Monday, April 1, 2024

In Case You Missed It – April 1, 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.

NOTE: NEIFPE's In Case You Missed It will not be published next week. Our bloggers will be traveling to experience the total solar eclipse passing through the United States and Indiana on April 8.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK

"Will professors of science be allowed to teach about climate change or evolution without giving equal time to “the other side?”

Will professors of American history be allowed to teach about the horrors of slavery and Jim Crow and institutional racism without introducing the Confederate point of view?"
-- Diane Ravitch in Indiana: New Law Requires Professors to Teach “Diverse” Views or Face Firing

ACADEMIC FREEDOM UNDER ATTACK IN INDIANA

Indiana: New Law Requires Professors to Teach “Diverse” Views or Face Firing

Will Indiana's college teachers be forced to teach right-wing propaganda?

From Diane Ravitch
Republicans have grown frustrated by their inability to get their views represented on college campuses, so they have grown more assertive in passing laws to ban ideas they don’t like (such as “critical race theory” or gender studies or diversity/equity/inclusion or “divisive concepts).

Indiana is imposing a different approach. Instead of banning what it does not like, the Legislature is requiring professors to teach different points of view.

The New York Times reports:

A new law in Indiana requires professors in public universities to foster a culture of “intellectual diversity” or face disciplinary actions, including termination for even those with tenure, the latest in an effort by Republicans to assert more control over what is taught in classrooms.

The law connects the job status of faculty members, regardless of whether they are tenured, to whether, in the eyes of a university’s board of trustees, they promote “free inquiry” and “free expression.” State Senator Spencer Deery, who sponsored the bill, made clear in a statement that this would entail the inclusion of more conservative viewpoints on campus.

The backlash to the legislation, which Gov. Eric Holcomb, a Republican, signed March 13, has been substantial. Hundreds wrote letters or testified at hearings, and faculty senates at multiple institutions had urged the legislature to reject the bill, condemning it as government overreach and a blow to academic free speech.

TAX-FUNDED RELIGIOUS CHARTERS ARE COMING

Religious Charter Schools are Coming. Be Worried.

Public funds are being diverted from public schools to private religious schools. The anti-public school forces are expanding to include religious charter schools.

From Have You Heard Podcast
Last year Oklahoma approved the nation’s first tax-payer funded religious charter school. It won’t be the last, warns Rachel Laser of Americans United for Church and State. We’re joined by Laser and two plaintiffs in a legal effort to keep the school from opening. As our guests explain, the school is part of a larger project to roll back the clock on civil rights, disability rights and labor protections. Now for the good news: tearing down the separation between church and state turns out to be really unpopular.

VOUCHER EXPANSION IN OHIO THREATENS TO REACH INDIANA LEVELS

Will Untenable Voucher Expansion Threaten Public School Funding in Ohio?

In Indiana, a family with an income not more than 400% of the amount to qualify for the federal free and reduced-price lunch program can get a school voucher. That amount is more than $200,000 for a family of four.

Ohio residents beware. It won't stop...the dollars will continue to be diverted from public schools to religious schools.

From Jan Resseger
The Cleveland Plain Dealer‘s Laura Hancock reports this week that the enormous expansion of EdChoice vouchers in Ohio will bring the state’s investment in its five private school tuition voucher programs to at least a billion dollars by the end of Fiscal Year 2024 on October 1. In Ohio, a total of 152,118 students, according to Hancock’s data, now attend private schools using tax funded vouchers.

Ohio began offering private school vouchers to students in a relatively small program in Cleveland in 1996. Ohio now has five school voucher programs, one program for children with autism, another for students with disabilities, the original Cleveland program, and two statewide school voucher programs, including EdChoice Expansion by which any student can now qualify to carry public tax dollars to pay private school tuition.

This year, after the legislature expanded eligibility for EdChoice vouchers in the state budget—by raising the income qualification to include students with family income up to $135,000 and offering partial vouchers to students in families with income above $135,000—the number of students and the diversion of state tax dollars skyrocketed. Hancock explains: “As of March 18, state spending on all five scholarship programs was $980.4 million, with several months yet to go in the state’s fiscal year. ”

PROFITING ON EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION

The Atlantic: Private Equity Eyes Child-Care Industry as Profit Center

As the research has built up on the value of early childhood education, more states are directing money toward expanding access. Wherever money flows, the private equity industry turns its gaze and seeks to do what it does best: privatize and profit. In this age, private equity figures out how to maximize profit from services that used to be public.

