inform my own. I hope to make the case that “The Science of Reading” is not a useful label to describe the multiple goals of literacy; that investment in teacher professionalization is inoculation against being Sold A Story; and that the unproductive and divisive Reading Wars actually make it more difficult for us to think about how to cultivate literate kids. The podcast, and the Reading Wars it launched, disseminate an incomplete and oversimplified picture of a complex process that plasters over the gaps with feverish insistence.
MORE NON-EXPERTS IN EDUCATION

Elon Musk Has Some Education Thoughts

Yet another billionaire who thinks that his money makes him an education expert.

From Peter Greene at Curmudgucation
Elon Musk has some thoughts about education, and because he's Very Rich, Fortune Magazine decided it should share some of those thoughts, despite Musk's utter lack of qualifications to talk about education.

Reporter Christiaan Hetzner mostly covers business in Europe, so it's not clear how he stumbled into this particular brief piece, which appears to be lifting a piece of a larger conversation into an article. I'd love a new rule that says every time an outlet gives space to a rich guy's musings about areas in which he has no expertise, the outlet also publishes a piece about the musings of some ordinary human on the topic--maybe even an ordinary human who is an expert in the area.

Hetzner launches right in with both feet.
More than a century ago, Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw wrote, “He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches.” Well, Elon Musk is a doer with a lot of children, and he’s reached the conclusion he doesn’t want his kids to learn from some has-been or never-was simply because they landed a job in a local school thanks to a lack of competition.
It's not clear if Hetzner is editorializing or trying to channel Musk's point of view (I think perhaps the latter), but somebody here is really full of it. I'm not going to argue about Musk's doer qualifications, though his ability to profit off the work of others and his interminable botching of twitter leave me unpersuaded of his genius. But this characterization of teachers is some serious bullshit. And things aren't going to get better.

SEGREGATION IS CREEPING BACK UP AGAIN

5 takeaways about segregation 70 years after the Brown decision

America's classrooms are still struggling with segregation.

From The Hechinger Report
...1. The long view shows progress but a worrying uptick, especially in big cities

Not much changed for almost 15 years after the Brown decision. Although Black students had the right to attend another school, the onus was on their families to demand a seat and figure out how to get their child to the school. Many schools remained entirely Black or entirely white...

2. School choice plays a role in recent segregation

Why is segregation creeping back up again?

The expiration of court orders that mandated school integration and the expansion of school choice policies, including the rapid growth of charter schools, explains all of the increase in segregation from 2000 onward, said Reardon. Over 200 medium-sized and large districts were released from desegregation court orders from 1991 to 2009, and racial school segregation in these districts gradually increased in the years afterward.

School choice, however, appears to be the dominant force. More than half of the increase in segregation in the 2000s can be attributed to the rise of charter schools, whose numbers began to increase rapidly in the late 1990s. In many cases, either white or Black families flocked to different charter schools, leaving behind a less diverse student body in traditional public schools...

NO PUBLIC SCHOOL FOR UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS -- HERITAGE FOUNDATION

Heritage Foundation Wants to Deny the Right to Public Schooling for Undocumented Immigrant Children

The Heritage Foundation argues for denying undocumented immigrant children a chance at public education.

From Jan Resseger
I like to think I know enough about awful public policy that it would be hard to surprise me, but I confess that the beginning of Kalyn Belsha’s new report for Chalkbeat describes a politics so indecent that I was shocked:

“An influential conservative think tank has laid out a strategy to challenge a landmark Supreme Court decision that protects the right of undocumented children to attend public school. The Heritage Foundation, which is spending tens of millions of dollars to craft a policy playbook for a second Trump presidential term… released a brief calling on states to require public schools to charge unaccompanied migrant children and children with undocumented parents tuition to enroll.” (You can look at the Heritage Foundation’s very short policy brief which is part of Heritage’s Project 2025 that lays out an extremely conservative platform.)

