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.

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"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


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...


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 [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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