From Diane Ravitch
Private equity’s interest in child care has been growing in recent years. “While there has been corporate for-profit child care since the 1970s, private equity only got in starting in the early 2000s,” Elliot Haspel, a senior fellow who studies early childhood education at the nonpartisan think tank Capita, told me. Now four of the top five for-profit child-care chains—KinderCare, Learning Care Group, the Goddard School, and Primrose Schools—are controlled by private-equity funds, and private-equity-backed centers represent 10 to 12 percent of the market.

Private investors are intrigued by child care for the same reasons they became interested in nursing homes and other health-care services: intense demand, government money, and relatively low start-up costs. “Their goal is not long-term sustainability; their goal is to try to turn a profit,” Haspel said.

Private equity’s foray into child care could go a number of ways, but its introduction has largely not worked out well for other sectors—and certainly not for many people who rely on those sectors’ services. In his book, Plunder: Private Equity’s Plan to Pillage America, Brendan Ballou, who investigated private-equity firms at the Department of Justice, posits that the private-equity business model has three basic problems. First, these firms buy a business with the intention of flipping it for a profit, not long-term sustainability, meaning that they are trying to maximize value in the short term and are less likely to invest in staff or facilities. Second, they tend to load businesses up with debt and extract a lot of fees, such as charging child-care providers for the privilege of being managed by the firm. And perhaps most important, their business structure insulates firms from liability.

AI LESSON PLANS?

How About AI Lesson Plans?

Peter Greene warns teachers not to fall for the cheap and lazy artificial intelligence (AI) that designs lesson plans.

From Curmudgucation on Substack
Some Brooklyn schools are piloting an AI assistant that will create lesson plans for them.

Superintendent Janice Ross explains it this way. “Teachers spend hours creating lesson plans. They should not be doing that anymore.”

The product is YourWai (get it?) courtesy of The Learning Innovation Catalyst (LINC), a company that specializes in "learning for educators that works/inspires/motivates/empowers." They're the kind of company that says things like "shift to impactful professional learning focused on targeted outcomes" unironically. Their LinkedIn profile says "Shaping the Future of Learning: LINC supports the development of equitable, student-centered learning by helping educators successfully shift to blended, project-based, and other innovative learning models." You get the idea.

LINC was co-founded by Tiffany Wycoff, who logged a couple of decades in the private school world before writing a book, launching a speaking career, and co-founding LINC in 2017. Co-founder Jaime Pales used to work for Redbird Advanced Learning as executive director for Puerto Rico and Latin America and before that "developed next-generation learning programs" at some company.
FLEXIBLE DIPLOMAS

Indiana officials propose new ‘streamlined’ high school diplomas for Hoosier students

If approved, there will be two main diploma paths. Each will have “flexible” options for “personalization” in grades 11 and 12.

From Indiana Capital Chronicle
A proposal to streamline Indiana’s high school diplomas and reduce options to just two primary graduation paths was announced by state education officials on Wednesday.

The plan is part of an ongoing statewide effort to “reinvent” the high school experience and better prepare Hoosiers for their lives post-graduation — whether they want to pursue college or other skills training, or choose to directly enter the workforce.

The new options will take effect beginning with the Class of 2029 — for students that are currently in seventh grade. Indiana Secretary of Education Katie Jenner said some Hoosier schools will likely roll out the revamped graduation requirements sooner, though.

“How do we make the four years of high school as valuable as possible for students? What does that look like in a country where high school education has not changed, for most, in over 100 years? And yet the world around us, technology, is advancing — the world around us is changing,” Jenner said, noting that Indiana’s diploma has not been “significantly updated” since the late 1980s.

FORT WAYNE AREA NEWS

Southwest Allen County Schools plans pre-K program

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Southwest Allen County Schools is preparing to launch a pre-K class in August for 24 children living within the boundaries of its largest elementary school.

Startup costs are budgeted for $234,000 to $260,000 and include about $80,000 for equipment. The district hopes to offset expenses with partnerships, donations and grants, Superintendent Park Ginder said.

He brought the item to the school board for discussion last week. The administration wants the elected leaders to participate in the decision-making process because of the costs involved.

“We know that other districts run this program at a very big loss,” Ginder said after the March 19 meeting. “We also know there are other districts that have very, very large donors – six-figure donors, in some cases – that help pay for these opportunities.”

Ginder told the board he recommends launching the Covington Elementary School class – which would have one teacher and two aides – next academic year regardless of the outside funding secured.

**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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