Belsha explains Heritage’s reasoning for this cruelty: “Such a move ‘would draw a lawsuit from the Left,’ the brief states, ‘which would likely lead the Supreme Court to reconsider its ill-considered Plyler v. Doe decision’—referring to the 1982 ruling that held it was unconstitutional to deny children a public education based on their immigration status.”

We like to think we are kinder and more civilized in America than we used to be in the days of slavery, Jim Crow, and Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, but I guess the Heritage Foundation feels comfortable taking us back to 1975, when Texas passed a law to deny undocumented children the right, enjoyed by all children in the United States, to a free public education.

LOCAL NEWS

East Allen County Schools teacher earns national honor

Excellent teaching here in our own neighborhood.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
When math teacher Dawn Baxter stepped inside a Paul Harding Junior High School room on Thursday morning, her confusion was evident when colleagues and students cheered her arrival while Kool & The Gang’s “Celebration” played.

Principal Charles Washington quickly ended the suspense. With an arm around Baxter’s shoulders, the administrator said she was named a Math 180 Educator of the Year by learning technology company Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

“Seriously?” Baxter replied.

The recognition honors teachers who demonstrate exceptional commitment to their students’ growth inside and outside of the classroom using the company’s Math 180 intervention program.
**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, May 6, 2024

In Case You Missed It – May 6, 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

"Former Education Secretary Betsy Devos has teamed up with billionaire trader and TikTok investor Jeff Yass to dismantle public education by spending tens of millions on state elections to pass charter and private school voucher bills." -- From Little Sis Public Accountability Initiative in Billionaires Yass, DeVos Team Up to Dismantle Public Schools Across the US.

DEVOS STILL TRYING TO DISMANTLE PUBLIC EDUCATION

Billionaires Yass, DeVos Team Up to Dismantle Public Schools Across the US

Betsy DeVos hasn't given up her dream of destroying public education in America. She's teamed up with TikTok investor Jeff Yass who is eager to help.

From Little Sis: Public Accountability Initiative
On a hot July day in Tampa at the 2022 Moms for Liberty Summit, former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos told the crowd that the US Department of Education should be abolished. This claim – that the very department she recently led should not exist – earned her a standing ovation from the Moms for Liberty members in the room.

The moment highlights how extreme the right wing in the United States has veered on education policy. Newer groups like Moms for Liberty that demonize LGBTQ+ students, critical race theory, and COVID-19 protections as “wokeness gone too far” are not only breathing new life into Betsy DeVos’s long-standing efforts to privatize public education, but are also making education a top issue for the U.S. right wing. Billionaires like DeVos and grassroots groups like Moms for Liberty have come together to form what they call the “education freedom” movement.

But while the DeVos family has been a long time funder of the cause, in recent years the legislative efforts to demonize and defund public schools have been strengthened by another billionaire: Jeff Yass, the co-founder and Managing Director of Susquehanna International Group.

VOUCHERS DRAIN MONEY FROM PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Ohio’s *School Vouchers for All*: Expanded, Expensive, but Not Audited

Vouchers don't help students. They divert public money from public schools to private, mostly religious, schools.

From deutsch29: Mercedes Schneider's Blog
EdChoice, Ohio’s school voucher program, is the subject of a lawsuit dating back to January 2022. Among other issues, the suit notes, “Due in large part to the hundreds of millions of dollars diverted to funding private school tuition through the EdChoice Program, the General Assembly has failed in its constitutional obligation to fully fund Ohio’s public school districts at the level which the General Assembly has, itself, determined to be required.”

Vouchers for All! Money for Public Schools? Well, um…
Since the time the suit was filed, the Ohio legislature has expanded the program such that families with annual incomes of 450% above the poverty line, or $135,000 for a family of four, are eligible for school voucher funds, but it doesn’t stop there: Even families exceeding the $135k/yr cap can receive a small percentage of school voucher funding– a move that arguably contributes to the shifting of school voucher money away from lower-income families and children of color to more affluent families and more white students. From the January 30, 2024, Ohio Capital Journal:
The lawsuit has been active for two years, after Vouchers Hurt Ohio, the Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy of School Funding, and five school districts around Ohio joined together to argue that the private school voucher program has become an disproportionately overgrown and flies in the face of the public school education established in Ohio’s constitution.

