Monday, January 15, 2024

In Case You Missed It – January 15, 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.

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"PEN America reported that more than 1,600 books have been removed from circulation until they have received approval from school officials. The big joke in Escambia County [FL] is that a dictionary is in the Escambia list of books that possibly violate the law. Actually, five dictionaries!" -- From Diane Ravitch in PEN America: Escambia County, Florida, Banned More than 1,600 Books, Including 5 Dictionaries!


PEN America: Escambia County, Florida, Banned More than 1,600 Books, Including 5 Dictionaries!

Republicans want to be the ones to decide what K-12 students can read.

(Emphasis in original)

From Diane Ravitch
Five dictionaries are on the district’s list of more than 1,600 books banned pending investigation in December 2023, along with eight different encyclopedias, The Guinness Book of World Records, and Ripley’s Believe it or Not – all due to fears they violate the state’s new laws banning materials with “sexual conduct” from schools.

Biographies of Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Oprah Winfrey, Nicki Minaj, and Thurgood Marshall are on the list, alongside The Autobiography of Malcolm X and Black Panther comics by Ta-Nehisi Coates. The Feminism Book was banned along with The Teen Vogue Handbook: An Insider’s Guide to Careers in Fashion.

The list obtained by the Florida Freedom to Read Project also includes Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl, The Adventures and the Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile. The Princess Diaries and 14 other books by Meg Cabot have been taken from libraries, alongside books by David Baldacci, Lee Child, Michael Crichton, Carl Hiassen, Jonathan Franzen, John Green, John Grisham, Stephen King (23 of them), Dean Koontz, Cormac McCarthy, Celeste Ng, James Patterson, Jodi Picoult, and Nicholas Sparks. Conservative pundit Bill O’Reilly’s two books, Killing Jesus and Killing Reagan, were also banned pending investigation.


GOP lawmakers look to cut exemptions to grade retentions

Contrary to this editorial, retained students are at a higher risk of dropping out. At best, retention doesn't help.

The writers also cite a New York Times columnist's claim that "retention of third graders [was] 'perhaps the most important single element' of Mississippi’s apparent success" in the state's improved fourth-grade test scores. Could it be that the improved test scores were because low-achieving students were held back in third grade and were no longer included in the fourth-grade cohort?

Yet states continue to double down on third-grade retention. A student's future should not be determined by a test score.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Last school year, more than 65,000 Hoosier third graders – or 81.9% – demonstrated proficient reading skills on the state’s IREAD-3 reading test, according to the Indiana Department of Education.

In Allen County, 93.1% of third graders in Northwest Allen County Schools, 88.5% at Southwest Allen County Schools, 79.5% at East Allen County Schools and 70.9% at Fort Wayne Community Schools passed IREAD-3. Statewide, scores improved just 0.3%.

As reading scores have decreased, retention rates also have fallen, causing thousands of students to enter fourth grade unable to read at grade level. State education department data show more than 96% of students who did not pass IREAD-3 advanced to fourth grade.

Urgent improvement for all student populations will be essential to achieve Gov. Eric Holcomb’s worthy goal of 95% of all Indiana third graders passing IREAD-3 by 2027. He and Indiana House Speaker Todd Huston presented their legislative agendas Monday for the 2024 session. Improving elementary student literacy rates is among their top concerns.

Arthur Camins: The Lies That Protect the 1%

(Emphasis in original)

From Diane Ravitch
Liar, Liar. Pants on Fire. The lies from the powerful, especially Republicans, have risen to stunningly Orwellian 2 + 2 = 5 levels. The lies that protect their wealth and power have been quite successful at gaining wide acceptance. They keep at it because they know most of us reject a grossly inequitable society in which only some people enjoy a stable secure life. Inevitably, the truth seeps through the cracks in their wall of deceptions. Most Americans want fairness and access to decisions that affect our lives. The purveyors of self-protecting fabrications are afraid of the truth. Increasingly, they resort to authoritarianism, outlawing truth-telling, spreading misinformation, and blocking democratic processes.

The well-trod lies are designed to sound like common sense but are demonstrably false. They include:

Providing parents with choices through school vouchers and charter schools improves achievement and equity.

No, they support the privileged, starve and undermine public education, and get the rest of us to fight amongst ourselves for scraps.


Indiana teacher salaries are on the rise — but averages still fall short of governor’s goal

From Indiana Capital Chronicle
New data shows Indiana’s teacher pay is ticking up — but still trails behind averages in neighboring states — as the debate over Hoosier educator salaries continues.

The average teacher salary in Indiana is $58,531 — up from about $57,000 the year prior — according to the 2022-23 state teacher compensation report by the Indiana Education Employment Relations Board (IEERB).

The lowest teacher salary reported was $38,000. The highest is about $108,000.

More than 31,000 full-time Hoosier teachers earn above the statewide average. Almost 32,000 educators still earn below that margin, per the report.

Currently, Indiana law requires a minimum salary of $40,000 for each full-time teacher. The Indiana State Teachers Association’s (ISTA) county-by-county map of average teacher salaries and starting salaries shows most, but not all, Hoosier districts have raised salary minimums during the previous and current school years.

But representatives from the state’s largest teacher union told the Indiana Capital Chronicle that the latest IEERB report shows “there is still work to be done in achieving the teacher salary goals set by the governor in 2020.”

New custodial, maintenance, transportation contracts OK'd at East Allen County Schools

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
East Allen County Schools’ custodial, maintenance and transportation staff will receive bigger paychecks this year, following a school board vote this week.

The elected leaders approved two-year agreements Tuesday with the EACS Custodian Association, the EACS Maintenance Association and the EACS Transportation Association. The contracts were ratified by each union in December.

Terms include raises comparable to other negotiated groups. Compensation for 2025 will be revisited during reopeners, said Pat McCann, chief financial officer.

**Note: The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette is behind a paywall. Digital access, home delivery, or both are available with a subscription. Staying informed is essential; one way to do that is to support your local newspaper. For subscription information, go to [NOTE: NEIFPE has no financial ties to the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette]

Note: NEIFPE's In Case You Missed It is posted by the end of the day every Monday except after holiday weekends or as otherwise noted.


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