Monday, March 25, 2024

In Case You Missed It – March 25, 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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"How do you build a world-class human? Well, you give him or her the benefits of a broad, humane, liberal arts education that confers judgment, wisdom, vision, and generosity. Greene shows us, from her own classes over three decades, exactly how that happens.

And she shows us how, under the “standards”-and-testing occupation, all that is being lost."
-- Bob Shepherd, quoted in Bob Shepherd: Gayle Green on How to Make a Human by Diane Ravitch.


Bob Shepherd: Gayle Green on How to Make a Human

The so-called "education reform" movement to privatize education has been decimating schools for more than two decades. Has it worked to improve student outcomes?

From Diane Ravitch
Bob Shepherd, author, editor, assessment developer, story-teller, and teacher, read a book that he loved. He hopes—and I hope—that you will love it too.

He writes:

Like much of Europe between 1939 and 1945, education in the United States, at every level, is now under occupation. The occupation is led by Bill Gates and the Gates Foundation and abetted by countless collaborators like those paid by Gates to create the puerile and failed Common Core (which was not core—that is, central, key, or foundational—and was common only in the sense of being vulgar. The bean counting under the occupation via its demonstrably invalid, pseudoscientific testing regime has made of schooling in the U.S. a diminished thing, with debased and devolved test preppy curricula (teaching materials) and pedagogy (teaching methods).

In the midst of this, Gayle Greene, a renowned Shakespeare scholar and Professor Emerita at Scripps University, has engaged in some delightful bomb throwing for the Resistance. Her weapon? A new book called Immeasurable Outcomes: Teaching Shakespeare in the Age of the Algorithm.


Hindu “Statesman” Will Move to Florida if DeSantis Signs the Bill to Let Him Guide Students

The founders chose to keep church and state separate. Using chaplains instead of counselors flies in the face of that basic American concept. States should fully fund schools so that qualified counselors can be hired.

A similar bill failed to pass in this year's Indiana General Assembly, but our guess is that it's not gone forever.

From Diane Ravitch
The Miami Herald reports:

Gov. Ron DeSantis has yet to sign a bill that would allow chaplains to offer counseling in public schools, but one colorful religious figure says he is already eager to volunteer.

He’s a self-described “Hindu statesman” from Nevada who says he would like to bring “the wisdom of ancient Sanskrit scriptures” to students — perhaps not exactly what Florida lawmakers had in mind when they approved a bill that supporters tout as a way to make up for a shortage of mental health counselors in many schools.

The offer from Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, may amount to just his latest effort to raise his organization’s profile, but it also underlines concerns from critics. Mainly, that the bill’s vague definition of “counseling” will invite religious groups — whether they are Hindu, Christian or otherwise — to use it as a door to teaching their beliefs in secular school systems.

Will the U.S. Senate Waste this Year’s Opportunity to Reduce Child Poverty?

Child poverty is the number one cause of low student achievement in the US (and worldwide). No amount of scripted lessons, overuse, and misuse of testing, or insulting and demeaning educators will improve student outcomes. We've known this for years.

"...we are likely to find that the problems of housing and education, instead of preceding the elimination of poverty, will themselves be affected if poverty is first abolished." -- Martin Luther King Jr.

As you read this post, you will see that there is one political party in the US that is more interested in providing tax breaks for businesses than helping poor children. Remember in November.

From Jan Resseger
One of three huge structural injustices for American children and their public schools—along with inadequate and unequally distributed school funding across the states and persistent economic and racial segregation—is our society’s outrageous level of child poverty. Right now Congress may squander a real opportunity to begin helping our society’s poorest children.

Although, on January 31, the U.S. House passed by a large margin a bipartisan compromise bill that would modestly increase the Child Tax Credit along with some business tax breaks that are a Republican priority, the bill has never been brought to the floor of the U.S. Senate for a vote.

Last week, the NY Times‘ Kayla Guo described the impasse and some of the politics: “A bipartisan bill to expand the Child Tax Credit and reinstate a set of business tax breaks has stalled in the Senate after winning overwhelming approval in the House, as Republicans balk at legislation they regard as too generous to low-income families. The delay of the $78 billion tax package has imperiled the measure’s chances and reflects the challenges of passing any major legislation in an election year. Enacting a new tax law would give President Biden and Democrats an achievement to campaign on, something that Republicans may prefer to avoid.”

The new bill to expand the Child Tax Credit is inferior to what was incorporated in the 2021, COVID relief, American Rescue Plan, which helped America’s poorest families by making the Child Tax Credit fully refundable to families without income or with such meager income that they don’t pay enough federal income taxes to cover the amount of the full Child Tax Credit. When Congress let that expansion of the Child Tax Credit expire at the end of 2021, U.S. child poverty increased by 41 percent.


Indiana schools get legislative green light to break up ILEARN testing throughout school year

The Indiana General Assembly offers some flexibility for schools.

From Indiana Capital Chronicle
An option for schools to divvy up portions of Indiana’s ILEARN exams was approved by state lawmakers at the end of the 2024 legislative session and will change how thousands of Hoosier students are tested.

The provision was included in House Enrolled Act 1243, an omnibus education bill filled with action items supported by the Indiana Department of Education.

The assessment plan includes what state education officials call “flexible checkpoints” for schools to administer ILEARN preparation tests in language arts and math before the typical end-of-year summative tests. A dozen other states already have similar models.

Based on a plan approved by the Indiana’s State Board of Education last summer, the “checkpoints” will consist of 20 to 25 questions and hone in on four to six state standards. The exams are designed to be administered to students about every three months, but local schools and districts can speed up testing if they wish.
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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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