CHAPLAIN BILLS POP UP AROUND THE COUNTRY

‘Chaplains’ for Christian Nationalism

Schools need counselors, not proselytizers. 

From A Public Witness
Lawmakers in 13 other states filed similar bills this year. Bills passed one chamber in both Indiana and Utah before dying for this year, while a bill in Oklahoma passed in the state House yesterday (April 24). Another such bill has passed the Senate in Louisiana and just had a committee hearing in the House yesterday.

This new legislative movement for “chaplains” in public schools started last year in Texas. After lawmakers passed a bill that required every school district to vote on whether or not to replace certified counselors with unlicensed “chaplains,” advocates like the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, Interfaith Alliance, and Texas Impact mobilized chaplains and other religious leaders to campaign against local approvals. All 25 of the largest school districts voted against the “chaplaincy” program.

Despite the local organizing success to minimize the impact of the Texas bill, the proposal still inspired copycat bills this year (with even more states likely to consider it next year). As lawmakers debate such legislation, the concern about Satanists being allowed as chaplains popped up in multiple states, thus leading the activist and the governor to try and declare by fiat that such individuals wouldn’t qualify.

JENNIFER MCCORMICK FOR GOVERNOR

Indiana: Jennifer McCormick for Governor!!

Former Republican turned Democrat, Jennifer McCormick, is running for Governor of Indiana.

From Diane Ravitch
Indiana has plunged headlong into privatization of its-once-beloved public schools.

Fortunately, there is a knowledgeable candidate for Governor who has promised to stop the destruction of public education.

Jennifer McCormick is a career educator who began as a special education teacher, then became a language arts teacher, a principal and a district superintendent.

She was elected Indiana State Superintendent of Public Instruction in 2016; she ran as a Republican. She served out her four-year term and switched parties in 2021.

McCormick wrote on Twitter:
Indiana GOP’s school privatization efforts have diverted 1.6B of tax dollars away from public schools, and the majority of communities do not have families and/or private schools participating. As governor, I will champion for Indiana to pause funding school privatization.
LOCAL NEWS

State has chance to reverse its greatest educational error

An explanation about how a good public idea became a bad education policy.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Indiana is in the process of revamping its high school curricula. This could be a superb opportunity to rethink some fundamentals about schooling, its role in society and the needs of the future economy.

It is also a good time to recenter the long-term well-being of students into the discussion.

However, the last time Indiana made significant changes to school curriculum, we failed badly. That cannot happen again.

In December 2013, then-Gov. Mike Pence announced an ambitious plan to offer more career-focused education to Hoosier high school kids who weren’t going to college. It was a smart, thoughtful and much-needed addition to our educational landscape. I was an enthusiastic supporter.

Almost from the beginning, the execution of that plan was botched. It is worth recounting how a very good idea became very bad public policy, and how the accumulated mistakes of a decade continue to haunt Indiana’s economic performance even now and into the distant future.

The Mitch Daniels-era education reforms were successful on almost every important measure. The push for higher standards revealed itself in test scores, graduation rates, and college attendance and success. They strengthened good local public schools and forced bad ones to change.

But not everyone wishes to go to college and, for three generations, we’d cut programs for those students.

Northwest Allen County Schools honors top staffers

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Northwest Allen County Schools began announcing its top teachers and employees of the year Wednesday.

Matt Deckard, an instructional assistant at Carroll High School, was honored as a 2024 Staff Member of the Year. He was recognized for creating a dynamic learning environment for students through engaging storytelling and passion for his subject, a district news release said.

Jeb Campbell, a Carroll computer science teacher, was named a 2024 Teacher of the Year. He was honored for his dedication to guiding and fostering student growth, the release said.

Deckard and Campbell were nominated by NACS community members, such as students, parents and district employees.

The district plans to recognize six total employees by the end of the week.

Northwest Allen County school eyes addition of therapy dog

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
A Northwest Allen County Schools principal is planning for a new co-worker – a therapy dog that will regularly visit the building to increase students’ empathy, self-esteem and sense of belonging, among other goals.

Courtney Bailey, who leads Cedar Canyon Elementary School, has been working to raise money to cover the training costs associated with the dog since the school board approved a new policy in January about animals on district property.

She told the school board last week that she has secured the $20,000 needed for training, and about $8,000 of that was ready for board approval April 22. Grants and business partnerships were among the funding sources for the training, she said.

**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, April 29, 2024

In Case You Missed It – April 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 number of individual books banned by schools is soaring to a record level, according to a new PEN America report Banned in the USA: Narrating the Crisis. The report documents over 4,000 instances of book banning during the first half of the current school year – more than in the entire previous 2022-2023 school year.

"The report, which examines book bans from July to December 2023, details book bans in 52 public school districts across 23 states. Bans took place in both red and blue districts."
-- from Pen America in New Report Finds Unprecedented Surge in School Books Bans

UNTRADITIONAL EDUCATION

The Return of the Tradteacher

Should we support untraditional teaching, curriculum, and school organization models?

From Teacher in a Strange Land
Been reading about the tradwife lately? Although explicit definitions vary, the general gist is returning to a post-war conception of a stay-at-home wife, most likely with children (or planning for children), in relationships where men make all the family decisions, and control the finances. Reinforcing patriarchal norms and glorifying the satisfying and ‘natural’ role of housewife.

If you’re hearing a touch of cynicism there, well—I lived through a time when the tradwife, even if she was working, could not get a credit card or substantial business loan. While I certainly defend any woman’s right to stay home and support her children and spouse in places other than an outside workplace, the whole “tradwife” schtick (especially combined with the rollback of Roe) makes me itchy.

It also strikes me that tradwives are just another glitzy, social media-driven facet of a larger wave of backlash against a whole lot of un-trad trends in American society: Full-blown reproductive freedom. The continued shrinkage of mainline religions. Honoring personal sex/gender choices. Women running for office and corner offices–and winning. And so on.

I also see lots of pushback against untraditional teaching, curriculum and school organization models. The whole “Science of Reading” battle rings very familiar to those of us who started teaching in the 1970s, when teachers were pushing back against the “Why Johnny Can’t Read” –because teachers theoretically weren’t teaching phonics–crusade in the late 50s.

SUPPORT PUBLIC EDUCATION

Defend the People’s Schools

Tom Ultican offers a source for those who support public education.

From Tultican
I am sure you’ll be shocked to your core but there are some really bad people out there trying to end publicly-financed free education.

Since the beginning to the 21st millennium, misguided wealthy people have been attacking public education. The reasons range from religion to hubris. Betsy DeVos thinks secular education is an insult to her Christian God. Bill Gates believes he knows more than anyone else and Charles Koch is opposed to all government-sponsored social action. That would all be fine if they were not billionaires, using immense wealth to impose their way.

Truth-in-Funding (TiF) offers tools for opposing their propaganda with a webpage providing links to 25 organizations, working to protect public schools. Organizations such as National Education Policy Center, Network for Public Education and Education Law Center share links to their research along with toolkits for delivering the message.

TiF’s homepage states:
“School voucher programs use public funds to pay for private education costs. These programs are spreading despite overwhelming evidence that they are harmful public policy.”
And their about page says:
“This website offers a wide range of tools from groups that oppose vouchers and other efforts to divert public funding in education. We work to protect the vital institution of public education and ensure all students have access to welcoming, well-resourced public schools.”
GOOD TEACHERS

David Berliner: The U.S. Has Many Wonderful Teachers, and Few Who Are “Bad” Teachers

Good teachers are out there.

From Diane Ravitch
[quote edited for typos]
A refereed journal article by colleagues reported on a survey of adults, asking for their beliefs about “good teachers.” The respondents defined good teachers as those who “knew me, cared about me, and wanted me to do well; created interesting activities for us to do; praised me and other students for good grades and improvements; gave extra help or a challenge to students who needed or wanted it; covered a lot of material that was useful; and made learning relevant to me and my life.”

These respondents had little trouble recalling such teachers. Good teachers demonstrated caring and support, along with strong subject matter knowledge. They also estimated that more than two-thirds of their teachers were good or very good teachers, and they believed that only 12% of their teachers were bad or very bad.

With a different set of colleagues, I studied what students said about their “bad teachers”. In that study we had access to 4.8 million ratings of teachers! Using a 100-point scale, 55% of our respondents gave a maximum rating of 100 (the best score), 75% gave a rating of 80 or more, and 89% gave a rating greater than 50 points. These data are compatible with other studies suggesting that America’s students are exposed to high percentages of “good” teachers, and a low percentage of “bad” teachers.

LOCAL NEWS

FWCS board approves new math curriculum adoption

Students in Fort Wayne will learn math with new curriculum materials.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
The Fort Wayne Community Schools board on Monday approved a new math curriculum for elementary and middle school students.

The board approved buying both i-Ready from Curriculum Associates of North Billerica, Mass., and Indiana Reveal from McGraw Hill of Columbus. The district will spend more than $3.5 million total on the curriculum.

i-Ready will be used for elementary students, and Indiana Reveal will be used at the middle school level. Both resources are Indiana standard-aligned and can be used in core, small group and individualized instruction.

Courtney Lumbley, FWCS director of curriculum, instruction and assessment, said the district started the pilot process in fall 2022. She said 19 elementary and five middle schools have used the material. The pilot involved about 1,500 elementary and about 1,200 middle school students.

“We found so much value in the two-year process for teachers to really understand in depth what those publishers have to offer,” Lumbley said.
**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, April 22, 2024

In Case You Missed It – April 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

"Does 3.0 represent a serious shift for the organization? Not really. The fundamental message of M4L has always been the same-- public schools are scary and terrible and good God-fearing people should either take them over or abandon them. Parental rights (but not student rights)! As Chris Rufo, hot young culture panic agitator, told a Hillsdale College audience, 'To get universal school choice, you really need to operate from a place of universal school distrust.'" -- From Peter Greene in Moms For Liberty 3.0

MOMS FOR LIBERTY VERSION 3

Moms For Liberty 3.0

Moms for Liberty - yet another group of right-wing warriors who hate public education.

From Peter Greene at Curmudgucation
First, there was Moms For Liberty Beta, called the Florida Coalition of School Board Members. Then came the actual Moms For Liberty launch, a group of ladies who were upset about masking and school building closures. That gave way pretty quickly to M4L 2.0, the group that was all about banning naughty books and clamping down on LGBTA ideology (whatever that is).

M4L 2.0 cruised along pretty well for a while. But as more people came to understand what they were up to, their thin skins, their desire to tell other moms what children should be allowed to read. their intolerance-- well, opposition started to swell. And their last election round wasn't very impressive (we'll never know exactly how unimpressive because, perhaps already sensing that their brand was tarnished, they backed away from endorsing so many candidates). And their beloved Ron DeSantis had to slink home in humiliation and defeat. And they went on 60 Minutes and couldn't really explain the terrible alleged indoctrination they were crusading against.

Make way for version 3.0.

CHARTER AUTHORIZER SHOPPING

Charter school goes shopping

Steve Hinnefeld at School Matters writes about what happens when failing charter schools go shopping for an authorizer after being dropped by a previous authorizer...or two.

From School Matters
Trine University came to the rescue eight years ago when Thea Bowman Leadership Academy was in danger of losing its charter and being shut down.

Now Trine has revoked the Gary, Indiana, school’s charter, citing academic and governance issues. But another private institution, Calumet College of St. Joseph, has stepped up.

“It’s funny how things have come full circle,” said Lindsay Omlor, executive director of Education One, Trine’s charter-school-authorizing office.

Today’s topic is authorizer shopping, what happens when charter schools jump from one authorizer to another to stay open or find a better deal. Thea Bowman looks to be taking the practice to a new level. It now has its third authorizer in less than a decade.

CASHING IN ON THE SCIENCE OF READING LAWS

Jobs’ Reading Scam

Retired teacher and blogger Tom Ultican, writes that the science behind “the Science of Reading” movement is not very scientific. Publishers and vendors are preparing to cash in on legislative mandates that force reading teachers to use only one method to teach reading despite the lack of evidence for its efficacy. Ultican zeroes in on the role of billionaire Laurene Powell Jobs as one of the key players in promoting SofR.

From Tultican
Laurene Powell Jobs controls Amplify, a kids-at-screens education enterprise. In 2011, she became one of the wealthiest women in the world when her husband, Steve, died. This former Silicon Valley housewife displays the arrogance of wealth, infecting all billionaires. She is now a “philanthropist”, in pursuit of both her concerns and biases. Her care for the environment and climate change are admirable but her anti-public school thinking is a threat to America. Her company, Amplify, sells the antithesis of good education.

I am on Amplify’s mailing list. April third’s new message said,
“What if I told you there’s a way for 95% of your students to read at or near grade level? Maybe you’ve heard the term Science of Reading before, and have wondered what it is and why it matters.”
Spokesperson, Susan Lambert, goes on to disingenuously explain how the Science of Reading (SoR) “refers to the abundance of research illustrating the best way students learn to read.”

This whopper is followed by a bigger one, stating:
“A shift to a Science of Reading-based curriculum can help give every teacher and student what they need and guarantee literacy success in your school. Tennessee school districts did just that and they are seeing an abundant amount of success from their efforts.”
A shift to SoR-based curriculum is as likely to cause harm as it is to bring literacy success. This was just a used-car salesman style claim. On the other hand, the “abundance of success” in Tennessee is an unadulterated lie. National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) tracks testing over time and is respected for education testing integrity. Tennessee’s NAEP data shows no success “from their efforts.” Their reading scores since 2013 have been down, not a lot but do not demonstrate an “abundance of success”.
EXHAUSTED SUPERHEROES

Too Much For Mere Mortals

Former classroom teacher Peter Greene knows that teachers are overworked. There are not enough hours in the day for them to meet all their obligations. What to do?

From Peter Greene at Curmudgucation
Being overworked is part of the gig, and some of us wear our ability to manage that workload as a badge of honor, like folks who are proud of surviving an initiation hazing and insist that the new recruits should suck it up and run the same gauntlet. On reflection, I must admit this may not be entirely healthy, especially considering the number of young teachers who blame themselves because they can't simply gut their way past having overloaded circuits.

There's also resistance because the "let's give teachers a break" argument is used by 1) vendors with "teacher-assisting" junk to sell and 2) folks who want to deprofessionalize teaching. That second group likes the notion of "teacher-proof" programs, curriculum in a box that can be delivered by any dope ("any dope" constitutes a large and therefor inexpensive labor pool).

We could lighten the teacher load, the argument goes, by reducing their agency and autonomy. Not in those exact words, of course. That would make it obvious why that approach isn't popular.

INDIANA TESTING: NEW ILEARN FORMAT

New ILEARN format will allow for more personalized learning for students

From The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
An estimated 1,200 Hoosier schools including those in the Fort Wayne Community and East Allen County districts will pilot a new ILEARN assessment format next school year. This adds three preparatory tests to be administered prior to the typical end-of-year exam.

Summative assessments are intended to collect data on student performance, pinpoint problem areas and spur improved educational programs. But Indiana’s low proficiency rates on standardized tests have been used by proponents of the state’s school voucher system to claim public schools are failing Hoosiers.

The new setup, which will be adopted statewide for the 2025-26 school year, moves away from that played-out game. Instead, the preparation tests are diagnostic, helping teachers and parents learn where students between grades 3 and 8 are performing academically throughout the year and could better prepare them for the spring summative exam.

Approved by the State Board of Education last summer, the three preparatory tests will contain 20 to 25 questions focusing on four to six state education standards and a shortened summative exam in the spring. The new ILEARN setup will help educators implement remediation and intervention, such as additional tutoring for students who require it, ahead of the end-of-year exam, said Education Secretary Katie Jenner.

**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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